There is no guarantee that being anonymous online offers a safe haven to be abusive to others.
Recently, I was in a scuffle with a flock of anonymous voices on Amazon and as I struggled to disengage from the issue, I was warned that I should apologize to all the anonymous voices hiding behind the masks, and I asked myself why do people do this in the first place?
Maybe this post on Standing in Your Power.com helps explains it better than I can:
“Did you know that up to 90% of our subconscious mind is filled with negative, counterproductive thoughts? That’s what Dr. Bruce Lipton reports, in his book The ‘Biology of Belief’. This negativity, if not reprogrammed, bubbles up as negative self-talk.”
And when our self-talk is dominated by negativity, how we interact with other people is often negative too. In addition, being anonymous on the Internet magnifies that negativity giving an individual a false sense of power that is explained by a behavior called disinhibition.
In fact, in the late 1980s, to change my life and rid myself of character traits that I did not like, on the advice of a close friend, I read a book called “What to Say When you Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter, and this book is still in print decades later. Reading that book helped me take charge of who I am so I could be a better person and chart my own course.
76% of 163 Amazon reviews rate “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself” with five stars (13% rate it with four stars). Only 4% rate it with one star, and this clearly says that not all opinions are equal.
When I read this book and followed Helmstetter’s advice, Amazon did not exist (Amazon was founded in 1994), and I am now planning to write a five-star review of the book because if I had not read it and followed the author’s advice in the 1980s, I’m sure that I would have continued to drift aimlessly through life letting the negative voices control me instead of setting goals to change what I wanted to change and achieve what I have achieved.
However, that doesn’t mean the battle is over. It never ends. Reading one book and following the advice of its author will not erase the negative voices that are always there tempting us to doubt who we are and to take the wrong path and make the wrong decisions in life—the same negative voices that I’m sure are the controlling factor in the behavior of all of the people I collided with on the Katherine Ashe and “Tough Cookie” Amazon threads where I struggled with a flock of mostly anonymous voices.
When we are aware of that negative voice in our head, and we discover it is a factor in something we said or did, then we have a choice to continue down the destructive path or change course. In this case, I decided to change course.
But that does not erase the fact that some of these anonymous voices on Amazon have slandered me. For example the voice that called me an ”egotistical snob” for the whole world to see, and that was only one example possibly explaining the reason why the sales of my books that have held steady for several years suddenly—almost overnight—dropped by about fifty percent.
In addition, I think most of these anonymous voices have no intention of changing course and if that is true, then they may, inadvertently lead us all into court in a costly law suit that could possibly lead to laws that take away the privilege of anonymity on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Anonymity is not guaranteed. It is a privilege that can be taken away by Congress or the courts if through slanderous abuse, enough people, who do not hide behind anonymity, are injured as I now believe that my hard-earned reputation has been damaged.
In fact, you can read about the wider picture of this issue in Finding and Identifying Perpetrators of Online Defamation on Dancing With Lawyers.com
Attorney Nicholas Carroll says, “Positively identifying (and/or proving) the person or people who are defaming you on the Internet is one of the most difficult parts of fighting online slander (or libel, more accurately).
“It’s also one of the most useful – and perhaps the most important – elements in stopping online defamation, because online slanderers rely heavily on staying anonymous. When they get a cease-and-desist letter arriving through snail mail at their physical address, they get scared. With good reason, because now they are the hunted, not the hunter.”
And Carroll recommends a company called Cyber Investigation Services.com that specializes in tracking down abusers of anonymity on the Internet.
Here’s what Cyber Investigations Services says, “WE SOLVE INTERNET DEFAMATION – GUARANTEED”
“When most victims or their attorneys see internet defamation attacks, it is often their first time. For CIS, we see 100′s per month and have developed techniques and solutions simply not known or available to others. This is why we are often able to offer our solutions with a PAY FOR PERFORMANCE ONLY agreement.”
Attorney Nicholas Carroll is the author of “Fighting Slander”, “Law of the Blog”, and “Dancing with Lawyers” (all of which are on the shelves of law libraries at eminent law schools.)
In conclusion, I have one question to ask: How do you slander and ruin the reputation and life of an anonymous person?
You don’t. They do it to themselves.
Discover more on this issue by reading Dealing with Internet Bullies
Sue Scheff won an $11.3 million internet defamation lawsuit in 2006, when false statements were being made about her online.
The laws that cover Internet behavior are still evolving. Sue Scheff’s case is one example of that evolution and it cost the anonymous bully or bullies a lot of money. In fact, there is an Internet Defamation Law Blog.
dba oracle.com says, “Many people on the web think that privacy laws protect their anonymity, but that’s not the case when criminal charges are filed. Google’s motto is ‘Do no evil’ and they are cooperating with law enforcement to help prosecute crooks by introducing their Google searches as evidence.”
To discover more about this issue visit:
Taking it Global: Online Freedom of Speech versus the 6th Amendment
Is this an example of Defamation?—not protected by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Who’s behaving badly? A culture of arrogance
Ginmar: Alleged Cyber Bully, Troll and Stalker?
Found Guilty because of Reckless and False Speech – based on true events
Other sites on this subject:
- INTERNET LAW – Understanding Internet Defamation
- Online Defamation And Your Rights
- How to Sue Someone for Internet Libel
- How to Identify the Anonymous Online Defamer
- Your Internet Posts Can Get You Sued for Defamation
- Blogger beware: Postings can lead to lawsuits (Los Angeles Times)
Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.
His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.
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