This page will highlight some of the damage and harm done to the lives of individuals, families, youth and communities because of destructive use of anonymous Topix forums and the refusal of Topix to create safeguards which curb and minimize the damage to others.
We will share stories which others permit us to publish, results of surveys and other information which we hope will humanize the destructive impact that attacks on Topix Forums have had on real lives.
There was a time when I was told that the REPORT ABUSE button next to a Topix post was basically ignored. In those days, you clicked on that button and there was no feedback (ie - it did give you any reason to believe that the button was even active). It was if Topix was really putting their thumb in your face and saying 'tough cookies'. There was a later time when I heard that they had to have that button clicked by 3 separate IP addresses, before they checked it, but that still, unless it was an obvious threat of violence or a link to porn, that you would never have it taken down. I came to believe that this would be like an incurable disease that I would just have to live with forever. That was until I encountered others - many others. And I realized that, what was happening to all of us didn't need to happen. That we did not have to live with what had been done to us in a moment of anger or revenge by another person for the rest of our lives. I also realized that long after the poster's intentions wore off, that the damage of the post kept pressing on as more and more people read it. Topix continued to profit on traffic pulled in by my name.
I hope that this page will help everyone to have a clearer picture that there are real human beings whose lives have forever been negatively altered simply because Topix runs a website that allows the creation of fake news and that this damage, whether to adults or children, is real, it is personal and most importantly, it is avoidable.
If you are a TOPIX VICTIM, please consider honestly filling out our CONFIDENTIAL TOPIX VICTIMS IMPACT SURVEY
Our hope is that lawmakers, media and perhaps Topix investors will use the information to take appropriate action but we can only do this with your feedback.
One of the things that our older surveys confirmed what that the majority of Topix victims are not even Topix regulars, quashing the retort that if people didn't like it they should just leave. Most victims never came there in the first place but were PUT there by someone who wanted to attack them.
A new survey was created in October 2011. To vote in the new survey click here. Your feedback is anonymous. Results are now updated as of February 1, 2012. One of the most disturbing trends that we are seeing is one away from people's confidence in online information. Respondents are all beginning to assume that online news may be fake, unarchived, and unreliable. Also, the number of regular Topix users is being replaced by those who know little or nothing about it.
1) Age of victims
2) Types of attacks
3) Ways that the abusive post was treated by search engines
4) Assumptions that victims had about news companies
5) Time frame for the abusive Topix post
6) Impact on Topix victims
7) Victims prior knowledge of Topix before they were attacked there
8) Understanding of Topix by those who had heard of it prior to being abused on it
9) Topix abuse victims TRUST of Topix
Our original victims impact survey was closed in October 2011. Below are the final results of the old survey:1) After asking Topix to delete a post respondents reported:
51 % of requests were not honored. Of those which were honored 58% required multiple requests for Topix to delete the posts.
2) Those whose request was honored waited an average of 8 weeks for that request to be fulfilled, down from 9 weeks since August 1st.
3) 81 % of Topix abuse complaints involved a persons real name being in the title
4) 73% of the time, respondents reported that the Topix post was coming up with their name was used in web searches. This is up from June, when the percentage was about two thirds.
5) 23% of the time, the Topix post was about a minor child
6) On average, respondents said that the Topix post was on Topix for 11 months either prior to being deleted or, if not yet deleted, up to today. This is down from 14 months as of June. This means that posts which are deleteriously affecting people's lives are sitting on Topix for just under a year.
7) HALF OF THE PEOPLE who responded LOST THEIR JOB.
8) 76 % reported hate or prejudice by other people (off the internet) as a result of what was posted about them on Topix
9) 89 % of people feared being stalked in real life
10) 97 % suffered emotional distress, lost sleep, had eating issues, etc
11) 65 % needed counseling
12) 82 % lost some sort of community participation such as inability to coach their child's team or volunteer as a room parent, expulsion from PTA, etc
13) A whopping 57% were victims of some sort of hate crime (vandalism, prank calls/email, etc) because of what was posted on Topix.
14) Prior to being attacked on Topix, victims of Topix understanding of Topix was as follows:
29 % had never heard of Topix
25 % had heard of Topix but didn't use Topix or had maybe used it once or twice
6 % were registered active users
15) Of victims who had heard of Topix, their understanding of the site was as follows:
5 % t6ought it to be a valid national news site
47 % thought it to be a local news site for their town
32 % thought it to be an opinion or blogging site
41 % knew it as a slander/bash site
We receive hundreds of hits per week to this site, resulting from searches on terms such as "How Do I Get My Name off Topix", "Who Moderates Topix", "Sue Topix", "Cyberbullying Topix", "Close Down Topix", "End Topix", "Remove Topix Post", "Remove Comments from Topix" and more. We also get regular emails from victims, who have been suddenly thrust online by someone who KNEW that Topix would be a good place to harm someone. The stories for me are strongest because victims tend not to be Topix users and so they are surprised at how easily they could be attacked and at how prominent (ie - search engines find it) the post against them is. We have dozens of businesses which have been harmed, from California to Georgia and quite a few people who have actually lost their jobs because of what was written about them on Topix.
Even more sadly we have children who have been attacked and cyberbullied, and in more than one case, we have children who actually died and who were then attacked (or their parents attacked) on Topix. In one case, a distraught mother went to Topix looking for help and eventually ended up killing herself and her three children. We have lots and lots and lots of local mud slinging, accusations of private affairs and infidelities and just plain fake news stories about someone being a rapist, child molester or murderer which have ravaged the community lives of dozens and dozens of people.
In other cases, very young children's names and addresses are posted on Topix, terrifying parents for the safety of their child. We have mentally challenged children being mocked on the site and dozens of cases of teenage cyberbullying. Topix answer to this has been to create links on its page for school administrators to provide feedback, as if they have the time to police Topix website and to create cyberbullying links, which it is highly unlikely will create a deterrent.
The list stretches far and wide. If Topix were just a little local blog site then perhaps it wouldn't matter so much. But Topix is a powerful news aggregator which lists real legitimate news from real news sources right alongside totally fake made up posts and stories about people, posted by others who want to harm. And because Topix neither requires registration (a deterrent against abusive posting) nor pre-moderates posts, their very small group of moderators take anywhere from three days to never to delete all of the abusive posts.