Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The truth about "Matthew Desmond" and "Being Liberal".

You may have seen this image circulating around liberal/progressive pages recently and wondered what this was about. Recently, dozens of content creators and owners of various social media sites have grown more and more frustrated with a increasing number of pages (Being Liberal and Addictinginfo.org being the main culprits) who thrive off taking other people's original work and claiming it as their own. These page owners and artists have finally begun to stop bitching about it and trying to get the content thieves to play nice. Instead, they have started filing DMCA reports with Facebook for images that are being used without proper credit.

Again, let me stress that this is NOT about individuals who share images from pages via mobile where you are basically forced to download and then re-upload the image to your personal page. This is about plagiarism, for profit. Plain and simple.

Rather than admit to the truth, the folks behind "Being Liberal" are portraying these warnings from Facebook as being the work of "paid conservative trolls" when in fact, if you look at the image that they posted on their site, it is very clear that the warning is not for an objectionable picture. It is for an image being removed because Facebook received a report of copyright infringement, reviewed it and the evidence presented by the submitter, decided in the plaintiff's favor, removed the image and issued a warning. The time and trouble that it takes to file a copyright complaint to Facebook where you have to give them your name and contact email, links to the offending material and the original content, and then do an electronic signature is not worth it to trolls. It is easier for them to report an image as "nudity" or "spam" which takes just a few seconds before they march on to their next victim.

My first dealings with Matthew Desmond Kerry, AKA "Matthew Desmond" AKA "Matthew Hanson" was in the fall of 2010, shortly after his domain was registered. On every news page, progressive page, you name it, was his profile spamming links to Addictinginfo.org. This was something you could see literally hundreds of times a day. I would occasionally comment and mention how annoying it was, sometimes I would report it as spam. One day he commented back in a really nasty manner so I reported him again as a spammer and blocked him. This was all before I had a page of my own. After my page got started, he started spamming my page with links to his tabloid-esque articles so I banned him from the page as well. Around the beginning of 2012, I started getting into making my own images and that's when the content theft from our page really began. In all fairness, I've seen our work with watermarks and tags removed on a number of sites but never with the frequency as I have seen on pages run by "Matthew Desmond".

I've had a number of confused and indignant people ask me "why should it matter, so long as the message is getting out?" or tell me "we don't need to be airing our internal squabbles". So, let me go ahead and address that once and for all.

First off, I love that our original content, and that of other pages is getting out there. Every time we see a meme, a blog, a quote or whatever, get passed around on social media, we rejoice. We've seen some photos go viral and show up 10 or 20 times in one day on our personal newsfeeds. That's a good thing. What isn't a good thing is when that work is repeatedly taken by another page and passed off as their own work (often after altering the image to remove references to the original creator) or credited to one of their satellite pages which are controlled or owned by the same person doing the theft. This drives "likes" on Facebook to their pages, not the original author. "But they're not making any money off it" you might say and you would be VERY, VERY wrong.

The site "Being Liberal" and their satellite pages like "Addictinginfo", "Americans Against The Republican Party", "I Acknowledge Classwarfare Exists" and others have collectively at least 2.5 millions fans as a conservative estimate. By his own admission "Matthew Desmond" admits in this article on Addictinginfo.org that he controls 50+ pages on Facebook. These pages, and many other pages that they have coerced or manipulated in some way into co-operating with them then post controversially titled "news" articles by Addictinginfo, Reverbpress.com and others, often dozens of times a day.

Why does this matter? Because by drawing in as many hundreds of thousands of fans as they can and then driving them to a non-Facebook site, they make money. Websites have advertising and the more people who see those ads, the more the website owner makes. Simple math, and that's the new model for media.

This isn't some small time blogging operation either. We're talking about 100's of thousands of visitors (sometimes millions) a day to their respective websites to where they get paid for traffic. This is a case of taking other people's work, without credit or compensation (monetarily or otherwise) and making money off it, a lot of money. This isn't about a good cause using somebody else's work, using it to promote their page and in return, promoting/acknowledging the original creator. This isn't about someone making money off writing and jealousy of someone else's success. This is about a lot of money being made perhaps not illegally, but certainly through unethical and dirty methods that the people we are supposed to be united against use daily. If you don't think plagiarism is a big deal, ask Fareed Zakaria who was suspended from CNN for lifting quotes from other people without attribution. Try doing that with a term paper or thesis in college and see what happens.

Second, the whole "we shouldn't be airing our dirty laundry and internal squabbles for all to see" bit...I get it. However, after you and many others have tried repeatedly through private channels to address the issue and after having been attacked with a slew of rightwing trolls and abuse reports after calling them out publicly on their page (and being instantly banned), it is obvious that the polite method doesn't work. I have the emails from the original owner of Being Liberal (Wojtek Wacowski, who also works for Upworthy) where he demanded either an apology or proof of the work taken from my page by his co-admin "Matthew Desmond". After I provided proof, Wojtek Wacowski got angry and rude before breaking off contact. Within a few days, my page suddenly experienced massive attack after attack from right-wing trolls, an image I made mocking the KKK was reported and removed and I got a 3 day suspension. The timing was very uncanny although it cannot be proven that they were behind it.

We shouldn't be covering up the sins of our own because it corrupts what we're supposed to be about. We can't go around saying that we have a moral high ground when members of our own ranks are engaging in the same behavior of corporate greed and bullying that we're supposed to be fighting against. They like to say they have nothing to hide but they hide their business information behind a proxy offshore domain registration where DMCA and other US copyright laws don't apply and have the business registered to a UPS store in Santa Rosa, CA.

Business listing with CA Sec of State:

Entity Name: ADDICTING INFO LLC Entity Number: 201129410004 Date Filed: 10/12/2011 Status: ACTIVE Jurisdiction: CALIFORNIA Entity Address: 1007 W COLLEGE AVE #433 (UPS Store box#) Entity City, State, Zip: SANTA ROSA CA 95401 Agent for Service of Process: LEGALZOOM.COM, INC. (C2967349)

Domain registry results through whois.org:

Domain ID:D160073684-LROR Domain Name:ADDICTINGINFO.ORG Created On:05-Sep-2010 20:33:25 UTC Last Updated On:07-Aug-2012 22:47:05 UTC Expiration Date:05-Sep-2014 20:33:25 UTC Sponsoring Registrar:eNom, Inc. (R39-LROR) Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED Registrant ID:2fe87cb4afe1ee62 Registrant Name:Privacy Advocate Registrant Organization:Domains.com Ltd Registrant Street1:Lupins Business Centre Registrant Street2: Registrant Street3: Registrant City:Weymouth Registrant State/Province:Dorset Registrant Postal Code:DT4 7SP Registrant Country:GB Registrant Phone:+44.130582275 Registrant FAX:+44.130582275 Registrant FAX Ext.: Registrant Email:addictinginfo@rocketmail.com Admin ID:2fe87cb4afe1ee62 Admin Name:Privacy Advocate Admin Organization:Domains.com Ltd Admin Street1:Lupins Business Centre Admin Street2: Admin Street3: Admin City:Weymouth Admin State/Province:Dorset Admin Postal Code:DT4 7SP Admin Country:GB Admin Phone:+44.130582275 Admin FAX:+44.130582275 Admin FAX Ext.: Admin Email:addictinginfo@rocketmail.com Tech ID:2fe87cb4afe1ee62 Tech Name:Privacy Advocate Tech Organization:Domains.com Ltd Tech Street1:Lupins Business Centre Tech Street2: Tech Street3: Tech City:Weymouth Tech State/Province:Dorset Tech Postal Code:DT4 7SP Tech Country:GB Tech Phone:+44.130582275 Tech FAX:+44.130582275 Tech FAX Ext.: Tech Email:addictinginfo@rocketmail.com Name Server:NS1.ADDICTINGINFO.ORG Name Server:NS2.ADDICTINGINFO.ORG

http://www.corporationwiki.com/California/Santa-Rosa/addicting-info-llc/103385923.aspx

Now you can write this off as "protecting one's identity" but that's not what it is about. It is about protecting themselves against civil suits for infringement of intellectual property. It isn't just images they've taken, it's news articles they've lifted from other journalists and have copied nearly word for word. In every case they've been confronted, they've first tried to bully their accuser and then when threatened with legal action, have hidden behind the offshore accounts.

If this passes for "acceptable behavior" or something we should look the other way on for the better good of the progressive/liberal/moderate coalition, then I want no part of that movement. Just ask the Catholic Church how well that "not airing dirty laundry" thing worked out for them.

*EDIT* By popular request, I have compiled a list of pages that are owned or partially controlled by Matthew Desmond Kerry as well as some of his close friends and associates like Justin Rosario, Daniel Gouldmann, Tiffany Willis, Egberto Willies, Omar Rivero, Rafael Rivero, Elisabeth Parker, Sean Conners, Leah Farley, Wendy Gittleson, Stephen D Foster and others.

Known websites:
www.beingliberal.org
www.addictinginfo.org
www.freewoodpost.com
www.ifyouonlynews.com
www.reverbpress.com
www.liberalamerica.org
www.occupydemocrats.com
www.leftwingnation.rocks
www.egbertowillies.com
www.americannewsx.com

Known Facebook pages:
https://www.facebook.com/GirlDuJour
https://www.facebook.com/OccupyDemocrats
https://www.facebook.com/republicansareidiots
https://www.facebook.com/Republicansareidiots1
https://www.facebook.com/beingliberal.org
https://www.facebook.com/LiberalAndProudOfIt
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Americans-Against-Bobby-Franklin-By-AddictingInfoORG
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Americans-Against-Martin-Harty-By-AddictingInfoOrg
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michele-Bachmann-Needs-To-Read-A-History-Book-By-AddictingInfoorg
https://www.facebook.com/opinionatedlib
https://www.facebook.com/LiberalAndProudOfIt
https://www.facebook.com/AmericansAgainstMittRomney
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Proud-to-be-a-Filthy-Liberal-Scum
https://www.facebook.com/LiberalAndProudOfIt


"Friendly" Facebook pages: (Pages that frequently use Addictinginfo links but not necessarily owned by Matthew Desmond).
https://www.facebook.com/coffeeparty
https://www.facebook.com/PragProgPage
https://www.facebook.com/classwarfareexists
https://www.facebook.com/WSBYWSO (not to be confused w/ the other site)

47 comments:

  1. Do you have a list of the pages? I'd like to "unlike" ALL of them.

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    1. That list is directly above, Amber.

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  2. We are working on a list of the pages. I apologize for the formatting, it'll be fixed later today.

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  3. Here here! I remember when I first saw this happening I "unliked" the wrong page. I will not make that mistake again. I have been watching this "page" war for the better part of a year and since only one page is a constant I think I can safely say which page is the culprit. Shame on being liberal. And anyone who says the other progressive pages that are standing up against being liberal are the ones creating the wedge need to think about what they are saying. The smaller pages did not start this war (I will admit, a year ago I thought they had) thank you for sharing this.

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  4. I 'unliked' Being Liberal yesterday after learning about all of this. But the name Mathew Desmond struck me as familiar so I checked my Facebook 'blocked' names list - and there he was, blocked twice (I assume it was two different profiles). What a world, huh??

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  5. I would like to know the pages too, so I could unlike them as well. Thanks for your hard work!

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  6. It will take awhile to educate folks but it needs to happen. This issue has been festering for awhile, but a number of admins banded together finally and did something about it.

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  7. I'd like that list of pages, too. I recently "unliked" two or three liberal pages for posting the cheat sheet story about Romney, even though it hadn't been proven, after explaining that this makes us too much like the other side and the common tactics they use. If we can't present our arguments and support our beliefs with integrity, we're not doing our candidate any favors.

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  8. Some people are just shitty little scumbots (not you).

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    1. Kyle, I messaged you on facebook, message me back, and I'll give you more details.

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  9. When posting the list of offending sites, it would be beneficial to have links to evidence of the offense so that folks can verify. It's dangerous to take one person's word over another. No, I'm not doubting the integrity of WATMAB (even if they do drink blended whiskey instead of single malt!), I'm saying blindly following charismatic personalities is what causes the problem, and we shouldn't reinforce that behavior :)

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  10. I knew there was a reason that I stopped reading Addicting Info.

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  11. As one of many writers who has been attacked by the owner of AddictingInfo, I can attest to the information contained in this blog post. After over a year of whispering about it, many of us have finally stepped up and are no longer fearful about speaking publicly. There is strength in numbers.

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    1. When, in a case of disagreeing with the method of disseminating unproven information, I stated just that, I was not only banned and the thread I posted on removed, I was told in private message to "fuck off". Gee, doesn't take much to figure out the integrity behind that.

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  12. I''m in support of integrity and honesty. Plagerism is not ok. Already spreading the word Whiskey.

    ~Duck

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  13. I'd like a list, too. As an amateur writer, I'm really offended by plagiarism. I can unlike Being Liberal and AddictingInfo (some of its content especially is troubling), but I don't know the other names or whether I have liked them.

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  14. HONESTLY - THERE IS A TIME AND PLACE FOR THIS - AND NOW, with the election THREE WEEKS away and Romney LEADING, is most DEFINITELY NOT THE TIME.

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    1. I think that it is always the time to do something like this. As for Romney leading, where in the sam hell did you pick that up? Granted I have been a bit out of touch with events since the debate but before that Obama was being given ~80% shot of winning and only had to convince one more state to win by every poll that I saw that wasn't very biased against him.

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    2. Integrity matters. And it matters every day.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. Matthew Kane: several of us have screencapped your comments here, so even if you delete them, they are saved forever. That goes for all of your deleted comments -- all over the web -- as well as your personal vulgar emails which threaten lives.

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  15. The people here posting that they're going to "unlike" these liberal websites are silly. The replies aren't made by liberals so they aren't going to be subscribed anyway. There's no need to search through "their computers" for "likes" of sites they've never seen.

    Also, anyone can file a DMCA takedown. There's no need to prove you own the content, it's up to the respondent to prove that they do.

    I have no idea if any theft occured. I do know that anyone can file a DMCA claim. However, I don't think "Sharing" something on Facebook constitutes theft.

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    1. I've never seen ANY of the "50 sites" this guy is wanking about ever post anything without giving FULL credit who where it came from. Usually they are memes created by friends of friends, most of them are links to articles. This whole thing is CACK generated by Rush Limbergerbaugh Scum

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    2. Either you're both blind, or both liars.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. I currently "like" a number of the pages mentioned (not sure exactly how many, but I know two for sure). As soon as I can get to my computer, I will be unliking them though! I also won't share any links that lead back to those pages (which show up a LOT on my feed). What I WILL be sharing is this post!

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  16. See, I don't get the plagiarism thing -- I write for them, and they get on me if I cite the same study as some other article someone else cited on some other website, even if the articles are only superficially about the same subject, if that makes any sense.

    I'm not one for internet drama, I tend to stay away from it, but a lot of your accusations make no sense to me, having worked with AI for a few months now. Especially the bit where you said "I have no proof but, this happened after this." It's factually similar to saying something like "Well, I have no proof that an alien invaded my house and drank my milk, but someone drank my milk, so it must be an alien, I mean, I do live near roswell, and that's rather suspicious"

    If I'm wrong, please tell me, but this seems a little bit like an internet vendetta. I'd like to think we're all above that.

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    1. Let me ask you this, has anyone who works for AI ever met this Matthew Desmond person?

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    2. I know a few of the editors have, but I've personally never met him -- I can't really afford to travel all that much.

      But by that logic, I've never met you, so how do I know you are real?

      I'm not trying to be antagonistic -- I'm just somewhat paranoid by nature, and if your allegations are true, I would very much like to know -- I don't want to be associated with a group that would call my own personal writing into question, if that makes any sense. I haven't the time or the room for internet drama. If they aren't true, I would like to know what is driving them.

      For all I know, you could be Matthew Desmond yourself, trying to drum up views for addicting info.

      That said, having actually seen the site stats, having access to them through work, I can honestly say that we do not get 100,000 views a day -- if we did, I might make more than a few dollars per article, and I'd have a far more inflated ego than I've already cultivated.

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  17. Frankly, I lean toward believing the legitimacy of this. Yet simply reading this blog post and the anecdotes is not sufficient verification for me to join the cause. PLEASE can you show proof?! I take these as serious accusations. I will not act on them without clear verification. Provide that, and we are talking a whole different ball game.

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  18. So... in other words it's "Believe US not the OTHER GUY!" SAME SHIT different PARTY! This is what I hear ALL THE TIME from the REPUKES... isn't it starting to get a LITTLE OLD?

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  19. I see my pages work missing a watermark once a week. i see memes resembling mine with our exact words on it. I've been ignoring it, but maybe i shouldn't

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. I contributed a couple of articles for Addicting Info about two years ago, and Desmond had himself listed as the author until I called him on it. I never saw a penny of revenue for the traffic they pulled either.
    Dude is the king of "Share this image if you like bacon, puppies, and shiny objects" and falsely associating media with himself and himself with certain demographics.

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  22. That UPS store is right down the street from my place. Weird.

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  23. As a "victim" of these people as well, bravo for speaking out. Beware though, they will torment you until your dying day on facebook. I had to get law enforcement involved.

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  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  25. "The Other 98%" isn't owned by or associated with Matthew Desmond/Addicting Info. AFAIK they do cross post some things, but O98% is a completely separate group and I've seem them post about some things the Addicting Info network won't even touch.

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  26. Sometime ago, I posted a comment somewhere on FB and shared a link to this blog page. Facebook has removed it, stating that it violates their "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities". Would someone enlighten me as to why it would have been removed? (Please see my profile picture.)

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  27. Content theft or not, I find the model unsavory and deceptive. I run several pages under one moniker, and it is clear that they are all part of the same entity (also, each page has a specific purpose). If each page were clearly identified as "part of the Being Liberal Network" for instance, I would find that preferable. Instead, you go and like a bunch of pages thinking you are supporting different entities to find out later they are all clones run by the same guy? It just doesn't set right with me. I also had one of my readers indicate that when they attempted to promote one of my pages on "Being Liberal" they were banned. I have unliked the whole list until I have a good reason not to. There are plenty of people like me who run pages on the up and up with complete honesty and a distinct absence of deception. For now I will stick with them, my true brothers and sisters on Facebook.

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  28. just clicked on a link to this page, and instead got intercepted by a FB message warning that they'd had reports that this page was spam, and I had to choose to plunge ahead blindly or cancel. So your adversary has been busy again!

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  29. Here is a video exposing "Being Liberal", as well as "Being Conservative" and "Being LIBtarded", as Facebook pages that are NOT run by Americans, but rather by foreigners who are actively engaged in a psychological operation to pit Americans against each other - a divide and conquer strategy in full operation. Those that pay attention to and post on these pages are allowing themselves to be influenced by these psy-ops: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1hdqDwbuew#t=872

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  30. In addition to plagiarism, many of Matthew Desmond Kerry or Hanson's pages have a strong hate Israel lean. Debate about Israel is fine, but D smond has gone so far as to post fake videos, claiming them to be real. He has done this many times. I am not certain that he is evrn left leaning at all. His goal is to get at many hits to his pages as possible, so he intentionally posts outlanfish lies to inflame various groups, who then post rven more often.
    His model is lie, cheat, capitalist.
    He is no liberal. He's right wing scum, masquerading as a liberal

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