now where have i seen this before? using aliases to support or attack an idea

Sabrina Eaton

Sabrina Eaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer

‘ellie light’ is the pseudonym used by someone who loves and supports president obama. according to several news agencies, ‘ellie’ has been sending letters to the editors of various news outlets supporting the president and bashing the media for daring to criticize him. one editor, sabrina eaton of the cleveland plain dealer, bagan to notice that the same letter, often word for word, was sent to different papers by the same alias, ‘ellie light,’ but stating different local addresses within the expected readership of each of the papers. when eaton wrote a story about the phenomenon and exposed the alias, ‘ellie’ wrote in response continuing to bash the press coverage of president obama, but never answering eaton’s questions of ‘ellie’s’ identity. for instance, eaton asked ‘ellie’:

But why did all those letters say you lived in all those different places? It seems quite peculiar.

and

This email of yours has apparently been published in scads of newspapers. Each of them lists you as residing in their circulation area. How can you simultaneously reside in Kellogg (Michigan), Midland (Michigan), Follansbee (W.Va.), Myrtle Beach (S.C), Waynesboro (Va), Vallejo (Ca.), Mansfield (OH), Salinas (Ca), and Three Rivers (N.M.)? I also found your Haiti email printed in the paper in Lebanon, (PA). That one claimed you reside in Cornwall.

How did your missive end up in all these different publications, citing all these different residences for you? Where do you actually live? What do you actually do for a living? Are you sending these emails at the behest of any organization or politician? Are you the same Ellie Light who was once a reporter for the Bergen Record? Please respond ASAP because I plan to write about this.

Sincerely,
Sabrina Eaton
Plain Dealer, DC Bureau

‘ellie’ did respond, but answered none of eaton’s questions about her identity. and this reminded me of something very similar that has been taking place for the past three years with regard to the dead sea scrolls: the case of ‘charles gadda’ and raphael golb, who is under indictment in new york for, among other things, forgery, aggravated harassment, identity theft, and criminal impersonation, all stemming from a letter writing campaign used to promote a certain view of the origin of the dead sea scrolls and to attack scholars that disagree.

it is, of course, not illegal to pose as a different person and send the same letter to a bunch of different newspapers online. but when one is exposed as being deceptive online and attempting to use aliases to feign the appearance of widespread support or outrage, it makes the cause for which one is advocating appear weak. in fact, appearing to require a bunch of aliases to write scathing letters to press agencies with the hopes of drumming up some invented controversy in support of a cause makes the entire cause look so weak, it’s embarrassing. is it illegal? no. but it makes the one for whom you are advocating (in this case president obama) look like he needs to depend on fake supporters to prop up his ideas.

however, what is illegal would be the following hypothetical situation: the person behind ‘ellie light’ writes an article accusing sabrina eaton of plagiarizing ‘ellie light’s’ real-life father. then, ‘ellie light’ takes out a gmail address in the name of sabrina.eaton (at) gmail.com and proceeds to email the real sabrina eaton drawing her attention to the false article. when eaton does not respond, the alias emails sabrina eaton’s colleagues and, in the first person singular, admits to the false plagiarism that ‘ellie light’ originally posted in the internet. because gmail, yahoo, and other private email providers are commonly used as alternative personal email addresses for professionals who are required to use their corporate email addresses for business correspondence, this impersonation could cause many to assume the email is legitimate, and this impersonation could cause eaton’s employer to question her work as a journalist. that kind of forgery and impersonation would be criminal. and as absurd as the above hypothetical situation sounds, it is the very thing for which raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, stands accused of in new york superior court.

so let’s recap:

  • using aliases on the internet is legal.
  • using aliases to promote one’s point of view is and create the appearance of widespread support or outrage is deceptive, and is embarrassing and perhaps even counterproductive if exposed.
  • defaming, harassing, and libeling others on the internet using aliases is potentially a civil crime remedied in civil court via civil law suit if it can be proved who is behind the aliases.
  • impersonating others and forging their name in emails to confess to false accusations of plagiarism with the express purpose of harming one’s credibility as a professional crosses the line into criminal behavior.

in a business like journalism or academics, where the credibility of one’s written work is central to one’s success in one’s job, this kind of forgery and impersonation with the intent to damage one’s credibility and therefore livelihood would potentially be criminal.

one should be very careful when writing letters of protest or support on the internet. for those who wish to do so, here are a few tips to follow when writing on the internet:

  1. don’t use aliases.
  2. don’t say anything on the internet you wouldn’t say in your own name.
  3. and for the love of god, don’t be a prick online.

there is no such thing on the internet! all is known by someone, and when it becomes known, the prophetic words of 2 samuel 12:12 become very true.

la times article examines cyber bullying in south korea

apparently, i’m not the only one having to confront issues of cyber harassment.

internet crime continues to be a growing problem worldwide. in addition to hacking, internet scams, and online theft, issues of cyber libel, defamation, and online harassment are also a growing concern. as many know, i suffered from online harassment for nearly two years. fortunately (or unfortunately), raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, crossed the line and expanded his smear campaign from the civil to the criminal to include acts of forgery, identity theft, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment – crimes for which he has been arrested and is being prosecuted by the new york district attorney’s office. (details are available at who-is-charles-gadda.com.)

john m. glionna wrote a jan 2, 2010 article for the los angeles times entitled, ‘Cyber bullies reign in South Korea.’ in the story, he speaks to the growing concern of cyber bullies, noting that because

99% of citizens between the ages of 10 and 39 use the Internet, cyber thugs carry inordinate social weight.

In recent years, celebrities, authors and ordinary South Koreans have been subjected to relentless online assaults — at times with disastrous, or even lethal, effects.

the article focuses mostly upon legislative efforts to quell online ‘insults’ made anonymously, but these efforts rightly raise questions of free speech. but make no mistake: the practice of cyber bullying, online intimidation, libel, de facto accusations in the form of baseless hypothetical questions, and outright defamation (or whatever you want to call it) against individuals from beneath the presumed cloak of anonymity is growing. and while everyone wants to preserve the right to free speech, repeated, targeted attacks on individuals (anonymous or not) with the intent of harming their professional development or otherwise causing them fiscal damage is still illegal.

cowards that hide in the shadowy recesses of the internet for fear of being sued for saying things they would otherwise never say in their own name is growing to absurd proportions, and defamation, libel, and cyber bullying laws are just now beginning to catch up with the various technologies like blogging, message boards, distribution lists, and discussion groups that are used to commit these crimes on the internet. and, much like at the outset of the internet, when many claimed that pesky, traditional laws like sales tax and copyright were no longer valid, new defamation rulings are beginning to make their way into the legal system.

however, in the end, cyber libel is still libel, and is remedied in civil court, whether it is done under an attempted internet anonymity or not. indeed, the very purpose of using aliases is to duck libel and defamation accusations in the first place. if you can’t get caught, you can’t get sued (or so the thinking goes). how much more are one’s motives laid bare when one opts for using an alias to make criticisms of another?

of course, for raphael golb, civil suits concerning defamation, harassment, and libel are merely secondary at this point. for when defamation and libel cross from the civil realm into the criminal, and smear campaigns evolve from repeated targeted criticism and harassment to identity theft, impersonation, aggravated harassment, and forgery, then one has committed serious crime, for these are still very illegal, whether they take place online or not.

model wins right to sue anonymous blogger who maligned her

Model Liskula Cohen was defamed online by an anonymous blogger. She recently won the right to force Google to reveal the identity of the blogger that had been criticizing her online.

Model Liskula Cohen was defamed online by an anonymous blogger. She recently won the right to force Google to reveal the identity of the blogger that had been criticizing her online.

now here’s something that i’ve been following very quietly for a while:

In a case with potentially far-reaching repercussions, Liskula Cohen sought the identity of the blogger who maligned her on the Skanks in NYC blog so that she could sue him or her for defamation.

A Manhattan supreme court judge ruled that she was entitled to the information and ordered Google, which ran the offending blog, to turn it over.

as many of you know, i and other dead sea scrolls scholars have been the target of a well-organized, well-timed, two-year long smear campaign perpetrated by raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental institute ludwig rosenberger professor of jewish history and civilization, dr. norman golb. the campaign centered around a series of over 80 aliases used by raphael golb to malign many scholars that study the scrolls and disagree with norman golb. i chronicled the campaign in detail before turning my findings over to the new york county district attorney’s office. on march 5, 2009, the manhattan da’s office executed a search warrant for golb’s residence and he was arrested,

on charges of identity theft, criminal impersonation and aggravated harassment. The crimes in the Criminal Court Complaint occurred during the period of July to December of 2008.

you can follow the criminal proceedings against golb on the new york state unified courts system ecourts website.

golb’s attorney insists this is a ‘first amendment case.’

we, the targets of this campaign, are awaiting the conclusion of the criminal case against golb. this manhattan supreme court ruling may come into play during the criminal investigation because golb used multiple aliases to set up several blogs in order to criticize his father’s perceived rivals anonymously. this ruling may assist the manhattan da’s office, who are coincidentally the same ones prosecuting golb, in ordering several online forums like blogs and crowd powered news sites to turn over the identities of aliases who use the services to defame others openly.

and while this ruling may assist in the criminal case, i’m betting it will do far more for the civil cases that are patiently awaiting the resolution of the criminal case against norman golb’s son, raphael, any who informed and collaborated with him, and their employers.

== update ==

now, the *woman* who was trashing cohen is upset that google outed her. probably because she’s about to get sued for defamation.

maureen dowd: “Stung by the Perfect Sting

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