26 Mar 2012

  I have been sent the following article by Da Subi.I hope you will find it quite useful in dealing with Cyberbullying 

I was once a victim of cyber attack. It came from a person who never introduced him/herself, and I never bothered to ask him/her to reveal his/her real identity. Nevertheless, it was my first encounter and, being new to the world of blogging, I didn't know what to do. It went on like this for two weeks until one day I decided to ignore his/her emails and report him/her to Google. S/He had made it easier for me when s/he dedcided to copy, paste and publish exact materials from my old blog. I was thrilled when Google yanked out his/her blog. It is this experience that I want to share with you here today.

In many countries, it is permissible and you may not be required to seek consent or approval before sharing information about any individual as long as the information shared is truthful and can be substantiated.

However, publishing and sharing cooked, falsified information, assumptions, and/or outright lies about a person with the intent to defame or injure the reputation of another person is considered illegal. Such act may be subject  to punishment by the governing state laws. You have the right to free speech but you don’t have the right to slander and libel someone unless you have the proof to back it up. Therefore, if you do not possess any hard evidence that may be used in a court of law and that article libels someone, then you are better off removing the post immediately. The only exception is satire, thoughthis too has limitations to how far you can go.

When a person finds out that another person or a website/blog has published false information and, if the information shared is so bad that it can't be ignored or forgiven, then the defamed person may file a lawsuit in the court against the defamer or web/blog owner. Lawsuits can be heavy with resultant hefty fines, however, there are less expensive ways to try to solve and find amicable solution to the problem, worth pursuing as follows:

  1. Ask (via email, phone or social media accounts) the person or blog/web owner to remove your information from wherever they posted because they have access to the information. Point out why what they published about you is not true or how the involvement of others (like children, parents, friends, relatives etc) is not relevant to the published materials. It is a human nature for most of us to communicate angrily when we are upset, however, you need to be calm and collect at this point before you send your message or call the phone. Take a deep breath, think it through, imagine how you would have preferred to be addressed if it were you - obviously a calm manner will gain more credits than shouting obscenities - I suggest you start out calmly. If the argument gets heated, excuse yourself by asking for another time to discuss this, you can say for example, "I am overwhelmed right now, I can't talk sense, please let me calm down first and we'll continue later" or if it's an email, when you are done replying it, do not hit the 'send' button, instead, put it in the drafts folder, go ahead and do something else, after some time, re-read what you wrote and see if you really want to send it the way it is bearing in mind that it may go public, and would you feel comfortable seeing it being read by the whole world? If not, edit it. Instead of calling the publisher a liar or disgusting and such strong negative words, go to the facts and points instead. Don't waste your time writing nonsense because it will irritate and stir up more anger in you and the intended recipient. Note that this information (email messages or recorded telephone conversations - if permissible) may be used in the court of law as evidence. Therefore be sure if you will really like to see and hear this information shared in public. Be as professional as possible.
  2. If the above didn't work because the person you are dealing with is unreasonable, rude and uncooperative, take another step. Report them to their hosts and file a complaints report to Google so they can take down the page that has offensive information about you. Google will block that page and remove it from it's index list so it will not be searchable and won't appear in any of Google search results pages. You start this process by finding and identifying the name and contact information of the person who registered the website and the place I prefer for fetching that information is networksolutions.com or  dnsstuff.com or whois.domaintools.com in which you will see "Admin or Webmaster Email." If the web/blog has Terms and Conditions, read it carefully and use them to back up your case in case they're violated.
  3. Report to Google about the privacy and/or copyright infringement using the request remove tool "google.com/webmasters/tools/removals". This is very useful if any media such as photos (especially with watermark denoting who the copyright owner is) or texts with your name in it is used. It is very sensitive if a picture of a minor (under the age of 18 years) is used, this can be very lethal. Use it as your strong point. Once Google receive this information, they will de-list that page making it impossible to find unless a person knows the direct URL link to the offending material.
  4. If there are any threats, verbal or physical, report and open a case at your local police station so that necessary measured can be taken to protect you and anyone else involved. If your local police station won't be able to pursue the case, the information can be transferred or used in an appropriate station in the same country or abroad (if possible) equipped with  experts assigned to deal with cyber bullying, defamation, impersonation and such crimes.

Finally, seek an advise from an attorney or a law firm which has practical experience and has dealt with these cases.

The 5 DON'T (don't do this trying to clean your reputation, because you'll be ruining it even further). Don't:

  • Threaten to sue (Even if you know you're right and they're wrong, be civil, show it by asking removal first).
  • Respond or rebut claims in comments under the negative postings (it incites and fires them even more)
  • Click offending pages from search results as it raises that page rankings
  • Be too defensive in your statements (it raises bystanders eyebrows)
  • Attack others online (because when you are calm, you will regret it. Yes, you will regret it later, heavily!)
Finally, you can search online for tips on how to protect your online reputation. There are firms that can help you (free or with a fee) get unwanted information about yourself off the internet if you think it is going to ruin your future chances of a better career, employment, marriage e.t.c. 

Source: WAVUTI

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