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You Can't Be An Internet Bodyguard — Cyberbullying Advice
by DJ Wilde
This is not a workplace bullying story but an internet bullying story. I am an advocate for autism education and this is my story:
This all started when I came across a group that was rallying to help a fifth grader with autism being charged with assault. As an advocate and survivor of physical bullying, I strongly believed in standing up for others. As we put together the donation button for the child’s legal fees, we found out that a group operating under and “organizational” name was harassing the grandmother of the fifth grader about her finances to as much as five years earlier. They were demanding "answers" of her and every answer only prompted a hostile wave of new questions with similar demands. What I should have done as her advocate (who could only lend researching and moral support) was to advise her to block these people and concentrate only on her grandson and his needs. But I didn’t do that.
What I did was go to these people, look at their website, discover they had fundraisers of their own and decided to question them right back. Unfortunately, others who were involved with trying to help the boy, took similar steps and posted angry comments about this opposing group. I don’t agree with much of what the others said or the tactics they tried to use against these internet vigilantes, but the bottom line is that I’m now a permanent target. I believed I was standing up for a child who needed help. So I fought with them, even on their own blog, and that is why I will never see justice for their actions up to today.
My name and online identity has been put in tags of their blogs (even if they had nothing to do with me) or I am mentioned in the body of text of negative blogs. This totals almost 100 blog posts. It really got bad when they posted a blog article completely dedicated to me a year after the initial issue. They went so far as to search my background and find a lawsuit I filed against an employer. The posted pieces of the court document in that blog and did their best to make it look like I’m keeping a secret of a deep dark criminal past. The full facts of the case show my exoneration and the deep dark criminal past is a single misdemeanour from 19 years ago. They demanded answers from me but would only accept them on their website where their commenters could have their way with me.
I’ve called police and talked to attorneys. It’s been called a civil matter and; while they agree that this group acted without ethics or morale, the costs would be astronomical. I’ve tried to walk away, I’ve blocked names on Facebook and Twitter, but it just keeps coming. They want me to know that they’ve written a 200,000 page book with a character based on me and a second book is coming. They want me to know that the blog article has gotten them the most success for their "organization" and blog than any other they’ve ever done. They want me to know they sell out of their book at every single book signing.
I’ve tried to use peaceful terms and even erased everything about them in my own blogs. Even that was used as a weapon against me.
Human beings are hardwired to defend themselves, but this isn’t a street corner and you can’t be a bodyguard on the internet. Now, every time someone looks me up for the good work I’m doing, they equally find filth used to smear me.
My policy now; block them. Tell anyone you know that is being bullied that the blocking tool is their best friend. I block on the first negative comment on any social network I’m on. I’ve blocked a lot of people just over this horrid issue, but they are relentless. So block them. Don’t put out too much information and don’t be too trusting if at all. And if they do start to attack you, keep information on what’s happening but do not respond. Don’t say anything about them at all. I may sound like a hypocrite for saying that because of what I’m writing here, but someone has to tell you. So that’s my story that I’m sending in to this page. There’s good advice here, follow it.