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Bloggers Can’t Hide Behind Fake Names Anymore And Defame Others

Posted by on Aug 22, 2009

I’m a privacy guy, believe it or not. I believe drug testing for most jobs is a violation of privacy. I’m against racial profiling (I would be). I’m against someone being allowed to see your entire credit report without your permission. I’m on the Do Not Call registry. I have a fake name in the phone book. In other words, I protect myself where I want to protect myself.

I also believe in being open about who I am most of the time. Every blog I’m on, I’m Mitch, although I was on one of those “diary” blogs and had a different name back then. I had wanted a place where I could talk about things that irked me in the world without having it come back to my business blog.

What I never did, though, was take that anonymity, find one person, and start slandering them, or saying rude things just because I was hidden behind a fake name. That’s one of the problems I’ve always had with online conversations. Some people hide behind a fake name and say things they never would in person. That’s just not right, and I don’t like it one bit. I’ve always wished I could get back at those people in some way, while being glad that none of that stuff was ever aimed at me.

This week, some woman in New York finally got hers. After slandering this model, Liskula Cohen, Cohen got a lawyer and sued Google to get the name of the person on whose blog these things were being written. And a New York state supreme court judge granted her that, so Google had to give it up. Well, they had to give up the email address, since names can always be faked, and this model knew who this woman was, and called her up. She’s still thinking about suing, but said it could possibly be avoided if the woman issued a public apology.

Man, nothing makes me more happy than this. Our local newspaper allows people to comment on news stories online, and there’s never anything said that brings any real discussion to the conversation. Are people really so bored and hate their lives so much that they can’t take the time to put together a constructive thought, instead putting everything down with the most hateful thing they can come up with (at least they’re not allowed to use bad language on the site)?

Well folks, be put on notice. Unless your site is in another country, Google, because they own Blogger (which I don’t like), will have to give up the info, and at that point your behind could be cooked. I’m thinking a nice little lawsuit would shake things up. The woman, still unidentified but who has a mouthpiece lawyer giving his opinion, said the things she said might have been disgusting, but they’re protected under free speech. No, they’re not; if you make stuff up to hurt someone intentionally, that’s slander, and you’re going to lose in every court in the country.

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Hahaha, nice! I really like this because I absolutely hate people who can talk so big on the internet/behind a fake name, but would never, ever say most of the stuff they say online, in person. This blogger will get what’s coming at them! Lesson learned, at a hefty cost.

Btw Mitch, not sure if anyone has pointed this out to you, but under your comment box, you have two “notify me of followup comments via e-mail” checklists. Not sure if it’s supposed to be like that or not. Just thought I’d point it out 🙂
.-= The Gooroo @´s last blog ..Second Time’s A Charm! =-.

August 22nd, 2009 | 3:36 PM

Everyone’s pointing it out, Gooroo; I think you mentioned it once before. I need both because one of them isn’t working, and I can’t seem to turn the bad one off after the last WordPress update.

As for the people, yes, it’s nice that some people can and will eventually get theirs for their bad behavior. If you’re going to lambaste someone in particular, at least be there to back it up in person. Then again, maybe it’s easier for us bigger guys to say stuff like that.

August 22nd, 2009 | 3:45 PM

Sorry Mitch, forgot I had pointed it out earlier. 😛

Yeah, I understand. I guess it would have been fine to express their dislike for the female, but going on to make up things is obviously a crime (defamation or slander I think you said).
.-= The Gooroo @´s last blog ..Second Time’s A Charm! =-.

August 22nd, 2009 | 11:31 PM

Yes, exactly, and if someone gets sued for it, they’re going to lose and it’s going to cost a lot. You just can’t get away with that in most countries, freedom of speech or not.

August 22nd, 2009 | 11:57 PM
Doug Dillard:

That is great Mitch! I am sure the woman was shocked when she got confronted. One of the funniest stories of someone getting caught blogging under different aliases was the story Extreme John wrote a few weeks ago. If you have not seen it it is well worth the read and watching the video…
.-= Doug Dillard´s last blog ..I Used to Be a Dotcom Millionaire, Well at Least On Paper! =-.

August 22nd, 2009 | 4:07 PM

Wow, that was interesting, Doug. I decided not to leave a comment, as I see a rep from the company did finally write John to apologize for the jerk. People just never know anymore.

August 22nd, 2009 | 8:51 PM

Oh, so that’s what it was all about… I read some headlines about Google giving up the name of some blogger but never really dived into it – but now I just got it all served on a silver platter, thanks 🙂

Privacy doesn’t exist anymore, not if you’re online, use a creditcard, owns a mobile phone – and specially not if you’re on a social media site. So what’s important nowadays is being able to control which part of the privacy to be exposed and the details within, before somebody else does it for you….

Regarding the two “notify me of follow up comments”, I think you probably have a plugin with the sole purpose of offering that feature – but I also think you have the “WP Thread Comment” plugin – or something similar – and that offers the same functionality, hence the two “notify me”-options. I ran into same problem but disabling one of the plugins and it was solved.
.-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..Apple Builds Giant Data Center In North Carolina – But For What? =-.

August 22nd, 2009 | 4:56 PM

Actually Klaus, it’s supposed to be a feature of the new WP software, as it has its own threaded comments portion. However, it doesn’t seem to work with every theme and every version, and I think that’s how it’s gotten stuck here. I had to reload WP Threaded Comments so people would get responses back to comments, and we’re not supposed to need it anymore with the updates. That’s part of my gripe with the constant changes they keep making.

August 22nd, 2009 | 8:01 PM

I use my real name everywhere and I don’t pay extra to make my domain registration info private. In fact, my cell phone number is on 75 pages indexed by Google. I do use a PO Box, however, to protect my family from some unstable person that might take a disliking to my ‘that’s right I said it’ attitude.

I’m a little surprised Google released the data since they are bigger that the law. Like you, I’m glad they did.
.-= Brian D. Hawkins´s last blog ..Million Dollar Cutest Dog Competition =-.

August 22nd, 2009 | 9:57 PM

Turns out Google isn’t bigger than federal court, and that’s a good thing. You can tell some truths about someone that they might not like and be protected, but when you’re out and out lying and defaming,… nope, that just won’t get it done.

I’m pretty much me on the internet. I’ve been Mitch my whole life, but I’m also known professionally as T. T. Mitchell. I can be found all over, and I do have my address on my business site, but that’s it. However, I’m not hard to reach for anyone who wants to find me.

August 22nd, 2009 | 11:00 PM

When you mentioned people who comment on local papers website and they comment with hate, I think that is done just to spark a flame and start discussions. Lots of people would just say something to make more people to comment and keep the conversation more interesting.
.-= Jason´s last blog ..I hate the ‘back to school’ time… =-.

August 22nd, 2009 | 11:27 PM

You might be right, Jason, but I still don’t like it. I’d love to show up at the house of most of these people, say their name, and tell them I’m ther eto discuss what they wrote on the website in person. It would be interesting to see how many of them tried to slam and lock the door quickly.

August 22nd, 2009 | 11:56 PM

Just like Jay and Silent Bob (look it up on youtube) when they go door to door to talk to everyone who talked shit about them online.
.-= Jason´s last blog ..I hate the ‘back to school’ time… =-.

August 23rd, 2009 | 9:35 AM

I actually went and looked it up on Wikipedia, Jason, because I’d never heard of these guys (wouldn’t be my styleof movie, which might explain that). Interesting premise; kind of funny when I think about it.

August 23rd, 2009 | 10:53 AM

Sometimes people get angry and say bad things to others, sometimes they do it intentionally. I ain’t supporting those people, but I am worried about annonymity over the internet. It means one can’t hide his face behind any mask over the internet,huh?
.-= Ricky´s last blog ..Top 10 All-in-one Online Messenger Services =-.

August 22nd, 2009 | 11:40 PM

No, people can still try to hide their identities, and for the most part they’ll get away with it. What they can’t do, though, is make up lies with the intention of hurting someone. And if they do say something, they might be made to prove it. You can trust that anyone and anything I attack here, I’m ready to back it up.

But I’m not all that much an attacker. I’ll out bad service and bad behavior here and there, but in general, as Michael Jackson used to say, I’m a lover, not a fighter. lol

August 22nd, 2009 | 11:59 PM

I’ve actually heard this on the news the other day and assumed that because Google was involved they had to be talking about Blogger. Seems that woman, I assume it was a woman, may get what’s coming to her.

As for drug testing a prospective employee, I am 100% for it because employers have to protect their other employees, customers and anyone else that may be put in danger by someone who turns up to work under the influence.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..WassupBlog’s Ultimate Blogging Contest =-.

August 23rd, 2009 | 4:44 AM

You’re an employer, Sire, and one would expect that your thoughts on privacy in that regard might be different than mine. However, from my perspective, I wouldn’t ask for it except in certain extreme situations, and, obviously, I’ve never taken one, and I never will.

August 23rd, 2009 | 10:16 AM

It’s not just the employer side of it Mitch. My drivers sit behind the wheel of a 8 ton truck and that incurs a lot of responsibility on my part. Imagine what could happen if their ability to make judgments was impaired because they had taken some drugs beforehand. The financial and legal ramifications aside, it would be unbearable if their drug induced impaired reactions caused a loss of life.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..WassupBlog’s Ultimate Blogging Contest =-.

August 24th, 2009 | 4:26 AM

Drivers I could understand, Sire. But if you had office staff, what would be the reasoning for their having to take a drug test? I have no problem with matching up tests with certain jobs, but across the board,… nope, not me.

August 24th, 2009 | 9:58 AM

I don’t know, what if that office staff was so out of it he/she flagged an option that they shouldn’t of causing someone so much distress they committed suicide before the error was discovered?

Say, it’s time for bed and you haven’t made a move.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Dominance Is All About Your Domain Name =-.

August 24th, 2009 | 10:19 AM

Even with a drug test, you wouldn’t know that person might not exhibit that kind of behavior later on. And, usually when people are paying attention, they’ll see the signs a lot earlier than waiting for a problem to occur.

And I moved; go to bed!

August 24th, 2009 | 10:32 AM

OK, I did my own post on this but I cheated a little as I made it for prospective employees only 😉
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Does An Employer Have The Right To Drug Test Prospective Employees =-.

August 24th, 2009 | 11:20 AM

Sire, I’d expect nothing less than you cheating. lol I’ve also made the first comment on it, I expect.

August 24th, 2009 | 11:30 AM

Now Mitch, cheating is a bit harsh mate 😉 I prefer to think of it as being a little sly.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Does An Employer Have The Right To Drug Test Prospective Employees =-.

August 24th, 2009 | 6:40 PM

I’d normally go with “sneaky”, but you mentioned cheating. lol

August 24th, 2009 | 6:43 PM

So I did 😀 Oh well, it was late when I wrote that and I completely forgot about it. 🙂
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Does An Employer Have The Right To Drug Test Prospective Employees =-.

August 24th, 2009 | 7:22 PM

That’s truly foul, slandering others using fake names. I totally agree with you on your stand on privacy. In this cyberworld you really don’t know who you are dealing with. 🙂

August 23rd, 2009 | 9:42 PM

Thanks for your thoughts, Walter. Yes, it is foul, and I hate that kind of cowardice.

August 23rd, 2009 | 10:17 PM

Slandering is the least welcoming, whether it’s on/offline. Terrible as it already is for ruining someone’s reputation but not having the guts of showing yourself while doing it? That’s just awful! Great that internet is all wide-open nowadays, nobody can hide no more.

Although it’s still quite sad to see that some are lacking communication etiquettes. Free speech? I don’t think that’s the way to use it.

Social/Blogging Tracker
.-= Ching Ya´s last blog ..How Seriously Do You Take Blog Comments? =-.

August 24th, 2009 | 4:17 AM

Thanks for your comment, Ching Ya. You’re right, that’s not what the concept of free speech was ever supposed to be about. Also, people who support free speech are usually the first ones to cry when someone calls them on it; kind of like this woman, who’s now going to try to sue Google for NOT defying a court order. Idiocy.

August 24th, 2009 | 9:56 AM

hi Mitch,
You rightly point out there is a big difference between “free speech” and “anonymous free speech”. They are not the same thing. People can say what they like, but they are also liable for what they say.
BTW, to show I read your entire post:

“After slandering this model, Liskula Cohen, Cohen got a model and sued Google to get the name of the person on whose blog these things were being written.”

I don’t think Cohen got a model to do the job, but that might have been cheaper than a lawyer. Also, I don’t think Cohen slandered herself.” 😀

Finally, who in their right mind could say anything bad about a hottie like Cohen (at least based on her picture)?

~ Steve, the trade show guru
.-= Trade Show Guru´s last blog ..According to Chuck Norris =-.

August 24th, 2009 | 10:36 AM

Good catch, Steve, and I’ve made the correction. Thanks! lol

Actually, if I ever have to sue someone, I want a model handling it, a real pretty one so the judge isn’t paying attention to anything the other side has to say.

August 24th, 2009 | 10:48 AM

Hey Mitch,
I agree with your logic on having a model represent you in court. I hadn’t thought about the potential benefits of that. 🙂
~ steve, the trade show guru
.-= Trade Show Guru´s last blog ..According to Chuck Norris =-.

August 24th, 2009 | 12:15 PM

It really is a good thing this happened when it did, because we are getting to a point where some people think their blog has to be outrageous in a train wreck sort of way in order to get noticed. If there were no penalty for slandering people while hiding behind a fake name, it would definitely start to get out of control.
.-= Christie´s last blog ..MiscBytes unusual niche of the month =-.

August 24th, 2009 | 1:08 PM

I felt that it had already gotten out of control, Christie. Not sure if you remember Usenet, but many of the forums on there got corrupted once people knew they could hide their identity and post to multiple groups at a time. Racists and pornographers took over and ruined it for everyone else. And once that genie was let out of the bottle, it was lights out to decency.

August 24th, 2009 | 3:01 PM

People tend to find themselves confuse between slandering or just giving their own opinion. In most cases, freedom of speech has been always an issue when discussing these matters. Still, they did a great job in penalizing people who ruin other people’s lives just to create foul write-ups to them.

August 25th, 2009 | 3:00 PM

Exactly Andrew. There’s a major difference between “I didn’t care for the makeup Jenny had on” and “Jenny’s a slut, and looks like one also.”

August 25th, 2009 | 6:12 PM

Mitch, honestly, I’m also hated those people who scolding other person behind the “Anonymous” nickname! In this case, I think they’re deserved for the punishment. That’s why, we should MIND of what we’re saying, no matter at online or offline world.
.-= wilhb81´s last blog ..The Useful Business Tips 42: The 5 Great Tips To Be More Efficient in Your Business! =-.

August 26th, 2009 | 2:25 AM

I absolutely agree with you, Wil. No one deserves to be beaten up without a chance to defend themselves, or at least know who it is that’s berating them.

August 26th, 2009 | 2:56 AM

In the online world, it’s so easy for anybody, sitting in some timbukto behind a fake name, to tarnish popular people’s image. It has become a habit to become popular by damaging the image of popular people. This tabloid tendency in blogging is very very bad!

I see that many social netwoking sites do not do anything about it because they want themselves to be popular as well.

Well articulated post, Mitch.
.-= Ajith Edassery´s last blog ..Ad Size and Advertising Effectiveness =-.

August 26th, 2009 | 2:38 AM

Thanks Ajith. Actually, some social networks are quick to yank things. Facebook hates complaints of any type. Twitter may take some time, but eventually they’ll get the bad players there also.

I’m sure my day will come, if I get as popular as I’m shooting for, that I’ll have to fend off some unwarranted attack by someone looking to make their bones off me. At that time, I hope I have the money to either ignore them or crush them. Yeah, I go for the jugular. 🙂

August 26th, 2009 | 2:58 AM

I’ve had a number of nasty untrue things said about me by people who hide behind fake names.
.-= Rose´s last blog ..Coca-cola a migraine headache remedy =-.

January 13th, 2010 | 10:10 PM

Pretty irritating, isn’t it Rose? I can’t say that’s happened to me as far as I know, but I remember back in the late 90’s someone deciding to say all sorts of things about me and to me in the newsgroups. Moron left some info out there that allowed me to track him to his location, which was a college only an hour away from here, including the dorm he lived in. I posted all his info in the newsgroup except for the dorm and freaked him out. We wrote back saying I’d better never show up and he was alerting security; that was way before I had a picture online, so who was he going to warn about who to look out for? He ended up leaving the group, and that was that.

Otherwise, I’m usually fairly calm, though I will give what I get, no matter where it is. Hang in there, Rose; you’re doing good things with your blog.

January 13th, 2010 | 10:25 PM

Hi Mitch,

I’m sorry that my comment has nothing to do with the topic in this article but I couldn’t find an appropriate recent one. I was delighted to come across your Aug 22, 2009 “Bloggers Can’t Hide Behind Fake Names Anymore And Defame Others” thread (

I was doing an update to a document about an Australian coward (John Byatt) who, from behind the “obscurity” of the false name “cooloola”, hurled insults at anyone who dared to express sceptical opinions in the blogosphere about the UN-inspired propaganda of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change (CACC). He did this in collaboration with two other Austrlians, one named Ross Brisbane (AKA DigitalAdvisor/ConcernedCitizen) who can be excused a little because of personal problems and another equally vicious individual (who used Spatch/Phoenix/Guess-who/etc. and impersonated LordMonckton/Colin/PeggyB/Stormboy and Pete Ridley). I, PeggyB, Colin and Phil(AKA Stormboy) had numerous exchanges during 2009-2010 with those three on the blog of Australian Senator Steve Fielding’s blog as well as on US science student Chris Colose’s “Richard Alley at AGU 2009: The Biggest Control Knob” ( An excellent debate was ruined there as a result of one or more of those “three stoogies” impersonating others.

I am currently trying to get an information manager called Mike, who works for a large professional services firm in Melbourne, Australia, to give me the full details (full text, E-mail and IP-addresses) of the comment that he claims was submitted under my name to his WatchingtheDeniers blog. That comment likened him to a paedophile (see the 6th Feb. comment from Watching the Deniers @ 02:47:45 in Mike has so far refused to provide those details while insisting that I had sent it (which I had not) so I have given him until 6th March, otherwise I shall be complaining to the local (UK) police about his Internet libel rather than my preferred complant against the childish and cowardly person who impersonated me. My only concern is that it will be of no interest to the police and I’ll be wasting my time. Have you any suggestions (other than an expensive civil action).

I am sceptical about the claims made by some scientists and virtually all politicians, media and power-hungry individuals (especially those who have invested heavily in renewable energy or “carbon derivatives” ( – the names Al Gore, David Blood, Goldman-Sachs, George Soros, Maurice Strong, (

On Carbon Derivatives, I was delighted to hear of the problems encountered by the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) and hope that the UK-based Climate Exchange, Plc (CLE) etc. fail miserably (although I suspect that the EU will continue to push this nonsense for as long as possible. There is too much money invested for them to give up without a fight. Of course the UK’s BBC keeps pushing the propaganda – why? – take a look at the extent of investment that the BBC Pension Scheme has committed to “ .. The BBC is the only media organisation in Britain whose pension fund is a member of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change .. “ (

Most lay people that I talk to are puzzled about the “science” being fed to them by the politicians and the media who are predicting CACC to encourage the taxpayer to feel good about handing over even more of their hard-earned money I order to “save the world for their children and grandchildren”. I have a simple rule. When I am puzzled I “follow the money”.

Hope I haven’t bored you with this if you don’t have any interest in the CACC con-trick. I couldn’t find anything about it on your blog, which surprises me, considering that you are a businessman and the CACC doctrine is that our modern style of business is unsustainable.

Best regards, Pete Ridley.

March 2nd, 2011 | 9:00 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Hi Pete,

Lots of passion in your statement. First, I moved your comment to the post which prompted you to write in the first place; that made more sense than putting it on my newer post.

Let’s address the part about the fake comment in your name. Since the blog you commented on is a WordPress blog (I did go take a look), the author should know that all he has to do is check the IP address of that comment against the IP address your email usually comes from. They would have to be different if you didn’t do it. That’s how I can verify, and others that have WordPress blogs, a comment that seems a bit off from someone we’re familiar with. It seems he’s familiar with you, and he mentions IP address, so that either means he didn’t pay attention to the difference because he was too mad or he was looking for a reason to remove you from his blog and doesn’t care about the truth.

Unfortunately, you don’t really have a recourse here. There’s no “right” to being allowed to comment on someone’s blog, and you’d have to prove it was him who posted the comment in your name to be able to do anything about it at all. If it were me, I’d write about what happened on my own blog, then move on. I don’t stay where people don’t want me.

March 2nd, 2011 | 9:10 AM

Hi again Mitch, thanks for that. Generally I just ignore childish comments and if I’m not welcome I do go elsewhere. One thing that does irritate me is cowards who hide behind false names and hurl insults or impersonate others. That’s my gripe regarding certain contributors to the WatchingtheDeniers blog who spread their venom elsewhere.

Mike the blog “owner” does understand how to get the details that I have asked for, as can be seen on his thread.

You’ll have more important things to address than this so let’s drop it, but I am still puzzled by your apparent disinterest in the CACC issue.

Best regards, Pete.

March 2nd, 2011 | 10:03 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Pete, I live in a country where the federal government is looking to possibly shut down the government because of money, the state is close to shutting down its government because of money, the price of everything is going up faster than my income and I’m a black man in America still trying to figure out what I’m going to do when I grow up. I don’t have the luxury to worry about world issues when I have so many issues too close to home. Plus that’s not what this blog is about so I wouldn’t ever really entertain the idea here whether I was interested or not. If you’ve noticed this is pretty much a no-stress blog, and it’s going to stay that way. To whit, another post of mine:

March 2nd, 2011 | 10:18 AM

Nice one Mitch. Have a good life. As I often tell the children and grand-children, we go through life worrying about things that don’t happen or do not matter.

Have a good life. Best regards, Pete

March 2nd, 2011 | 10:24 AM
John Knights@Business Loans:

Well, it’s even still hard to believe that these kind of people exists. But I’m just like you Mitch. I also have that kind of attitude not to trust the internet too much, so I don’t give them completely what they needed.

June 9th, 2011 | 5:36 PM