Shame on You!

I did it again. I came back to my blog, said I was ready to write again, then got yanked away. I’ve fallen into old habits of getting pulled in too many directions. Being spread too thin. Doing more for others than I do for myself. I know this and can recognize it, but always have a hard time of peeling back again to make my life simpler, my mental state saner, and my overall temperament less stressy.

I’d love to catch everyone up to speed on what’s been going on around here but right now I need to get something off my chest (no pun intended). There is a very valid reason for what has kept me away from this comfortable place of words and thoughts and inner reflection…and that reason came from a complete stranger in the form of a comment left for moderation on this blog. It took me by such surprise, and quite honestly, my initial reaction to it was a knee jerk and instant recoil from something I love to do or a place I like to frequent.

I know when you put things out into cyberspace—it’s out there—there’s a permanent record—somewhere. I know that there are some creepers that have nothing better to do then surf the web, spend hours of time looking through public content (and that’s what this is once you hit the publish button), and cutting and copying to their heart’s content. I guess I’m frustrated by the endless possibilities that await certain sick minds and even though I have used this as a source of purging and regrowth, I have done so willingly in an attempt to help someone else. In saying that, have I actually aided certain stalkers in their quest? I have spent countless hours writing and then deleting—often times by accident—and then rewriting again. The writing portion has always been the focus of content theft for me and never, in my wildest dreams, would I have ever thought that there was someone out there stealing my photos. Not just stealing them, though—actually laying claim to the individuals in the photos! I will definitely be checking into my Flickr account settings and going over the privacy settings. However, it makes me sad to possibly do this. Isn’t there a foolproof way, an absolute of sorts in the realm of the wide world web with regard to this type of theft?

As I began this blogging journey over two years ago, I found quickly that there were several key elements you should have on your blog and one of the most important I have found is the spam filter for any incoming comments. It quickly weeds out the real comments from spam based on certain code sequences that are tracked. It has moderated hundreds and hundreds of pieces of spam—I only wish I received that many real comments! Lol! Before I delete them permanently, I always peruse through them just in case something gets put into the wrong inbox. I have received the most perverse and disgusting mail through this blog and I’m sure that much of it is generated based on the tag/key words I use in many posts. Many of them are from overseas and they are the strangest things to see because they are all symbolically coded in other languages of which I have no way of translating. Through the real comments, I have made friends around the world with women that have gone through similar or are facing similar situations as to what I went through. Some stop by from other friend’s blogs, some are friends through Facebook or my other writing hotspots and as with any new comment that comes in—whether its from someone I know or don’t—It is always placed in que to be moderated. Who knows what kind of sicko or fanatic would actually pop in just long enough to whip off something nasty. So, before any of that can be read by my loyal readers, I try to spare the filth of others.

Last month, though, I received an email stating that a comment was waiting for me. I was so excited! It had been months since I had written or quite honestly paid much attention to the blog—(I’ve been too busy living :)). When I opened it up to read it, I was immediately saddened and disgusted. My fear of some sick person out there has come true. I’m not sure if this is just something I should expect, or if there’s actually something I can do, but I will post here for you the email I received and if any of you have specific advice—don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Hi Christina,

I just wanted you to know that a man supposedly named Cliff Grant is claiming the picture of your daughter Jordan with the Harp from christmas 2009 is his daughter – I had been in contact with this person through a dating site and when my suspicions got the better of me I used tineye.com to search the picture he had given me – which is your daughter Jordan!!! You may want to put some copyright channels in place to protect your children.

Good luck with your battle!!

Regards

Melissa

Now, as far as I know, this particular person could also be spamming me with the provocation of luring me to the tineye.com website. I am always hesitant to open web sites since I have suffered the agonizing feeling of despair each time I receive a virus that completely crashes my system. So, I checked it out on the library’s computer. Lol. I know—not very nice should it contain a virus, but I figure they probably have better firewalls then I do. It seemed like a legit site. I just couldn’t do a reverse search on any pictures at the time. I’m curious if any of you have had the opportunity to use this site, if its real, and really works. My mind started racing and I had all these questions like:

Which dating site was it?

I wish I was also given more information as to whether or not this person, Cliff Grant, was reported to the key people in charge of clientele on this dating site.

I wonder what measures they have in place as consequences for misrepresenting yourself.

I wonder if that was his real name.

I wonder how many other women he’s done that to.

I wonder if he’s used more than that picture.

I wonder if he’s disgustingly photoshopped my pics.

I wonder if he’s a con artist trying to bilk unsuspecting women out of their money.

I wonder if he does this with more than just my photos.

I wonder if anyone else who writes a blog and puts personal family photos on it realizes that there are people that do this.

I wonder how I can backtrack this guy, find him and get him to stop.

I wonder if I’ll need a lawyer to discuss copyright or cease and desist orders.

All this comes on the heels of a contest I had with my daughter where we sat at the computer bored one day checking out Youtube videos, seeing how many people on FB worldwide have our same name, and googling bizarre stuff. We decided to google ourselves. Have you ever done that? Unless you have a one of a kind name, you’re bound to find something that google has found on you thanks to their search engine optimization. Out of all those names, though—how many actually apply to you? My daughter and I started laughing our heads off as we counted higher and higher—page after page—for entries dealing with me. I stopped at page 40. I’m sure there was more. As we scrolled through laughing at this or that, I stopped on one particular highlighted entry. It was an excerpt of a blog post from a couple years back titled, Race for the Cure . I clicked on the link and was horrified at what popped up onto my screen. There was my entire post on the front page of a triple X rated porn site with images flanking each side and top and bottom. WTF! Seriously, what in the hell was that about?

I know there are some freaky people out there that have strange fetishes, but what could this site possibly want with my blog post dealing with the Walk for the Cure? I then wasn’t sure I wanted to know. I tried desperately, risking virus and Trojan horses, to find a contact on the site, a name of some company or a subscription box that might have a field where I could leave a comment to TAKE THIS POST OFF THEIR SITE IMMEDIATELY!!! I found nothing. I do not know where to go or who to talk to about this and it got me so upset that I have stayed away. I’ve contemplated shutting the site down, but it has served a source of comfort and inspiration to many—including myself. This is a clear breach of copyright since I did not authorize the use of my content in this manner. I try to joke around about it, but I really don’t find it a laughing matter and if someone were to google me, I really don’t want anything I’ve worked so hard for being lumped in with something of this nature.

So, I’ve sat silent. For months. I have so much to write. I have so much to tell. I have so much I want to share with you all. I’m just stuck on this issue. Has this happened to any of you? How did you resolve it? What advice do you have for me?

I know that there are individuals that would love to use electronic content for their personal gain, individual pleasure, or twisted misrepresentation. It was a worry of mine when I first configured this blog. I researched how to protect my content and kept coming up with a simple solution which consisted mainly of a copyright badge on my page. I’ve had one in the sidebar for a couple years now and even though its there, I still wondered if it was deterring others from claiming something they found on my site as their own. I found a site once, and put a widget in the sidebar for Copyscape. It’s a site where you could enter a phrase from a post or the entire thing and it would do a search of many search engines to see if there were any hits that came up. I think it’s the same kind of tool that professors and teachers use to make sure students aren’t plagiarizing from an uncited source. I suppose I will need to be more diligent and proactive when it comes to what I’m about to publish.

I guess I am most disappointed in the moral decay of many individuals. I’ve tried to do something that has been hard for me to do, but I really force myself to do it. I tell myself that the individual posing the threat is obviously in greater need of prayer than myself. And then I say a small prayer. Many times they are sincere. Many times, truthfully, they are prayers that are…ahem…asking for karma to intervene. Thinking about this “Cliff Grant”—I’d have to say if he just absolutely felt like he needed to misrepresent himself with a fictitious daughter—at least he picked one that was talented and beautiful. In the same breath—BACK OFF, she’s mine. And to the porn site that feels the need to bait their web page under the guise of my blog post—I’m not sure I’m thrilled about this particular form of advertising, but since it’s free—hmmm—I’d like to say thanks? But yeah, NO. BACK OFF, it’s mine.

Let this serve as public notice that I am demanding you remove my content from your site. I will pursue this until it is removed and if you think I’m not a threat, you may just wanna make sure you got your big girl panties on. I have fought cancer and can tell you first hand that fighting you will be a cakewalk for me. To all those that are tempted to reprint portions—I’m an awfully cool person to deal with—all you have to do is ask, and then cite me. Let me know what you’re up to. Link to my page and I’ll link to yours. But to just take something without asking and to use it in a way that is grossly misrepresentative of yourself or my name—I’d like to say very clearly…SHAME ON YOU!

(Just prior to publishing this post I checked one last time on the WordPress support page forany information regarding help with content theft and this is what I found. I remember looking at this a couple years back, but haven’t reviewed it lately. I will go back into all my photos and start watermarking them. I will also get a free license and take into consideration many of he other points listed on the website. Even if you don’t have WordPress for you fellow bloggers out there, this is a good place to start to get information. if you are facing a similar situation)

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Started Tracking on 12-1-09

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