Aug 17, 2007

Blog Comments Can Get You Fired

The following hateful and harassing comments were submitted to this blog over a 24 hour period from an anonymous individual. The comments were made regarding the "anonymous" person's promotion of a candidate for an upcoming political race, as well as pending legislation on an another blog site.

"Just gotta censor comments that expose you to be a classless idiot"

"Try walking upright and not breathing through your mouth you senseless moron"

"So not only are you a loser but a censoring wimp as well I see"

I deleted these hateful and stupid personal attacks from the "comments" section of this blog. The header of my blog clearly states, "Comments are moderated. Anonymous comments and ad hominem attacks will be deleted. "

But nothing is anonymous on the internet. Like most bloggers, I know the IP address of everyone who visits this blog, including this "anonymous" person. The IP address used to post these comments belonged to a large multi-national corporation with several locations in the Portland metro area. This person was using their employer's computer system to send this garbage to my blog.

I was able to obtain the name of this person based on other information they provided in their multiple hate comments here. I won't divulge the person's name, but we'll refer to the person as "MG". "MG" also was kind enough to confirm his employment with the multi-national corporation via the popular business networking site

Hateful personal attacks like this are common in the blogosphere. But most businesses these days have a zero tolerance policy against using company resources to create this garbage. I worked with the company that "MG" is currently working for, and I know they have zero tolerance for this kind of internet usage.. As a matter of fact, here's what this company's Code of Conduct says about prohibited internet use:
"Failure to live up to these expectations will have consequences. Employees who violate our ethical standards will be subject to disciplinary action, which could include termination for serious offenses. Company XYZ expects that employees will use these tools for business.Company policy allows for limited casual personal use of these tools, just as one might make occasional personal phone calls. Individual employees are prohibited from:
  • -Using Company XYZ letterhead or Company XYZ e-mail to express personal views on pending legislation to public officials.
  • -Any illegal activity, such as child pornography, pyramid schemes or software piracy
  • -Commercial or political uses, such as running a personal business or promoting a political candidate
  • -Chain e-mail or virus hoaxes
  • -Harassing or threatening communications
  • - Intentional concealment of your identity
  • -Any form of pornography
  • -Excessive personal use."

It's very clear that "MG" violated the company's acceptable use policies by using company e-mail to express personal opinions regarding pending legislation; harassing and threatening communication; political use by promoting a political candidate; and intentional concealment of their identity.

But that's as far as I'm going to take it. "MG"'s comments were indeed hateful, harassing, and clearly inappropriate. This person's political beliefs are the total opposite of mine. But MG is a human being first, and I have no desire to see anyone get fired from their job for a stupid mistake.

So MG, if you read this, I'm giving you a break this time. But beware, the next recipient of your hate mail might not be so forgiving.


Ron Hager said...

Great post, and props for your compassion toward "anonymous". As a service to the rest of us, perhaps you could post how (software and procedure) you went about discovering MG. Many bloggers are awful at tech tricks and knowing what to do might be helpful to more that a few of us.

Troutdale Canfield said... and other similar services offer both free and paid statistics for blogs and web sites. They provide excellent data about who visits your site, how they found your site, where they were visiting before they clicked on your site, you name it.

Once you have some basic information, it's just a matter of detective work, using various search engines and social networking sites to narrow down who you're looking for. You'd be surprised at the tremendous amount of personal data people put up on the internet.