Protecting Your Internet Identity Book is Here!

It’s finally here!  Isn’t it time you protect you and your family’s Internet identity?

By Ted Claypoole and Theresa Payton

Who is looking at you online?

 The government, your neighbors, employers, friends – the short answer is EVERYONE.  This book is a handy guide that digs deep past the media headlines to tell you how your data is collected and used.  The author’s provide practical tips on how to regain control of your internet persona while also fending off identity thieves and other cybersnoops.
And, for those with kids in their lives, Chapter 9 is dedicated to digital natives – the generation born into our digital age that cannot imagine life without instant access to info!
Chapter 6 gives pointers on internet impersonation:
The Face of Online Impersonation
Internet image impersonation is easy to do. Anyone can open a free email account with Yahoo!, Hotmail, Google, or any other email provider and use your name. Setting up a social media account on social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace is equally simple. With a little information about your life, your impersonator could even fool those people closest to you.
Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to remove these accounts from the Internet. Most Online companies assume that an account is opened in good faith, and you will probably have to prove the damage was done by an imposter (and prove that the imposter is not simply another person who happens to have the same name), before a site such as Yahoo! or Facebook would consider closing an active account.
We have a 6 question quiz for victims of internet defamation; here is question #1:  
Do You Have The Facts to Support a U.S. Lawsuit to Protect Your Online Image?
1)    If someone has written unflatteringly about you online, were those comments
a)    False;
b)    Intentionally malicious or made with a reckless disregard for the harm they might cause;
c)     Harmful;
d)    Not stated in a formally privileged way, such as filed legal pleadings;
e)     All of the above?
Order today on Amazon!
Follow Theresa Payton on Twitter.

Data Privacy Day and Tips to Protect Your Virtual Information

January 28th is Data Privacy Day.  It seems we have a day for so many different things, however I believe that everyday people should be concerned about their privacy and especially their teens and kids informational online.  What are they putting out that there that they don’t realize could potentially put them at risk later?

Rebecca Herold, a Des Moines-based privacy expert, better known as The Privacy Professor explains with the rapid growth of technology, people should be more cautious about what they share.

“Too many folks adopt new technology without fully understanding how it may be capturing or distributing their personal, private information,” she said in a press release. “Whether it’s a smartphone tracking their location or social media sites repurposing their personal photos, often people are simply unaware of what’s being collected and how or with whom it’s being shared. People should continue to be concerned with ‘old-fashioned’ threats like phone scams and crooks digging through trash to find personal information on discarded paper documents and digital storage devices.”

Here are some of Rebecca Herold’s smart tips to help keep your information safe and private:

  • Read the privacy policy of websites you visit the most. Search for the word “share” and see if the website is open about how it distributes your personal information to others.
  • Double check privacy settings on social media sites such as Facebook. Read about its new changes and ensure it only shares what you want it to. Read about past Facebook privacy issues here.
  • Review people connected to you. Ensure you only provide access to your personal profile to people you trust and know well.
  • Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see. Information may be private between you and your friends but friends can repost statuses and other information with/without your consent.
  • Secure your personal wireless connections.
  • Invest in a shredder to shred financial or other documents before tossing them.

You can follow Rebecca Herold on Twitter and visit her website.

Most  important, talk to your teens about what they are sharing online.  The fact that most college admissions and employees are using the Internet to screen their potential applicants can determine your child’s future.  Teen’s need to understand what goes online today, WILL be there tomorrow.  It may be funny today, and not so funny two years from now.

Anderson Cooper Discusses Cyberstalking with Sue Scheff

I was more than thrilled to meet Anderson Cooper and must say I was humbled by his sincere concern for those that are victimized by others that are being destroyed online by vicious keystrokes.

For those that don’t know my story, it starts in 2000 and ended in 2006 with a landmark victory for Internet Defamation and invasion of privacy.  My stories were written and published by Health Communications Inc (HCI – home of Chicken Soup for the Soup book series) and over the past decade, my mistakes and my knowledge has helped thousands of people and families to make better decisions for their teens and their virtual lives.

Whether you are considering residential therapy or thinking about creating a Facebook page, you will learn from the mistake I made.  After spending years in litigation – with two major victories – and almost being silenced to tell my story, I am here to not only share my story, but to be sure what happened to my daughter and myself doesn’t happen to others, but to let you know that what you post online today – can and will haunt you tomorrow!

Check out part of my segment on Anderson Cooperclick here.

My books: Wit’s End and Google Bomb are both available on Amazon!

Digital Journal Interviews Sue Scheff on Google Bomb Book

Google is the world’s top search engine used by millions each day. Anyone can be defamed easily, all searchable through Google. Author Sue Scheff talks about the Google Bomb and its impact on our life.
The Internet as a technology for information and quick, inexpensive communication may be fascinating for millions around the globe, but if put to malicious use against someone, it can be a paralyzing weapon.
That is what happened in the case of Sue Scheff, author of Google Bomb (HCI Books, 2009). In her book, co-authored with lawyer John W. Dozier, Sue tells the story of her victimization through serial defamatory attacks on the web that destroyed her professional career and trampled her personal reputation as well as her social life. Just by Googling her name, or that of her organization, countless people could mark her and her organization as evil entities, all because of false, malicious, and unchecked accusations (and even effusive abuse) made against her by someone who failed to use her for her own vested interests.

In today’s world, Google has become the measure of one’s reputation – hence the term “Google Bomb”. Standing up against the coercion, however, Sue finally won the historical $11.3 million defamation suit against the culprit responsible for her loss. It was very informative talking to Sue for an interview to run in the journal Recovering the Self (Vol. 3, No 1). Following is a slightly abridged version of Sue’s interview.

Read the entire interview here.

Sue Scheff: Free Speech, Facebook, students, teachers and the law

With the recent headlines about Katherine Evans and her victory in Broward County, Florida regarding a judge’s ruling, stated that she is allowed to sue her former principal. 

Backed by lawyers from the Florida branch of the ACLU, Evans won her first victory this week when Judge Barry Garber ruled that she could proceed with the case because her Facebook group was protected by the First Amendment. “Evans’ speech falls under the wide umbrella of protected speech,” Garber wrote in his opinion. “It was an opinion of a student about a teacher, that was published off-campus, did not cause any disruption on-campus, and was not lewd, vulgar, threatening, or advocating illegal or dangerous behavior.” – Digital Trends

Free speech does not condone defamation, however is what Katherine Evans wrote defamatory?  That doesn’t seem to be the case, the story is about the punishment that Evans received following posting ugly comments about one of her teachers.

Katherine Evans started the “Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I’ve ever met!” group on Facebook back in 2007 and featured a photograph of the teacher and an invitation for other students to “express your feelings of hatred,” prompting a three-day suspension from school principal Peter Bayer.  The suspension came two months after the page was taken down.  Evans was also removed from Advanced Placement classes.

Evans wants to have the suspension removed from her disciplinary record and receive a nominal fee for the violation of her First Amendment rights.

Maybe this is an example of the old cliché, “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.”  Or in today’s digital world, “if you don’t have something nice to post, don’t post it.”

Remember, what goes online, stays online.  What you post today can come back to haunt you later.  If you are angry with someone, dislike your boss or teacher – think twice before you post about it.  Today once you put it out there, it virtually impossible to take it back, and most people don’t want to end up in a courtroom – no matter what side you are on.  There are never any winners.  Except the lawyers, in my opinion.

Although Katherine Evans has been given the green light to file her case, free speech lives on, however when will people start realizing enough is enough with some forms of Internet abuse?  Cyberbullying, Internet predators, and sexting are just the start of the ugliness that lurks online. 

Eventually the laws need to catch up with the free for all cyberspace. 

Read more on Examiner.

Sue Scheff: Think Before You Post – Teen Expelled for FB Post

Just months away from graduation, 17 year-old Tennessee student, Taylor Cummings, was recently expelled from his high school.  Why? 

After weeks of butting heads with his coaches, Taylor, 17, logged on to the popular social networking site from home Jan. 3. He typed his frustrations for the online world to see: “I’ma kill em all. I’ma bust this (expletive) up from the inside like nobody’s ever done before.USA Today

A few nasty keystrokes and a click of the mouse and your life can be turned upside down!  Whether you are a student, business owner, parent, or anyone that uses social networking, remember, what goes online – stays online. 

Google Bomb, The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use the Internet,  is an example of an adult being held accountable.  Free speech does not condone defamation. 

In many schools now there is a zero tolerance for these types of threats.  We have had many sad endings with cyber threats, cyber suicides, cyberbullying, cyber stalking and other various ways that kids are hurting each other via keystrokes.

Taylor Cummings had a public profile on Facebook without any restrictions on who could see it.  This in itself should be a wake-up call to many.  Take the time to secure your privacy settings.  Think twice before allowing your profile to be public. 

Parents should take the time to review their children’s social networking sites.  Especially those that have teens that will be applying to colleges.  More and more colleges are using search engines to research their applicants.  What is Google saying about you?

Take the time to maintain your online image and learn to stop, think and consider what you are about to post or send.  Will it be considered threatening?  Will it be considered defamatory? Is it targeted to hurt someone?  Take the time to educate your children and teens about “what they post today, may haunt them tomorrow…”

Be an educated parent – you will have safer teens.

Read more on Examiner.

Sue Scheff: Reader’s View Gives Fantastic Reveiw of Google Bomb

Google Bomb: The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use the Internet

John W. Dozier Jr. and Sue Scheff
Health Communications, Inc. (2009)
ISBN 9780757314155
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (01/10)

First of all, I have to say “Google Bomb” may be the most important book anyone that has Internet presence should read. Owning a number of online businesses myself, I was eager to read this book because I wanted to know more about Sue Scheff’s experience and the successful outcome of a lawsuit. Her case was the first in Internet defamation and landed her $11.3M. But, there was so much more I learned than her story.
Written by Sue Scheff herself, as well as John W. Dozier Jr., a Internet law attorney, “Google Bomb” not only tells of Scheff’s experience with defamation by nasty people but also the emotional trauma she went through. For a site that started off being a helpful site to parents of troubled teens, it ended up smeared all over the Internet as deceptive. The interesting aspect is that the disparaging comments went viral and ended up on the top of the Google search engine. Consequently, potential visitors to Scheff’s site were redirected to derogatory and defaming information.

Dozier’s parts of the book follow Scheff’s comments and experience. They intermingle, giving the reader a fuller understanding of how others can control your site by, for e.g., creating anchor texts on their site but using your information and directing the visitors to their site where the defamatory information exists. Or, in other cases, the anchor texts are used by competitors so the visitors are directed to their sites instead of yours.

Dozier also explains how you can protect yourself against such attacks and gives suggestions of some Internet companies that offer this service. He also goes into copyright violations, cyberstalking, the Striesand Effect, hacking, spamming, and theft of trademarks. As I mentioned before, this could be the most important book you could read. It sure is for me. I used a full container of sticky tabs to mark important information and areas I need to re-read and implement.

“Google Bomb” is highly recommended because it gives you important information of what could happen to innocent people if not protected or on top of matters. Unfortunately there are many laws not in place to protect us on the Internet so we have to take our own responsibility to be cognizant and one way is to sign up for Google Alerts. This book isn’t meant to scare the site holders, but to inform them of what could happen if not aware. Awareness is the key, and by reading “Google Bomb” I can guarantee you will become more aware than you were before.