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Ask Slashdot: Undoing an Internet Smear Campaign? 338

An anonymous reader writes "My fiancee is a professional writer. She has a great industry reputation and everyone that knows her loves her. But her ex-husband has maintained a number of websites in her name (literally, the URL is her name) that are filled with insane ravings and defamatory content. Have you ever had to deal with an internet smear campaign? The results float to the top of every Google or Bing search of her name. He currently lives abroad and cannot be served with legal papers. His websites are hosted overseas as well, and do not respond to conventional letters or petitions. Because of his freedom of speech rights, few U.S. courts will assert that his websites are truly libelous, either, and it's still difficult to prove any real 'damages' are done by it. Still, we'd like to see them go away. I'm turning to the best community of geeks in the world: how do I deal with this given the limited options at my disposal?"
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Ask Slashdot: Undoing an Internet Smear Campaign?

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  • Possibility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @06:53PM (#42455479)

    "Because of his freedom of speech rights, few U.S. courts will assert that his websites are truly libelous, either, and it's still difficult to prove any real 'damages' are done by it. Still, we'd like to see them go away."

    Simple. Form a Corporation using the name. Instant win.

  • ICANN (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ilikenwf ( 1139495 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @06:55PM (#42455511)
    Copyright the name, contact ICANN and have the domains yanked.
  • (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @06:56PM (#42455517)

    These guys provide a service to clean up your reputation. They may have some good options.

  • Re:three letters... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @07:02PM (#42455587)

    Indeed. Google and Bing consider the "insane ravings" as more relevant than the articles your fiancee writes, which doesn't say much about the popularity of your fiancee's work. Given this, it's fairly unlikely that she is losing any significant readership as a result of the ex's campaign.

  • Re:Possibility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by exomondo ( 1725132 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @07:21PM (#42455805)

    "few U.S. courts will assert that his websites are truly libelous, either, and it's still difficult to prove any real 'damages' are done by it"

    This makes me wonder what exactly the content is, if it's not truly libelous and there is no real damage being done is there really a problem? Seems more like a 'he's written something i don't like' situation, can't really tell without know what the content is though.

  • Re:Murder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Genda ( 560240 ) <> on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @07:42PM (#42456035) Journal

    Might I suggest hosting the site in third world country without diplomatic ties to the U.S. or any of the countries he lives (or has lived) in. Have the site host the most vile and disgusting human perversions... links to NAMBLA, Neo-Nazi Organizations, Satanic Churches, and perhaps Skat-Play with Enema Porn as a cherry on top. Attack all good and reputable organizations you can think of. In short, make it a festering sore on the ass of the universe. Have the site advertise in papers in his local town. Have a man with a thick accent, call him or email him with a demand for 10 $1,000 checks to close down the site (checks must have "Pay To" left blank.)

    Fill checks out to grotesque organizations and institutions and make donations. Send Anonymous letters to local newspapers about the "Monster" living in our midst. When it comes out that he's only getting what he's giving... he'll be a social pariah. He started this, the best he can do is complain that he's getting better than he's giving. Make certain you appoint an MC and never contact them again. You know nothing about this, have nothing to do with this and don't care to be a part of the drama he's created. Of course this could easily escalate into death and dismemberment. Not to mention the bad karma.

    A better ploy would be to Create a Nonprofit Organization for the protection of people from Stalkers, Abusers, and Infantile Ex's who seem to be unable to move on with their lives. Use his sites and his attacks as examples of the evil idiocy perpetrated by angry men with small penii, and explain that people being abused by the small minded and even smaller hearted need to stick together and expose the Bozo's publicly. Speak with your Senator about passing a law that prevents this kind of abuse in country and contact the nation he's in to inform them that he's using their infrastructure to perpetrate evil acts half way around the world. Take the high ground. Help people. Show him compassion he doesn't deserve. Send him pictures of you smiling and thank him for inspiring you to create an organization to help women being abused by Idiot Exs. Let him know he's made you a better person, stronger, happier. Thank him. It'll drive him crazy.

  • Re:three letters... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tanktalus ( 794810 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @07:48PM (#42456095) Journal

    Of course, if it's a potential client who is simply nervous about her, she could lose gigs. I mean, as long as she has no problems finding work, that's not an issue, but it could mean less competition for her services (less demand may mean less pay), or simply an extra week, month, whatever, that she might have been able to fill with work that she may not be able to this way.

    Socially? Sure, no problem. I mean, if you googled my real name, one of the top hits would be a black dude trying to find a date from prison. My coworkers and I have laughted about that. But if that has in any way impeded my ability to job search, that would be, at the very least, unfortunate. (But, in my case, I can't even fathom any suggestion that there is malice here, nevermind something illegal to hang a legal battle on. Poor guy just wants a date. Much unlike the OP's problem.) In a social situation, there's no point in feeding the troll, but in a job search situation, there may be a bigger reason for wanting to bury the ex's ramblings behind a page or three of search rankings.

  • (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 19thNervousBreakdown ( 768619 ) <davec-slashdot&lepertheory,net> on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @08:02PM (#42456229) Homepage

    Yep, SEO the shit out of the sites, in the most transparent, sure-to-get-a-site-delisted ways possible. Internet Judo, use his strength against him. Since they're on top, it's not like you can make it any worse, and it also means you don't have any direct contact with the guy--it's Google/Bing delisting him, not you. Anonymize the WHOIS information, and deny any knowledge if the guy contacts you. "What, you put up a site saying bad complaining about me? Weird, man, but whatever floats your boat. Good luck with that I guess."

    And of course if Google/Bing contact you, just say, "I've been contracted to make this the top result, if you try to delist this site you'll be hearing from my lawyers." They already know you can't do jack, and they'll enjoy tweaking "your" nose and you'll find the site delisted in short order.

    Other alternatives

    DDOS: Illegal, don't be an idiot. Also feeds the troll, you know better than that don't you?

    Register trademark & use ICANN: You're rolling the dice here, feeling lucky?

    Anything + lawyer: Probably best chance of success, once you sue successfully it just makes further suits easier if he's dumb enough to stick a fork in the toaster a second time. But keep in mind, these guys do not understand the Streisand effect, and what's more, many probably actively want it. Free publicity for them, and then you have to pay!

    Completely ignore it: Probably the best option. People get bored. He's doing this to get a rise out of someone who rejected him. Chances are good he'll escalate when he doesn't get the reaction he wants. If he goes big enough, you'll be able to catch his hand in the bear trap of the court system, otherwise just keep ignoring it. Escalation means you're winning. If he's quietly running the same site 3 years later, well, then you're dealing with a patient, smart, asshole, which is pretty much your worst nightmare. Good luck.

  • Re:Possibility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @08:46PM (#42456567) Homepage

    Reality here. Take a deep breath, realise that there are tens of billions of pages and by far the majority get seen by very few people. The next step is really hard "ABANDON YOUR DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR" forget the pseudo celebrity bullshit, by far and I mean well and truly by far the majority of people on the planet do not give a shit one way or the other. Seriously so what?

    As for getting to the top of searchers simply report those pages as gaming the system to google and bing for advertising revenue. Generally those the freak out the most about what is on the web about them, lawyering up and such, well, it often because it is true and they make more profit from the lies.

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @12:48AM (#42458065)

    Angry at an ex? Angry at an employer? Angry at your neighbor? Pissed off that you hit on a guy and he wasn't interested and shot you down? You can easily ruin someone's life by just posting shit about them on a site called the Rip Off Report. Google curiously gives them incredibly high page ranking, but the site is nothing more than a scam. They NEVER REMOVE ANYTHING and they're proud of it. Even if you go to court. And you can be anonymous, while putting up real information (including name, etc) of your "target". It'll sit there forever. It'll get ranked high up on the first page of Google. They exploit shady SEO practices. And the only way they'll work with you is IF YOU PAY THEM for a "partnership service" that they advertise. Reportedly, it's around $5,000 -- give or take.

    You can google for all sorts of controversy regarding it. It has ruined a lot of people's lives -- and you're not even dealing with international issues or anything.

    I had someone defrauding users on my site, once. I banned them for it and next thing I knew, I had a really scummy "review/complaint/whatever" on this site. Absolutely no recourse and the other person is anonymous (though, obviously not -- since I recognized their insane babbling just like the hundreds of emails they sent me for a year after they were banned).

    It's really really shady shit and I don't think they're the only site that does it.

  • Re:three letters... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brokenin2 ( 103006 ) * on Thursday January 03, 2013 @12:56AM (#42458145) Homepage

    Even better.. Hire a reputable SEO company for yourself, and hire a dirtbag SEO company that does their best to cheat the system (link sites linking to more link sites etc) to promote the Ex's BS sites.... If you do it right, you should be able to promote your own a bit, and get google to ban the other sites for search engine manipulation.. Google has some very strict rules, and you just have to make sure you break them when promoting the undesirable site.. Wasn't it Sony that Google banned temporarily for improper search engine optimizations? I don't think Google's bans are normally temporary.. if they are though, I'm pretty sure they're not short term.. Sony had to kiss some butt to get into Google after only a few days..

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern