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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Revelstoke SAR crews help find woman’s body around Kaslo River

The woman was on a motorcycle when it plunged into the river on June 21

RCMP identify dangerous driver from near head-on collision by Golden

Police say the extremely dangerous and illegal maneuver put multiple lives at risk

Hitchhiker with metal pipe prompts RCMP to close Highway 1 near Salmon Arm

Police respond to report of man who pointed what was believed to be a rifle at passing driver

Local Food Initiative wants public feedback for possible Garden Tour

Survey suggests some people are concerned about the RCMP, after last year’s tour

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. health officials pleased with likely extension of Canada-U.S. border closure

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the situation is ‘very serious in the United States’

Shuswap residents see aircraft dropping fire retardant in direction of Falkland

Wildfire BC says no fire, crews in two air tankers and a bird dog were just practising

Expansion project to nearly double the size of Okanagan school

“With 10 new classrooms on the way, students are one step closer to saying goodbye to portables”

Lifesaving Society urges caution after two drownings in Central Okanagan

The warning comes after a drowning incident on July 9

Children suffer swollen eyes, burns while playing at Lower Mainland spray park

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

‘Resistance’ from Interior Health puts races in Penticton on hold

It’s unknown if races planned for this weekend at the Penticton Speedway will take place

Fundraiser kick-started for Vernon woman battling tongue cancer

Woman’s four-year-old twins are the driving force behind her fight

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Most Read