by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 27th 2014 1:27pm
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Jun 23rd 2014 10:05am
Delaware Attorney General Throws Subpoeana At Reddit Over Comment On Photo Of Two People Having Sex Behind A Dumpster
from the your-tax-dollars:-workin'-it dept
Not necessarily a sign of widespread social media surveillance, but you still have to wonder how the state of Delaware's Attorney General's office managed to come across a comment referring to some St. Patrick's Day-related NSFWing, much less pursue one unlucky commenter who made a joke about one of the participants being his "sister."
Here's a link to the photo which kicked off the unlikely chain of events. It depicts two green-clad people, presumably of consenting age, expressing their love in a physical manner. Needless to say, probably, very definitely NSFW.
Redditor un1cornbl00d received notice from Reddit that the Delaware DOJ had served a subpoena demanding the platform turn over his personal information, along with "all posts, responses and their content" related to the original submission. (Found here, with comments now deleted).
*DO NOT NOTIFY CUSTOMER*Well, if you seriously believe an investigation might be "impeded" or "obstructed," you might want to put with more legal weight than a caps lock key behind it. Most court orders don't say "please," and most court orders point out the legal reasons for the demand. This subpoena tries to demand compliance with shouty typing.
PLEASE DO NOT DISCLOSE OR NOTIFY THE USER OF THE ISSUANCE OF THIS SUBPOENA.
DISCLOSURE TO THE USER COULD IMPEDE AN INVESTIGATION OR OBSTRUCT JUSTICE.
Apparently, this is the way things are done at Joe Biden Jr.'s office. Another subpoena sent late last year demanding that Facebook turn over information on the "owner" of a small (~300 likes at the time subpoena was issued) page with an anti-government slant contained similar all-caps demands for keeping everything a secret… which was also ignored.
*SUBSCRIBER IS NOT TO BE NOTIFIED OR MADE AWARE OF THIS INVESTIGATION*Seeing as the subpoena was posted by the page being investigated, Facebook also has little respect for slightly larger letters with no legal weight behind them.
So, why would a "special investigator" at the state DA's office be interested in a tossed-off comment on a photo of two people having sex out in the open? Well, as far as anyone can theorize, whoever's monitoring social media for the Delaware DOJ (or the entities that feed into it) must have thought unic0rnbl00d was the rarest of creatures on the internet: someone who only tells the truth, and if so, was hoping to bust his "sister" (and possibly Joe Random Stranger as well). Quotes from police "investigating" the sex that two (probably inebriated) people momentarily enjoyed confirm that the force was indeed looking to slap these two with some sort of charge. (Link contains photo -- NSFW)
[T]he police are investigating the pair on suspicion of lewd conduct. A Newark Police spokesman said the couple was "engaging in sexual intercourse in public in plain view of numerous passersby."Why the hell the state is so interested in punishing people for consensual acts performed in the past is beyond me, other than that pervasive belief that the word "justice" means no one getting away with anything ever. I would think whatever nearly-nonexistent tarnishing of state pride would pale in comparison to the state now being viewed as overreaching busybodies after sending subpoenas to track down an internet commenter and targeting people engaged in First Amendment activities. The latter subpoena is vastly more concerning, as it shows the state attempting to sniff out people with anti-government sentiments. Sure, the page may contain the word "riot," but the full title of the group is "Peaceful Rioters For Wilmington, Delaware."
Again, these may not be signs of active social media monitoring, but this sort of behavior certainly doesn't reflect well on those in the Delaware law enforcement community. I can only assume the state has run out of real crime or other pressing issues and is now just creating busywork for its special investigators.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 8th 2014 12:35am
from the don't-fail-us-fcc dept
Along those lines, one FCC commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, has suggested that the FCC should put the brakes on its net neutrality plans to think things through a bit more carefully -- though apparently FCC boss Tom Wheeler has rejected that idea and plans to move forward with his rule-making proposal next week.
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Feb 26th 2014 1:33pm
from the what-is-this?-Reddigg? dept
Mike's coverage of leaks showing the NSA and GCHQ using the internet to "manipulate, deceive and destroy reputations" (as reported by Glenn Greenwald at firstlook.org) hit the front page of Reddit yesterday, generating lots of traffic for Techdirt. This traffic truly should have gone to firstlook.org, but never made it there. A look at the top comments on our coverage show why:
Why is this story being removed from all the popular subs over and over by mods?
Message the admins about the censorship of this article by /r/news and /r/worldnews mods. They have never seemed to care about this in the past but if enough users message them it will hopefully at least provoke a response of some kind. Something needs to be done about this or this site needs to be abandoned as a platform for legitimate political discourse.A little further down in the thread:
Important Update: So, it turns out that the /r/news mod /u/BipolarBear0 who has been deleting all the instances of this story has previously been caught running a voting brigade to get anti-Semitic content upvoted on /r/conspiracy to discredit the sub. A fact which he admitted to me in another thread just a few minutes ago (he claims he was doing an "experiment"...) . This guy needs to be banned from the site.
Last night, the original article from firstlook.org was taken down and tagged as "not appropriate subreddit." Meanwhile, another copy of the story was allowed to rise, despite having an editorialized title. Later, the version that had been taken down--which was older and had fewer upvotes because it had been removed--was put back up and the younger version with more upvotes was removed, allegedly because the topic was "already covered."Censorship on reddit? It seems almost ridiculous considering the amount of subreddits available for those submitting stories. But it's there all the same (although not actually "censorship" so much as a bad direction for a community based on meritocracy to go in). According to commenters, both r/news and r/worldnews (two of the biggest subreddits), the firstlook.org post was removed over and over again once they began collecting upvotes, forcing each submission to start over at "0" and face an uphill struggle for visibility.
This tactic has been used to keep other similar stories from rising, such as the one about the NSA sharing information with Israel.
Time and time again, the content on /r/worldnews, /r/technology, /r/news, and /r/politics is manipulated by moderator intervention.
While everyone lets the implications of this kind of content manipulation on reddit regarding stories about online content manipulation sink in, I think it's worth noting that /r/technology has a bot that removes stories about the NSA.
Ninja edit: subscribe to /r/undelete and /r/longtail if you're interested in keeping an eye on popular content that's been removed by mods.
Screenshots and lists of removed posts have been compiled showing the various subs' mods' actions to bury the firstlook.org story. But why? Sooner or later, it was bound to sneak through, like ours did (a link to the Examiner's coverage did as well).
Speculation on this runs rampant, but most commenters agree that too many mods are abusing their power in order to bury anything they don't like. We saw some of this infighting late last year when r/politics composed a very arbitrary list [since rescinded, mostly] of banned submissions sources (including us) in an effort to crack down on overly-politicized articles (on a politics sub no less) and what the mods declared to be "blogspam," a catchall term that somehow included award-winning news outlets like Mother Jones.
The decision to clamp down on news detailing this particular leak brought a whole lot of irony with it. The efforts made to remove an unflattering story about intelligence agencies' dirty little efforts to use the internet to destroy reputations and manipulate public perception led to tongue-in-cheek speculation that Reddit itself is compromised. (And there's certainly no way to be sure it isn't…)
Techdirt may have been the inadvertent beneficiary of bad behavior by subreddit mods, but that's hardly reason to celebrate. If the mod situation is as bad as it appears to be, Reddit is going to start heading down the path of Digg, whose infamous "bury brigade" worked tirelessly to ensure only certain news coverage made its way to the top of the list.
This isn't an easily-solvable problem, thanks to Reddit's hydra-like structure, with hundreds of subreddits and no clear demarcation of command. The corporate Reddit, which ostensibly "controls" the community, has largely taken a hands-off approach. This is still the best option and the reversal of the r/politics arbitrary ban list shows the community still has the power to solve some of its mod problems. But widespread story burial, coupled with evidence of subreddits being gamed by mods, isn't exactly comforting, especially considering Reddit's journalistic aspirations.
Like any platform with millions of users, issues will never be non-existent. But a failure to address the abuse of power by mods of larger subreddits will hurt Reddit in the long run. Power coupled with an almost-complete lack of accountability is always a bad thing. But this problem will need to be solved internally by the subreddits themselves. There's power in numbers, something subreddit subscribers should be able to leverage to start cleaning this mess up.
by Tim Cushing
Tue, Feb 18th 2014 5:20am
Someone Claiming To Be Flappy Bird's Creator Just Sent A Ridiculous Cease & Desist To Moderator Of Flappy Birds Subreddit
from the mandatory-Flappy-Birds-post-delivered,-allowing-Techdirt-to-stay-on-the-Internet dept
For awhile it looked as though Techdirt might be one of the last holdouts to offer an opinion on the short-lived but incredibly intense Flappy Bird craze. Or at the very least, it looked as though we might avoid using the game's name in the headline. But those days are behind us now because someone (possibly the creator) has managed to steer the phenomenon right into our wheelhouse with a thoroughly misguided and inaccurate copyright-related legal threat.
For the three of you (Hi, Grandma!) who have managed to avoid the complete saturation of Flappy Bird into every media outlet, here's a very brief recap.
Vietnam-based indie developer Dong Nguyen had created several basic mobile games, but nothing really caught on until Flappy Bird. The infuriating game tasks users with steering a bird through some Mario-esque pipes in search of points. It's a tough game -- hard, unfair and not very rewarding. But it is (or was, more on that in a bit) extremely popular. A score that nudges into the hundreds column is considered godlike.
After Flappy Bird blew up, Nguyen reportedly was pulling in $50,000 a day from ad revenue. At that point, the creator began to hate his creation and, quite unexpectedly, killed it off rather than endure everything that comes with completely unexpected fame (including, but not limited to, hateful comments from frustrated gamers, an increasing amount of people who knew he had loads of money and were looking for a cut and the pressure to somehow top himself). So, on Feb. 9th, Nguyen deleted his game from iTunes and Google Play.
This screaming void was soon filled by people hawking used phones with installed (and suddenly "rare") copies of Flappy Bird on eBay and about a million clones and reskins, the latter resulting in Google and Apple now promptly rejecting anything Flappy Bird-esque that's submitted to its app stores.
Now, out of the blue, the redditor who started the r/FlappyBird subreddit has received a C&D from "Dong_Nguyen_Legal." Here's the notice in full (line breaks inserted to break wall of text]:
CEASE AND DESIST DEMANDNow, before we get to the speculation as to who is actually behind this, let's deal with the C&D itself. Nguyen claims this redditor has unlawfully copied Flappy Bird's "graphics and name." The subreddit does indeed use the iconic "Flappy Bird" and is named after the game, but those would be more actionable as trademarks than copyright. Here's the offending banner from the r/FlappyBird subreddit. (The cached version shows the same graphics and text.)
In accordance with Title 17 of the United States Code and International Copyright Standards February 14, 2014 Re: Flappy Bird To the owner of Reddit, /r/FlappyBird :
This communication details a cease and desist notice by Dong Nguyen. If you are represented by legal counsel, please direct this letter to your attorney immediately and have your attorney notify me of such representation. I am writing to notify you that your unlawful copying of my Graphics and Names: 'Flappy Bird' infringes upon my exclusive copyrights. Accordingly, you are hereby directed to CEASE AND DESIST ALL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. I am the owner of a copyright in various aspects of Flappy Bird.
Under United States copyright law, my copyrights have been in effect since the date that Flappy Bird was created. All copyrightable aspects of Flappy Bird are copyrighted under United States copyright law. It has come to my attention that you have been copying Flappy Bird. I have copies of your unlawful copies to preserve as evidence. Your actions constitute copyright infringement in violation of United States's copyright laws. Under 17 U.S.C. 504###, the consequences of copyright infringement include statutory damages of up to $30,000 per work, and damages of up to $150,000 per work for willful infringement.
If you continue to engage in copyright infringement after receiving this letter, your actions will be evidence of "willful infringement." Based upon the foregoing, I demand that you immediately (i) cease and desist your unlawful duplication of Flappy Bird and (ii) promptly communicate your assurance within ten (10) days that you will cease and desist from further infringement of my copyrighted works. If you do not comply with this cease and desist demand within this time period, I am entitled to use your failure to comply as evidence of "willful infringement" and seek monetary damages and equitable relief for your copyright infringement. In the event you fail to meet this demand, please be advised that I will contemplate pursuing all available legal remedies, including seeking monetary damages, injunctive relief, and an order that you pay court costs and attorney's fees. Your liability and exposure under such legal action could be considerable.
Before taking these steps, however, I wish to give you one opportunity to discontinue your illegal conduct by complying with this demand within ten (10) days. Accordingly, please reply to this email within ten (10) days with your acceptance of the attached Agreement. The foregoing is without waiver of any and all rights of myself, all of which are expressly reserved herein. If you or your attorney have any questions, please contact me directly. Sincerely, Dong Nguyen
This would appear to be nothing more than use of the name (and bird pic) in the nominative sense, something that's generally considered to be fair use. On the copyright front, there's no registered copyright for Flappy Bird in the US, which would make it difficult for Nguyen to pursue infringement. Nguyen specifically cites US copyright law, which wouldn't apply if there's no registration in the states (specifically, the cited statutory damages). Without a valid registered copyright, Nguyen would have to prove actual damages which would be pretty tough to do considering the app was voluntarily deleted four days before the subreddit came into existence.
If Nguyen's trying to go the trademark route, he runs into a similar problem. There are currently seven pending applications for "Flappy Bird," none of which appear to be filed by him or on his behalf. (The TESS link will expire, so here's a screenshot of the search results.) So there's really no claim there, either.
Beyond those two issues, there's also a problem with the next several accusations, which all seem to indicate Nguyen is chasing unauthorized duplication of his game, something that's clearly not happening in this subreddit.
There's always the possibility that the redditor is cloning Flappy Bird, but if so, this C&D was sent to the wrong place and cites the wrong entity. The C&D was sent directly to the moderator/creator of r/FlappyBird and specifically mentions that subreddit more than once. It could be that Nguyen (or whoever's representing him) has mistaken the gathered Flappy Bird screenshots, fan art and links to various clones as actual duplications of his program, but most likely this isn't the case. Nguyen's a long-time app developer. It would be hard to believe he can't differentiate between a screenshot and an infringing copy.
So that takes us to the question of who's actually behind this C&D.
Dong Nguyen actually seems to be the least likely person to have sent this out. He's already yanked the game (for being "too addictive") and has been working hard to distance himself from its viral success. His Twitter account has been silent since Feb. 8th, save for a single, short response to suicide rumors.
@mdtauk haha— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 13, 2014
Now, there could be someone (badly) representing Nguyen who is attempting to pry some cash out of unsuspecting Flappy Bird fans. Like anyone else who suddenly comes into money, Nguyen has probably found himself surrounded with people offering to handle his finances and tackle his legal issues. These sorts of people will probably fare no better than the uncle-of-a-friend who talks himself into a job as a financial advisor for any NBA/NFL phenom -- the kind that only prove how fast they can run through someone else's money. This theory would explain the complete cluelessness of the C&D.
The third theory is that this is just a (slightly advanced) form of trolling. Someone's just tossing out wholly implausible C&Ds and enjoying the small ripples that result. The internet's a big place, and Dong_Nguyen_Legal could literally be anybody… except (most likely) for Dong Nguyen himself.
As it stands now, the recipient of this notice has 10 days (from Feb. 15th) to comply without facing any further legal trouble. (We have to read the notice as straight to read the previous sentence without laughing.) From the looks of the subreddit, nothing has changed. Nor should it. The infringement level here (trademark or copyright) is so low as to be unnoticeable. If this is serious, and some misguided legal rep is preparing to drag Dong Nguyen into an almost unwinnable legal battle, he or she has picked the wrong fight and very certainly the wrong opponent.
Wed, Jan 8th 2014 8:00pm
from the pics-or-gtfo dept
Let's say you're part of the team that puts together one of the funniest shows on television, Archer, known most for its sharp and offensive wit served with a dash of the brazen and racy. Let's also say that you're looking for a way to promote the new fifth season of the show in a way that will both grab some attention and deal directly with a group that is sharply in line with your core demographic. And, finally, let's say you're the type of person who understands that advertising is content. So, what do you do?
Well, you jump onto Reddit's GoneWild board, known as the place where Reddit exhibitionists can expose their lack of wears (get it?), and you start posting as each of the characters of the show in the buff.
Sadly, they're just ads drawn up in the familiar gonewild style (complete with disingenuously coy headline and cheesily sexual handle), but as one Redditor points out, it's "still pretty cool way to directly target their demographic."
If you're a fan of the show, you will recognize the characters, scenes in the pictures, and the references in each post. If you don't know the show, you're probably thinking, "What the hell is this insane nonsense? Maybe I should check it out!" What with the lack of captive audiences and all the different forms of entertainment competing for our time, producers might feel as though they were in some kind of Kenny Loggins song. They have to come up with new ways to literally...figuratively snatch our eyeballs. Fun little interactions and nods towards fans like this are part of that way.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 6th 2013 12:24pm
from the the-non-swastika-is-the-least-of-your-problems dept
Yes, to Reddit.
Now, yes, it's possible that someone posted copyrighted material to Reddit, for which a DMCA could possibly be appropriate. But this isn't one of those cases. The complaint is about this r/circlejerk post by heisenberg69 from seven months ago. I imagine that post isn't going anywhere, but just in case it is, I've also embedded the screenshot that Office Depot helpfully included with the DMCA notice to Reddit. As you can see, heisenberg69 posted a link to this imgur image of not-quite a swastika over the Office Depot logo. We'll repost it here for you to see:
- This is not copyright infringement. At all. Office Depot's Corporate Counsel Jared Namm appears to admit this at the very beginning of his DMCA notice. While he first says it "violates the copyrights and trademarks of Office Depot," at no point does he explain what copyright is violated, because he can't. He later points only to "the Office Depot trademark." But, you cannot use a DMCA for trademark. It is only for copyright. Pretending to use a DMCA claim for a trademark claim is an abuse of the DMCA.
- Even if you look at the trademark issue, this is not a trademark issue. Making use of a logo in this manner is in no way an infringement on Office Depot's trademark. There is no "use in commerce." There is no likelihood of confusion. And there are many, many, many cases where simply parodying or mocking a logo of a company has been found to be non-infringing. Nazi-izing someone's logo for the purpose of mocking the company is not infringement.
- This is not copyright infringement, part two. After trying out the bogus trademark claim, Office Depot's Namm claims that the posting is in violation of Reddit's terms of service. Even if this were true, that's not a reason to send a DMCA notice.
- This is not a violation of Reddit's terms of service. Again, even if you could send a DMCA based on a violation of the terms of service, this is not a violation of the terms of service. Office Depot argues that this is "defamatory, abusive, harassing, racist, hateful or violent." I guess you could try to make an argument for "hateful," but it's difficult to see how that reaches the level of a terms of service violation.
- Merely mocking a company such as Office Depot for having Nazi-like attributes is not hate speech. It may not make much sense, but that's not how it works. It's even more ridiculous when you realize this isn't even a swastika. Amazingly, even Office Depot admits this in the DMCA letter, which Namm adds as if it's a helpful tidbit:
A little history on the symbol as well: this particular design is not Nazi related but the original Sauwastika (facing left) vs. the Nazi Germany alteration (facing right). The left facing has been a symbol in Hindu/Buddhist art/texts that predate the Nazi usage by centuries. While this does not dismiss the use of the symbol in conjunction with our logo, in reviewing the posts it appears there is confusion on the symbol, but heisenberg69's posting of the symbol over the Office Depot logo associates Office Depot with Nazi Germany.So, Office Depot admits this isn't a Nazi symbol, and sends a screenshot in which the top comment, with the most votes on the thread, is pointing out that this isn't a Nazi symbol... and then still says this posting associates Office Depot with Nazis.
- Jared Namm swore "under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed." Yet, despite mentioning copyright, nowhere does he name an actual copyright that's been infringed, because there hasn't been one. While he may be able to skate out from under perjury by arguing that the second half of that penalty of perjury clause was "owner of an exclusive right," again no trademark law has been infringed and you can't use the DMCA for trademark anyway. It's not wise to swear under penalty of perjury to something that is almost certainly not true.
- The image is not hosted on Reddit. But on Imgur. Which is a different company.
- Oh yeah, and this was a Reddit r/circlejerk post from 7 months ago that didn't get that much attention then and has all but disappeared from view entirely. And now, due entirely to the absolutely stupid decision by either Office Depot Corporate Counsel Jared Namm, or someone above him in management who told him to do this and who failed to heed any suggestion that this was (a) not infringement and (b) a monumentally stupid move, he went ahead and sent this notice, practically guaranteeing that the post and the image would suddenly get renewed life and attention.
- And, finally, sending a totally bogus DMCA notice to Reddit? Reddit, who as a community was perhaps the most instrumental community in bringing down SOPA, has no love for bogus copyright claims. Remember, Reddit is the community who organized the massive GoDaddy boycott that got GoDaddy to back down from its support of SOPA (and to eventually turn over almost its entire management team). Poking Reddit with a bogus DMCA stick for what appears to be no reason at all just doesn't seem smart at all.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jul 18th 2013 12:02pm
If 'Just Metadata' Isn't An Issue, Why Can't Tech Companies Reveal 'Just Metadata' About NSA Surveillance?
from the simple-questions dept
We the undersigned are writing to urge greater transparency around national security-related requests by the US government to Internet, telephone, and web-based service providers for information about their users and subscribers.This follows on a somewhat somewhat similar letter from Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner and Zoe Lofgren to Attorney General Holder and Director of National Intelligence Clapper, urging them "to authorize U.S. companies to release information regarding national security requests for user data."
First, the US government should ensure that those companies who are entrusted with the privacy and security of their users’ data are allowed to regularly report statistics reflecting:
Second, the government should also augment the annual reporting that is already required by statute by issuing its own regular “transparency report” providing the same information: the total number of requests under specific authorities for specific types of data, and the number of individuals affected by each.
- The number of government requests for information about their users made under specific legal authorities such as Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the various National Security Letter (NSL) statutes, and others;
- The number of individuals, accounts, or devices for which information was requested under each authority; and
- The number of requests under each authority that sought communications content, basic subscriber information, and/or other information.
As an initial step, we request that the Department of Justice, on behalf of the relevant executive branch agencies, agree that Internet, telephone, and web-based service providers may publish specific numbers regarding government requests authorized under specific national security authorities, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the NSL statutes. We further urge Congress to pass legislation requiring comprehensive transparency reporting by the federal government and clearly allowing for transparency reporting by companies without requiring companies to first seek permission from the government or the FISA Court.
Both letters point out that they're just looking for the ability to reveal specific numbers about orders received and user accounts impacted, but obviously not further information that might reveal the details of any investigations. Basically, they're asking for "just the metadata."
You may have spotted the irony, pointed out by Ashkan Soltani: Defenders of many of the government's surveillance programs have repeatedly trotted out the "just metadata" argument for why all of this surveillance is no problem, claiming that mere metadata doesn't reveal anything important. Yet, when it comes to their own metadata about their own surveillance programs, suddenly it will reveal all their secrets? (And I won't even get into the fact that only some of the surveillance programs are "just metadata").
So, which is it, feds? Is "just metadata" nothing too important, or does it reveal everything?
Tue, Jul 16th 2013 4:11pm
from the yup,-that-sounds-about-right dept
You know, at some point the kind of people that run online contests are going to have to blossom into the kind of people that know that 4chan exists. You see, the lively go-getters over at 4chan and Reddit really, really like messing with these kinds of contests, resulting in discomfort for some and hilarity for most. Serving as examples of this are the Time man of the year poll that resulted in a win for Kim Jong-Un, a Mountain Dew contest that resulted in more unfortunate names than I could shake a granny-orgasm-joke at, and a school for the deaf winning a live Taylor Swift concert. That the unintended results of these contests were then removed from consideration is unfortunate for anyone who likes this kind of thing, and that was typically only possible because there wasn't an adorably creepy face to put with these negations of contest results.
But that isn't the case with one Boston radio station's online contest for a meet-and-greet with oft-target-of-the-internet Taylor Swift. As you might have guessed, this contest too has been hijacked by 4chan and Reddit, all in the name of sending a 39 year old creepster on a mission to sniff Swift's dead-head-cells.
It all started with a post on the infamous imageboard 4chan asking its anonymous users to help Charles "crush the dreams of these girls and give him a chance to make a complete ass of himself by blatantly just sniffing her hair with cameras rolling."Reddit picked up on the fun shortly afterwards, vaulting Chaz (he looks like a guy in need of a sweet nickname) into first place, where he remains as of this writing. Now, while the radio station explicitly stated that they can deny winners if they deem their winning tactics unworthy, this time they'll risk the backlash of overweight creepy guys that want to sniff Swift's hair, a demographic that I'm sure is on the rise as of the past several years. More importantly, there is a single face in the story now. Charles' mug is featured on the website, as terrifyingly tousled and bearded as you would imagine, and a no to him is every bit as heart-tugging as a no to a 13 year old girl. Okay, so maybe not every bit, but still, is the station going to slap that face down just because the internet loves him?
The lulz-seekers obliged, and, with the help of 500 spambots, by early Tuesday morning Charles was sitting pretty in third place, on his way to two free tickets to a Taylor Swift show and a backstage photo sesh with the 23-year-old.
Regardless, anyone organizing an online contest of this sort had better start building them to be 4chan-proof, or risk the internet's influence.
Mon, Jun 24th 2013 8:05pm
from the leeeeeeeeet's-get-ready-to-rumble! dept
In case you don't recall, Suburban Express is a bus company run by self-proclaimed human being Dennis Toeppen, who is best known for squatting on domains and levying fees against his bus company's customers for, well, everything. Included in that everything is saying mean things about Suburban Express online. That led them to threatening legal action on a Redditor for a sub-reddit about how mind-numbingly prickish the company is. The blow back from those threats, including a cameo by Ken "Popehat" White, revealed 100+ lawsuits Suburban Express had filed against former customers. Blow back having been received, Toeppen promised to drop all of those active suits, which his attorney then did, even as Toeppen continued a creepy campaign against the Redditor, Jeremy Leval.
And now Toeppen is taking decisive action to make sure everyone on the planet knows how petty he is, having hired a new attorney and attempted to reopen all of those previously dropped lawsuits against his own customers.
Well, he's now trying to re-open the lawsuit against the complaining passenger with a new attorney after his previous attorney had the case dismissed with prejudice. And he's trying to intimidate redditors by filing Freedom of Information Act requests with the University of Illinois in an attempt to expose their personal data. Also, he—or someone posing as him—has returned to reddit to trash-talk.Oh, Dennis, how the childish never seem to learn. Everyone can rest assured that another round of blow back is on the way, an exodus of customers and potential customers, and all the bad press Toeppen could possibly want. You can't, can't, make a habit of suing large numbers of your own customers. That isn't Business 101, it's Human Being 101. Even more so when you promised, and in fact, did drop all of those cases once already. The internet monkey knows which lever to push to get him to back off again and I expect it to be pushed once more.
Dennis Toeppen, once a notorious domain-squatter, filed a FOIA request with the University of Ilinois requesting "Any and all communications to which Joel Steinfeldt of Office of Public Affairs is a party which mention, relate, or pertain to to Suburban Express, Matthew Finnicum, Murph Finnicum, or Jeremy Leval, for the period 1/1/2013 to present." A link to the electronic files generated in response to the FOIA request was then posted to reddit.
Even if this doesn't get the attention of Popehat, and I'll be severely disappointed if it doesn't, we may be seeing the beginning of the end of a business.