Author Topic: Torture camp creep trying to googlebomb reputation  (Read 1412 times)

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Offline Ursus

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Torture camp creep trying to googlebomb reputation
« on: August 12, 2007, 01:51:55 AM »
From their archive, immortalized here for posterity's sake:

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... id=2543707
[/b]
And the Washington Post has the audacity to not give us the full details of her sordid crimes in their front page profile. Short story: a woman who works for a just-as-sordid competitor of WWASPS (who run the infamous Tranquility Bay facility profiled in The Guardian and have ties to Mitt Romney according to another thread on the front page of D&D today).

I saw this in today's Post and, upon seeing the line I bolded, I did a double take. Then I put 2 and 2 together my eyes literally rolled out of their sockets. Please digg this/spread on blogs etc, and if you have the resources, contact any persons with way too much time on their hands who will fight back.

Also, you might want to email the authors and complain about their whitewashing, as well as write a letter to the editor at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dy...ml?hpid=topnews
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quote:
At the height of the cyber-abuse, Sue Scheff, a consultant to parents of troubled teens, would type her name in a Google search box and brace herself: Up would pop page after page of attack postings.

    Sue Scheff is destroying lives. She is a con. She takes kickbacks. She is the biggest fraud there ever was.
The stream of negative comments began in 2002 after a woman who had sought advice from Scheff turned on her. The postings appeared on PTA Web sites in Florida, where Scheff lives. On bulletin boards and online forums. There were even YouTube videos threatening her.

She sued for defamation and won an $11.3 million verdict, but the attacks only got worse. In December, Scheff turned to ReputationDefender, a year-old firm that promised to help her cleanse her virtual reputation. She no longer dreads a Google search on her name. Most of the links on the all-important first page are to her own Web site and a half-dozen others created by ReputationDefender to promote her work on teen pregnancy and teen depression.

"They created Sue-Scheff.net," she said. "They created SueScheff.net. They created SueScheff.org. . . . They created my MySpace account, for God's sake. I didn't know how to do any of this stuff."

Google's ubiquity as a research tool has given rise to a new industry: online identity management. The proliferation of blogs and Web sites can allow angry clients, jealous lovers or ruthless competitors to define a person's identity. Whether true or not, their words can have far-reaching effects.

Charging anything from a few dollars to thousands of dollars a month, companies such as International Reputation Management, Naymz and ReputationDefender don't promise to erase the bad stuff on the Web. But they do assure their clients of better results on an Internet search, pushing the positive items up on the first page and burying the others deep.

Still, Google is continually refining its search methods, which means that today's fix may not work tomorrow.

"This is a game that nobody can completely win," said Chris Dellarocas, a University of Maryland information systems professor.

Dodging Mudballs

The e-mails from friends started showing up three years ago in the Washington lobbyist's in-basket: Have you seen this?

Over decades in the capital, she had developed a thick skin. But after she took on a foreign regime as a client, an online magazine bashed her. The story was factual, but the tone nasty. Then a blogger wrote that she slept with someone to get a big contract. A political blog posted an e-mail she ha d written about secret campaign strategy . Truth mixed with rumor. Rumor mixed with lies.

Concerned friends sent her the links. Potential clients would say they had read about her on the Web .

Like Scheff, she realized that the items that made her cringe came up high on the Google results page and stayed there, month after month. Her firm depe nded on her reputation. The lobbyist would speak only on condition of anonymity because she did not want the attacks to resume.

"There's no policing, no rules, no standards," she said. Bloggers are "cowboys," she said. "It's the wild, wild West."

Then one day she heard a talk by Nino Kader, founder of International Reputation Management (IRM) in Washington. His new company, he said, could reshape a person's online image.

She signed up.

IRM aims to get lots of information out there about clients, in various places, so that a search gives a more complete and nuanced profile of who they are. Kader started with a printout of the top 100 hits on a Google search and went through them one by one, asking whether individual results -- such as her campaign contributions -- were good, bad or neutral.

He asked what she wanted the world to know about her. Then he started digging for good things, like an op-ed piece she had written and television interviews she had given that he could post on YouTube. He pitched stories about her to various publications. And he created links from popular sites to those online stories to entice the search engine.

Now her firm's Web site is the first result and other good ones follow.

Still, a story she hates remains on the first page.

"I'm in the early stages," she said. "I've already seen progress."

Companies like IRM try to outthink Google. Search engines comb the Web with complex and ever-shifting algorithms, evaluating relevance and authority by looking at many factors: Is this a government Web site? How many people have linked to it? And so on.

The point is, said ReputationDefender founder Michael Fertik, "Google's not in business to give you the truth, it's in business to give what you think is relevant."

The goal is to get Google and other search engines to seize on relevant sites that contain positive information on their clients and to downplay the rest.

Google does not object in principle to people adding positive content to outrank the negative. But a spokeswoman said in an e-mail, "if you use spammy and manipulative techniques to get this positive content to rank highly, we may take action on it."

Some companies create promotional Web pages for their clients with coding that makes them appealing to Google or create blog pages linking to the client's own site, ensuring they'll rise to the top.

Image Makeover

Geoffrey VanderPal knew politics was a nasty game, but the candidate for Nevada state treasurer wasn't prepared for the blog attacks. Supporters of his opponent posted charge after charge. He briefly considered suing.

But many of his tormentors were anonymous. And U.S. courts have generally protected Web site hosts from civil actions such as defamation, though that may be changing. Besides, he knew as a public figure he'd have a higher burden to prove libel.

When VanderPal lost the Democratic primary last August, he returned to private life as a financial planner. But the blog postings lived on, prominently, at the top of the Google results page. Potential clients avoided him.

He wanted to suppress the negative information about him, both true and false, so he turned to ReputationDefender.

The firm at first tried a low-tech approach: a polite request to a blogger to remove a post about his personal finances. But the blogger declined, saying the item was a matter of public record. Asking politely has backfired in a small number of cases, Fertik said, with Webmasters sometimes posting and mocking the requests.

So Fertik's team, which works from a Silicon Valley office, offered VanderPal its premium service, using various techniques to promote VanderPal's own site and suppress the blogs. That service now starts at $10,000.

Within weeks, VanderPal began to see "a remarkable difference." Though a few nasty comments are still up there, the first three pages are mostly clean.

"Everything's wrapped up in your reputation," said VanderPal, 34. "If you don't have that, you don't have much."

The reputation firms won't take on everyone. Fertik says ReputationDefender won't work with clients who want to suppress violent crimes, for example.

The clients the firms accept are varied: a real estate mogul wanting to move past a decade-old transgression, a prominent academic falsely accused of murder, a hedge fund manager who doesn't like seeing his old New York Times wedding announcement on Google years after he divorced and remarried, a college student who regretted once dressing up as a prostitute at a Halloween party.

Then there was the businessman who paid a Securities and Exchange Commission fine a few years ago.

"Does a person in this situation have a chance to start again?" Fertik asked. "Should this be the first or second thing that shows up on the Internet? Is it fair?"

ReputationDefender decided to work with him.
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It's not exactly news that googlebombing exists, and a number of stories about this have been popping up in the media lately. I'm indifferent to their activities, even if they are willing to take on professional torturers or child molestors or whatever. But that doesn't mean we can't try to counteract their activities, or google can't try to block them out.

Just to preserve this for posterity, here's what Ms. Sceiff does for a living according to the tenth hit on google: http://www.isaccorp.org/whitmore/jharris.pdf
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quote:
Another person who misrepresented Whitmore Academy to us was Sue Scheff of P.U.R.E. Inc.We contacted Sue Scheff after we read about her experiences with her daughter and the WWASP organization. After several telephone conversations with Sue Scheff, she told us that her agenda was to: MAKE SURE that we did not enroll our daughter in any of the dangerous WWASP schools.Sue Scheff told us that: if she had a daughter who required treatment, that the Whitmore Academy would be exactly where she would place her own daughter.Sue Scheff said that she knew the Sudweeks personally, verified that they were loving, Christian people, who loved children, who had a wonderful academic program, and a wonderful horsetherapy program.Sue Scheff said that she visited the Whitmore Academy often and that a person “just felt loveand peace when you walked through the Whitmore doors.”

Sue also told me about Sunrise Academy and the Admissions Director, Boyd Hooper. After all the calls back and forth with Sue Scheff---Tim Lowe, the therapist at Whitmore, and Mark Sudweeks started sending me emails, calling me on the phone: saying that Sue Scheff had just called them and that they understood my needs and “were there to help.” We felt like Sue Scheff had SOLVED ALL OUR PROBLEMS. Then she called Boyd Hooper and told him about us---and he started calling us TOO. We felt like Sue Scheff was our “savior and was going to help us find the right place for ourdaughter. ”BUT, she kept talking and talking…..and SHE SOLD US ON THE WHITMORE ACADEMY! We asked her point-blank if we had to pay her, or if she got paid for her services. She said NO! She said that she only did this work to make sure that no child is ever placed in a dangerousplace like the WWASP programs.

She said….that her reward is knowing that all children areplaced in a safe, loving, caring place like the Whitmore.She SIMPLY LIED TO US. Sue Scheff refers these children to make money! I wrote to Sue Scheff, telling her that we removed our daughter from the Whitmore, and why. Not only did Sue Scheff write back expressing her continued support of the Sudweeks, she attacked me, the mother. She repeated outright lies about what happened at the Whitmore the night we went with a police escort to pick up our daughter. We suppose she must support the Sudweeks, because we understand that most, if not all of theplacements at Whitmore Academy are referred there by Sue Scheff or P.U.R.E. That speaks for itself as far as we are concerned. Sue Scheff continued to place children at Whitmore Academy while she was aware that the investigation for child abuse against the owners, Mark and Cheryl Sudweeks was on-going.
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That's from the deposition in the liberal suit that Scheff won. What's really creepy about her, according to the 2nd google link, is that she runs a front-group pretending to crusade against WWASPS, when she's really just trying to divert their business elsewhere to equally unsavory places.

LOLOL, as I've been typing this post, the googlebombing is continuing. I'm looking for the forbidden link right now.

Some details about her judgment:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation...tion-case_x.htm
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quote:
A Florida woman has been awarded $11.3 million in a defamation lawsuit against a Louisiana woman who posted messages on the Internet accusing her of being a "crook," a "con artist" and a "fraud."

Legal analysts say the Sept. 19 award by a jury in Broward County, Fla. — first reported Friday by the Daily Business Review — represents the largest such judgment over postings on an Internet blog or message board. Lyrissa Lidsky, a University of Florida law professor who specializes in free-speech issues, calls the award "astonishing."

Lidsky says the case could represent a coming trend in court fights over online messages because the woman who won the damage award, Sue Scheff of Weston, Fla., pursued the case even though she knew the defendant, Carey Bock of Mandeville, La., has no hope of paying such an award. Bock, who had to leave her home for several months because of Hurricane Katrina, couldn't afford an attorney and didn't show up for the trial.

"What's interesting about this case is that (Scheff) was so vested in being vindicated, she was willing to pay court costs," Lidsky says. "They knew before trial that the defendant couldn't pay, so what's the point in going to the jury?"

Scheff says she wanted to make a point to those who unfairly criticize others on the Internet. "I'm sure (Bock) doesn't have $1 million, let alone $11 million, but the message is strong and clear," Scheff says. "People are using the Internet to destroy people they don't like, and you can't do that."

The dispute between the two women arose after Bock asked Scheff for help in withdrawing Bock's twin sons from a boarding school in Costa Rica. Bock had disagreed with her ex-husband over how to deal with the boys' behavior problems. Against Bock's wishes, he had sent the boys to the boarding school.

Scheff, who operates a referral service called Parents Universal Resource Experts, says she referred Bock to a consultant who helped Bock retrieve her sons. Afterward, Bock became critical of Scheff and posted negative messages about her on the Internet site Fornits.com, where parents with children in boarding schools for troubled teens confer with one another.

In 2003, Scheff sued Bock for defamation. Bock hired a lawyer, but he left the case when she no longer could afford to pay him.

When Katrina hit in August 2005, Bock's house was flooded and she moved temporarily to Texas before returning to Louisiana last June. Court papers that Scheff and her attorney David H. Pollack mailed to Bock were returned to Pollack's office in Miami.
---------------------------------------------------[/list]
This just gets funnier. If you click the link and scroll down, you'll see that when she's not defending a camp similar to the one that abused her own daughter, she's accusing the camp's critics of being a swinger! The horror!


=============================
mugrim

    ---------------------------------------------------
Scheff LeBitcherson posted:
Over decades in the capital, she had developed a thick skin. But after she took on a foreign regime as a client, an online magazine bashed her. The story was factual, but the tone nasty. Then a blogger wrote that she slept with someone to get a big contract. A political blog posted an e-mail she ha d written about secret campaign strategy . Truth mixed with rumor. Rumor mixed with lies.
---------------------------------------------------[/list]
Oh, it must be so hard having to develop a thick skin to ignore all those half truths people say about you supporting torturing kids.

I love how she's promoting one of these "Tough love" camps and yet can't even take the fact that she's a complete bitch. If she accepted that she was a despicable human being and just sold her soul for money I'd have more respect. It's kinda hard to say "She is a torture pimp" and have a nice tone about it. People who do this kinda poo poo need to learn that if they're really being attacked on a level this big, it's not just crazy whackadoos, that maybe they're doing something that we as a society find horrific. If I was her I'd probably spend some money on personal security before I gave a poo poo about reputation. It boggles the mind that to date it wouldn't appear that any of these kids ever sought her out. Not that I want her dead, I just can't imagine being put in those conditions without being driven completely batshit crazy.
=============================
m5

It's pretty fascinating that people can end up having "careers" like that. I mean, what happens that you end up in such a role? How totally warped does a personality have to be to stomach a job like that? Making money by exploiting the desperate anxiety of (probably poor and dumb, for the most part) parents with messed-up kids ... baah.

The googlebombing part is just weird icing on the weird cake.
=============================
mugrim

    ---------------------------------------------------
m5 posted:
How totally warped does a personality have to be to stomach a job like that?
---------------------------------------------------[/list]
I'd argue she's not stomaching it. She's lying to herself and because she's not seeing what everyone else sees she thinks they're being unfair. Just a theory.
=============================
Kim Jong Il

Mugrim, those are about two separate people.

Actually, i'd love to know who the second person is.

http://digg.com/search?s=scheff&amp...&sort=score is another example of how pervasive this is (I went to see if the WP story had been posted).

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/artic...p;feed=rss.news also buys her story convincingly. It also gives the example of a law student who couldn't get a job because there was allegedly porn of her on autoadmit


=============================
ShadowCatboy

drat. Where was Reputation Defender when the Swift Boat rowed up to shore?

Something like this is a decidedly neutral force, even a good one. Better to protect an innocent from being slandered and let a criminal hide a little better than to screw them both, I'd say.

This reminds me of the last time I googled Percy Schmeiser. About 90% of the links that came up were of the "Small farmer takes on big, evil corporation!" type, despite the fact that the details of the court case proved otherwise.
=============================
Hubis

    ---------------------------------------------------
ShadowCatboy posted:
drat. Where was Reputation Defender when the Swift Boat rowed up to shore?

Something like this is a decidedly neutral force, even a good one. Better to protect an innocent from being slandered and let a criminal hide a little better than to screw them both, I'd say.

This reminds me of the last time I googled Percy Schmeiser. About 90% of the links that came up were of the "Small farmer takes on big, evil corporation!" type, despite the fact that the details of the court case proved otherwise.
---------------------------------------------------[/list]
Except that, invariably, the people who deserve to be protected most will almost certainly be the ones least able to afford it.
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Doctor D

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m5 posted:
It's pretty fascinating that people can end up having "careers" like that. I mean, what happens that you end up in such a role? How totally warped does a personality have to be to stomach a job like that? Making money by exploiting the desperate anxiety of (probably poor and dumb, for the most part) parents with messed-up kids ... baah.
---------------------------------------------------[/list]
If it's anything like WWASPS, the parents are rich and dumb. And mostly some sort of fundies.
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m5

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Doctor D posted:
If it's anything like WWASPS, the parents are rich and dumb. And mostly some sort of fundies.
---------------------------------------------------[/list]
Somehow that's both more and less depressing.
=============================
Thinkmeats

    ---------------------------------------------------
ShadowCatboy posted:
drat. Where was Reputation Defender when the Swift Boat rowed up to shore?

Something like this is a decidedly neutral force, even a good one. Better to protect an innocent from being slandered and let a criminal hide a little better than to screw them both, I'd say.

This reminds me of the last time I googled Percy Schmeiser. About 90% of the links that came up were of the "Small farmer takes on big, evil corporation!" type, despite the fact that the details of the court case proved otherwise.
---------------------------------------------------[/list]
Couldn't that same reasoning be used to support bullshit science? Studies saying that tobacco isn't harmful, etc etc?

The collective majority thinks X, we think Y, so let's clutter up the dialogue with a bunch of fake voices that think Y.

Note that while I understand that academia doesn't work that way, joe sixpack doesn't make that distinction, and he's the guy the bullshit science is trying to win over anyway.
=============================
NinjaLincoln

email sent.
=============================
Helsing

The internet wars of the future, with rival firms smearing and defending the online reputations of their respective clients, will not be pretty.
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ShadowCatboy

    ---------------------------------------------------
Thinkmeats posted:
Couldn't that same reasoning be used to support bullshit science? Studies saying that tobacco isn't harmful, etc etc?

The collective majority thinks X, we think Y, so let's clutter up the dialogue with a bunch of fake voices that think Y.

Note that while I understand that academia doesn't work that way, joe sixpack doesn't make that distinction, and he's the guy the bullshit science is trying to win over anyway.
---------------------------------------------------[/list]
As true as this is, a search engine is far from a systematic fact-checking device.

While a unified effort to clear the crap from the internet would be great and all, I don't see how it'd be possible to gather the expertise or the manpower to do so.
=============================
Kim Jong Il

    ---------------------------------------------------
Doctor D posted:
If it's anything like WWASPS, the parents are rich and dumb. And mostly some sort of fundies.
---------------------------------------------------[/list]
In the first Tranquility Bay thread posted here a few years ago, one of the victims was a Lindsay Cohen who had to put off Harvard because of her parents not approving of her boyfriend. A couple CE posters were stunned.
=============================
Arafel

http://www.helpyourteens.com/news/p...rate_giant.html

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2...tion-case_x.htm

http://thewhitmoreacademy.blogspot.com/ ... e%20Scheff

Well apparently she helped close a WWASP facility. I don't know how her organisation is but, she may feel that helping close a WWASP facility is a good thing. Also keep in mind if the internet is being used to both slander her and also to give her props where are you getting your information about her?

If she was duped by WWASPS she could be duped again, or she could be right, or she could be an opportunistic leech. There are websites that suggest each of these.
I have included a few links about the other side of the story. Apparently on one site no charges were filed for Whitmore and the sudweeks were exonerated on another 5 counts of child abuse were filed.

If you are Joe Sixpack or an academic you have to think about who you are getting your info from.

If you choose to be a lazy slob and take everything written on the internet as gospal truth then you get what you deserve.

People need to ask questions and act responsibly. Even when it is not a corporate endeavor or conspiracy there is a lot of crap out on the intarwebs.

It is tough to sort it out sometimes, but you have to be willing to think about who you trust and why you trust them. Also if it comes to your kids spend as much time with them as possible. I honestly think that in print or on the net people should be honest. If they choose not to be honest there should be consequences.

Edit:
Good idea for an online service fact checking search engines.


=============================
mynie

Sue Scheff is a dirty whore. I paid her to have sex with me and, even though I didn't want to, she made me gently caress her in the rear end.

Now that that's out of the way, this case proves beyond a doubt why the internet needs to remain as deregulated as possible. The case wasn't about character assassination or even liable, it was about a rich and powerful woman exploiting the system that's geared in her favor in order to cover up the truth. The internet serves to level things off so that social reality isn't entirely constructed by those with the most money.

Also, here's the guardian piece showing what a shitball this woman is:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/maga...,987172,00.html
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Anonymous

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Torture camp creep trying to googlebomb reputation
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2007, 07:54:21 AM »
Isn't it strange almost everyone of the links are not available, including one on pure, however the Blog of sues was there about Whitmore.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Ursus

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Torture camp creep trying to googlebomb reputation
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2007, 09:52:13 AM »
Can't speak for the other links to Sue, but SomethingAwful threads get archived usually within a month unless they're super hot and active.  Hence, they become unavailable to the average viewer save through creative Advanced Google Searches of caches.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Anonymous

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Torture camp creep trying to googlebomb reputation
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2007, 02:43:28 PM »
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Woman wins payout for slurs on blogEd Pilkington in New York The Guardian Thursday October 12 2006
A jury in Florida has awarded a woman $11.3m (£6m) in costs and damages after a former acquaintance accused her of being a crook, a con artist and a fraudster on an internet talkboard.

The award, believed to be the largest verdict of it sort relating to individual postings on bulletin boards or blogs, was handed down by a jury in Broward County, Florida, against a woman from Louisiana. The sum included $5m (£2.7m) in punitive damages.

Sue Scheff, who runs a small educational business in Weston, Florida, filed the lawsuit in 2003 claiming she had been subjected to 10 months of ugly criticism on the internet from Carey Bock. Ms Bock, from Mandeville, Louisiana, had posted the comments on Fornits.com, a board used by parents of troubled teenagers. Ms Bock did not attend the final hearing.

With almost two new blogs created every second, and 1.6m postings each day, said the San Francisco site Technorati, the mass of unmediated comment from individuals is changing the face of media law. "This is a growing trend because of the exponential growth in the number of people publishing on the internet who do not have the training or oversight of traditional hardcopy publishers," said Dave Heller, a lawyer with the New York-based Media Law Resource Center which monitors legal actions arising from the web.

Craig Delsack, a media lawyer in Manhattan, said that many bloggers were publishing first, thinking later: "People are thinking they can say what they want but they don't realise the long-lasting implications of what they write and that they can be held accountable. Posting is not like having a conversation in the bedroom with your boyfriend."

Several cases have come to court in which individuals have been sued by companies for their comments on the web. It is less common for private individuals, without either huge personal wealth or public profile, to sue each other.

Lawsuits currently before the US courts include that of Todd Hollis, a Pittsburgh lawyer, whose name appeared on DontDateHimGirl.com, a website on which women comment about the men they claim to have known. He is suing women who posted claims he was a transmitter of sexual diseases, which he denies.

The Florida case arose after Ms Scheff helped Ms Bock remove her children from a special school in Costa Rica. She says Ms Bock grew belligerent after she refused to give her confidential information for a documentary she was working on.

Ms Scheff says she is still paying off the legal fees and accepts she will get little of the $11m. "But this award is vindication. I hope it does make people think twice about what they post on the internet. When people post they are writing from emotion, and it can be very damaging."

Because Ms Bock failed to defend herself, media lawyers say the award is less likely to set a precedent.

She told USA Today that she had no money to pay the damages, and said she had been silenced. "I don't feel like I can express my opinions. Only one side of the story was told in court. Nobody heard my side," she said.

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This is what was on the Guardian.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

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Torture camp creep trying to googlebomb reputation
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2007, 03:14:52 PM »
if someone can edit the last post, did not know it would have so much in it.
Sorry guys!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Antigen

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Damn!
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2007, 06:51:33 PM »
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« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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