Monday, January 2, 2017

Bad Reviews Land Man in Jail

Reviews of Generational Equity
Everybody will agree that they are not fond of bad reviews, but there was one company in Dallas who went out of their way to make sure that the negative reviewer of their service is in jail.

According to The Dallas Morning News, a jury will decide if it's a matter of free speech or a crime.

William Laurence Stanley was charged last 6 December in federal court in Dallas with a crime for his blog posts about Generational Equity, a Dallas merger and acquisitions company he once did work for. That's because Stanley was convicted last year of extorting the company. Stanley had threatened to ruin the firm's reputation by flooding the internet with false and negative information unless it paid him about US$ 29,500.

He's now charged with retaliation.

Stanley, who owned a "search engine optimization," or SEO business, said he was released from federal custody on 4 November. He said he wrote the controversial posts about Generational Equity prior to that, from a halfway house. He was arrested on 30 November and charged with the new offense after Generational Equity complained to the FBI about the online reviews.

The company says the posts have already cost it about US$ 75,000 in lost sales, and that it could potentially lose an additional $50,000 per day, according to an FBI complaint.

Stanley, 54, says he was exercising his right to free speech and that everything he wrote about the company is true. He vowed to seek a trial and mount a First Amendment defense.

"This is America and you cannot shut up someone that is speaking the truth," Stanley wrote "The Dallas Morning News" from prison via an email service.

But not all online comments are protected by the Constitution. Legal experts say it comes down to whether statements are based on opinion or stated as fact. The indictment says Stanley posted "false and derogatory comments and reviews online" about Generational Equity in retaliation for the company reporting a crime to federal authorities.

One of the things Stanley wrote was that Generational Equity paid him for "black hat SEO work" against some of its competitors, according to the complaint. He says the company is engaging in illegal activities that he is trying to expose.

"I have no regrets about the blog, and I feel vindicated that I was able to tell the truth, finally," Stanley said.

His trial is scheduled for February.

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