Langley resident Cran Campbell has learned to keep a wary eye out for internet postings that refer to him by name. He recently discovered text from a newspaper story about his online campaign against hate speech is being used to generate visits to porn sites. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

B.C. anti-hate campaigner finds Google search on his efforts redirects to porn

Text from online news article about Cran Campbell being used to link to suspect websites

When Cran Campbell saw an excerpt from a newspaper article about him on Google redirecting whoever clicked it to an internet dating website, he thought it seemed odd, but not especially offensive.

“What would that article have to do with dating?” the 69-year-old Langley resident wondered.

Then he clicked on it.

“This is not a dating site,” the web page said.

It went on, in fairly crass language, to describe what it was actually intended for.

“They wanted you to sign up for a membership,” Campbell noted.

There was no sign of the newspaper article, which was about Campbell’s campaign against online hate speech.

Instead, it had been built to deceive online search engines.

He’s since found at least three other sites where the text of the article pops up in the Google search engine for sketchy sites that have nothing to do with news or fighting hate speech.

“They’re taking my name and linking it with pornography.”

Campbell has emailed the newspaper in question about the misuse of its article, advising it of a potential copyright violation.

Online security experts have warned that internet readers need to pay careful attention to what they click on, especially web addresses, because unscrupulous website builders will use fake links to pose as something else in order to lure people to visit their sites.

During the last U.S. presidential election, for example, some foreign sites were pretending to be news sites and making up provocative stories about candidates in order to get people to click on their pages, which were set up to make money from online advertisers by charging a fractional amount for each page view.

Among other things, such sites can also contain malware that will masquerade as a sign-up or computer utility, anything from programs that can steal passwords to highjacking the computer so it becomes part of a networks used for illicit activities like denial of service attacks on websites.

Campbell has been keeping a wary eye on internet activity that identifies him by name ever since some internet trolls tried to link him to sex-related criminal acts.

He has since waged a drawn-out battle to clear his reputation.

READ MORE: Langley man fighting to clear his online reputation

When he spotted the accusations on a Craigslist chat site in 2016, Campbell flagged them for removal by clicking a “prohibited” link and Craigslist deleted the postings.

But the messages lived on, Campbell discovered, because internet search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and AOL were still linking to the postings even though they’d been taken down.

The search engines were displaying the first few words of the now-deleted posts, which meant that anyone who did an online search for “Cran Campbell” could still see the claims.

It took several days of phone calls and emails before Campbell was able to get Google to remove the search entry.

He also managed to get Bing, Yahoo and AOL to do the same.

But the message then reappeared on another Craigslist internet site and so did the search link.

It took several months of repeated complaints to get the internet postings completely scrubbed.

Campbell suspected he may have angered someone by campaigning against hate speech on various Craigslist forums.

READ MORE: Chat rooms and websites a forum for bullies to spread hatred, pornography, and racism

Since 2012, Campbell has been going after offensive and racist comments in the “rants and raves” section of Craigslist, flagging postings for removal and reporting them to police.

Asked what people can do about the misuse of their online identity beyond being vigilant, Campbell is blunt.

“There’s no help,” he said.

The law, as it stands, makes criminal prosecution unlikely in cases where someone suffers harm to their reputation online, Campbell said.

“Honestly, I’m fed up and I’m tired,” Campbell said.

When he went to the police about the fake criminal claims, he said he was told it was a civil matter.

“You’d better have money to spend to sue these people,” Campbell said.

He said the only thing that seems to work is to be persistent, to complain to anyone who might be able to do something, if only to get the issue on the record.

“This stuff has to be compiled,” Campbell said.

“Otherwise, nothing is done.”

If enough people complain to their MPs, and law enforcement officials, maybe, just maybe, it will produce changes to the law, Campbell said.



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary outlines its mandate at North Cowichan council meeting

President Beaubier states her case for group’s tireless efforts

Current MP opens Cowichan-Malahat-Langford campaign office

MacGregor vowing to return to Ottawa for another four years

Environment and economy key issues for Liberal’s Cowichan-Malahat-Langford candidate

Herbert campaign focuses on party’s investments in both areas

Roundabout taxing for public purse strings

The need for four a short distance apart seems unfathomable

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Cross-examination begins for B.C. dad accused of killing young daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Most Read