UPDATE #4 — June 22, 2012: Mark DeBow has revived his @ProfessorTanked account and is on the attack again.
UPDATE #3 — June 21, 2012: Please be advised that there is an individual who is aggressively messaging anyone who posts support toward me on Twitter. Do not be intimidated by this person who goes by the Twitter identity @terihabsfan. Her real name is Teri Woosnam. She has zero intimate knowledge of the case but tweets as if she does. While she is welcome to her opinion, her tweets are clearly meant to provoke and have no credibility other than ONLY being her personal opinion.
UPDATE #2 — June 19, 2012: Please see comments below from Spielo Gaming International and Professional Quality Assurance.
UPDATE #1 — June 19, 2012: @ProfessorTanked’s Twitter account has been closed.
On March 12, 2012, Mr. Justice Stephen J. McNally of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench issued an order from the bench to Spielo Gaming International to release the name of the anonymous online persona Professor Tanked to me.
In addition to sending me hate mail from within Spielo’s facilities, this same individual spread lies about me on Twitter using the anonymous account @ProfessorTanked. On March 14, 2012, subsequent to the court order, Spielo released the identity to me of the anonymous troll using the profile “Professor Tanked.” Click here to read the letter releasing the identity.
- The identity of @ProfessorTanked is Mark DeBow.
- To my recollection, I have never met Mr. DeBow, nor do I know him in any way whatsoever.
- Mr. DeBow’s father is prominent Moncton lawyer Richard DeBow, Q.C., of the law firm Barry Spalding. (Update: Now of Cox & Palmer, Moncton)
- Mr. DeBow’s legal counsel is Hélène Beaulieu, Q.C., of the law firm Barry Spalding. (Update: Now of Cox & Palmer, Moncton)
- To my knowledge, my only “transgression” previous to reporting him for sending me hate mail from within Spielo’s facilities was that he does not like my columns.
- Mr. DeBow is a former employee of Professional Quality Assurance (PQA) of Fredericton. Mr. DeBow worked on-site at Spielo Gaming International, one of PQA’s clients. According to correspondence I received from his lawyer dated April 25, 2012, Mr. DeBow was dismissed from PQA on March 30, 2012, because Spielo complained to PQA that I was seeking Mr. DeBow’s identity.
- On June 2, 2011, Mr. DeBow sent me anonymous hate mail while working for PQA at Spielo using Spielo’s computers. After Googling the IP address attached to the e-mail, I responded to “Professor Tanked” to stop harassing me and cc’d Spielo so that they would be aware that their computers were once again being used by Professor Tanked for unauthorized activity. (Professor Tanked had previously tried to post anonymously to my blog from Spielo and had posted a large number of negative comments below my columns on Canadaeast.com.)
- Following my June 3, 2011, request to cease harassing me, beginning on October 20, 2011, Mr. DeBow anonymously posted on Twitter lies about my reputation and professional and ethical conduct. He is unable to prove these allegations and has no evidence, yet these comments remain online. He accuses me of cyberbullying and stalking my readers. He also accuses me of e-mailing my readers’ employers to try to get them fired. These allegations are ridiculous and without a shred of merit.
- These comments concerned me so greatly that, on February 14, 2012, I requested a hearing in front of a New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench judge to force Spielo to release the name of Professor Tanked to me. They had previously refused to do so despite several requests on my part. (Previous to this, I visited the Codiac RCMP detachment on December 19, 2011, to file a harassment complaint, but they advised me that the matter was civil.)
- Mr. DeBow has threatened to confront me in public at a Rotary Club meeting. (Keep in mind that I had no — and still don’t have — a clue what he looks like.) To say the least, I felt incredibly intimidated by this and feared for my own personal safety and the safety of my fellow Rotarians. (UPDATE: I now have photos of Mark DeBow. Thank you to those who submitted them.)
- A hearing was held in front of Mr. Justice Stephen McNally on March 12, 2012, and he issued an order from the bench for Spielo to release the identity of Professor Tanked. I received the identity on March 14, 2012.
- Following the receipt of his identity, my lawyer and I prepared a letter dated April 4, 2012, demanding compensation, an apology, the removal of his account and a number of other requests from Mr. DeBow. In subsequent correspondence from Mr. DeBow’s legal counsel, it became clear that he had no intention of taking this matter seriously. A subsequent reply from me dated April 26, 2012, has been ignored. I will no longer be ignored on this issue. He’s intimidated me long enough.
- Furthermore, Ms. Beaulieu attempts to claim that his online comments are “fair comment”. Since when are anonymous online comments “fair”? How in the world could I defend myself against Mr. DeBow’s anonymous lies without going to court to force Spielo to release his identity?
- Mr. DeBow’s LinkedIn account is here.
- I have spent nearly $7,500 in legal fees to acquire this anonymous troll’s real name (Mark DeBow) and to attempt to be compensated for his anonymous false allegations.
- Spielo Gaming International has not apologized to me and, in fact, even asked Justice McNally that I pay THEIR legal costs in my successful attempt to get Professor Tanked’s identity. Justice McNally ordered both of us to pay our own court fees.
- Professional Quality Assurance has not apologized to me, offered any compensation or even reached out in any way to me following the actions of their former employee, Mark DeBow.
I am posting this in order to expose this cyberbully. He has intimidated me anonymously long enough — since early in 2011, at least, with hate mail, an attempt to post at least one hateful comment to my blog, a number of insulting anonymous comments below my columns posted to Canadaeast.com, and most recently by spreading vicious lies about me on Twitter. For some reason, he is completely obsessed with me.
Since Mr. DeBow refuses to take this matter seriously and has not responded to my latest letter of April 26, 2012, I am releasing his identity to the public.
Not only is Mr. DeBow not taking his matter seriously, his legal counsel had the sheer unmitigated audacity to state this in a letter to me dated April 25, 2012: “Mr. Cormier has destroyed Mr. DeBow’s credibility at the only two companies in Moncton who were hiring in his line of work. In our view, should this go to trial, there is potential for a substantial counterclaim for harassment of our client, interference with contractual relations and loss of future income.” Ms. Beaulieu, your attempt at intimidating me is laughable. It would surely be the first time in history that an anonymous troll sues their VICTIM for harassment because their VICTIM had to go to court to get the anonymous troll’s identity.
The only person who destroyed Mark DeBow’s reputation is Mark DeBow himself.
As a newspaper columnist, it is normal to get negative feedback. I never took legal action against any of Mr. DeBow’s comments on Canadaeast.com, nor did I take legal action against the hateful comments he attempted to post to my blog or the hate mail he sent me on June 2, 2011. However, there’s a limit. His Twitter account went too far. At some point, even a newspaper columnist — who it could be argued should have a thicker skin than most — has his limits. You can criticize, but you can’t lie. These online haters who espouse “freedom of speech” do so under the veil of anonymity. They say things they’d never sign their real names to. Freedom of speech has a consequence: the freedom to react. Mr. DeBow, today, I am fighting back and I am exposing you for the person that you are.
And one last thing: Writing anonymously as Professor Tanked, Mr. DeBow continuously refers to himself quite benignly as just another one of my readers. Mr. DeBow: You’re not one of my readers. You’re an anonymous troll who tried to destroy my reputation by spreading lies. To brand yourself as one of my “readers” is an insult to me and — more importantly — an insult to them. To brand yourself as one of my readers is like a bank robber branding himself as just another customer making a withdrawal. No, sir.
Everyone makes mistakes. I have made mistakes, too. The measure of the man, however, is how you deal with them.
In closing, I am proud to state that — today — the world has one less vicious anonymous online troll. Mark DeBow: You have been exposed.
Your boldness and drive to not just put up with this crap is inspiring, Brian. Social media has unfortunately provided a forem for the sackless to hide behind false identities or wear a veil of bravado. You just drew a big line in the sand and I applaud you for doing so.
Bravo Brian! And well said. I myself have been bullied as a kid for 10 years. I know the stress one goes through every day because of that. Your taking action is a victory for all of us who have suffered at the hand of those vicious predators. Thanks for standing up for us.
Good for you Brian! It’s about time that these anonymous cowards are exposed. Unfortunately, the internet has spawned a whole new breed of bigots and bullies and it’s up to each on us to call them to task. So-called consumer advocate websites have also sprung up, claiming to protect the general public, but are in fact a sham. They are able to create a smear campaign against anyone. So, fight as long and hard as you must to retain/restore your image and reputation.
Brian, you have my utmost respect and admiration. I don’t know if I could have fought this fight as long as you have.
How these people (and the people defending them) can justify and actually counter claim harassment is beyond credibility.
My daughter was sexually harassed in junior school by an older student. She didn’t want to report it because she was afraid she’s be ostracized.
We insisted and had a meeting arranged with the boy’s parents and the teacher.
She was right. The parent’s said that my daughter was causing trouble by exaggerating (she wasn’t) and for the rest of the school year she was the victim of verbal abuse from the boy and his friends.
Intimidation is the ultimate weapon for bullies – that’s not surprising. What is, is the refusal for people that should do something, that don’t.
We trust that you’ll let your readers hear our side of the story by posting this response.
The commenter you’ve blogged about was previously employed by a subcontractor of SPIELO International’s. In June 2011, we learned that the commenter was using SPIELO International’s computers to criticize your writing. This violated our company’s computer usage policy, so we notified his employer, who removed him from the SPIELO International offices.
Apparently, the commenter’s criticisms have continued from other computer sources and IP addresses – not SPIELO’s — and your concerns over the nature of those more recent comments prompted your legal action.
Under Canadian privacy laws (PIPEDA), SPIELO International respects the privacy of its employees and its subcontractors. Justice McNally made it clear at the hearing that SPIELO International had a legitimate reason not to reveal the commenter’s name without a court order. We subsequently complied with the court order and released his name to you.
We did not play a role in the commenter’s communications to you, other than preventing them from being posted via our computers once we were aware of it. SPIELO International didn’t do anything inappropriate by seeking the costs of having to attend a hearing that had nothing to do with our company.
It’s been over a year since the commenter stopped posting via SPIELO computers, and since you now have the commenter’s name, we hope you’ll choose to blog about issues other than SPIELO International’s incidental role in this situation.
Thanks again for giving us the chance to share this with your readers.
Rhonda: According to Mark DeBow’s LinkedIn account, he remained “on site” at Spielo until the end of March 2012 despite his shenanigans. Is this true?
Let me answer for Rhonda and Spielo.
When the issue was brought to our attention in June 2011 I believe, Spielo asked that I remove Mr. Debow from the contract that he was on. I of course did that and brought Mr. DeBow back to PQA offices. At that time, I told him that his actions were not appropriate and that it could not happen again as it puts my name and more importantly my clients name in a bad light.
From June 2011 until i believe March 2012, I continued to employ Mr. DeBow. It came to my attention that the activity that I had asked him to cease was continuing. That and lack of work ultimately led to us parting ways.
Spielo acted with best intentions in this matter, and I believe that PQA did as well.
I am sorry that you are upset and have felt threatened. I guess that I would urge you do let the matter end. It might be best.
Thank you, Keith. Your concise and straight-to-the-point explanation is a breath of fresh air. I am very happy to get an answer on what exactly transpired. While I would have preferred that Spielo contacted you in the fall when they were advised of Mr. DeBow’s anonymous Twitter activity, I will assume that they did not do this. Your comment also clears up Mr. DeBow’s claim on LinkedIn that he continued to be on-site at Spielo until the end of March 2012. Clearly, he was not there. With that said, I appreciate your comment and acknowledgement of this issue. As for letting the matter drop, I’m sure that would greatly please Mr. DeBow. I will continue in my efforts to have Mr. DeBow rectify his anonymous false comments.
It is clear from the articles contents and the timelines involved, that neither PQA or SPIELO were effective in either establishing, or monitoring and enforcing “acceptable use” policies of their companies communication networks. Both companies now find themselves having to justify their actions (or in this case inactions), once the activities of Mr. Debow were brought to their attention.
SPIELO, trying to force Mr. Cormier to pay your legal costs in this matter is just shameful.
Let the matter end? Isn’t that what Mark would like? Keith I’d urge your Professor to apologize and make restituition, that WOULD BE BEST and the morally humane thing to do.
Where do this scumbags get off?
[…] can read the whole story on his blog, but here’s a […]
Good for you! I never really understoodwhy people always try rage over the internet and hide behind false names. I for one have a twitter account and a facebook account, both of which are my name. I like to think of myself as a pretty stand-up guy, if I have a problem with someone they know about it, and know exactly why and who. I feel that if you’re going to attempt to out someone for something at least have the courage to let the accused face their accuser.
Also, where did this whole anonymous internet thing come from? I work in the field and unless someone is really smart about what they are doing to hide themselves, your identity can be tracked.
Social media is a fantastic medium for sharing, interacting and connecting. But it’s also still in its infancy. And while we need to protect freedom of speech, we also need to protect individuals rights to not be harassed.
Which is why I applaud you, we need strong case studies, like yours and the unfortunate case of the Twitter troll who was jailed for racially abusing English footballer Fabrice Muamba hours after he suffered a near fatal heart attack during a televised game.
We need to show those trolls out there they can’t hide behind their profiles while dishing out abuse and harassment.
And which is why I would also say it’s not ‘best’ to letter the matter end.