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

West Shore woman’s dog found in Colwood more than two weeks after going missing

Isla went missing on March 10 and was found 17 days later

Saanich police ticket two speeders before 9 a.m., Saturday

Officers still actively enforcing road safety amid COVID-19 pandemic

PHOTOS: Painted fence in Langford shows thanks for essential workers amid COVID-19

Community members finding unique ways to show their appreciation

Duncan man asks community to donate RVs to essential workers in need of quarantine

Ryan Oakley creates a Facebook group to help coordinate the effort

Antibody tests could be the next step in fighting COVID-19, Island doctor says

The blood test could show if a person is recovering or has recovered from the virus

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

Most Read