online corruption

MTV Catfish; Paula Deen’s Agent; Silicon Valley Sex Scandal

There’s an article in this week’s Time Magazine about the MTV show Catfish. I do subscribe to the print version of Time, and I will quote, but I can only link to part of it because Time Magazine makes you subscribe for fresh content online.

For those who might not know, a Catfish is someone who uses a fake ID online, mostly on social media to hook up with people, scam people, and basically screw around with their heads to fuck them up emotionally. (You won’t read that part in Time Magazine, but it’s really what Catfish do.) It can be both serious and painful, and ruin someone’s life.

The gist of the show revolves around helping some poor soul who is having an online relationship with someone who seems to be hiding something. The article in Time mentions Manti Te’o and his catfish experience, which I posted about here a few months ago. I’ve posted about catfishing here. And what I find most interesting is that so many people still aren’t aware this can happen to them, and that it does, indeed, happen way too often on social media, and not just in romantic relationships.

I’ve reached a point where if I have any doubts about anyone who sends me a friend request on facebook, I send them a personal FB message first and ask to know more about them. I don’t want specifics. I only want to know basic information that tells me they are legitimate. This past week someone with a name Mt. Snow Mt. Snow (I swear that’s the name) sent a friend request, but has yet to reply to my personal message. At this point, I have not accepted the request. I did notice that this Mt. Snow Mt. Snow had become friends with other familiar names in m/m romance…only m/m romance…which leads me to believe it’s another author with a fake name that resembles one of the four seasons. However, I’ve reached a point where I don’t take chances anymore.

In any event, Catfish: The TV Show looks like a fascinating show, and if you’re not familiar with the old wild west tactics of the Internet, I would recommend watching it so you know how to protect yourself against the scammers and liars of the Interwebz. And not just for romantic online relationships. I think this is a show that could help you vet who you can and cannot trust online these days with regard to all social media friendships. My rule is you can’t trust anyone on the Internet until they prove to you they can be trusted. Below I’m going to post about my new release in the Bad Boy Billionaire series. It’s titled, The Silicon Valley Sex Scandal, and it gets into catfishing and online manipulation.

From Time Magazine, link above:

The thrill of mystery isn’t new. Neither is lying. Catalina Toma, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who studies online dating, has found that deceptions are frequent but subtle: a 2008 study she co-wrote found that 81% lie about their age, weight or height. Big Fraud Catfish are outliers. (Schulman gets e-mails from people in healthy online relationships and people who have un-masked their Catish independently, but those folks don’t make it onto TV.) Even so, Fabrications are about psychology, not technology. “People lie about these things in face to face dates. They lied about these things in video dates back in the ’80’s,” Toma says. “I don’t necessarily expect those patterns to change.”

I only agree with this part of the article slightly, and I think Toma isn’t as familiar with the Internet as I am, and she’s underestimating the serious situations people are experiencing online. When you meet someone face to face you at least get the upper hand of putting a face and voice and personality together…even if that person is a liar. When you meet someone online, whether it be for romance of just plain friendship, you’re at a disadvantage in more than one way. The possibilities to scam are endless, and social media like facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads promotes this brand of fakery and anonymity to the point where no one can be trusted. I personally think there should be legal guidelines and laws that protect people from social media scams, and all the fakery we’ve seen since the early years of the Internet. If people who used facebook were forced, legally, to sign up with their real names, with proof, I think half the issues on facebook would disappear. Of course the membership would probably drop to a third of what it is now and stock would plummet as a result. But that’s the risk of running a business built on a proverbial house of cards.

As a side note, I’m wondering who this MTV show is being marketed to. Tony and I have a guest house on our property that we rent out. For the past ten years, consistently, we’ve rented to young college graduates in stable professions…new adults. In every case, none own a TV or watch TV. So I’m guessing that unless younger people are streaming this show somewhere, the show is more focused on an older crowd that still does watch TV…cuz we know they aren’t reading Time Magazine.

Paula Deen’s Agent

A good deal of Paula Deen’s fame and fortune came through her cookbooks, and while reading about her recent scandal I grew curious about who her literary agent is. So I did a quick search and came up with this:

JANIS A. DONNAUD & ASSOCIATES, INC. was founded over 18 years ago by Janis Donnaud, who had previously been Vice President and Associate Publisher of the Random House Adult Trade Group.

The agency represents, develops and packages a wide range of commercially successful properties. It negotiates publishing agreements with the top trade houses in the U.S., licenses all subsidiary rights, arranges foreign editions and translation rights, and licenses film and performance rights. The agency’s varied list is concentrated mainly on nonfiction, with an emphasis on the culinary, narrative non-fiction, memoir, health and medical books, and women’s books.


Paula Deen- the #1 TV Food Network star for which the agency has represented more than ten books, including the new Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible;

This article gives a more personal side.

 Knowing that a book’s success doesn’t depend only on New York or “East Coast-West Coast” reader preferences, Donnaud landed one of the least big-city clients around when Paula Deen signed with her.

And this one made me smile. Not because of anything related to Janis A. Donnaud. I’m sure she’s a fine agent and she’s in shock over the Paula Deen debacle. This is a link to Absolute Write that goes back ten years. I’ve always maintained that Absolute Write is the essence of online ridiculousness, and you can only trust about a fourth of what’s posted there. Some of these old comments are highly entertaining.

Here’s an example of the kind of amusing nonsense you’ll find at Absolute Write in any given thread:

The hot agents don’t need websites. They already have all the business they want, and can get more any time they feel like it just by letting it be known that their lists are open. Among the top agents, the ones who have websites at all do them as celebrations of their clients, not of themselves.

She’s hot because the editors who know her matter, she knows what house is looking for what kind of works, and she can tell a good/marketable manuscript from one that’s less good. Editors trust her. She’s probably also a good negotiator for contracts.

This is a classic example of what you’ll generally find on AW. Information that’s only partially true and needs to be taken with that proverbial grain of salt. I find it about as relevant today as Miss Snark, Victoria Strauss, Preditors and Editors, and agents who charge reading fees.

Bad Boy Billionaires: The Silicon Valley Sex Scandal

A good deal of the subplot in this book gets into social media, online scamming, and catfishing for romance. In fact, it becomes deadly this time. I’ll post more in the coming weeks. But this excerpt shows how the main character made his billions. I thought it would be interesting to have a character who is a billionaire bad boy with a slightly good side, too. And it’s my fictional version of how I would love to see things really happen with social media someday.

To create a relatively honest social media web site where everyone used real names and there were no sockpuppets or fakes wasn’t always realistic. Most of the time it seemed impossible. One way Shannon tried to do this was by only allowing users of lovemetender.com to sign up with one e-mail address and one password. In other words, the e-mail address used to sign up could only be used with one specific password, and users were not allowed to create multiple accounts with that e-mail address. He also stated in the terms of service that multiple accounts with fake names were not allowed and that anyone who did this was in violation of the terms of service and could atomically be banned from the site forever.

            Unfortunately, most people who know how to navigate the Interwebs have more than one e-mail address. And there was no way to battle the corruption one hundred per cent. The best they could do at lovemetender.com was to handle each complaint and do an investigation as they came in. Shannon had a department in one wing of the building that only focused on this kind of corruption. Each complaint was taken seriously, by trained professionals. Each person who lodged a complaint was treated with respect and they always received a prompt reply from someone at lovemetender.com. And each time a user with multiple fake accounts was spotted he or she would be banned from the web site forever. Or at least until they figured out a way to change their IP addresses.

Ravenous Romance: The Vegas Shark; Phila DA Goes After Zuckerberg; Sen. Menendez Gets Online Wank

Update: Here’s a purchase link to allromanceebooks.com ]

Ravenous Romance Link here.

Amazon Link here. 

I’ve been told my new book in the Bad Boy Billionaire series, The Vegas Shark, will be out sometime today or tomorrow. I don’t have links right now, but I will come back and update as soon as I get them.

I posted something about The Vegas Shark a few weeks ago, and did an interview blog hop with a group of authors and talked about a few things I don’t normally get into. If you are so inclined, you can read that here.

I did a few different things in this book I don’t normally do, and for some reason I find hard to explain, I felt much closer to this book than I have to any books since I wrote “Chase of a Lifetime.” It’s not a parody or based on any films or straight romances, but I do hope it’s funny in certain sections…or at least someone will think it’s funny. I also hope they think it’s sexy, because Treston is a hot little guy. He is a gentle, loving male stripper who makes a name for himself in Vegas by shooting ping pong balls out of a very interesting part of his body. And I used music this time, which I don’t always do.

Here’s the plot description that will be up on all web sites:

Even though life is far from perfect, handsome young Treston Fair Leigh believes in heroes and fairytales. His favorite song is You Are My Sunshine and he’s certain love can conquer all.

But when the man he’s supposed to marry does something so unthinkable to him he’s not sure he’ll ever recover, he stops looking for love altogether…until he meets the one man in the world he believes is intrinsically decent enough to save him from all the bad boys he’s ever known.

While he’s planning to marry his hero, he quits his job as stripper and part time escort and rearranges his life. The only problem is the most notorious billionaire bad boy in Vegas has fallen in love with him, through no fault of his own. And no matter how hard Treston tries to fend off his advances and insult him the bad boy won’t give up.

Only this time Treston is serious and he’s going for the good guy instead of the bad. He doesn’t care about money or looks or fame. But will the billionaire bad boy leave him alone? And is the man Treston’s going to marry truly ready to forget about Treston’s past, the unusual way he shoots ping pong balls out of his body, and all the men he’s been with?
 
When I heard about the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office going after Facebook, I had to read more about it. I live in a Philly suburb and I find these online legal issues fascinating for many reasons. One, I’ve been working online for a long time, in the wild west days of the Internet, and I have been amazed at the things I’ve seen people get away with online they normally wouldn’t be able to get away with in real life. Two, because I think as more people become familiar with the Internet we’ll be seeing more legal issues arise. A lot of the Internet is lawless…as it stands now…and many of these Internet businesspeople have been playing by their own set of rules as if they don’t have to be held accountable to anyone. This recent turn of events with the Philadelphia DA’s Office I think is just the beginning of more to come.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams is publicly calling on Facebook to remove photos he says threaten the safety of a cooperating witness.


A Philadelphia woman agreed to testify against drug dealers for whom she purchased guns.

Williams says Freddie Henriquez posted her statement to police on his Facebook page along with other postings about killing “rats.”

The DA’s office has asked Facebook to take down the posts, but the company said the images do not violate its policies. Williams held a news conference Monday to display the offending images and throw some weight behind his request.

You can read more here. What I find interesting is how many times have we heard that last line before. This shows you the arrogance the DA is working with, and how the people at Facebook set their own rules and standards and are not held accountable to anyone…or at least not until now.

This is also interesting:

Williams called on Zuckerberg to be a “good corporate citizen” by ordering Facebook to remove the page of a Philadelphia man Williams alleges used it to solicit the killing of a witness in a case involving illegal firearm purchases.

So far, Facebook – if not Zuckerberg personally – has said no, because Freddie Henriquez’s page urging people to “kill rats” does not violate any of Facebook’s terms of use.

“I asked to be district attorney. . . . Victims didn’t ask to have their car stolen, didn’t ask to be raped or shot,” Williams told reporters.

Williams said he had sent a letter to Zuckerberg asking him to order Henriquez’s page removed and his Facebook account deactivated.

In an e-mail, Facebook did not directly address Williams’ remarks.

Of course they didn’t address the remarks. That’s because they don’t have to follow any rules like other businesses and they can make all their own rules up as they go along. As I said above, it will be interesting to see how more of these issues are handled in years to come. I don’t see this going away.

In an even more amusing post about all things Internet, it seems Sen. Menendez from New Jersey has received some classic online treatment and he’s stunned, simply stunned. I’m really only smiling out of the side of my face with this, and I know how serious it is and how these allegations can hurt people. Once something is online it’s up there forever. And there are clever, devious people who have figured this out while the rest of society has not been taking the Internet very seriously.

This is a statement from Menendez, and you can read more at the link above. I don’t know if these allegations are credible or not and that’s not my point with this post. I’ve reached a point where nothing a politician would do would surprise me anymore. I’m talking more about the nature of the Internet, how vicious it can be, and how permanent these things are. They don’t go away.  

“It’s amazing to me that anonymous, nameless, faceless individuals on a website can drive that type of story into the mainstream,” Menendez said. “Now nobody can find them, no one ever met them, no one ever talked to them … The bottom line is that all of those smears are absolutely false.”

Well, where the hell have you been, Sen. Menendez, because this is exactly what they do, and they have been doing this for a long time. In fact, some have made it their lives. Others, like a few publishing web sites, are only popular because they smear and lie this way. All I can say is welcome to the real world, Sen. Menendez, as it stands today. If you could see some of the corruption I’ve seen you’d be amazed. And guess what, they’re only going to call you a politician “behaving badly” now because you actually had the audacity to complain about it. You see, Sen. Menendez, there’s nothing wrong with being anonymous on the Internet. In fact, it’s encouraged by some of the loudest voices on the Internet. But I guess you’re learning the hard way like the rest of us.

As a side note, just because it’s interesting, I recently read a blog post where an author actually tells readers to go to Goodreads, create a fake identity, and leave anonymous comments to complain about something. I swear I’m not joking about this. I’m not linking because the blogger is an idiot and I don’t feel like promoting an idiot. My point here has nothing to do with the topic the blogger/author is talking about in the post. I couldn’t care less about her feelings or concerns. I’m only talking about how she actually encourages people to go to Goodreads and create fake names and identities.

I’m actually starting to think I’ve been doing things all wrong by not having fake identities.  

But then again, you can’t make this stuff up. And I have a lot more fun knowing I can use my name and real identity in the long run.

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