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Topics relate to adult business, the War on Drugs, political prosecutions, censorship, and police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct

Smiling Faces - The Undisputed Truth

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Online Anonymity and Sock Puppets

This is a revised post from August 2011 that I deleted in the early August 2012 post purge.

I do appreciate that sometimes there is a reason to be anonymous online; really, I do. However, I find that online anonymity is often used to abuse others while hiding true identity. These days anonymous posters on forums are best referred to as sock puppets or trolls. I find that people on forums using their actual names are usually polite, cordial, and argue a point without vicious name-calling, attacks, and abusive behavior. Libelous name-calling is not anything that a "real name" forum poster does.

My reasoning for posting here and anywhere using my real (legal) name has to do with a prior bad experience on an Orlando Sentinel Topix board. This was back in late 2007, when the sales reps from the Orlando Weekly were arrested by the MBI while conducting a job fair in downtown Orlando hotel. I posted a variety of negative, and true, statements about the MBI. I was posting under a pseudonym and I was attacked and ridiculed by several anonymous posters, one that actually used the name of the main case agent in my case - a main reason that I kept working on the Memoirs book and published it. From that point forward, I decided that I would use my real name. Why? Because calling my alias a pimp is not libelous. The person doesn't exist. Calling Vicky Gallas such a term is indeed libelous.

This practice of using my real name has kept my attackers in line to an extent, until the obnoxious few from certain forums came along and just didn't give a rat's ass in July of 2011, and now again, on a different forum, in September of 2012. They figured that I wouldn't bother to file a libel suit, and they may be correct. It is time consuming and an energy waster, though I certainly know how and I always keep my options open.

But all bets are off when one of those sock puppets publicly accuses me of crimes and follows-up by making a false police report, especially when I know the sock puppet's actual name. An author using a pseudonym to post on a forum is nothing more than a sock puppet or a troll when its behavior is abusive. In this one particular situation with the specific person, I have no choice except to pursue all available legal options and fully intend to.

The worst part about all of that is the fact that the few participants, including the one that filed the false police report, were pulled into the messy fiasco by someone that hates me for my anti-war stance and support of Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and others. The fact is that if I had to choose one party to file a suit against, it would not be the instigator - it would be the party that filed a false police report.

Interesting enough, that instigator is now using a couple of sock puppet accounts to subtly go after the other participants, whether they are aware or not. I'm beginning to view the entire strategy as a game of sorts to this instigator. In the end, it may indeed be named in a civil suit because I do know its real name and I certainly have a case - when combined with the fact that it has the $$$s, it's a winning combination. Knowing a real name saves the trouble of subpoenaing information to get the suit rolling, so it's not all that complicated to file it.

When I have been attacked on this blog it has always been from someone posting as “anonymous”. You see, these scum of the earth do not dare put a name and a face to their attacks. Sure, people will be sarcastic or “snarky” as they refer to themselves on some forums when posting with a real name, but rarely do the snarky cross the line to libelous. I certainly never have. But this blog is not the issue - I can simply delete the comments instead of publishing any.

I always give a person posting on a forum with their real name a higher credibility factor. Why? That person is definitely identifiable and findable. They have something to lose and it is a rare occasion that the line is crossed. We can all be sarcastic, but vile lies, defaming attacks, and gangs acting in concert on forums are not the norm for a group of people using their actual names.

In so far as forum posting is concerned, the only solution that I can see is the requirement that anyone wanting to post do so using a real name. Make no mistake - that forum has become exponentially worse since my last post on 26 September 2012. The instigator has pursued someone else with a vengeance, making public statements so vile and defaming, while at the same time doing what sock puppets do: Creating additional accounts to support its position and calling in friends from elsewhere to open accounts and further support its position. This is all too obvious by its many supporters with brand new accounts (September-October and several in the last few days).

No actual newcomers to a publishing forum are going to jump into such a fiasco and attack one party when they've missed most of the story, including the beginning. This is an author / publisher forum and really there is no excuse for posting with aliases. Really the admin is to be blamed for not promptly removing each disruptive party (including the new victim) by blocking accounts and then IP addresses.

In the end, going after the sock puppets is too much trouble, but pursuing the instigator legally is not necessarily, whether it believes so or not. Additionally, if that instigator actually has an attorney that advised it to post a "cease and desist" notification on a forum, well, it won't be much trouble at all to obtain a judgment in a suit and as it so often states, it does have the $$$s - a worthwhile combination. Any decent attorney would have instructed the instigator to stop posting.

My advice to the instigator's new victim that has fallen into the trap from the very first day: Yes, you made some mistakes, but nothing remotely equal to what this nasty person has stated on a public forum about you. When I first viewed the horrific accusation made by the instigator, I did begin to "watch" each thread it moved to, so if you neglected to "watch" the threads and receive its posts in email, I have the worst of them. I was waiting for it, and its sock puppet pals, to back-up the horrific statements, but none ever did. Obviously the statements were made with the sole intention to make the rest of the forum members despise you. But stop reacting and find an attorney - that is your best revenge.

Old unused accounts revived for sock puppetry

I have already addressed the issue with brand new accounts used for bolstering credibility, but I see that now there is a resurrection of an old account used for the same purpose.  Some people open accounts and post using numerous names and when one can no longer be used, it's easy to revive an account that has minimal posts, but was opened a couple of years ago for the sole purpose of publishing a crochet book.

Of course several new accounts disappeared entirely after this was posted. (lol) Sock puppetry on forums can include any or all of the above tricks and games and is only limited by human imagination. Here's an eye-opening document on the topic now published on Scribd: The Gentleperson's Guide to Forum Spies - For Decoding

Ya gotta love it!