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Author Topic: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.  (Read 3018 times)

nosh

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Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« on: October 18, 2011, 04:40:56 AM »
A couple of years back, a friend, who was a management student then, needed to interview some people for a dissertation. She asked me to air my opinions about the city we live in. I agreed, with the understanding that whatever I told her would be between me, her and her college staff.

A few months back, I google my name and find a long rant with racist undertones posted on some essay writing site. The title of the essay "An interview with Mr. [my name]" - Whoa!

Now - a) I'm a Zoroastrianw (apparently, there are more elephants in the world than people belonging to my community) and
b) Even within my community I have a rather uncommon surname.
This makes my name totally unique. I have yet to meet another person who shares my name for the simple reason that he doesn't exist. If you search Google for my name you KNOW that all the results refer to me. (On a tangent, is it wiser to give our kids generic names in the intertube age?)

Some of the stuff posted in the essay, I remember saying, some genuinely doesn't sound like stuff I'd ever say. The end result is, I come across as a half-witted racist. The me-being-half-witted bit has occasionaly been debated by my friends and associates, but I definitely don't want anyone who ever googles my name to end up seeing the article.

So, I do a whois and get the administrative contact's email (a UK based SEO company). I tell him there's libelous material on the site, my name is being used in an interview I never gave (a white lie, IMO, which I use since I don't want to get into a bickering match) and could he please pull it down?

He puts me onto a lady, she's really co-operative and gets the tech staff to pull the links down, no questions asked. I'm left feeling impressed and grateful.

A month later, I google my name and Bingo! 3 hits to the same site with the full essay visible. I mail her again and am met with silence. I wait for around 10 days and mail her one more time... again, silence. I mail the admin contact who had put me on to her... silence.

Suddenly, a wild idea appears...

I sent them both the following mail today (it's a little melodramatic but if you've read this far you're obviously immune to that kind of stuff)

Quote
Hi R and J,
 
I had approached you both a couple of months back reg. an article that used my name in an interview I had never given.
 
You R, put me on to J with whom I had a very amicable interaction - she helped take down the article.
 
A few days later the same article appeared again on the site.
 
I have mailed you, J twice and R once regarding this. Not only is the article still up, neither of you have bothered to even revert back to me.
 
I'm not going to BS you guys, I don't have the time or the resources to take legal action to get this piece that hurts my reputation taken down. I think it is callous and cruel to not help someone in my postion. And it is arrogant to not even take a minute to revert back.
 
So let me make this a tad more personal and ask you, R [full name] and J [full name] this. How would you like it if some aggrieved party with enough technical understanding about the working of the internet took it into their heads to sully your reputations? Would you be as silent and unconcerned then?
 
Thanks for your time.
 
Best regards,
[nosh]
 
(Feel free to Google my name if you'd like to know more about me. There are a couple of interesting links you might find. :)

So I get the nicest possible email, (within the hour!) from the lady who's already taken every possible link she can find, down. She goes on to explain that the techs had reconnected the old db and that caused all the problems. She offers more help if I need it.
 
Needless to say, I'm pleased with the outcome - and TBH, quite amused at the prompt reaction the mail got. I've experienced this IRL too, people hide behind a corporate facade but the minute you target them personally and their own wellbeing is at stake they become way more cooperative.  :)
« Last Edit: February 17, 2012, 01:47:36 AM by nosh »

tomos

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2011, 05:37:05 AM »


well done ;D
Tom

IainB

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2011, 07:18:07 AM »
Nice one. Rationally handled. Problem solved (apparently).
I think there is truth in what you say:
Quote
...but the minute you target them personally and their own wellbeing is at stake they become way more cooperative.

We generally seem to be better able to comprehend and act on something more rationally/objectively if we are able to accept/internalise the point of view of another person (per Edward De Bono). That was one of the reasons why De Bono said that our societal development was crippled by the value we ascribed to skilled and competitive debate - where the strategy is generally to seek to defeat the other's argument on as many counts as possible.

wraith808

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2011, 12:23:16 PM »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2011, 01:37:33 PM »
What about Google cached versions?

J-Mac

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2011, 01:42:53 PM »
What about Google cached versions?

You can get Google to take them down, but it ain't easy! I haven't tried but I know someone who did and by the time she was done you didn't want to be near her!

Jim

Paul Keith

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2011, 02:09:23 PM »
Man, keep us updated if the same trick works on Google.

Oh and congrats.  :Thmbsup:

IainB

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2011, 08:37:50 PM »
Man, keep us updated if the same trick works on Google.
Hahaha. A very droll and apposite comment.    :D

nosh

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2011, 09:48:21 PM »
Google has a tool for removing pages from their cache - https://www.google.c...tools/removals?pli=1

It worked pretty well when I tried it the first time, I don't recall exactly how many days later I checked but it wasn't very long before the links were gone. The catch is, the pages in question need to be non-existent/changed on the site of origin. To verify this, Google asks you to enter words that are in the cached page but no longer on the actual page.
Clipboard01.png
(The header in the screenshot is slightly misleading, Google did remove the cached page but that doesn't go hand in hand with removing the page from the search results.)

The good part here is, the webmaster is not required for this. If the pages have changed or are down, anyone can make a cache takedown (more like update) request - that's the way it worked for me anyway.

Getting the search _results_ removed requires the server to return a 404 or 401 for the page. This is what most people who're unhappy with whatever, would be looking for (for the page to not show up on Google at all) and it's not easy without the site in question cooperating. If the webmaster just modifies the page on your request but the url is intact the hits still show up. Even after a successful cache takedown, the old page title persists in the search results.

If the info is still on the original site, Google will help, but you have to jump through a few hoops. I haven't had to take this route, thankfully - I'm sure they make quick exceptions for extreme cases like child porn or terrorism, but they don't make it easy (it's why they're still a leading search engine for novice pirates. :D )

[http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=164734]

PS - Thx wraith! :)

« Last Edit: October 18, 2011, 11:19:36 PM by nosh, Reason: Screenshot »

IainB

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2011, 05:43:23 AM »
@nosh: I find this all very Rumplestiltskin-esque.
You're not that black ash-covered man with an elder friend are you?

nosh

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2011, 06:23:49 AM »
 ;D <-- *nosh pretends he understands what IainB is talking about*

I just read through the Grimm's version and am still clueless. :P
Do you mean you find all this hard to believe?

IainB

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2011, 07:03:52 AM »
No, I mean trying to guess your name.
The black ash-covered guy would be Haji Firouz

nosh

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2011, 07:09:46 AM »
Ha ha! OK! It's no biggie. I can PM you if you're going to lose sleep over it. :D

IainB

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2011, 08:09:49 AM »
Well, after all this I am curious, so, yes please.
I couldn't seem to figure out your name from all the clues you gave, though I might have tripped over it without recognising it whilst searching around Chowpatty and Vancouver.
(I can't abide an unsolved puzzle.)

nosh

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Re: Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2011, 08:21:14 AM »
Done.
Wouldn't want to be the reason for a fellow human losing any sleep. :P