Michael Gove’s campaign to become the UK Conservative Party’s leader and UK Prime Minister has become the target of cybersquatting.
Mr Gove’s campaign, called “Gove2016“, was followed with someone buying the the domain www.gove2016.co.uk and placing a comic story about the Justice Secretary justifying becoming Prime Minister to the incumbent, David Cameron.
The media have been reporting the story as damaging to the campaign, but Internet trolling expert Jonathan Bishop says the action has little impact in the current age. “With a virtually unlimited number of domain names it makes no difference whether one buys a .co.uk, .com or any other top-level domain,” he said. “Search engines index by popularity and significance, so whatever domain Michael Gove chooses, as soon as the mainstream media start using it then it will be at the top of the search engines.”
Jonathan Bishop states, however, that there are more effective ways to derail Gove’s campaign. “Flooding the #Gove2016 tag with unwanted content would be more effective,” he said. “Registering Gove2016 on social media accounts off the radar of Michael Gove and his campaign would also be effective.”
Jonathan Bishop assists victims of cyberbullying and online harassment regain control of their lives. Most recently he helped a French/English couple get back on track following them being the victims of radical skeptics Dr Andrew Lewis and Melanie Byng. Details on his counter-trolling services can be found at www.crocels.co.uk.
A French/English couple have described how a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe is helping them deal with the effects of a cyber-stalking and harassment ordeal as they try to save their home.
Steve Paris and Angel Garden had to relocate their family back to the UK from New Zealand to fight what has been described as a persistent networked covert harassment campaign by skeptic Andrew Lewis, and British couple Richard and Melanie Byng, who describes herself as a Humanist.
Richard Byng and Melanie Byng originally showered the family with promises of support for their stand against bullying and admiration for their online publications. “They were so well-connected and influential,” Steve Paris explained. “Angel’s mum was dying so she was vulnerable when we visited the UK and Melanie just moved in on her, initiating lots of sudden involvement between our families on the pretext of helping because of the imminent bereavement.”
But within weeks, the gushing admiration of Richard and Melanie Byng had changed into framing Angel Garden as being likely to kill her own children through mental illness, and this was being spread about covertly. Richard Byng’s position as a Professor at Plymouth University specialising in mental health helped to legitimise the untruths.
As Angel Garden explains, however, the court transcript shows Richard Byng admitting that their help had been offered because of the imminent death of Angel’s mother who had a sudden and fast growing lung cancer. “Their emails we got through disclosure showed how much the Byngs were lying to us even then,” she said. “They just basically moved in on us with all the sugar, and then when we fell for it, started putting the boot in. “They started their campaign right then, outwardly pretending total disinterest and refusing to speak to us, but actually they were cyberstalking me to the hospital and Melanie Byng was trying to convince everyone she could that my mum wasn’t really ill, or didn’t even exist at all, saying things like “one call from Richard to the hospital.
“In fact Mum died there soon after. And that was around the time their smear took shape, because we had the affront to call them out on their behaviour. I guess British elites are just too used to having their own way.”
Forced to go through a punishing civil action in defamation to get access to the covert course of conduct of Andrew Lewis and Richard and Melanie Byng, Steve Paris and Angel Garden are amazed at what they’ve learned. “There are laws to deal with this sort of targeted harassment that has a cumulative effect but they’re no use if they’re not used,” Steve Paris said.
The Protection from Harassment Act provides for acts characterised by stalking which involve putting people in alarm and distress, and also for acts which put targets in fear of violence. “Although it was a relief to know that the awful feelings I’d had of being watched and monitored were all true,” explained Angel Garden. “After the disclosure and knowing how they’d been scheming with ‘a psychiatrist’ and planning to set law enforcement on us, it has been frightening in a totally different way.
“I just have no idea what they might do to me, or when they might do it, but I do know that Melanie Byng said she would personally like to shoot me in the head.”
Steve Paris explained how this came about. “We know that they did all this just because we wrote about what was happening and offered them a right of reply,” he said.
In fact the family has, while being attacked in this manner, managed to finish the Human Rights process begun before they met the Byngs, achieving a landmark Human Rights settlement about bullying in Steiner schools. “Andrew Lewis and Melanie Byng are all over the media talking about how awful Steiner schools are,” Steve Paris explained. “Then they went into court and went against everything they normally say – and the judge just ignored all of that, and in fact he even totally contradicted himself in two judgements only a matter of weeks apart.
“The judge broke his promise to deal with the harassment in the case and just sided with them.
“The judgement is just a repeat of the defence, including most of the deliberate misquotes!
“Then he used all that as a reason to punish us by giving our home to the very people who have done all that on us, or their lawyers who defended them for free.”
The crowdfund is the family’s attempt to bring attention to this injustice before it’s too late. If they can’t pay the lawyers off to the sum of £240,000 before the end of August they will lose their home.
The GoFundMe page has only been up less than 48 hours and has already received £1,275 in 9 donations so far. Steve Paris explained his gratitude. “We’re incredibly grateful and humbled by the generosity of all the people who’ve donated so far,” he said. “It’s a huge amount of money, but we’ve got try try and do everything in our power to save our children’s home, and because of the way serious stalking and harassment has been trivialised by the Judge we are really worried the council may find that we’ve made ourselves intentionally homeless, so the crowdfund is our only way to try and stop any of that.
“Nobody should lose their home for correctly identifying that they are being covertly stalked and harassed – that’s the opposite of justice.”
A Deputy High Court judge has been severely criticised by an Internet trolling and cyberstalking expert on his decision in a defamation case against skeptics Dr Andrew Lewis and Mrs Melanie Byng.
Deputy Judge Anthony Seys Llewellyn dismissed a defamation case brought by Steve Paris and Angel Garden on the grounds that messages posted to Twitter are “ephemeral,” or in other words don’t last a long period of time.
Social media expert Jonathan Bishop says that Judge Seys Llewellyn lacks insight. “Judge Seys Llewellyn is severely out of touch,” he said. “He has not factored in that whilst posts may not be easily visible on a Twitter timeline for any length of time, it is still possible to search for them on the platform, and it is quite possible Google will list tweets high in the search engine results.”
Judge Seys Llewellyn justified his decision saying that the pleadings of the defendants in the case were; “compelling as to the unlikelihood of a re-tweet by either of them directly causing a significant number of others for the first time to read the original tweet, or thereby to read for the first time the material to which the original tweet links“.