After a barrage of obsessive calls from AlertSU, freshman Olivia Lorne forced herself to face the possibility that her relationship with the early warning system was toxic: “I’m just glad I saw the red flags before the abuse went too far,” she said.

Lorne described the progression of her ill-fated tryst with AlertSU. “At first, it made me feel safe and protected, warning me of petty larcenies with five consecutive emails, a few texts and sometimes a midnight robo-call. I thought AlertSU was just being attentive, watching out for me. In a way, it was reassuring.”

But that comfort didn’t last long. Lorne’s peers reported watching the relationship fall apart when AlertSU became more and more aggressive. One friend, speaking anonymously, gave a harrowing description: “AlertSU was relentless; constantly calling and texting her, isolating her from her friends and cajoling her to stay holed up in her dorm.” All the classic signs of abuse were there: Lorne was edgy when she heard from AlertSU, and worried when she didn’t. Every time she received a call, she dropped everything.”

Her friends did all they could to highlight the unhealthy nature of the relationship, but it took AlertSU’s Fall Test to shake Lorne out of her denial. Lorne reported that AlertSU finally crossed a line when it “tested my ability to respond to a specific question and would obsessively call me if I did not answer right away. It DEMANDED I respond with a ‘1,’ and it just wouldn’t back off.” In a post-breakup confession, she admitted that AlertSU used classic intimidation techniques to keep her obedient, warning that if she refused to answer the questions “she and others around her would be placed in potentially dangerous situations.”

It is vital that students learn to recognize when an automated system is becoming emotionally or sexually manipulative. In a final statement, Lorne explained, “I feel like a much more complete and balanced person. Now I can devote more time to my other friends, like the NSA, who seems so genuinely interested in who I truly am…”

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