Web Vigilantes being banned from social media sites.

Cyber crime and Twitter scams make good headlines but somewhere underground there are a few concerned citizens that take a vigilante approach to dealing with these scammers and fraudsters. For instance http://www.419eater.com/ bait scammers using highly creative methods to engage Nigerian conmen, waste their time and then attempt expose them. There’s also the Salty droid who names and shames would-be conmen who utilize Twitter and other channels to exploit consumers. But it turns out that life of a digital freedom fighter is not easy.

imageHere’s the problem : Many scams consist of intelligent, organised individuals and groups. They syndicate and they collaborate, and they actively wage a reverse war on the people trying to expose them. Ironically scammers are using the same processes created to report spammers to shut down the people trying to expose them.

Sadly YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo accounts etc belonging to web vigilantes trying to alert people to scams are being shut down faster than than those belonging to the scammers. How do I know this?  Read on:

The Sad Story of the SaltyDroid

imageI’m not sure how I first came across the Droid on Twitter but I became interested in the Droid’s outspoken ‘attacks’ on certain individuals. Some of the people it was targeting had HUGE followings on Twitter, some with high profiles and. SaltyDroid had no qualms in confronting them directly in public view and alerting other users. I have no reason to doubt that SaltyDroid’s only purpose was to expose people it believed were engaged in unethical practices (such as this one which was exposed). 

I noticed a few months ago that SaltyDroid (which had a few thousand Twitter followers) just ‘vanished’. The blog was still alive and kicking so I wrote an email to find out what the story.

Me: “What happened? Where did your accounts go?”

Salty Droid: “I lost. I’m basically banned from the Internet.  Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo, Bluehost, Youtube, etc. Everywhere I go the scammers file false complaints and horrific lies about me.  The web companies all default to caving in and banning you rather than risking "trouble".  Most of them, and especially Twitter, do it with zero notice, process, or chance to respond. It says sad things about the state of free speech on the all important fringes … IMO.

I don’t have time to fight the web companies and the scammers … so I just gave up on the web companies.  I’m on a special free speech server where some really great people take special care of me … and otherwise I’m silenced.

And the Twitter bannings are not as bad as the death threats, the private investigators, the plots against my personal life, etc.”

image 

The Droid also let me know that although he began his pursuit anonymously it wasn’t long before a syndicate of scammers found him at which point the he decided it would be safer to unmask the droid. Revealing himself as a lawyer it  gives the whole saga an even bigger sense of irony.

In summary, it’s easier for a scammer to have a web vigilante shut down than vice versa. The Droid is now absent from all social networks and yet the people being named in his blog continue to tweet freely etc. In an age where consumers are able to interact so easily with anyone from close friends to complete strangers there is no easy and quick way of distributing warning messages to others in the case of genuine scams. That’s a service SaltyDroid was attempting to provide before being shut down in social media circles. The internet at present sometimes appears lawless and wide open territory for the scammers, and the presence of government and local authority is limited, and at best slow moving. I’m not condoning Salty droids methods or even agreeing with all his posts but freedom of speech is important so I certainly don’t want to see people prepared to take on these issues disappear especially with the bad guys roaming free so easily.

Beware wolves in birds clothing: Currently I know of one major Twitter account belonging to a convicted spammer in Australia with close to 100,000 followers. This person appears free to be able to act on Twitter regardless of their history. Sadly the only way you are likely to hear the name of this person is via someone like SaltyDroid.

What can you do?
1. Send this link on to people in the industry.

2. Copy and paste this story – reproduce it in your own blog.

3. Help Re-activate or read the Saltydroid: If you know someone who works in Twitter or Facebook etc ask them to reinstate the banned SaltyDroid accounts eg:  http://twitter.com/saltydroid

4. Support freedom of speech but don’t be a web vigilante. Salty Droid is a lawyer in real life and is better equipped to deal with bad people on the internet. Report web crime here:
http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx – USA
https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/content/index.phtml/tag/reportascam/ – Australia
http://www.met.police.uk/fraudalert/ – UK

image

Above: Clearly Charles Bronson wouldn’t have lasted long in Facebook or Twitter.

Cheers,

@eunmac

Disclaimer to be quite clear: The opinion above is that of the author only and does not represent the views of Amnesia Razorfish etc.

9 Responses to Web Vigilantes being banned from social media sites.

  1. David says:

    Interesting, I had a facebook page called facebook.com/BobBrown4PM . It had about 400 members, then one day I logged on and whoosh – it had disappeared. I contacted Facebook a number of times and received a whole lot of silence.

    I started it because Bob Brown is the sort of person I’d like have as PM, someone else clearly didn’t think the same, perhaps even Bob Brown himself… who knows.

    But that’s the thing though, who does knows? There’s no open court, there’s no trial, no jury – just an accessible complaint system followed by a quick and silent execution. Sounds a lot like how the Gestapo got things done.

    Now that is a worry…

  2. stewie says:

    Poor salty, getting a taste of his own medicine. He doesn’t mind spreading his own false complaints and horrific lies, but doesn’t like it when people supposedly do the same to him, lol.

  3. Interesting: Salty Droid, a.k.a. Jason M. Jones – or plain ole’ “Jason Jones” has proven to be selective as to who, or what is posted in comments on HIS blog. Salty himself has banned people.

    Nothing wrong with free speech OR monitoring comments (your blog – your control!)
    it’s your audience- write what you believe-

    however, let’s not wine about banning if your guilty of it as well… especially when you are a “free speech advocate” — aaaannnnnd especially when the reasons for your banning are untrue, or something you made up and exaggerated in your own little robot head…yes, you can convince yourself (and others) of anything…even with little evidence…comes in handy being a lawyer and all…

    Influencing readers,(creating awareness) supporting those who comment- including supporting their comments to further encourage them and in persuading others into your way of thinking, or in supporting you (and each other) in whatever your mission or message is- WHILE – gaining MORE support, and ‘creating MORE awareness’ is the intention, is it not?

    The Salty Droid uses his skills as a lawyer, along with other EXCEPTIONAL skills (including intimidation tactics) to convince you and others that he is RIGHT, and HAS the right. Period.

    Common’ he’s a lawyer! and… as he IS a very, clever human being! (you can’t take that away from him ~when ya- got it -ya just got it!) and yes people, he is a human being, NOT a robot. although his alter, a character is very real…

    Jason Jones has a message, a voice, and he IS on a mission.
    Jones is exceptionally resourceful, he knows HOW to get what he wants. He is a journalist, and although he tries to report ‘facts’ as accurately as someone can– (cause that’s the lawyer in him)
    he also CAN make a great argument: in and, with anything!

    Salty Droid IS convincing… his acquired skills- and natural ability to communicate, entertain, and with his passion to create awareness and protect people from predators, and perps of all sorts: you can bet he will be around for a very long time.

    And YES, Salty Droid is being VERY ‘wronged’ by being banned from these networks.
    It is disgusting beyond belief…!

    It’s ANOTHER ridiculous double standard…

    He (Salty) will learn, and do whatever it takes: and he will do it ‘UNTIL’ Passionate people do that.

    People who want to ‘change things in this world’ will… Period. Regardless of WHO, (why) or HOW MUCH others TRY to stop them, ban them, threaten them or intimidate them, people like that… people like Salty- aren’t going away anytime soon.

    However: Let’s just play fair!

    If you have been wronged, scammed, abused, threatened, harassed or ‘taken’ go tell someone, and then someone else, and then some-!
    ~eventually like in a post like this, you will even find there are “proper authorities” to report to- COMPLETE WITH LINKS and all!!!

  4. ApeShit says:

    @Karin:

    Step outside yourself for just a moment, and have a look at that comment you just wrote.

    How much value did you just add to the original post and other comments? None. On SD, just before you got hit by the banhammer, you typically commented 2-3 lines about the post, and then 50-60 lines about Karen Hiebert. Plus you’re fraternizing with the enemy. What’d you expect?

    People who contaminate the discussion in a panel is usually banned. That’s the best way to protect the integrity of the discussion at hand.

    If you don’t like it, start your own blog to discuss your own issues. Wait, you have. So why did you have to try and expand your own blog to another blogs comments?

    Nevermind, I’m not interested in an answer.

  5. Paul says:

    Excellent post.

    One example of what you are saying is James Arthur Ray who is possibly responsible for the deaths of three people who paid $16,000 each to attend a weekend “course” at Sedona. He’s still quite happily spouting his BS on twitter every few hours and is running some kind of internet radio programme that requires a monthly subscription.

    And Karin my understanding is that the reasons you were banned from commenting on Salty’s blog had little to do with “free speech issues” but more to do with you allegedly accepting money from the very people he tries to warn people about, and some other stuff.

  6. He wasn’t “banned” from Twitter, his account was suspended. Twitter reactivates suspended accounts upon request in many cases. While it’s a sad tale, he needs simply to click “my account is suspended” at http://support.twitter.com/forms/general to get started on being reactivated. This is of course unless he was badly in violation of Twitter’s terms and rules.

  7. […] such as Twitter’s official @spam account, the spammers would turn him in right back. And, as Amnesia says, at the end of the day “it’s easier for a scammer to have a web vigilante shut down than […]

  8. WTF says:

    If Salty Droid gets his info wrong he risks all sorts of defamation lawsuits. I find it hard to see what @karin is banging on about.

    I’d rather have 100 salty droids getting it wrong than 100 scammers getting it right.

  9. […] thought maybe he could help :: he said he’d ask around for me :: and he wrote this post :: Web Vigilantes being banned from social media sites […]

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