Thursday, November 20, 2008
7 News Investigations: Loathe Thy Neighbor
Neighborly disputes are nothing new, but instead of knocking on doors, disgruntled neighbors are now taking to the web to dish dirt on the folks next door. As Patrick Fraser reports in this special assignment, they're turning an age old adage upside down, choosing to Loathe Thy Neighbor.
WSVN -- Mr. Rogers loved his neighbors.
Mr. Rogers: "Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor?"
But Mr. Rogers never met these nasty neighbors. Now 200,000 people a day are seeing and hearing about them. Through a website called rottenneighbor.com. Rotten, stinking neighbors.
Patrick Fraser: "Somebody had thrown manure in someone's porch."
Brant Walker: "I haven't seen that one, but it's possible."
Brant Walker created the website and says many people post because they are afraid to confront a neighbor.
Brant Walker: "They have not tried talking to their neighbors. They are too afraid. They are afraid violence could erupt, so they come to our website instead."
And when they come, they don't come in peace. We went to the Ocner's house, after someone on rotten neighbor claimed one of their daughters liked to get naked on the roof.
Ben Ocner: "What does it say there? Tans naked on her roof, what is that? I thought my heart was going to stop. I don't know what to tell you. That person has got to be sick or have something personal against us, which we don't have any enemies."
Of course the person who posted that was anonymous. All the posters are, and if you want to see if your neighbors are writing about you, just type in your zip code. If your house comes up green it means you are a good neighbor, red means rotten, blue means a sex offender lives there. They look like monopoly pieces, but unlike a board game, many of the accused aren't even aware they're playing.
At this house in Coconut Grove someone said the homeowner was nuts for calling the police on kids.
Danny Cohen: "Someone posted something about you that we thought you would want to look at."
It didn't bother her, but it upset her neighbors.
Ana Alvarado: "That's horrible. I mean, I know in every neighborhood there is a someone that is nuts, but I wouldn't want to say that about my neighbor."
Better in Broward? Not if you own a barking dog.
Danny Cohen: "Yeah, it says, 'Loud, loud, loud, two noisy dogs and late night parties. No going to bed early here.'"
Isabelle admits one of her dogs is a bit noisy but says her neighbor is cowardly.
Isabelle Harrison: "I couldn't care less what they did, but it would be better to knock on the door because then we can do something about it. That is very shocking."
Shocking and maybe dangerous.
Judith McKay: "People can go from writing nasty things on a website to writing nasty things on somebody's garage to writing nasty things on somebody's car to acts of vandalism to acts of violence."
Nasty comments that are not always true. Remember the Ocners? Turns out their daughter can't tan on the roof, it's not possible, and their nice neighbors would know.
Wayne Manla: "I think it is terrible. I know both the girls, and it's just not true. Nothing like that has every happened here. If you look at the roof, who could climb up there? Girls? Impossible."
Someone here decided to loathe their neighbor, and the truth, their anonymous post was a lie.
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