Internet Slander and the Modern Day Lynch Mob
One hundred and fifty years ago a certain type of person would form lynch mobs and hang innocent people just because they didn’t like the way they looked. Their wives would make picnics and the lynchings would be an event for the whole family and their friends. Today it is difficult to image such an evil mindset. Oddly enough, that same type of mentality exists in our era only this type of person uses the anonymity afforded by the internet to form high tech lynch mobs. The current term for this activity is “internet slander.” School children have committed suicide because of it, It has ruined countless careers, and created an entire industry.
My own experience with internet slander started in an unexpected manner. During the mid 2000s my business was extremely successful. One of my employees was a person named Pat, whom I hired as a telecommuting employee from Newfoundland. For a time everything went well with Pat. I paid him very well and gave him all the work he could possibly do. After a while I promoted him so that he managed another employee. After he began to enjoy the great cash flow because of the salary I was paying him, problems began to surface. First, he began to take vacations almost every month. Finally one winter taking two vacations back to back. He told me he “deserved” the vacations and that he would see to it that there were no interruptions in the work flow. Of course there were always problems with the work flow, followed by promises the next time. He asked for a raise, which I gave to him, and the work continued to increase. Finally he came to me and revealed that he knew approximately how much I was making, which evidently made him angry, and demanded that I give him a substantial raise or he would immediately stop work and let approximately three million dollars worth of projects the he was managing fall apart. At the time I could not find another person to replace him and could not find another quick solution because I was getting new projects literally every day. I unwisely felt forced to give him the additional money, and laid him off a few months later. When I laid him off I held back $1200 from the additional fees that he extorted from me. He responded by starting a blog in 2007, telling his heavily manicured and falsified tale of our business relationship. Unknown to me he sought out any difficult clients he could find and had them tell their crazy stories on his blog..
Two years later I was working on a project with a husband and wife from Victoria BC when their project took an unsettling turn. They began to become very shrill and demanding, while at the same time requesting ongoing changes to their low fixed budget project. At the end of the project the husband told me he did not want to pay for the plans. When I began to leave their house he chased after me to my car, and to make a long story shorter, he finally gave me a check, that I took at my wife’s insistence, and snatched the roll of prints of his project. He swore the cheque was good. The cheque he had given me was intentionally signed with a false signature, and he stopped payment before I could even get to the bank. He never returned the plans or paid for them
Immediately after this incident his wife, who it turns out was somewhat of a hacker, began a relentless campaign of internet slander. I discovered that these people had a history of internet slander including slandering a lawyer who helped them sell their house in Toronto, and a hot tub company in Victoria BC. I was probably their third or fourth big slander project.Their last two stunts were sending the police their pack of tall tales to create a file, and convincing a judge to officially change my address for service to an address where I knew no one, then conducting a legal action using this false address as my address, so I never received any of their crazy paperwork. They have spent four years dreaming up and carrying out this sort of thing.
She found Pat on the internet and the two of them worked together using social media, and other techniques. At one point this person even tracked down my twelve year old and sent him inappropriate material by email using her co-worker’s address. I spoke with her employer but she brushed it off saying that the woman had made an “error in judgment”.
I have had between four and five thousand projects over a period of thirty-five years. During that time I have been the recipient of a few frivolous legal actions. One example is a client who asked me to design a school in a former doctor’s office with fixed windows. When I did a code check prior to starting the project I discovered his history and learned that the building was not zoned for schools, or suitable and legal for a school. The enraged client commenced a legal action without telling me and won a judgment I discovered some time later when I was out of the country. Another client claimed I owed him twenty-five thousand dollars when I actually had a consent order from him in my files for non-payment. In the blogs produced by these internet slanderers, Pat and Tiffanie, were reports from people in cities where I had never spent more than fifteen minutes passing through. These false and misleading stories began to appear in Google searches of my name, causing tremendous difficulty and costing me a substantial amount of business. Because of this dramatic impact on my business I became unable to refinance a commercial property that I owned downtown, and there were many other seriously negative effects of this slander on my entire family.
Over the years I have encountered a situation when dealing with clients consisting of two or more partners. On rare occasions (not rare enough, unfortunately) one of the partners will have racist feelings which usually they are able to keep hidden at first. Before the project ends their true feelings will become evident because they will find some way of striking out at me. Internet slander is is usually the method that they use. This happens even more frequently than frivolous legal action. I think the anonymity of internet slander appeals to them. Their hatred can become quite vivid, because they really want to destroy me.
The legal advice was that internet slander is impossible to solve because the slander websites are located in distant countries that have no obligation to honor local legal decisions. Also, getting things removed from the internet is literally impossible, even if it can be proven who posted it.
The surprising thing is that many individuals are more willing to believe anonymous slander than the many articles about me produced by professional journalists for main steam major publications and television shows. The fact that I have completed projects for judges, Academy Award nominees, socialites, including a member from one of the big four San Francisco families, and even policemen, doesn’t seem to register. Some people believe anything they see on a computer screen as gospel.
The takeaway lesson from all of this is 1) Think carefully before facing off against a person attempting extortion or blackmail, 2) Find a way to psychologically evaluate clients for crypto-racist (in my case) and sociopathic attitudes. 3) Carefully monitor each client and respond with immediate aggressive legal action if anything improper is happening. The law is evolving to take care of the scourge of internet slander, but it will undoubtedly take a number of years to begin to find effective solutions.