Debbie Elicksen is the author of our new book Business Cyberbullies and How to Fight Back. Her inspiration to write the book came from a personal experience she had with a former client turned cyberbully which she talks about below. Our hope is that through telling her story, she gives those of you dealing with online harassment the courage to fight back. For everyone else, let hers be a lesson to be proactive and learn about the simple steps you can take to protect your reputation online.
I started working with a client on a fee-for-service contract in 2008 to project-manage his book to print. My duties included editing, graphic design and layout. While he owns the copyright to the manuscript, I own the copyright to the published edition. He was happy enough with the end result that he also contracted me to fulfill orders.
At the start of 2010, things were changing in the publishing industry and I had to reinvent my business towards the digital world that was blossoming. I continued working for this client but after a few late payments, he contracted a lawyer to threaten me with a demand letter because the payments were off schedule. I sent the lawyer the remainder of the books and an accounting of what I owed with a plan to pay it back.
Soon after, I realized that my digital footprint had been compromised by a dedicated webpage created by this client, which used inflated language and libelous accusations. Subsequent social media posts shared this same information. After some research, I learned the libelous statements and the dedicated webpage constituted as harassment under Canadian law.
In a public Facebook post, the client wrote it was his intention to ensure that my business would suffer. He wasn’t interested in being paid. I took screenshots of that and everything I could find on the web, including the website’s domain, host, and IP information. After researching collection laws, libel, and cyberbullying laws, I filed a police report.
Instead of pursuing legal action, I chose to write. The process of learning about the law and my options, coupled with my understanding of digital media made me realize that a lot of people with cyberbullies are getting bad advice. If I chose to shut down all my media and digital activities, then the bully wins. His webpage is the only thing people will see. Instead, I decided to flood the Internet with good content, information that would help and inspire others, to be a good digital citizen. This translated into two books with Self-Counsel Press that can help others take back the Internet against their own bullies.
Business Cyberbullies and How to Fight Back helps with the step-by-step process of responding to haters. Publishing & Marketing in the Digital Age is the blueprint on controlling one’s digital footprint.