Michael Gale

Truth is Fiction – My story of being trolled and how should we react as a civilized society

A quick Google search will review that Michael Gale is, “is a professional con-artist, consistently making false representations” he is “dishonest, a pathological liar and sociopath. He is the master of deception” and is currently “hiding from US, European and Australian authorities who are now desperate to get their hands on him”

At first glance, these allegations appear to have been made by multiple aggrieved parties, defrauded persons and long lists of fraudulent companies. The impression a reader is supposed to form is “If you’re smart you will run a mile from doing business with this guy.”

The statements are completely and absolutely false. It’s a series of lies deliberately posted by multiple “anonymous” sources on multiple sites to defame me and harm my ability to work, my family and my colleagues. Not only is it false, but it’s all the work of just one online troll.

You can read the entire story here:

When it first happened I just waited for it to go away and heeded the advice not to feed the troll but it just got worse and worse and really negatively affected me and all those around me. Many people began to wonder if maybe where there is smoke there is fire! It was awful. In the end once my kids were being threatened and then I got death threats I decided to fight back. That is mostly a legal process but I am also fighting back by raising awareness and trying to change the policy of governments and the tech industry.

The Troll’s goal was to cause me damage and indeed he has. But there are plenty of much worse cases. Many thousands of businesses have been ruined by trolls hiding behind the gripe sites and sadly too many adolescents have committed suicide because of trolling. Go to the comment section of any news site and its pretty shocking. As politics is teaching us pretty much any story no matter how wild can come to life unchecked on the Internet.

Behind the cloak of anonymity the Internet has created a lawless Wild West where anyone can shoot anyone and very little is as it seems. Whole fake personas can be created; people can be bombarded with hate and literally trolled to death. You have likely seen in the news cases of this including multiple teen suicides.

Sadly, there is almost nobody prepared to do anything about it. Governments are timid to take on the power of the elite Silicon Valley tech and social media companies that drive the web and those companies profit from the propagation of the scandalous and outrageous just as the tabloid press has for years. For them, there is no such thing as bad traffic or an immorally gained click. Eyeballs are eyeballs! It’s actually ironic that all the cyberbullying, ruined lives, suicides and market distortion caused by trolls failed to galvanize any response from the major tech companies. It was the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential Election that actually made them start to make some, albeit feeble, attempts to at least reign in the excesses of the fake news industry, though they really are yet to do much about trolls.

Ban Anonymity

But what can be done? Actually it’s pretty simple. As soon as you start interacting with any of the world’s major online content purveyors they immediately are tracing you, who you are, what is your demographic, which sites you visit, what you buy, who your friends are, what is your location. They know more about you than you know about yourself. It’s not a big jump from there for those sites to make you identify yourself. People should be forced to log in to all sites before they can leave a comment, post a review, make a complaint or generally disparage others. Imagine if we removed the cloak of anonymity from people. Wow, just like that the trolls would vanish, people who defamed others would get sued, people would stop insulting others, all those dating site stalkers and revenge porn creeps would be exposed. The world would be a much better place. When I drive a car I have to display a plate clearly identifying who I am and carry a driver’s license. But the Internet is way more dangerous and insidious so why should I be allowed to lurk in the darkness harming others?

Of course there are legitimate reasons for anonymity. I’m not sure we would have much political dissent in authoritarian countries, or whistle-blowers doing us all a great service without it. But I’m pretty sure all those smart tech execs could work out how to provide anonymity when it is truly justified but make the rest of us take responsibility for the harm we do online by having to stand behind what we say.

I don’t know how to reign in the trolls and I’m just one guy but I have suffered so much from this and in doing so have followed the stories of so many people who have suffered from trolls. It really is terrible when you research it in depth. Initially I was so devastated by all these terrible things being said about me and my loved ones that I just wanted to hide and bury my head in the sand. In the end, it was really the attacking of my family that made me realize I need to fight back. So one of the things I am doing now is telling everyone new I meet that I have been the victim of an online bullying campaign and they should Google me to see why. I then give them a few of the real facts that they can use to get the real story. People are always quite stunned because they have heard of this type of thing but they can’t imagine it can really happen.

If you’d like to volunteer your own Troll story, your time or your ideas for the website, please send me an email at help@stoptrolls.org.

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