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What motivated Barksdale to snoop on these teens is not entirely clear.
Our source said Barksdale's harassment did not appear to be sexual in nature, although his online communication with the minors (such as inviting underage kids to go to the movies with him) demonstrated extraordinarily questionable judgment on Barksdale's part.
After accessing the kid's account to retrieve her name and phone number, Barksdale then taunted the boy and threatened to call her.
"You must have heard some pretty wild things if you think me getting fired is newsworthy," he responded by email.
Barksdale met the kids through a technology group in the Seattle area while working as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google's Kirkland, Wash. He was fired in July 2010 after his actions were reported to the company. An update appears below.]It's unclear how widespread Barksdale's abuses were, but in at least four cases, Barksdale spied on minors' Google accounts without their consent, according to a source close to the incidents.
In an incident this spring involving a 15-year-old boy who he'd befriended, Barksdale tapped into call logs from Google Voice, Google's Internet phone service, after the boy refused to tell him the name of his new girlfriend, according to our source.
He accessed contact lists and chat transcripts, and in one case quoted from an IM that he'd looked up behind the person's back.
(He later apologized to one for retrieving the information without her knowledge.) In another incident, Barksdale unblocked himself from a Gtalk buddy list even though the teen in question had taken steps to cut communications with the Google engineer.