Internet Pirates

For some reason I feel the need to start this post with a little Donny Hathaway. We’re alone and I’m writing this blog post for you.

Photo from www.whostolemyidentity.com

In my career in the blogosphere, I’ve experienced so many things. I’ve recieved more than my share of blessings, and found some good friends and wonderful opportunities that have come my way through blogging and social media. I’ve also experienced the adverse side of online popularity, where people will straight up steal your content, jack your photos and give you no credit, make accusations against you, or come super hard at you in the comments of a post for no good reason. I’ve dealt with that kind of stuff before and four years in the game makes you feel desensitized to certain things. I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff.

But few weeks have been as trying as my recent ones. Lately I’ve been dealing with internet gangsters who are cut from a different cloth. Allow me to vent for a moment.

Yesterday I woke up to messages on Twitter and Facebook letting me know that my site had been hacked. I didn’t have even the time to enjoy the morning and prepare for the onslaught that was about to face me. I tried to get on my blog and immediately saw that red screen of death. Worst. Feeling. Ever.

So what did I do? After freaking out a little, I immediately contacted my tech team. Yes y’all, I’ve got a TEAM of friends in tech and we came together like Voltron to stop the shenanigans. My husband came home from WORK (with the kind permission of his boss) to lock this situation down. All day I got e mails, Facebook messages, Twitter DMs from concerned friends and readers about the situation. And in the back of my mind I was wondering about the people who do this. Someone’s out there DOING THIS. For a living? For fun? I can’t understand it.

So finally after a tear-filled afternoon of stress, Google has OFFICIALLY declared my site is CLEAN and although the red screen of death may appear today for some of you, hopefully it will be completely gone by EOD. Whew.

That’s just one kind of internet pirate I’ve had to deal with lately. The other one REALLY grinds my gears. There’s a website based in China that is STEALING ALL MY CONTENT. But instead of just stealing my ideas, or my photos and posting them verbatim…they filter it through some kind of translator or SEO term generator? I have no idea. Either way they mangle my words and make everything unreadable and laced with profanity.

It has been horrifying, embarrassing and EXTREMELY upsetting visiting this piece of online garbage and seeing MY photos, MY videos, MY words so absolutely distorted and abused. It’s the worst feeling to post photos of myself or of my family and see them STOLEN for their nefarious purposes.

Please don’t think I’m just sitting here waving my hands in the air and feeling powerless – we’ve taken so many steps to try to stop them. First we cut down my feeds to half-feeds – which I know is frustrating for those of you who subscribe, but that decision was made in the hopes that it would shut down their ability to easily steal my content. Then we made it so you can no longer cut and paste from my blog. Which is frustrating even for me sometimes. But it had to be done so we could try to stop these people. STILL they find a way to steal my content. And every so often I’ll hear from someone who I wrote about saying hey, I really liked your post but then I got a Google Alert with my name in it…and what IS this? They’ve been doing this since June.

This website that I really don’t even want to mention because Lord knows they don’t deserve the traffic…continues to be a thorn in my side. They’re powered by WordPress, they’re based in China – that is ALL I know. And I’m finally taking the time to explain because it feels like a complete violation.

I’ve contacted their hosts and left comments on their blog – which they have deleted. Next I will follow the steps to file a DCMA complaint and also report this to Google. That’s all I’ve got to say about that for now.

It can be immensely frustrating, working hard to create something so beautiful and special, only to have internet pirates try to destroy or gain from your hard work. But one thing I’ve learned in my time of being Afrobella – its always better to keep your head up, and keep on being the best you can be. And that’s what I’m going to continue to do, each and every day.

Thanks for listening to my rant! Back to your usual peace and positivity!

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Comments

  1. **Hugs** We’re still here anyway!

    • OMG seriously your comment just made me cry. It’s been QUITE a week. That means a lot to me. (((hugs)))

    • Co-Sign to that! We will keep reading and supporting you!

      • Double-co-sign! I’m so glad that you’re back up and running…I was scared and sad when I got that red screen of death!!! I was all “oh, no they didn’t!!!”

        Thank you for keeping your spirits high and doing what you can to keep this pipeline free and clear of the grime that thrives on the internet.

        You inspire me. Your determination has taught me a lesson to not give up…and believe me, I needed that lesson today!

      • Thank you Darlene!!!! Lots of love to you!

  2. This is so scary! How does a novice Blogger like myself go about protecting themselves?

    • are you on Twitter? Follow @luvvieig or @iluvvit – she broke it DOWN for newbies today! First things first, make sure your words are protected by Creative Commons or Copyscape!

  3. Wait, they steal your content and then lace it with profanity?! What in the world? And who has that kind of time?! So sorry that happened to you. I hope everything gets straightened out soon.

    • Thanks Toya….yup, they take what I say and make it like…it’s like reading those crazy spam things that make no sense. And every other word is a four letter one. Makes me ill.

  4. I still can’t get it on um PC, but I phone is fine. Sorry you had o go through this mess. It’s like the wild west out there in the Internet. Thankfully you have your team. Just keep keeping on! Hugs.

  5. Despite all of this, we know who the true and real Afrobella is!

  6. This is a terrible reminder of what a big, amorphous and sometimes scary place the internet is. Hang in there, sister. We recognize your true originality, integrity and general awesomeness. Keep shining!

  7. **hugs, slips you a cupcake** Sorry to hear this happened, dearie. You (and your brand) are stronger than even YOU know.

  8. A beautiful brand’s worst nightmare indeed. I have had my content stolen before and it is never a good feeling. It reminds me of a quote by Tupac Shakur: “America eats its babies…”

    We create things (like the Internet)thinking or fooling ourselves that it is for the greater good, without ever thinking about the ever circling vultures waiting to find an opening to malign it or take advantage…ususally at the expense of someone else.

    Breathe deep Afrobella. Your words are your essence, etched in time long after your departure, and ALWAYS WORTH FIGHTING FOR.

    RiaRob

  9. your husband and friends sound so wonderful!

    it is awful that you are experiencing that. it’s my worse nightmare. i know someone else who got hacked and lost every single piece of everything on their blog. i try to remember to back my site up every night because hackers are real.

    i’m glad you fixed the problem and are working to get those loosers off of your back. if i ever came to this site and it was down, i’d feel some kind of way! the interwebs with no afrobella? blasphemy!

    i’d probably just sit and stare at the screen until the site came back! :)

  10. The site is clean on my end.

    Thankfully, you have an awesome team (and husband) to help you out! *kudos on the Voltron reference*

    Maybe it’s a sign that you’re so awesome that it’s scaring the Team Rocket of hackers to annoy you.

    Either way, stay positive and keep doing you!

  11. Son of a bee sting!!! I hope you able to win this battle. Someone needs to get CUT!!!

  12. I’m glad that you decided to do something & I do agree that naming the site would only produce traffic to them. I also feel that it is misfortunate that there are companies / spammers out there that do THIS for a living. I was reading about how the largest SPAM company (is that even the right word?) is Russian based & the money that they gain is well over the fees that they are charged so they just simply keep on doing it…

    Don’t feel bad about having to make adjustments to your site. You are protecting yourself & also your readers & those who post here as well.

  13. I’ve been wondering what was going on. This morning your site was blocked at my job! I was so pissed, but it appears to be unblocked now *whew*.
    I hate that you are going through this mess. Folks just don’t how to leave well enough alone!!!
    You supporters are still here though and we’ll press on through the fire with you!

  14. Reading about this on twitter made me so mad (keeping this profanity free). Keep your head up and know that your brand is so strong. You have become iconic in the natural hair scene. Thank you and hugs! Keep doing what your doing.

  15. I am so sorry you have to deal with. Some of my fellow internet friends have experienced situations such as this and it just is emotionally taxing! I hope you are able to get to eh bottom of it.

  16. I feel for you. Because I know blogging is a labour of love for you and you do it so well. I pray To God that Jesus takes the wheel and sorts this all out for you.

    chin up dont stop onwards and upwards

  17. NMyChrysalis says:

    Honey, you’re imitated, but you are a true original who CANNOT be duplicated!!

    May peace and security roll over you today, this week, and always. Sending you much love and many (((((HUGS)))))!

  18. im glad that you did address the issue and took away power from these people who would do something so horrible like that….

  19. There must be something in the air. I woke up as a witness to having my Hotmail account hijacked in the wee hours of the morning. (China is the culprit here too.) Rogue mail was sent to my entire contact list of 300. And get this, Hotmail is preventing me from sending out a mass apology/warning because it limits the emails one can send in a day. Yes, this type of thing is frustrating, embarrassing, and time-consuming.

    Keep up the good fight. I appreciate your effort at staying steps-ahead of this madness!

  20. Sorry to hear about this. Your readers will keep coming back, though :)

  21. Bella my darling, we got you.

    We at Outlish went through this recently, and although I was completely familiar with the proceedure, it was trying for both myself and for Outlish editor, Karel McIntosh.

    It takes serious grit to withstand these assaults, but grit your teeth is exactly what you must do.

    I, for some reason, am remembering the midwife present when I gave birth. She said to me, “Bear down darling. Grit your teeth and bear down.”

  22. nycbritprgirl says:

    Dear Afrobella so sorry your site was under “siege” yesterday. No matter who trys to co-opt your pics, contents we will always know you will always know that you are an authentic writer who as you relayed during your #beblogalicious who “respects the craft of writing” so no one will ever be able to replicate what you have achieved thus far – we all love and support you!

  23. Hey Bella, much empathy on this end. I’ve had this issue through a blog roll service that went awry and Outlish got hacked pretty brutally earlier on.

    Your site is a wonderful, popular resource and that just seems to attract creeps to beat on it. I’m still getting malware warnings, so your work probably isn’t done, but understand what’s happening.

    People who can code but can’t create are having a grand old time with your work. It’s ugly and unpleasant, but it’s the way of the world. Your job is to be bold and undaunted in the pursuit of your passion. Get to it. We’re all cheering from the sidelines.

  24. Thanks for sharing this cautionary tale for all bloggers. But from a fellow blogger and woman to another, one day down won’t impact your real fan base and followers. What doesn’t kill you makes you just strong enough to start kicking a** and taking names. Kudos to you for being in the game.

  25. Prayed like a mother yesterday and today for you my dear. Thanks for sharing and using the opportunity to teach. I can’t even imagine, but so happy that all is well once again. And on that other matter as you do your do diligence, just turn it over to God. he is so available to you!

    Peace and Love
    Tynisha

  26. Regarding that Chinese site. That’s all fine that you won’t lose your fan base, but do not rest until you get them offline. Do not let them profit off of your hard work!

  27. That is TERRIBLE! I’m so sorry that happened to you and I sincerely hope these people’s hard drives and servers crash the next time they set mouse click on your site to cause you any harm…GRRR!

    But in other news, keep up the great work, your site is very high quality and quite lovely!

  28. I’m sorry that this behaviour has to be a testament to your work to know that your doing the darn thing.I offer my appreciation and admiration up to you and you’re work from the other side of the coin. Stick with that determination to see this through. And kudos for having a team and knowing that as women, no matter what we think, we can’t always do it alone.

    Let go of that “brand” fear. Look at it as you are now Brand New…woot woot!

  29. I’m really sorry this is happening to you. It’s amazing that with all the technology in the world, there will always be some that use if for nefarious means.

  30. Whew! I’m glad you shared all of this. I saw the malicious message when I visited the other day and after I saw this blog heading I figured you’ve done something about it. The very next day after you were hacked, my gmail suffered as well! I’m still fuming, b/c everyone in my contacts list was spammed. I printed and erased all my contacts and am hesitant to use my primary email account. Mad is just the tip of it. (Of course I also changed by password.)

    Keep on keepin’ on, girlie!!!

  31. paintgurl40 says:

    I can imagine how that must have felt! No wonder I had problems when I tried to copy and paste something you stated in your post. To have labored and thought out what you wrote only to have some low life make a mockery out of your work…that’s what’s bad about the internet. People have no boundaries. Anyway, I’m glad you and your team were able to handle it quickly and keep up the good work. They can steal on your blog but they can’t steal what’s inside your head.

  32. Yuck..sorry to hear this. Another premiere website in the natural hair world had something similarly disturbing. Some how her traffic was being steered to another website with a similar spelling of the domain name. Similarly it was an asian site. Not to bash Asians but I understand there is a growing movement in some asian countries to learn more about creativity and I hope it works because “copying” and distorting is not the way to produce anything of value.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings. It may be that groups of bloggers will have to come together and start filing lawsuits.

  33. We love you Bella…stay strong and know that karma is a beast.

  34. Hey Bella!

    Girl I feel your pain! Hackers are RUTHLESS and they absolutely do things like this just because they can. All of your readers support you no matter what

    Hang in there mama…. ;-)

  35. Bella as a blog celeb you are a target for the copycats who envy your fame and ability and want to have sites like yours without doing all the hard work that you do and are doing. All of your devoted fans are in your corner and you will survive! And get even stronger! Stay bright, upbeat and focussed and all will get better. Hugs to you and your team.

  36. So glad you are back up and running! It is pitiful that people hack for a living – just for the joy of disabling a site for a few hours or a few days. So glad to hear you have a supportive army of a tech team to help you through it all.

    I so feel you pain with the site stealing your content and photos. It happens to me a lot, but most of it is on those ad sites and I do not bother with it. Most of them seem to leave the world wide web as fast as they appeared.

    What really bothers me though, is that when a blogger “friend” actually steals my images, or takes my words and adds a few of her own to make her post “original” which it is so not. It is funny to even see when typos are copied and pasted. Not so funny though, is like I said – this is supposedly a blogger friend, who is making a name for herself in other parts of the business, but it all started with a blog. I only know my own content, but I bet she takes from others as well, and it really breaks my heart. Especially now since I am the one in the tough spot of figuring out how to deal with it.

    I guess what I am trying to say, is that while all internet theft is wrong in the worst way, when it is done by someone we know, it is worse. Hard as I am sure it is, I would much rather be dealing with a site in China, than with someone I know.

  37. Dad and Mom says:

    You are on top of your game and the world is watching and learning quite a lot from you right now. The important thing is that you did not just lie dowm, you fought back…….. and you will survive and thrive. You are a winner, a pioneer and a trail blazer. We hug you all the time because we love you and have great faith in your ability to overcome.
    Nothing can stop you and good, generally speaking, always conquers evil.
    May the good Lord continue to bless, inspire and protect you and give you the fortitude and wisdom to press on, regardless.
    Love always,
    D&M

  38. I tried to log on yesterday and got the red screen of death. The hackers have me in Antoine Dodson mode, “you are so dumb..for real.”

  39. Jahmekyagyal says:

    Hey… red screen of death still there… I came in anyway. I love your blog and I love your Mom and Dad for posting that! Soooo sweet… reminds me of something mine would do… well they’d call, cos Daddy not really offay with the internets… but they’d do that!

  40. Arlen Kronstedt says:

    I think this web site contains very wonderful pent written content posts.

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  1. [...] ad money. This is the reason why I have my logo displayed on all of my videos. Additionally, Afrobella made a blog post about plagiarism recently as well which started to make me think that this is beginning to be a problem. So, I just [...]

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