Saturday, January 20, 2007

Times Article on Overstalk

The New York Times today has a very good article on the Overstock.com cyberstalking campaign.

None of this is really new. Almost a year ago, Joseph Nocera of the New York Times wrote a damning column on Overstock's "campaign of menace." It described the methods Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne uses -- including anonymous proxies on the Internet -- to silence critical journalists and analysts. The latest tool in Byrne's arsenal of lies is Overstock.com's antisocialmedia.net smear site.

After detailing Byrne's stock market conspiracy theories, which he described as "loony beyond belief," Nocera commented:

I've gone from viewing [Overstock CEO] Byrne as an amusing diversion to a menace, at least for anyone who cares about the First Amendment. What has become increasingly clear in the months since the Sith Lord speech is that Mr. Byrne is using the courts, the Internet, his taunting e-mails — and even his conspiracy theory — as part of a thinly disguised effort to squelch any and all criticism of Overstock. . . .

This is what Mr. Bryne does: along with [anonymous blogger "Bob O'Brien"], he bullies and taunts and goads the small handful of reporters who dare to write about Overstock, making it clear that there will be a price to be paid for tackling the company or its chief executive. And as a result, financial reporters have become very chary of taking him on.
That column was written months before Byrne hired a professional smear artist, a former GOP goon who has boasted about smearing a reporter in Florida, to publish lies about me and other critics of Ovestock.

Overstock.com's witch hunt against its real and imaginary enemies has gone from bad to despicable to, well . . . read this article on the new federal cyberstalking law. Bagley is sensitive to the implications of the law, as indicated in the update below.

Just one addendum to the article: the Wikipedia smear was denied not just by me, but by Wikipedia too. The rest of Bagley's smears have been systematically shredded by Internet sleuth "ScipioAfricanus." See this post, (as well as this one and this and this and. . . many others). Scipio, who apparently is a software engineer, also deserves credit for outing Bagley as operator of Overstock's antisocialmedia,net corporate smear site.

Also, the Times didn't mention Bagley's admitted use of spyware to track down critics of his boss, Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne. Blog items on that can be found here. All those items link mainly to Scipio's good detective work in uncovering invisible software "bugs," such as the one described here.

I see that yet another techie has begun to probe Bagley's methods. This is a good example of how citizen activists can counteract corporate Internet abusers like Bagley.

UPDATE: Reacting to the Times story, Bagley redesigned the antisocialmedia corporate smear site, added language confirming that he owned the blog, tossed in some spin and as usual, some new lies.

Bagley's aim was to belatedly turn a corporate cyberstalking site into something resembling "journalism." His obvious purpose was to avoid liability under the federal cyberstalking law, which prohibits anonymous harassment on the Internet. Before Bagley was exposed as its operator, antisocialmedia took great pains to conceal its ownership, including use of a "DomainsByProxy" registration. (See it here, before he changes it.).

But this effort to put lipstick on a pig is not going to work.

This corporate hatchet man's latest lie is that he gave me "multiple opportunities" to respond to his latest fantasies. (He doesn't even pretend to have contacted me before his previous smears.)

In fact, Bagley posted a comment in my blog less than one hour before he set forth his latest fantasies, and I was later forwarded an email he sent to another blogger called "Mediacrity" that he surmises, incorrectly, is me.

Obviously Bagley is apprehensive that he will be held accountable for running this anonymous corporate harassment and dirty tricks operation. He has every reason to be. Spin and lie and conceal as he may, I think Bagley will learn that toothpaste cannot be put back in the tube.

© 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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