Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Economic Cyberbullying of Ticket Selling Sites

If there was ever a concert that exposed the depth of the rigged ticket selling system, it was the Tragically Hip.

Canadian emotions were high as they learned front man Gord Downie had been afflicted with terminal cancer. In order to give Hip fans one last chance to say goodbye, Downie mustered up his energy and the band embarked on a farewell tour throughout the country.

But the cold and uncaring scalper bots had something different in mind. The soaked up at least 2/3 of all the tickets and ceremoniously gouged the fans to the tune of $25 to $30 million.

It's like a big fuck you, Canada, and the Hip could do nothing about it, or maybe they could have.

Louis CK has warned fans that if they purchase tickets from resellers, those tickets would be invalidated and he might even cancel his performance.

Meanwhile Lewis Black has set up a F.U.C.K.U. membership site to take his ticket sales out of the hands of ticket bots and resellers.

More artists need to step up and take the control of their ticket sales out of the hands of selling sites like Ticketmaster, which admit they cannot stop bot sales.

There is a problem when an entertainer intends for his or her tickets to sell for $50, but the average fan can only acquire them for $120. Not only is it not fair, it's economic cyberbullying. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Internet Privacy Is Now Dead in the UK

Government authorities spying on its people isn't really anything new. We expect it in places like China, Russia, Egypt, and many more countries abroad. But in so-called Western societies, the idea of freedom may be what the ideology stands on, but in practice, control is everywhere.

Besides what we know about the American NSA and Canada's CSIS agencies using overreaching tactics under the guise of "terrorism prevention," most of their spying has been covert, without any public policy in place.

Enter the United Kingdom. It's newly anointed Investigative Powers Bill publicly gives carte blanche permission for police and government to willy nilly spy on everyone and anyone with NO JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT.

Mitch Jackson talks about it more in Say Goodbye to Internet Privacy in the UK. Is the United States Next? – Streaming.Lawyer.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Russian-Paid Trolls, Fake News, and Meme Creators

No matter where your political affiliations lie with the 2016 American Presidential Election, the video below is a must see.

Leave it to a Canadian comedian Samantha Bee to discover that most of the pro-Donald Trump Internet traffic and negative Hillary Clinton traffic was created by Russian-paid cyber trolls.

Chances are the links and memes you've been sharing, the ones that support your point of view was created by a foreign government for the sole purpose of interfering with the results of the election.

So when you look at your Twitter and Facebook feeds, how's that working?

Не забывайте голосовать. (Don't forget to vote.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Do Reformed Cyberbullies Exist?

Can an anonymous Twitter troll seek redemption and reverse his or her behavior? Perhaps. At least that is what this person is saying.

Isabella Sorley was convicted and served 12 weeks of prison time for her role in the online assault of Caroline Criado-Perez, to which her actions totaled all of ten minutes. John Nimmo was convicted alongside her and served eight weeks.

The implied threats were serious enough to warrant a conviction and time. Let that sink in.

There are a number of factors Isabella cites for warranting her despicable behavior, namely alcohol, mob mentality, the ease of the platform, the anonymity, everyone else was doing it so why would she get caught? Yes, all of these may have played a role, but making the actual decision to pick up your finger and hit a keyboard and send button lays solely on the person who sent the tweet.

The victim's life will never be the same. Sure, these people may have been prosecuted, and the rest of the mob may have discontinued their online assault. But what is to stop the next mob from doing the same thing to her tomorrow? Or maybe they'll just pick a new target.

It is an overwhelming and uphill battle to enforce such a crime, but as a society, we must gather up the wherewithal to keep reporting, even if it means flooding our law enforcement desks.

The Internet is not going away. We desperately need the laws to reform and reflect our current realities. We will not accept the insane and short-minded laziness behind the phrase: "just turn off your computer."

In the case of Perez, her cyberbullies were also forced to pay a fine. This is a case that offers some hope for the future.

Sure, one or both of these Twitter trolls may have found God. Perhaps they are indeed repentant. But words alone will not erase the fact they uttered both rape and death threats.

What was Caroline Criado-Perez's Twitter crime? She lobbied for a woman to be represented on British currency.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Woman, How Dare You?

I just saw Huffington Post blogger Gretchen Kelly's 2015 post that has gone viral again: The Thing All Women Do That You Don't Know About. I had to send her a tweet of thanks and to tell her this post was a gift to all womankind. It gives all of us validation.

What Gretchen's entry tells us is that this is the every day physical life of what it is like to live in the skin of a woman. What it doesn't include is the every day vitriol half the population faces online for merely existing.

While the offline experience is innuendos, cat calls, grabs, and outright physical abuse, the online experience is outrageously venomous because hiding behind a keyboard seems to allow the perpetrator to feel safe from repercussions. Plus, see the offline behavior, court and sentencing examples of situations that were called out, and -- because perpetrating any of this behavior against a woman is an acceptable part of society.

No, this isn't a man-hating piece. If you read Gretchen's post, she is not calling out all men, just the assholes.

Online, there are assholes and there are those who don't know what it's like because they have never walked a block in a woman's body.

If there is anything this election season has offered us (besides the need to have a shower) is that these issues are becoming conversations. No, we don't report it offline any more than we report it online -- until our lives are threatened, which is, sad to say, more often than you'd like to believe.

This may not be the experience of every woman online. It depends on how active you are online and what you talk about, ... and gaming. God forbid a woman would participate in what some young males consider their domain. It probably doesn't matter what platform you're on, although some tend to rally the haters more.

Here are some examples:

Twitter abuse, why cyberbullies target women:

Young women twice as exposed to cyber bullying as men:

Why women aren't welcome on the Internet:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Winter is Coming for 4chan

Slime attracts slime. 4chan could be out of business unless the world's most hated man gives it a financial boost.

In the meantime, no decent human being is about to lose any sleep over the fact that Hiroyuki Nishimura can no longer afford to keep the dark web site afloat. 

He's had trouble finding advertisers. Gee, no kidding. This is the man responsible for allowing those hacked iPhone naked photos of celebs to circulate. His basket of horrible people have not only bought and sold hacked material, but created bomb threats, tried to convince teenagers to kill themselves, and is the place to go when you're looking for a cheap hitman. 

When you travel the abyss, an anal fissure is going to gorge your hollow excuse of a life. Winter is coming, bitch.

So Nishimura's options are: charge a fee for better access, downsize the available cyberspace, accept ads from malware plants, or get Martin Shkreli to bail you out. You know, the guy who hiked up the life-saving AIDS medication 5000 percent.

Maybe he can accept the last two scenarios. Accept malware-laden ads and Shkreli's financial boost. Then the malware can infect the 4chan servers, Shkreli's and all the cybertroll members' devices and have them sort through the same Internet pain they've given everybody else times 1000.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

We're Human Beings, Man

This is heartbreaking. You may remember Paris Jackson as the "leave Britney alone" girl when she posted a YouTube video about all the Internet comments Britney Spears was getting for some of her behavior.

She received so much abuse over her public fame that she tried to commit suicide. She was 14 years old. Fortunately, she did not succeed.

What Paris did do was take a hiatus from social media. Upon her return, the abuse resumed. For God's sake, people. She's only 18 now.

But it doesn't matter if she's 18, 38, or 78, nobody deserves the hate trolling that some think the Internet has given them license for. A pox on all of these assholes. 

The world needs more caring people like Paris Jackson, so leave Paris alone! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Don't Blame Twitter or Other Platforms for Cyberbullying

It always baffles me when the advice given to someone who is bulled, by their lawyer or their friends, is to delete their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

Cyberbullying and trolling isn't the platform's problem. It isn't even the network privacy settings. It's the fault of the assholes who are perpetrating the bullying. Period.

Mike Klein (@kleinkleinklein) said this in a post on TechCrunch: "Online abuse is omnipresent and not exclusive to one platform over another. It’s a behavior that starts with a mentality, not a platform."

So in other words, blame the person, not the platform. Sure, the owners of the platform are held accountable to waive their magic fairy dust to rid these trolls from abusing the decent, law-abiding users. However, they are not miracle workers and face it, it you have trouble managing 200 emails a day, imagine what it might be like to manage over one billion Facebook accounts every day. It's why the reporting option doesn't always get you justice, kind of like our court systems. But for all platforms, there are two surefire buttons that will rid you of THAT bully:

Delete and Block.

I was watching one of my Facebook friend's post comments get hijacked by a single "friend" who decided that nobody else's opinion mattered but his, Instead of editing his first post and add to it (like most of us might do), he posted thought after thought, but really, they were more hate speak, trolling, and bullying than intelligent thought. I unfollowed the feed so that I wouldn't keep getting notification of his diatribe. The only reply my friend made was that he was confirming the point she made in the original post. He continued and continued.

A week from now or a year from now, when Facebook gives people a look back at their activity, will that person still stand by his diatribe? Will he be proud to see it? Or will he finally see it with the eyes of the people who do not know him, who use his posts as a way to determine his character?

You do have control as to what you post, but also on what you see in your own feed. If you don't like what you see day in and day out (as when I hear friends complain about the drama in the Facebook feeds), then get better friends. YOU choose what you see. If you like the friend but don't like the posts, unfollow them while still remaining friends. You don't have to keep them as friends, especially if you don't know them well. But when you open up your networks, if you are not inspired, educated, entertained, or even interested by the home feed, find better friends to follow who will offer you that option.

In the case of being trolled or cyberbullied, if it's an onslaught and too much to handle (as in the case of Twitter pooping), don't delete your account, rather change your notifications. You don't have to be alerted to every tweet. You can take a break, but when you do, find the strength to shake off these strangers who have no clue as to who you are and are just living in their parents' basement jerking off to Spiderman comics. They don't deserve your reaction, your fear, your sadness, or your anger. Mute them as if they are the political pundits you hate to see on the cable news station. When you see them, think about Foghorn Leghorn: "Your mouth is flapping and nothing comes out."

You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be on the platform, front and center like everyone else. These cyberbullies are just mosquitoes in a forest of tweets. Slap them away.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

When a Bad Decision Goes Horribly Wrong. The Tiziana Catone Story.

September 13, 2016: a beautiful 31-year-old Italian woman is dead.

Tiziana Catone lived a public hell. She tried twice to end her pain, but finally succeeded on try number three. A desperate plea for help for a system that could not save her.

It all started with a sex tape, one that she willingly made, and then sent to a couple of friends. It was a mistake she could never take back.

Almost immediately, the tape was posted online, reshared, and viewed over a million times -- without her knowledge and without her consent. There were t-shirts, smartphone covers ... a serious marketing campaign was created at her expense, to which she never saw a dime.

Tiziana was mortified. She did everything she could to get her life back. She tried moving, changing her identity, but the notoriety followed her to the ends of the earth.

She won a "Right to Be Forgotten" ruling and the video and all of its chemtrails were ordered offline. It didn't work and the courts invoiced her 20,000 euros for her efforts.

She hung herself at her aunt's house.

Even in death, the bullying continues. Yes, she may have been naive to think such a video might stay private. But if you really look at the backlash against her, would it be so horrific if she were a man? (Hint: the lover in the video didn't have to change his identity. He doesn't have his name up in lights, or had to go to court to fight for a Right to Be Forgotten order.)

Tiziana Catone saw no way out and felt that society actually bought her the rope. Her life didn't matter. Why? Over a sex tape? What about Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian? They made their careers from a sex tape. Why don't you hear about the man getting beat up online about his involvement?

For all the Tiziana Catones out there, I hope there is another way. Perhaps if one can build up their personal shield to deflect all the bullshit, they can eventually call out the haters and expose the hypocrisy of this type of cyberbullying. In the case of Tiziana's family, what they should do is sue the bastards for royalties.

If the cybercriminals can't be held accountable on criminal law, then maybe it's time to get them to pay up from the commercial side.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Who Are Adult Cyberbullies?

Workplace bullies follow you home on the computer.

Stalkers lurk on your ever post, your every digital move.

Your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse seeks revenge and talks trash about you on Facebook or publishes your private intimate photos and videos on YouTube and in spam text.

Disgruntled clients create a web page to destroy your business.

Unsuccessful job candidates seek revenge and create a web page to destroy your business.

Creditors troll your Facebook and send messages to your friends to ask questions about you. 

Strangers take issue with your looks, your name, your profession, your gender, your social status, your sexual preference, or your existence.

You don't have to go far to find an adult cyberbully. They sit in every nook and cranny of your computing devices, lying in wait, ready to pounce, just because technology makes it easy for them to do so.

@notonmyinternet shared a link to a 2015 New Yorker article that talks about how the Internet has changed basic bullying. Bullying researchers are finally seeing that cyberbullying isn't just a school age problem. It's as equally, or more, prevalent in the adult world.

The article admits: "To date, no one has systematically studied how different bullying settings affect bullying behavior..." Three years ago, when I began researching business and adult cyberbullying, there were very few links to people talking about it. The search engines would only bring up school bullies. Today, there are a handful of links, but most still revert to children.

There is a lot of room for psychologists and academic researchers to step up their game. Our lives and our economies depend on it. If you think about the impact cyberbullying has financially on adults and businesses ... if only there were more statistics. Because only then will our law enforcement have any teeth to prevent it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Leave Leslie Alone!

Bitch, please! No, not Leslie Jones. I'm talking to you, the Twitter trolls. 

Like, really? You can't find a life of your own that you have to invest a group assault on one of the best female comedians of our time? Shame on you. 

Sadly, no amount of calling out or shaming a Twitter troll will change their behavior. If anything, it ignites them, because in their meaningless friend-less lives, their only source of being is to make others miserable. A pox on your houses.

I mean, have you even watched Saturday Night Live? Is this a woman you want to challenge in some dark alley known as your existence? She will beat the ever-loving crap out of you and not even have to stand up to do it.

That's probably the point. Chances are, the assholes behind these attacks are intimidated by the mere fact a woman exists, so in order for them to feel like men, they have to tear "the little woman" to shreds in the most heinous way possible: a rape of her digital footprint. They also know the chances of being persecuted are slim, if not none, because law enforcement is already light years behind technology and it will take them centuries just to catch up to now.

Closing a Twitter or Facebook account, turning off the computer and mobile device is not going to solve anything. The pricks are still online wreaking their wand of toxins, whether you see it or not. 

All you can do is be true to yourself, carry on with life as best you can. Yes, your footprint may have the smear (I speak from experience of a cyberbully troll) for a long time, and maybe forever. Women have a much harder time to recoup than men because, you know, misogyny. But still, we can only move forward, try and stay positive, live our lives, and beat the shit out of them digitally by posting positive shit to try and drown out their chasm of cancerous crap

The rest of us can help by sending digital love to the target to help lift their spirits.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hey, Kid? What's App?

Alternate messaging apps are a fantastic tool, convenient and easy to use, but they are also a pedophile's dream. 

WhatsApp, Snapchat, KIK ... these and other messaging apps have become a mainstay in the daily lives of both adults and children. The chat/browse/share aspect of technology is not going away any time soon. 

But in using KIK as an example, the app uses names, not phone numbers, to set up an account. While you can get away with creating a fake account in pretty much any media, in the instant messaging apps, it's a lot easier because you have direct online access without going through a browser, where your activity is tracked. 

So with over 275 million users in KIK alone, it is open season for anyone with an ulterior motive. Such as when a CBC reporter created a fake profile of a 13-year-old girl to see who might approach her. It took only minutes to receive a number of sexually-motivated texts from random people who even admitted their real age. 

Robert Cairns (@robcairns), who has 25+ years experience in the technology field as a programmer, network support analyst, and Internet security consultant, works with the Toronto police on cyberbully and Internet security issues. "Kids are ahead of their parents on tech issues. A seven year old understands search." 

You can blame the app, blame the Internet and take away your kids' computers, try and sue the messaging app companies or Google, but that is never going to solve the real problem. Education is your first line of defense. 

Yes, kids may know a lot more than you do about Internet things, but that isn't your excuse for not learning about it yourself. Cairns has some tips on how to help keep your kids out of the hands of pedophiles.

Check their Internet history, but first, you need trust. I can tell you first-hand that when I was a kid, long before the Internet was born, if my mother gave me an ultimatum and told me not to do something, I did it anyway just to spite her. It's all in the approach. Just think back to when you were your kid's age.

Cairns advises against policing as a tactic. Nothing beats a two-way conversation. Teach them what they can do that is positive. Ignite their imagination. Empower them. Teach them how to use block skills; go to someone who can help.

Do something together with technology just to try out stuff and not be afraid.

Set up computer/Internet mentoring where they can ask questions. Let the stronger kids mentor their peers.

Be aware of the dangers, but don't let the dangers control your fears. Education, learning savvy computer skills that include what to look out for, using that sixth sense, and using the block and report button for cyberbullies, that is how you beat the odds.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Nowhere Safe

Just because you can doesn't mean you should. That is the problem with the ease at which the Internet and all of its tools can play into the hands of those who seek revenge and incite mob mentality. 

Bullies bully to make themselves feel like they are more important than they are. They use the Internet because it can do the most damage to someone's reputation. It takes a special kind of psychopath to create an account in someone else's name and use it to publish their own thoughts, which are contrary to the person they are impersonating. It masks the psychopath's crime and it makes the innocent a target.

This is the true story behind the movie Nowhere Safe (2014), directed by Brian Brough and written by Brittany Wiscombe.

Ashley Evans (Danielle Chuchran) is a good student who becomes the target of two mean girls who create a plan to impersonate her and make her a cyberbully. Things get so ugly, that Ashley and her mother, who is a teacher her daughter's school, Julie Johnson (Natasha Henstridge) are forced into a midnight move to a new community where they hope to rebuild with a clean slate.

It's a lesson on choices. Do you run or do you fight? Ashley and her mother chose to run. When the past finds its way into their new lives, where the whole nasty journey looks like it may continue, they choose a different route. Ashley finds her voice and ultimately gets her life back in the process.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Racist Cyberbullies Who Target Olympic Athletes -- Their Parents Must Be So Proud

Somewhere along the line, some doorknobs of society chose to wake up on any given morning (more likely a late afternoon) to hate on Olympic athletes participating in the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Truth be told, it isn't just the athletes in the Rio Olympics. Assholes have no boundaries.

Yes, as the head of Rio's cybercrime unit Alessandro Thiers reports, this is how some people choose to be famous. 

Be careful what you wish for.

The beauty of this particular story in Rio is that these racist cyberbullies are getting a taste of fame -- of the big huge billboard kind. Yes, payback is a bitch, my friends. Their hateful tweets are being broadcast physically in billboards spread about the city. Perhaps a public shaming for public shaming is better than the weak Internet laws that are prevalent worldwide.

It likely won't stop the hateful tweets. How proud their parents must be when they drive by one of these billboards and see their son or daughter's name authoring such intense hatred for humankind. 

The thing is with the Internet, folks, there are ways to find you, even if you throw up a fake name. If someone is hellbent to pursue the ends of the earth to open a can of whoopass justice on you, once you are found out, your name will be linked to your actions for everyone to see, even your employer. 

Here is the full story about the campaign to stop these morons from their toxic attacks. It makes you think if these people are so well versed in athletics, that they feel they can hate on a Black athlete who lost an event, why aren't they in the Olympics?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Debt Shaming

When people are swallowed under a mountain of debt they cannot repay, they already feel shame, regardless of how that debt was incurred. To have others publicly shame them only adds insult to injury. It surely doesn't solve anything or make them miraculously find the money to pay everything off.

The U.S. household debt in 2016 sits at $12.25 trillion, where the average family owes over $90,000. Credit market debt to disposable income in Canada has risen 164.4 percent. That means for every dollar earned, Canadians owe $1.64.

The U.S. Department of Education has said that of the students who entered college in 2006, at least 59% didn't finish their degree within six years, and only one in three students graduate from community college. Student loan debt in the United States is at $1.2 trillion among 43 million with an average debt load of $37,172 per student. In Canada, the debt load is $28,000. You have to be out of school for at least seven years before a bankruptcy court will consider your student loan for discharge. Maybe five years if you can prove undue hardship. Hmm. For the average personal bankruptcy, doesn't financial hardship CAUSE people to file for bankruptcy? The bar is set pretty high to get this debt discharged. It also does not fall under the statute of limitations that other debt does.

The student loan business is a multi-trillion dollar industry that grows by more than $2,726 every second. Students spend the rest of their lives in wallowing debt before they can start their career. College tuition costs range $40,000 to $100,000, all for the sake of a degree, a degree that, may or may not be compatible with the real job market.

Since the 2008 recession, 50 percent of the job losses affected those aged 15 to 24. While there has been some recovery, for the most part, low wages, underemployment, and inability to save are just a handful of contributors to why someone cannot pay their debt.

So when Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Lee Siegel suggests that students who cannot pay back their loans should choose life rather than spend a lifetime of stress and hardship swallowed in oppressive student loan debt, the people with good paying jobs and careers have sharpened their pitchforks.

It is awkward when people openly debt shame others for defaulting on student or household loans.

Debt shaming does not cure or prevent debt. It is easy to judge others for their circumstances, even if they did it to themselves through bad decision making. To the people doing the finger pointing, imagine for a moment:

  • if you didn't have your life together
  • if you were all of a sudden laid up in the hospital without benefits or the ability to work
  • if your husband just left you with three kids and all of the shared debt after he cleaned out your joint bank account
  • if you were working three part-time jobs and still had to decide whether or not to buy food or pay utilities this month
  • if you were flying high with everything going for you: a great income, job or business, and all of a sudden, there is nothing (that is what happened in 2008 and what happens when a single entrepreneur gets injured or sick)
  • if the industry you have spent your lifetime building no longer exists in the new economy
  • and yes, if you made some stupid-ass decisions that created this mess

If you don't have Mommy and Daddy or friends available or willing to bail you out and you can't find a good-paying job that will lift you up, it is all but impossible to clear off your debt. Until you experience what a good percentage of your friends and family and fellow North Americans are experiencing, then you have no room to judge. There is the extreme rare example of someone who deliberately abuses the credit system and without conscious leaves a trail of debt, only to do it again. For everyone of those people, there 95 percent more who have found themselves in over their head or fate has dealt them a lousy card.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Race, Body, and Slut Shaming -- Shame on You for Shaming

(Warning: I am not going to talk nice in this entry.)

Didn't your mother always tell you that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all? Then why the hell do you think it's okay do talk shit on Twitter?

Behind every social media account is a real live, breathing human being. Yes, that includes celebrities, too. Even the trolls and bullies are real people behind their sometimes anonymous avatars. But for some reason, there are people representing the lowest denominator of society, because their lives suck, they have to make everyone else's suffer.

Now we're not talking the fun memes we see circulating. While they make fun of someone's very public error, they're not intended to seriously hurt someone. In fact, a really good meme can actually get a nodding approval from the target, such as the original Texts from Hillary. There are some very clever and humorous tweets that also play into a high profile train wreck, such as the Melania Trump speech at the 2016 Republican Convention. It's like a Saturday Night Live skit. Consider it an honor that so many people took such an invested effort to feature you. It compounds the mistake, but the furor is short-lived. There will be memes that keep their staying power, usually an image, but for the most part, there is no malice intended with these kind of posts.

When they get vile, nasty, and highly personal, that's when you have a problem. Here are some terrible examples, but they are tame compared to some:

No plagiarism here, folks. These are screenshots of real tweets, and some may even be real names. Because like we see in racism and bigotry, haters are proud of their opinions.

You don't always win if you try to engage a troll or cyberbully. In fact, it adds fuel to their toxic fire. They live for it. Crave it. You know why? It's the only time anyone will acknowledge their miserable existence. 

A lot of the targets are female and especially females who are non-white. But, when it comes to body shaming, and hell, even slut shaming, women can be the worst culprits. No surprise, really. As a female, if you've ever worked in an all-female office, there is a lot of "Ooh, she did this and that." "Did you see what she was wearing?" The Mean Girls cafeteria is a real thing.

Kudos to Jennifer Aniston for going on the offensive. It probably thrilled the trolls to start their engines, but hey, she was at least able to control her message. And she did not address anyone directly. That's the key. A shut down can work and spread like wildfire because it empowers the others who have been there. Usually, they are not directed at one troll, but sometimes they can be. When that happens and the shutdown spreads, it's a beautiful thing. The troll can't usually fight back because his toxic excrement gets lost in the positive energy.

So Dear Shamers: 

Race shamers: Our DNA roots us all from Africa. Get over yourself. Barak Obama is your very distant cousin.

Body shamers: I'll bet the last time you looked in the mirror, you didn't see Ryan Gosling or Jennifer Lawrence staring back at you.

Slut shamers: Just because you haven't been laid in decades (or see the answer to body shamers above) ... and you probably just gave your girlfriend or boyfriend gonorrhea.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Just Joking Doesn't Give You A Cyberbully-Free Card

Kendall Jenner

It really doesn't matter how famous, infamous, or anonymous you are. "Just joking" is not a viable excuse for your bullying behavior.

Like her or not, Kendall Jenner's story is just one example of what many people experience, whether you're a celebrity or not. It only takes one lame-ass comment to trigger the Twitter trolls into mob mentality and group troll an account or hashtag.

Stephanie Seymour has modeled for many of the high end fashion magazines during the course of her career. Like all of us, her past has had its ups and downs, both professionally and personally. She recently called out Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, inferring that they are not really models, even though they are being professionally paid to do that job. Her comment was to conclude that the term "supermodel" did not apply to the new girls and rather that they were the "B***hes of the moment!"

Jenner called her out and Seymour's apology somewhere along the way included the "just joking" scenario. 

If you have to use the term "just joking" to justify a remark you'd like to take back, maybe just apologize and just leave it at that.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When Citizen Journalism Goes Bad and Inadvertently Rallies the Cyberbullies

The pitchforks still rise when the shot is newsworthy and the intention is pure.

The fallout for the subjects of citizen journalists can be devastating. It goes well beyond the Twitter trolls when mob mentality takes over and vigilante justice reins its ugly head. This is not what the citizen journalist intended. Maybe they did try to out someone's potential bad behavior. But in the case of this elderly woman, who seemed to skip out on her taxi fare at the video's glance, was not the story at all.

Here's another example from public transit and the website STOMP.

In many cases, a simple headline, especially a clickbait headline, is all it takes to destroy a reputation.

There are many cases when vigilantes rose up to wield their shields of justice when no action was needed. The intention of the citizen was to make the public aware of something, show a crazy mistake, or something that may have seemed kind of funny at the time.

We do need citizen journalists more and more these days, so this trend towards ganging up on a subject is more than just a tad disturbing. It may deter someone from reporting a story when there is no journalist around, when the citizen journalist is needed more than ever.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Offline Threats By Adult Cyberbullies Causes Wedding to Cancel

It doesn't matter how strong you are mentally or physically, a cyberbully can get into your psyche and destroy it. Anyone can be a target.

There is not very much about adult cyberbullying online as Sarah Donohue learned when she struggled to find help. There were threats that the online assault would endanger her offline, so she cancelled her wedding and moved to a new location.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stop Paying Ransomware and Increasing the Payoff for Cyber Pirates

For the love of all things Internet, just stop it. Stop being so damned naive and dumb about cybersecurity and paying off ransoms. Just frigging stop it!

I just posted a blog entry on this a few months ago.

Ransomware payments solve diddly squat. Sure, the cyber pirate hacker may release your computer after you fork over thousands of dollars, but guess what. HE/SHE IS STILL INSIDE YOUR COMPUTER! What is to stop this hacker from just locking up your system again tomorrow? Nothing, nada, because you were too dumb and lazy to find a cybersecurity expert.

Cybersecurity and business cyberbullying is hard enough without compounding a crime with a bad decision and rolling out the red carpet for another pirate to say, hey, this idiot paid Hacker 14's ransom, he'll probably pay mine, too.

According to Lloyds of London, cybercrime costs businesses $400 billion a year. $100 billion of that is in the U.S. and the victim count is upwards of 556 million. It is expected that the global cost of cybercrime will net $2 trillion by 2019. Two trillion. At this rate, every gang banger is going to learn how to code. It's a better return than the drug trade.

Why? Because companies don't want to spend money on IT, and by the time they do, the hacker has been in their system for years. (See Sony.) How sad is it that even our educational institutions are set up for failure when it comes to this stuff. Case in point, the University of Calgary. Instead of paying ransomware, maybe the curriculum needs to include and force its administration to attend Cybersecurity and Information Technology courses. Oh wait, it does have a Business Technology Management course.

Look, I don't mean to be mean about this, but seriously, when the hell are businesses and organizations going to take this shit seriously? For every dollar you don't spend on IT, for everything you don't know about basic cybersecurity, updating software/apps, or just basic common sense, you put everyone who is connected to you through the Internet at risk.

Sure, companies don't really want to admit their mistake, but saying nothing and hoping it will go away just means all your employees, suppliers, family members, customers, and golf buddies just had their identities stolen and sold to the black market. Then to add icing to the hacker's cake, you just willingly gave him $20,000 top up the money he will earn from selling the credit cards and social security numbers because instead of finding a security expert, you chose to pay ransom instead.

Please, just stop it.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How to Know if You've Been Defamed Online or If You've Been Guilty of Defaming Someone Else

Who are you going to call when you've been defamed online? The Electronic Frontier Foundation is one resource that will help you figure out how to defend yourself.

The EFF is a non-profit organization that defends civil liberties in the digital world. Everyone needs to bookmark this site right now.

It's a membership-driven organization. It was founded in 1990 by Mitch Kapor (former president of Lotus Development Corporation), John Perry Barlow (Wyoming cattle rancher and lyricist for the Grateful Dead), and John Gilmore (an early employee of Sun Microsystem) to respond to an unwarranted government raid that ruined the business of a games book publisher.

This website is filled with case studies, white papers, news updates, events, and all sorts of advice as to what your rights are as a blogger, coder, and more.

For example, under Bloggers' Rights, it describes what a blogger is and what he or she is able to talk about. The site describes what online defamation is, opinion versus fact, and reporting on public or private individuals.

Bookmark this for your superhero cyber crime fighting folder.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hacking Law Covers Act of Corporate Computer Sabotage

Disgruntled employees that try to knowingly and intentionally permanently delete corporate computer files are committing a federal crime.

Illegally deleting files falls under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, otherwise known as the hacking law.

If a person accesses a computer without authorization or oversteps the authorization they do have to access confidential files, such as financial records, government documents, and protected information -- it falls under this law. If that person causes transmission of files they do not have authorized access to, try to change the records in any way, or delete them, it falls under this act.

Here are some examples of people who have been charged under this Act:

IT administrator Michael Thomas deletes files before leaving his job.

NFL Twitter hacker tweets Commissioner's death.

Journalist accesses content management system and defaces file.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How to Piss off Your Trolls

How dare you.

What were you thinking? You know when you post an opinion about anything, some troll is going to crap in your space. It might even be someone you like.

There are other Internet trolls whose mission from their perceived god is to make life as miserable and ugly as possible for others. Why? Because they have nothing better to do. They'd rather get all up in your space than find a life of their own. All you have to do is be breathing.

Some trolls are outright cyberbullies. They don't just post contrary and negative opinions or get personal and tell you you're ugly, fat, nobody loves you, or whatever. They've got to take it a step further and cross that line to cyber-crime and purposefully try to destroy your online reputation and business.

The universal response for all three types of trolls is ignore. Do not respond. They live for that. If you do, the conversation will escalate and you will have dug yourself an impossible trench. However, if the comment is really ugly, or if it is a cyberslur, delete it and block that person from being able to post in your space again.

But do you want to know what really pisses off a troll? Ignoring their existence, for one. Going about your business as if nothing ever happened, for another. What this does is two things. One: it allows you to take control of your own Internet, regardless of what others may say about you. Two: You absolutely can't let them win.

Any response or acknowledgement you provide to an ugly post means they win. So stop it. Don't do it. If you have to sit on your hands, scream at the ceiling, and chisel the block button -- never let them see they have got your goat. It isn't easy. It may hurt like hell, but your only hope of sanity is to piss them the hell off.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

LinkedIn Warns Members of Data Breach Fallout Four Years After the Fact

Um, what?

Seriously. This is no joke. LinkedIn sent out a note from their legal department and it is as real as the words on this page. You can even read it on the LinkedIn site.

On May 17, 2016, we became aware that data stolen from LinkedIn in 2012 was being made available online. This was not a new security breach or hack. We took immediate steps to invalidate the passwords of all LinkedIn accounts that we believed might be at risk. These were accounts created prior to the 2012 breach that had not reset their passwords since that breach.

Member email addresses, hashed passwords, and LinkedIn member IDs (an internal identifier LinkedIn assigns to each member profile) from 2012.

We invalidated passwords of all LinkedIn accounts created prior to the 2012 breach that had not reset their passwords since that breach. In addition, we are using automated tools to attempt to identify and block any suspicious activity that might occur on LinkedIn accounts. We are also actively engaging with law enforcement authorities.

LinkedIn has taken significant steps to strengthen account security since 2012. For example, we now use salted hashes to store passwords and enable additional account security by offering our members the option to use two-step verification.

We have several dedicated teams working diligently to ensure that the information members entrust to LinkedIn remains secure. While we do all we can, we always suggest that our members visit our Safety Center to learn about enabling two-step verification, and implementing strong passwords in order to keep their accounts as safe as possible. We recommend that you regularly change your LinkedIn password and if you use the same or similar passwords on other online services, we recommend you set new passwords on those accounts as well.

This is Hacker 101. Hack website, steal information, sell on the dark web. This would have been a no-brainer in 2012. It's almost laughable that it took LinkedIn this long to figure it out.

The bottom line is, you really need to change your passwords often on the sites you use the most, a minimum of every six months. I know I've changed mine several times over since this breach happened, and most definitely when we were alerted to the Heartbleed bug. You need to take care of your own security.  

Seriously, if I were LinkedIn's brain trust, I'd be firing the ass of its security and legal teams. In 2016, if you have a business where you access a computer or mobile device, you are negligent and should lose your business license if you are putting everyone in your network at risk by keeping a security breach secret and not upgrading your IT.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Login Ceremony

It’s the one thing about the Internet that drives us all batty: passwords.
If you click the wrong keystroke, nothing happens. Platforms are also becoming more and more insistent that users create more complicated passwords — all the better to protect you with — but how the heck do you remember them all?
There are reputable websites that offer to store all your passwords, to keep them safe. Well, then you need a password to get your passwords. Who can be sure that site can’t be hacked any more than the sites your other passwords belong to?
There are no guarantees.
You DO need complicated passwords: a combination of upper/lower case letters, numbers, and symbols or phrases. You need a unique password for every site you visit, especially the ones you visit the most, such as FacebookTwitter, and Google.
When it comes to storing those passwords, I say do what is easiest for you. If you need a hard copy, fine, but make sure it doesn’t get into external hands, and always, always, always have an electronic backup saved somewhere in the Cloud. Otherwise you risk not knowing how to complete the login ceremony.

Originally published November 1, 2015,, Debbie Elicksen

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Software From Hell

There is a lot of great software out there, along with user-friendly and necessary apps. Sometimes it isn’t always the free downloads that do it. Your paid programs can also become software from hell, launching an all-out attack of freeware, adware, and God knows what into your system.

Eliminate the risk by only downloading directly from the main site, such as the antivirus company, Google Play, Apple. They have already pre-screened and checked that the download will be safe. Then no matter what, do not add any of the suggested products offered up during the download process.
A credible website, when it offers third-party free downloads of the software or apps you’re looking for, can also become a nightmare. I made this mistake twice.
For example, there is a website that is the go-to for learning about how software and apps rate with users. On the same line as the review, it offers the download of the program direct from their site. You are better off opening a new tab to go directly to the original source. Your computer will thank you.
In the case of software (even anti-virus software), a lot of times when you click through the prompts, it automatically downloads toolbars and all sorts of crap into your computer. Some of it is impossible to remove. You can remove the problem, but there is often a residue that reminds you every time you start up that next time, don’t download third-party stuff. The good thing about Google is, when you key into the search engine the name of the problem and how to remove it, you’ll find a wealth of tutorials. Pick the one that seems the easiest step-by-step.

Originally published January 13, 2016. Debbie Elicksen

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Are You A Troll or a Spammer?

If your digital media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…) look like any of the ones below, fix them now or get off the Internet. First impression is you look like a troll or a spammer. We are not going to give you the time of day if you can’t give your network the time of day.
It’s amazing how many times you see a connection request from someone on LinkedIn or Facebook or a new follower in Google+ who have absolutely no information in their profiles at all — people you personally know. But if you don’t know them, how do you know they’re not a serial killer? You have to wonder why they reached out if they’re not a spammer or phisher.
The sad thing is, some of these belong to real people. Although I may still connect with them if it’s a friend, I will advise them as diplomatically as I can to get a profile picture. I’ll say something like this: “Hey, nice to see you here. Now put up a photograph or you look like a spammer.”
Because social sites are used more to connect with potential business prospects, if you have nothing in your profile but your name, you’re leaving a lot of money outside of your computer. Consider your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ profile/about pages your resume. The more information you put here about yourself — like what you do, the type of work or customers you’re looking for, links to project examples that back up your work or other ways to connect — the greater chance of you getting an unplanned referral or prospect to connect with you.
It’s time to do our part to improve digital media (I’ll get to the literacy aspect another time). If any of your profiles look like these, fix them now or get off the platform. Otherwise, are you a troll or a spammer?
Are you a serial killer?
Bad spelling screams fake profile
The following video is more about personal connections, but the message is the same. No picture, not information = you’re CREEPY.

Originally published December 14, 2015. Debbie Elicksen.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

You Are What You Publish

+David Meerman Scott wrote The New Rules of Marketing and PR, which is more than a book; it's reality. It's the future. It's who we have become.

We can believe that each digital media is only a social platform where you hang out with your friends. We can throw a hissy fit every time Facebook or YouTube changes its algorithms. We can choose who we want to accept into each of our tight little circles. 

Ignore the realities all you want.

Digital platforms, yes even Facebook and Twitter, are publishing platforms. You have access to this media only because the companies (you know, Zuckerberg and all the guys who own them) let you. Whether you privatize your settings or not, it is still a public forum. If anyone in your "friends" list can see your posts, that is a public post. It's why we use direct messages and emails to have private one-on-one conversations.  

You essentially rent a page from a public membership-based website for free. What you do with that page is up to you, unless it crosses any of the platform's set boundaries. You can bitch all you want about the platform doing this or not doing that, but you don't own it. You rent a small one-billionth of a space for free.

The page you have rented, depending on the platform, shows up in a Google search, even if your individual posts do not. That said, whether or not you've privatized your settings or if you only "friend" people you have met in person, your content can find its way to your employer's desk, the government, and the police, if you've been especially naughty.

What you post on this free public platform is equal to publishing a page in the local (or rather international) newspaper. If it's salacious enough to rankle enough feathers, make it a billboard on a Los Angeles or Toronto main thoroughfare. 

There are people who are the Debbie Downers of social media. They publish hate, ugliness, and continually troll other people's feeds with negative comments. They are in your private digital community. When you see their name in your home feed, your first reaction is to roll your eyes and maybe get ready to click the "hide" option before you've even seen the post.

You may like the person, but hate their post or comment. If they do it on your page, you may rent that page, but you determine what goes on that page. You have the right to delete.

In publishing, everyone is entitled to their opinion, even your friends. When that opinion isn't constructive, is mean-spirited, or is just made because they don't respect your opinion, you have the right to delete.

If you are the person who posts negative and mean-spirited comments, who continually fills their own feeds with it, is that really the permanent impression you want to leave on your public digital footprint?

I love Facebook's On This Day, a look back at your previous posts through the years. It gives you a do-over. I go through them every day. If there is a post that no longer fits my present editorial guideline (post no harm) or something that is irrelevant, like the ongoing diatribe I used to make while watching football and hockey games, or dead website links, I will delete them and clean up my Timeline. Regardless of the platform, there are posts I re-evaluate, sometimes right after I've published them, and then delete them.

This is a website created for schools but a lot of adults could use a refresher course on how to act online (code word for "in public").

The three things that each human craves are safety, belonging, and mattering. We can go a lot further as a human race and as role models if we practice exercising restraint and create a world that lifts our fellow friends and strangers up rather than tear them down. It begins one computer at a time.

When you are online, you write your history.