Intimidation by morons. But it doesn’t work.
If you have a presence on the Internet that has even the remotest possibility of offending or upsetting people you can expect anonymous attacks. Here is what I have to say on the “About this site” page of The Millenium Project:
The use of anonymising services to send email tells me three things about the senders. The first is that they are prepared to lie, because they are already indisputably lying about their names. The second is that whatever they have to say is worthless, because they do not even believe in it enough themselves to put their names to it. The third is that, because it is impossible to reply to the messages, they show that they are frightened of engaging in debate.
It isn’t just anonymous email. I’ve been subjected to anonymous abuse in many forms over the years. One of my favourites was when someone actually paid money to run an advertisement supposedly from me looking for people to cast in porn movies. You can see the advertisement here. I found out about this when I finally managed to get someone who rang me about the job to overcome his embarrassment and tell me where he had seen the ad. Apparently there was a similar advertisement paid for on Penthouse magazine’s web site but Penthouse wanted me to pay just to look for it. (I assume anyone saying they just wanted to look at the pictures and not read the articles was considered suspect.)
Attacks aren’t confined to me personally but also include attempted damage to my employer. I received an automated email today from a business directory site asking me if I wanted to approve a review of my company:
Albert Smith gave you a rating of 1 Star and said:
Pretend business as as front for internet hate campaign. Run by convicted felon Peter Bowditch. Has been sued numerous times for defamation. Hateful inconsequential alcoholic/diabetic…
This one won’t see the light of day on the directory site of course, although I would assume that any potential clients might see it as the puerile nonsense it is. (This could be a dangerous assumption. I lost a lot of business in 2005-2006 when I was sued by a company which had been found by the Federal Court to be operating an illegal pyramid scheme. Being sued by a multinational corporation was seen as a bad reference, despite the fact that the court finding of illegal activity was just another in a long line of similar court rulings in other countries.)
And the facts – I have never been convicted of any crime, I have never been sued for defamation (I was sued under the then Trade Practices Act for damaging the complainant’s illegal business), I am not an alcoholic. Yes, I do have Type 2 diabetes, but that’s hardly a secret and nothing to be ashamed about.
The same nonsense was recently used to attack me (anonymously) on Twitter. I asked for evidence and got none of course, except references to other anonymous lies. My policy has always been to publicise these ridiculous attacks and I can then say that if there was any truth I wouldn’t be telling people about them. In one wonderful moment an attacker gave a solid reference to evidence without actually noticing that the “evidence” was in an email I had published on my own web site. But nobody ever said these cretins were smart.
As I said above, I have been putting up with this for years. Here is a talk I gave to the Australian Computer Society in 2002: A Different Internet Security Problem: Harassment, stalking and identity theft