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.

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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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