Friday, January 12, 2007

Judd Bagley Fesses Up


Overstock.com's director of social media Judd Bagley, motivated by Lord knows what, admitted last night that he runs the anonymous cyberstalking site antisocialmedia.net.

Wow. That was faster than I expected. The Internet sleuths who smoked out this nightcrawler and professional liar should be congratulated.

Only one question arises in my mind: What laws were broken? Not "were laws broken?" but "what were the laws that were broken?" The new federal cyberstalking law comes to mind, obviously, but what others? Regulation FD is another good possibility, given the ASM Lie Machine was created after Bagley became a corporate officer. (And speaking of corporate disclosure, shouldn't Overstock file an 8-K disclosing its involvement in ASM?)

Bagley is trying hard to distance himself from his employer, Patrick Byrne, who brought him on as "director of social media" in August with all the fanfare that you and I would use in buying a can of Raid cockroach spray. Nice try, but too late. Byrne himself promoted the site and contributed to it, and has indicated that he has advance knowledge of its disclosures. Once again, Byrne's big mouth has landed him in deep doo-doo.

Putting a name behind a smear won't help when it comes to that cyberstalking law, which bans anonymous stalking on the Internet. Not now. Too late for that too. The toothpaste is out of the tube.

Even retracting his lies, and admitting that they've been refuted (such as his oft-repeated Wikipedia lie, which was denied by Wiki founder Jimbo Wales), would be a nice gesture but won't get him off the hook. Again, too late.

Further lies, such as saying that I and others are "criminals" as he did last night, just make the noose tighter. Cybersleuths are already ripping last night's lies to shreds. The time for lies is over. Bagley's admission that he is ASM, after months of cringing behind pseudonyms and anonymous registrations like the coward that he is, is only a first step.

Remember also that there is a lot more than ASM involved here. There is a pattern of intimidation, threats, harassment, invasion of privacy and, as revealed yesterday, implanting of spyware in message board posts. Click here for my posts on this increasingly bizarre corporate chicanery.

As you can see, Bagley is in trouble, and he is not the only one by a long shot. Byrne, and others I am sure, need to be held accountable for their actions. My advice is that Bagley go to the authorities, now, and try something new for a change: tell the truth. This is not a time for spin. The authorities won't expect anything less. He owes that to his wife and kids.

And down the road, if he ever wants to tell the story of the most clumsily executed corporate smear campaign since General Motors stalked Ralph Nader, I'll be happy to talk to him.

Meanwhile, I am reminded of a line from those old British crime movies: "Officer, do your duty."

Dealbreaker's headline sums up the rather self-evident character of the recent tidings: "Sleazey McSleaze Admits To Sleaziness."

But Bagley is just a side issue. Here is a question that is worth pondering:

Byrne said the following on the Investor Village Overstock message board on Dec. 23:

I am not behind antisocialmedia.com, offer it no support, it has nothing to do with overstock. Technically, I do not "know" who out there is behind it (the person who is behind it has made an effort to shield me from that knowledge), though admittedly, I have a very good idea.
Of course, we now know that at the time he said that, his "vice president for social media" was running ASM. As Byrne would put it, is that bad? Or as I would put it, is that a material misrepresentation under the securities laws?

I don't know the answer. But that's a good question, I would think.

UPDATE: Two subsequent developments confirm my thesis that Bagley and Byrne are in deep, deep trouble -- much greater trouble than they may know.

The first is a post at Investors Village from Patrick Byrne that embraces Bagley's antisocialmedia, showing it to be the corporate smear machine that it is. Along the way, Byrne dissembles (as usual) about the circumstances of ASM's creation.

The next is the usual anonymous Judd Bagley fairy tale and collection of lies, hinging on a "letter to the State Department" that somebody supposedly wrote on behalf of my wife to obtain residency in this country. Lurid, but, as usual from Sleazey McSleaze, a lie. Her permanent status application was based on marriage, not employment, and no such letter was ever requested or necessary.

Now, there was indeed a very serious immigration scandal, involving the wife of another correspondent. This has received widespread publicity, and apparently was twisted by Bagley to conform with Byrne's obsessions.

After the ASM's latest lies went online, Bagley appeared on the IV board in a series of bizarre posts, including this one in which he merrily gloated about mastering bigger and better spyware and invasion of privacy techniques. (His pals and sockpuppets did him one better, with the latest of series of death threats directed at me -- here's its former location. IV deleted it, but, as usual, took no action against the creep who posted it.)

Oh well. This is Overstock, after all, a company whose CEO is a habitual liar, and who employs lies and lying liars/stalkers like McSleaze as an essential part of his business plan.

In Byrne's world, anonymous stalkers are "citizen journalists" and his abysmal performance as CEO is replaced by a fantasy land, in which his many critics are the bad guys who have, I suppose, sucked the life out of his company. Them, not him. What a sad, sick world in which he lives.

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site.

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