Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Help Me Howard: Internet Post
The Internet is a source of endless information. Some of it good, some bad, some ugly. But what one man says someone posted about him on-line, you've got to see to believe. What can he do about it? Connect to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- You might have heard this saying before: "Wherever you go, there you are." Well, if you go on-line, you can find out where you might have been.
Go to Goggle or Yahoo and type in your name. It's fun to see if you pop up. Unless you are Mario Copelenko.
Mario Copelenko: "I was shocked."
Mario was shocked and who could blame him.
Mario Copelenko: "Apparently somebody posted a, I would call it, how would you call that?"
We'll show it, and let Mario read it to you.
Mario Copelenko: "'My name is Mario Copelenko from Coral Springs, and I have often worms, and I kill them with Vermox. That's a great product.'"
Mario is too embarrassed to say it all. But if you read this about your derriere on the Internet, you probably wouldn't be screaming it out either.
Mario Copelenko: "The whole thing is untrue. I never had the disease or this condition. I never took the medicine."
But there is no doubt they meant this Mario. The link had his full name, the city he lives in, all going to a medical website with Mario endorsing a product to fight the worms.
Mario Copelenko: "I mean, if it's true, fine. I would accept the fact. You have to live with whatever you got."
Mario thought it would be simple to eliminate the false information. He sent the website a letter. No luck. He then called the drug company.
Mario Copelenko: "Their public relations department said that it was an independent site and that they had nothing to do with it."
That was five years ago, and not only is it irritating, it's embarrassing. For example, when he applied for a job, the boss had Googled his name.
Mario Copelenko: "Then he asked me why I take this particular medicine, and I said, 'I don't.'"
Mario didn't get that job, and, over the course of five years, he has had to deal with a false web post he can't delete.
Mario Copelenko: "There have been embarrassing situations afterwards on different things."
Mario can't even get to the bottom of it to find out who did this to him.
Mario Copelenko: "It has to be someone with a grudge. Why would someone do that as a joke? That's kind of stupid, and I don't think that any of my friends are that kind of stupid."
Mario's now looking at the bigger picture, wondering out loud if this opens up a can of, well, you know...
Mario Copelenko: "That if they can do that to me, what can you do to anybody else? You can actually post any kind of things anywhere on any site and cause a lot of damage."
But what can you do if someone posts something on the Internet about you that is flat out false? We won't do a search for Howard, just cue him.
Howard Finkelstein: "This is libel. No one has a right to say anything false and defamatory about you. If this were in the paper or on television it's easy to find the author, but, in the Internet world, it's not easy, and if you can't find the person who said it, it's hard to do anything about it."
When we contacted Medications.com, their co-founder was quick to move, deleting the post immediately, although it will take a few days to disappear from the web. He told us, it is obvious someone was trying to play a joke. As for who did it, the company told us they can't go back five years, so we can't find the person responsible.
Howard says that leaves Mario out of luck.
Howard Finkelstein: "Even if you can't find the person who posted it, you cannot go after the website. They enjoy federal immunity. It's called the worldwide web and, legally, in a lot of ways, it's the wild wild web."
Mario is grateful the post will be down in a few days and his embarrassing claim to fame will fade away.
So how do you get rid of something false that someone posts about you? Contact the website immediately and give them all the URL information.
Here is an example, it's all the information in the web address, usually at the top of your screen. You also might want to put your request to delete the post in writing and send it to them so you have proof.
Now, bad puns on a bug post would get me in trouble, so let's do this: tangled in a worldwide web of worries? Need help getting your life back on-line? E-mail or call us right away. You know what they say about the early bird.
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