Encourages trolls and punishes their victims, all in the name of profit.
My name is Nathan and until about 2002 I enjoyed using the internet with no worries. I had even run my own internet chat site (talker), had made improvements to its code, had played about with various games, used ICQ and got to know a wide range of people and had a great time getting to know them. The internet is a great thing to use. For 7 or 8 years I had used it peacefully, happily, with a few ups and downs but generally pretty happy with the whole thing. Then things were turned upside down.
When I first joined social networking site LiveJournal, my experiences were quite pleasant. I wrote blogs, had many friends, and enjoyed it so much that I paid for a permanent account, something which was supposed to mean that I would be with Live Journal forever. I also worked on their support desk, helping people deal with any problems. I should have been a trusted person.
The problems began when trolling site LiveJournal Drama (LJ Drama) found out about some people harassing me about an incident that had happened in my real life a few years earlier related to a mental illness that I have, which had resulted in my physically assaulting an ex girlfriend, not out of malice but due to this illness that I suffer from. First I had to suffer from incredible levels of harassment from people who found out about it from her, who were ignorant to the facts of my mental illness, and then so many strangers came along. It went to extremes when LJ Drama got involved.
I had hoped that LiveJournal staff would be supportive of me. After all, I was a trusted member of their community. I had bought a permanent account and had helped with their help desk. I even helped to create this community (now I don't even want credit for doing it). I did not have a record of abuse or any trouble at all. This incident, invented by a few trouble makers and brought out of all proportion by LJ Drama, was the one and only incident involving me.
Live Journal staff knew full well what the situation was. The facts were explained to them. Yet they went with what the majority said. Since the majority, at least the majority that they heard of, were all trolls from LJ Drama, they went with that, even though what they were doing was criminal and illegal.
Since that time, I have had these same trolls attack me on other social networking sites, including uJournal, DeadJournal and a variety of others. I have had to take great precautions in protecting my internet identity. I often receive abusive e-mails to this day in relation to this, and in all forms of chatting I am often attacked by these random trolls. Through LJ Drama's trolling "encyclopedia", Encyclopaedia Dramatica, my name is permanently smeared and, at least so long as Live Journal refuse to help, I cannot do a thing about it.
I do not know why Live Journal staff decided to side with the LJ Drama trolls. If it was because of the majority, then why did they continue to side with them after various legal actions against them, in several cases because of their attacks against me? Why did they care about going after new accounts that I had created?
Live Journal staff have refused to refund the money that I paid for my permanent account, in spite of a legal contract requiring them to do so. I have taken them to the Better Business Bureau several times in relation to this and they have lied about their obligations, claiming that they can take the money and not refund it at their own discretion. The truth, though, is that regardless of what their statement says, if I have paid for a permanent account, then I get a permanent account, and if they want to suspend me then they are required by law to refund it. Further, to this day it still does not say anywhere in their terms of service that they have the right to suspend a permanent account for any reason without giving a refund. I certainly did not do anything wrong to deserve a suspension. I was the victim of the whole thing.
LiveJournal knows full well that I was the victim of attacks. They pretend that I simply claim to be the victim while secretly harassing a lot of people - all at the same time! Obviously, this is not possible. I don't have a machine that I can program to randomly attack various people. Even if we didn't know who these supposed victims were - trolls and LJ Drama associates - we would know that they were lying, because it isn't theoretically possible. Yet LiveJournal continues to tell this lie. I don't believe for a moment that they honestly believe that I was anything other than the victim.
Some of Live Journal's statements include "rampant harassment of users" (without supplying the necessary proof) and "Every interaction we have had with this individual, he has been represented himself as being very hostile, and consistently represents himself both to us and any third party he can get to listen that he is an innocent victim despite all evidence available clearly establishing him to be a constant source of threats and harassment rather than a victim" (What evidence? Show me. I don't believe that and that was a deliberate trap to upset me..I asked for help, that should count for something).
These statements are intended to just make me angry, as they would make anyone angry in this situation. Then they will tell everyone "See? See how he reacts? He is deserving of our ban!". They then feel that they do not need to provide any proof to justify it. This is because, of course, they don't have any proof to justify the ban.
The bottom line for LiveJournal in this situation is profit. They get to keep all of the money that I gave them whilst still keeping the money paid to them by the various trolls, who create accounts in order to harass others. They just keep on getting profit all the way while doing this.
LiveJournal shouldn't be able to get away with this. Nobody should. But they do because the majority of people are too afraid of these big trolling organisations like LJ Drama and Encyclopaedia Dramatica to actually take a stand and stop them. LiveJournal then take the minority's side, going against what people want.
There will be times in your life, for everyone out there, when you will see someone who is being attacked like this. By all means, you could walk on by and say nothing. But if you must judge, use some common sense. Don't go with the funny option. Don't go with what the trolls say. If one person is against hundreds, the likelihood is that that one person is the victim, especially if we are talking about harassment, bullying and stalking. One against one, maybe it could be either one, but one against hundreds, it is always the one. Take their side. Do what you can to help them out.
If we all just cared a little then we could pressure our governments to put in place laws that governed this kind of behaviour that would require places like LiveJournal to stop groups of trolls like LJ Drama and stop their behaviour. Indeed, current laws don't even ban LJ Drama from setting up trolling web sites! It is illegal to have an organised crime gang but it is not illegal to have an internet crime gang! How ridiculous is that?
We all need to take a bit of personal responsibility. When you use social networking sites and you see someone getting harassed, do something about it, and make absolutely sure that you are doing the right thing. And, whatever you do, don't ever go with a large group of people poking fun of someone, for any reason - especially if that person can find out about it themselves. Brian Peppers didn't deserve the abuse that he suffered just because he looked different and neither does anyone else.
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