The article that I published a month ago regarding online reputation management provoked excellent discussion and also a disturbing response. In an apparent reaction to that article, someone posted at least three websites that sought to defame me and repost personal photos from the Facebook pages of people close to me.
It shouldn’t be necessary to say this, but just to be clear, those pages are a bunch of made-up BS. I’m not in hiding, I have no connection to any cocaine traffickers, I’m not wanted by Interpol, I’ve never invited nor accepted any sort of payment to withhold publishing news, I’m not wanted for extortion in California or anywhere else, I’ve never used fake travel documents, and I didn’t send the pictured e-mail. The statements and their implications are simply made up from someone’s imagination.
If you have any questions or doubts, please write me. I am posting this right now because I know that unanswered attacks can just fester and be considered true. It’s tempting to go the legal route and try to get these blogs removed, but that’s expensive and time-consuming*, plus I generally believe that the answer to bad information is not censorship but rather good information.
While these attacks do nothing to reveal who I am, they do show that my reporting made someone nervous. That person apparently didn’t see a rational way to refute my article and instead resorted to unscrupulousness. The attack appears to have violated Twitter’s terms of service and also revealed a possible link to Venezuela’s biggest private-sector bank.
1. Someone ran a campaign to retweet this, this and this (UPDATE Oct 1: Oh sorry, the original author appears to have deleted those tweets. Thanks, nice of you to do so. Next you can delete the attack pages and we can go back to treating one another like adults.) to promote the defamatory blog posts. The retweeters are obvious “serial accounts.” They all have largely the same content and are probably under the ultimate control of the same person. Serial accounts are a violation of Twitter’s terms of service.
2. The serial Twitter accounts used to defame me are mostly used to promote Banesco. Note that each of these screenshots shows at least one tweet attacking me and multiple tweets promoting Banesco.
Banesco is Venezuela’s biggest private-sector bank by both branches and deposits, with 114.2 billion bolivars in deposits (US$18 billion at the official rate of exchange). I wrote to Banesco to ask whether the bank had any comment on Twitter accounts linked to it being used in a defamation campaign. The bank hasn’t responded.
By coincidence, “Carlos Díaz,” the reputation management dude I wrote about in this post, has previously controlled the internet domain names JuanCarlosEscotet.biz, .com, .info, and .mobi. Juan Carlos Escotet is the founder and board president of Banesco. I wonder how Escotet feels about being associated with these childish attacks. (Update: Yes Banesco, I can see you visited 22 times today. My contacts are right here on this site if you want to reach me. Of course you also already had them, since I previously sent you a request for comment and like most Venezuelan companies you couldn’t be arsed to respond.)
*Part of why it would be expensive and time-consuming is that Google and WordPress have denied copyright claims by the people who took the pictures that were stolen and used to attack me and my family. It’s remarkable how quickly big sites leap to comply with DMCA takedown orders from companies, but when an individual has his or her copyright violated, they simply say they have decided there’s no reason to take action. Further, Google said that the blog with posts like “My-life-in-Chile” written by a Google+ member calling himself Steven Bodzin is not a case of identity appropriation. Thanks Google! Real charmers, you guys. Remind me to keep doing your work for you, for free.