An Instagram star has revealed she is constantly bombarded with abuse online which has forced her to block at least 200,000 trolls.
Andreea Cristina Bolbea, aka @andreeacristina, boasts almost 1.2 million followers on the social media site and rose to internet fame in 2012. Her 'influencer' status has seen her model for Sports Illustrated, collaborate with Coca Cola and Sephora and be named as a top influencer by Forbes.
But the beauty blogger, 30, said the price of becoming a public figure is that she has suffered harassment and bullying that has left her in tears. She has received hundreds of creepy comments from men and even faced threats in real life after being targeted by multiple stalkers.
She shared her shocking story as part of Broadly’s anti-stalking campaign, Unfollow Me, which aims to raise awareness about stalking and domestic violence.
Bolbea, who was born in Romania and now splits her time between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, said: “I must have blocked at least 200,000 people. I’m trying to filter my audience to people who are there for the right reasons. It was just more and more people following me for honestly the wrong reasons."
“I would get 30 to 40 men a day and was like, ‘What are you following me for? I’m giving makeup and skincare advice.' People would say, ‘You are a whore,’ or ‘You are gold digger.’ Other people say, ‘You are a prostitute,’ ‘I hope you die,’ ‘I hope your cat dies,’ or they attack my husband. It is terrible. It feels like a knife to the gut. Why would somebody hate so much? It just completely ruins your day. I have probably spent at least three to four weeks being depressed and sad because of things that have been said to me on the internet,” she said.
At one point, Bolbea ended up closing her page for six months after being inundated with abusive comments. She later made her profile private but was flooded with thousands of follow requests. Now she will block anyone who writes something creepy, threatening or nasty but says people still find a way of getting to her. They will create multiple accounts or contact her via old email addresses, she said.
As a safety precaution, Bolbea has stopped posting her exact location online until she has left that spot because she fears someone getting to her in real life. But in June 2015, one stalker managed to locate her address and sent her a note saying he had flown to her hometown and was staying nearby.
“He had discovered everything single email address I had and he would always put the same thing in the subject line. It was like, ‘I’m such a fan, I love you,'" she said.
“I would never respond and he grew increasingly angry. Then it turned to, ‘I have a mind to fly to Vegas and find you. ’The next thing I knew, my mom texted me, ‘Someone dropped off a letter in our door.’ Then I got an email saying, ‘I flew to Vegas. I’m staying at Hooters Hotel and Casino and I’m here for a month. 'You need to come talk to me, I’m not leaving without getting some face time,’” Bolbea said.
She reported the behavior to police but a restraining order was never implemented because the perpetrator couldn’t be located.
In a separate incident, Bolbea said a man became convinced he was dating her despite her being very publicly married. When she got a tattoo, he sent her an email saying: “Why would you ever get a tattoo without asking me first? They think they know you which gives way to these people that become obsessive and feel like they are part of your life,” she said.
She has called for Instagram and other social media sites to do more to tackle threatening behavior and abuse on their platforms.
Whenever she spots a malicious or fraudulent account, she enlists her entire office to report it so it’s taken down swiftly - otherwise, she says, it can take up to three days.
“I get asked, ‘Why do you put yourself out there for the world to judge?’ That is completely true, however I should never feel scared or threatened because I choose to share what kind of face creams I like.
"If someone is making dozens of accounts it would be easy for social media apps like Instagram to block the IPs of people that are creating repetitive accounts, but instead the burden falls on the victim to constantly report these pages. They can pop up every day. You can't keep up. There needs to be a lot more diligence," she said.
A spokeswoman for Instagram said: "We want to maintain a safe and supportive environment on Instagram. These guidelines outline what is and isn’t allowed on Instagram. If someone violates these guidelines, we will take action. We process millions of reports every week, and the vast majority of reports are reviewed within 24 hours.”