Topic: Views

Reputation industry Views

Threatening to Post Sex Video to Facebook Isn’t a True Threat 0

Two post-Elonis cases show divergent approaches to true threat and harassment jurisprudence.

Harrell v. State (Georgia): Harrell was charged and convicted of attempting to intimidating a court officer and animal cruelty. Apparently, he was charged with some violations as a landlord and did not appear, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He reached out to two superior court clerks and tried to “persuade” them to withdraw the warrant for his failure to appear. The entire factual recitation of what Harrell was alleged to have done is worth quoting in full:

[T]he evidence showed that . . . [o]n April 29, 2013, Harrell placed messages on the internet site Facebook that referred to Dodge County Superior Court Clerk Rhett Walker and Deputy Chief Clerk Tammy Graham. One post threatened that if the bench warrant was not lifted, Harrell would post an internet link to a video which he claimed showed Graham engaging in sexual activity with Harrell and two other men; no such video existed. Harrell also posted a claim that Graham had lied to the court regarding whether Harrell had been served with notice of a hearing regarding the accusation that he violated the duties of a landlord . . . . In another post, Harrell listed Walker’s personal cell phone number and urged readers to call Walker to tell him to leave Harrell alone while he was “on the run,” and thus not ruin Harrell’s “chicken foot eating victory.” Harrell also initiated telephone communication with Walker in an attempt to persuade him to lift the bench warrant, saying that if he did not do so by a certain date, Harrell would “turn [Walker’s] world upside down,” and that “you know what will happen on Facebook.”

At trial, evidence was also presented that on April 15, 2013, Harrell left two voice mail messages intended for Shirley Webb, Harrell’s former girlfriend and the mother of two of Harrell’s children. In one message, Harrell stated that he was Sid Carter, Webb’s current boyfriend, was placing the call from the cell phone of Harrell’s son, and referred to a “dead pussy” in Webb’s mailbox. In the other message, Harrell implied that he intended to upload pornographic videos of Webb to an internet site. That same day, Carter, who lived with Webb, found a dead cat in their mailbox when he checked the mail. As Carter called 911 from his cell phone to report the dead cat, Harrell drove by the house, slowed down considerably, rolled down a window, and pointed at the mailbox containing the dead cat before driving away. Carter and Webb later found an animal trap on a portion of Harrell’s property which adjoined Webb’s.


Harrell was charged under a statute that prohibited anyone from:

Endeavor[ing] to intimidate or impede any grand juror or trial juror or any officer in or of any court of this state or any court of any county or municipality of this state or any officer who may be serving at any proceeding in any such court while in the discharge of such juror’s or officer’s duties.

The court says that under Virginia v. Black, states may criminalize true threats, which it says are defined as statements where the speaker intends to create a fear of bodily harm. Under this standard, none of Harrell’s statements qualified. His posts to the Facebook group “DixieMafia,” while embarrassing and even caustic, did not intend to place anyone in fear of harm. Nor did the putative victims testify that they were placed in any fear of harm as a result of his statements. While the statute also prohibits someone from “impeding” a court officer, Harrell was not charged with this. And the court intimates that given his speech was not unprotected, nor could he have been.

As to the animal cruelty charge, the court says it was improperly joined with the intimidation charge. This court reverses, but notes that he can be retried for it.

Case citation: Harrell v. State, 2015 Ga. LEXIS 694, *1 (Ga. Oct. 5, 2015) [pdf]

People v. Murillo (California): Murillo was an aspiring rap star apparently. He was friends with Villalpando, who was convicted of several counts of unlawful sex with a minor (from his conduct with two different minors). Murillo posted messages to his Facebook account about a song he wrote and performed (titled “Moment for Life Remix”).

The song stated that he missed Villalpando. It also referenced the two victims by first name and described the girls as “hoes”. He went on to say:

[T]hese b#$* caught him [Villalpando] slipping
Then they fucking snitching
I’m f*$& all these b*#$
Hunting down all these snitches
Shit you know we have no fear
I’ll have your head just like a dear
It will be hanging on my wall . . .
You’re going to be laying on that bed
Cuz im coming for your head b(*#$

Murillo’s high school dean apparently put pressure on Murillo to remove the song. In response, Murillo said the dean was a “dumb ass” and . . . “805 hoes on blast lol”.

One of the victims saw the link, listened to the song, was frightened, and complained to her mom and ultimately to law enforcement. [The song was downloaded 1,089 times and played 23,468 times.]

The magistrate preliminarily reviewed the charges and found that there was no “willful threat to use force” against either of the victims. The California Court of Appeals disagrees. The court notes that the underlying threat statute has been construed to cover threatening statements “that a reasonable listener would understand” as a threat. In the circumstances, the court says that a reasonable listener could have understood “Moment of Life Remix” to embody threats to the two victims. The court noted that it requested briefing in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Elonis but both parties agreed that since Elonis ultimately relied on statutory interpretation to determine the minimum mens rea required under the federal threat statute, it was not relevant.

Case citation: People v. Murillo, 238 Cal. App. 4th 1122 (Ca At. App. 2015) [pdf]


Harrell cited Virginia v. Black for the proposition that true threat requires subjective intent to make a threat. It does not mention Elonis. (Some state courts hew to the view that Black requires intent but numerous others do not.) Murillo does not mention Virginia v. Black and says that Elonis is not relevant to the question of whether the subjective or the objective test applies. The different legal standards cause sharply different results.

There’s an argument to be made that while Elonis did not rule that negligent is insufficient as a matter of First Amendment law, it still relied on general principles of criminal culpability, and those would be relevant in determining the mens rea required under a state statute. The EFF and ACLU of Southern California make this and other arguments in an amicus letter. (See “EFF Urges California Supreme Court to Hear a Bad Rap Lyrics Case“.)

Regardless of the outcome, these cases show the minimal direct effect of Elonis on state law prosecutions for threatening speech. It fizzled as a First Amendment case in this regard.

Related posts:

Court Rejects First Amendment Challenge Against Cyberharassment Charge

Criminal Harassment Charges Survive First Amendment Challenge, Even Without The Threat of Personal Injury

Appeals Court Affirms Harassment Order Based on Vague Testimony of Indirect Contacts

Facebook Complaints About Boss’s Creepy Hands Can’t Salvage Retaliation/Harassment Claims

Landlord May Be Liable When A Tenant’s Facebook Harassment Leads To A Rape (Forbes Cross-Post)

Facebook Posting That Someone Has Herpes Is Criminal Harassment–Pennsylvania v. Cox

New Jersey Appeals Court Reverses Anti-Harassment Order Based on Emails – E.L. v. R.L.M

What Do Soymilk and Nutella Have to Do With an Online Harassment Case?–Taylor v. Texas

Posting Family Photos to Facebook With Snarky Comments Isn’t Harassment of Family Member — Olson v. LaBrie

Employee Wins Harassment Claim Based in Part on Co-Workers’ Offsite Blog Posts–Espinoza v. Orange

Unregulating Online Harassment Essay

Yahoo Wins Online Harassment Case Under 47 USC 230

University Cannot Discipline Student for Off-Campus Tweets

Sisterly Online Squabbling Isn’t Criminal Stalking–People v. Selinger

School District Wrongly Disciplined Student for a Two Word Tweet

When Can Defendants Defeat A Criminal Threat Prosecution By Claiming They Were Joking? Not Often

North Carolina Cyber-Bullying Statute Survives First Amendment Challenge

Federal Criminal “True Threats” Require More Than Negligence–Elonis v. U.S.

Court Rejects Bizarre Attempt To Scrub Consumer Review–Goren v. Ripoff Report

Court Says Uber and Lyft Drivers May be Employees

Source: Goldman Legal

Millennial Expectations and Search Behavior Trends with Google’s Gary Illyes 0

Millennial Expectations and Search Behavior Trends with Google’s Gary Illyes was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Getting to know millennials has been a hot topic at Pubcon Las Vegas 2015. Everyone’s talking about millennials, including Google’s Gary Illyes (who’s a millennial himself!). He took the stage to deliver the grand finale keynote, and he’s going to tell us how Google is thinking about millennials and how they’re shaping the future of search.

Generation Y and Z Millennials

gary-illyes-pubcon-keynoteGeneration Y Fast Facts

  • Born between 1980 and 2000
  • Grew up with changing technology
  • Quite educated
  • Always connected
  • Social
  • Firsthand experience with instability

(Illyes is part of this generation.)

These people are:

  • Egocentric
  • Independent
  • Confident
  • Open to change
  • Needy
  • Impatient
  • Have a short attention span


You can learn everything about this millennial group. All their information is on Instagram, Facebook, etc. They love selfies, even though they are not the “selfie generation.”

  • 46% of millennials are interested in starting and running a small biz.
  • 35% of employees have started their own business on the side to compensate their income.
  • 2/3 of them want to create a positive impact on their local communities.
  • 40% believe they are capable of global impact.

In 2000, the average attention span was 10 seconds. In 2013 it was 8 seconds. How long is the attention span of today’s Generation Z? Read on.

Generation Z Fast Facts

  • Born between 1995 and now
  • Born into a crisis period
  • Highly educated
  • Highly connected
  • Less “social”

This is the selfie generation. They, too, are egocentric. They are also:

  • Independent
  • Open to change
  • Needy
  • Impatient
  • Have short attention spans (an estimated 2.8 seconds)


Connecting with Generations Y and Z

These two generations are very similar. They will abandon your site without thought. If you don’t provide the information they’re looking for (and they know precisely what they’re looking for), they will leave. If you don’t pay attention to their unique personalities, they will leave your site. If your site loads too slowly, they will leave your site.

Google cares very much about the user. And Google wants to fulfill all their expectations. As proof, Illyes shows a list of search features and updates they’ve launched to move forward Google’s ability to serve users:

  • The Mobile-Friendly Update
  • Google Now (an assistant that needs more work and requires input from the user)
  • App indexing
  • Now on Tap (on Android, if you’re inside an app, you can long-press the home button and get information on the context from within the app)
  • Voice search (you can ask a succession of questions and each subsequent query builds on top of the previous context)
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP, just launched yesterday)

Many more launches to help the users are coming.


Image from Think With Google’s “Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile”

Search is becoming location-aware. If you’re in front of a restaurant and you ask your phone, “What are the opening times?” Google will answer, knowing which restaurant you’re in front of. Google’s goal is to build the personal assistant (think of the movie “Her” but less creepy).

Here’s a practical tip for making your content useful for the Generation Z millennial audience. Use callouts or bubbles to highlight part of a sentence that answers the specific question that got your user to that page. Users don’t read whole articles anymore (remember their abbreviated attention span?). Users need quick, bite-size morsels of information on the page that they can consume really fast. If you can also add the question, that is great, too.

If your site doesn’t load in 2.8 seconds (the length of Gen Z’s attention span) then Gen Z will leave your site.

Make users feel special and make life easier for them. Something like autocompleting their information on your forms is going to stick with them as something awesome about you that they want to come back for.


  • Create original content with care (shocking?!).
  • Make sure users can find the information fast. It should be easy to find with a quick scroll.
  • Offer bite-size information where possible, or at least highlight important parts of content.
  • Leave your community up — Don’t remove comments, forums, user-generated content (UGC), and so forth, but do moderate the community’s content. UGC is great for your site unless it’s spammy or low-quality.


  • Construct your pages for search — A page that’s not designed for users will hurt you most with your users, because they won’t like it, hit the back button and leave you.
  • Optimize for information you don’t have.
  • Send all your visitors to other sites (referring to affiliate sites).
  • Rely solely on widely available data — You’re not the first to think of aggregating lyrics or listing all the phone numbers. If you’re in that business, you have to provide more.

How many of you ask this question at the end of the day: How many visitors have I had today? That’s the wrong question. You want to ask: How many visitors did I help today?

Q&A with Gary Illyes

Question: Is it important to remove thin content for the Panda penalty?

Panda isn’t a penalty. Removing thin content will just decrease your ranking even more. You want to overwhelm the site with thick content to satisfy users’ desire for information. If you have poor content and spammy UGC, feel free to remove it. Spending time assessing what’s thin content on your site? Instead, spend it creating rich content users will love.

Question: What’s going on with the local pack’s constantly fluctuating state?

They’re trying to remove stuff users don’t interact with. You may see lots of experiments where a feature or component is on the SERP one day and not the next; that’s a “one-percent experiment.”

Question: Google is good at understanding keyword intent. Why can’t Google get good at resolving NAP consistency issues for local SEO?

Gary says it’s good feedback and a good idea he’ll bring back to the team.

Question: Negative SEO campaigns — are they effective and what’s Google doing to get rid of them?

He’s looked at a dozen supposed negative SEO cases and he didn’t see one that was actually a problem with negative SEO. It was always something else. If you see something weird, put it in a disavow file.

Question: Any Search Console changes we should look out for?

Google is working on updating the indexes feature. Index data more accurate, more useful, and probably also more examples of what URLs Google has indexed. Other than that, they’re also looking at bringing rich snippets into analytics data. And they want to figure out how to present the numbers, because they can be very twisted. It’s quarters away.

Question: Any update on referrer spam in analytics?

No. He doesn’t work in analytics. The analytics team knows about it and is working on it.

Question: Scraped content — how much of a problem is it for the original website?

Illyes thinks they do pretty good determining the content creator and serving that version over scrapers. Sometimes it doesn’t work. If you are outranked by a scraper, in most cases there’s something holding back your site.

Question: There used to be monthly webmaster updates and the search community loved it. Why not start that back up?

People were literally dissecting every single word and coming up with theories of how it affected their rankings and it had no effect. People were focusing on things that they shouldn’t. Search is not that complicated. There are a few basic rules that, if you follow them, will help you rank pretty well. People liked the updates, but we also got way more questions and the overall quality of pages in the U.S. declined several points. When we stopped those updates, the quality climbed back up. You are SEOs. You are doing a great job promoting content. Concentrate on that.

Editor’s Addendum: Millennials in Context

Back at the BCI offices, Pubcon livebloggers Kristi Kellogg and Virginia Nussey came across this SNL skit emphasizing some of the millennial characteristics Illyes describes. It may add some context to the conversation. Or just a chuckle. 😉

Source: bruceclay

Remove Defamatory or Offensive Web Posts On Sites Like 0

Remove Rip off Report legal

If you or your business has ever had anything posted about it on a website like,,,,,, or other complaint boards, it is embarrassing and frustrating to say the least.

Remove Rip off Report legal

Remove Rip off Report legal

The worst part about it is that even if the information in a post is blatantly FALSE and DEFAMATORY or concerns PRIVATE LIFE, section 230 of the Communication Decency Act (“CDA”) provides website owners a complete legal defense for the content posted by third parties and no obligation to take it down. Ripoffreport (, for example, has a policy that it will never take down content that is posted on its site under any circumstances. In the vast majority of circumstances, lawsuits against the company are useless. Luckily, I’d like to reveal a proven way that you can remove unwanted content from the internet so that it will NEVER SHOW UP IN SEARCH ENGINE RESULTS. The method for doing this is completely different than SEO techniques that only bury the content or paying off websites through “corporate advocacy programs” (that are really just “extortion”).

So what’s the secret?

File a lawsuit and get an order from a court for an injunction for the de-listing of the content from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Here are the steps:

  1. Consult with an attorney and file a lawsuit against the original author for whatever claims you have against them in connection with the posting of the report (defamation, disparagement, invasion of privacy, conspiracy, tortious interference). Make sure your claims are legitimate. For example, truth is an absolute defense to defamation lawsuits.
  2. Win your case or obtain an agreement with the person you sue for a stipulated settlement.
  3. Obtain a court order for the de-listing of the offending post from search engines.
  4. Present the court order to the search engines.
  5. Wait for the search engines to respond. Once they do the content will not show up in search engine results again! Search engines provide this service at no cost. So the only costs are from litigation and court expenses.