It is official: OB Rag technical staff have determined that there is a well-knowledgeable troll who has recently intentionally impersonated the emails of OB Rag staff and used them in comments to articles in order to cause dissension among the staff and to discredit staff to the readers of the OB Rag.
The most recent impersonation was of well-known OB Rag restaurant reviewer, Judi Curry, with a comment made using Judi’s email address and avatar to a post regarding a petition calling for justice for Tamir Rice, the 12-year old African-American youth gunned down by a white police officer in Ohio.
The comment disparaged Tamir Rice and his parents in their efforts to find justice and read, in part:
Point anything, at any age, at anyone, and you get what you deserve. Let’s see a petition against Tamirs parents for “failure to demonstrate adequate supervision”. No tears for Tamir here.
And because the comment carried Judi Curry’s avatar – a small head shot of her – several readers reacted to the comment as if it had been written by her – and responded in not too kind words (which have since been removed). One comment stated that she should stick to food reviews. Others faulted her for lack of morals, etc.
Yet, perhaps due to the holiday craze, this was not picked up by OB Rag staff until days later after the comment disparaging Tamir Rice had been made. Once notified of the comment, Patty – the OB Rag techie – determined that the comment was not from Judi, but from someone else entirely. A troll, a flame, she told other staff members, someone deliberating trying to cause dissension among the staff and discredit individual staff members, she told us.
This impersonation of Curry was the third polished effort to impersonate OB Rag staff.
The first was of editor Frank Gormlie – when a very sarcastic comment appearing to come from him – was made to an article posted by another staff member. However, the comment was caught before it was posted online.
The second impersonation was made of another well-known writer for the OB Rag – who shall remain nameless in order to protect their privacy – ; a comment appearing to come from them was made to an article by Frank Gormlie, disparaging Gormlie, his lifestyle and residence. It was posted because it carried the email address of the other writer. Gormlie at first considered the comment as a type of inside-joke, until it was determined that it was not a genuine comment, that it was another impersonation.
Two impersonation? Maybe a coincidence. But three? No, that’s a trend, and an intentional and deliberate trend at that. All three of the impersonations have occurred within the last 3 to 4 months.
It is now clear that a troll is impersonating OB Rag staff in comments to online posts in order to discredit staff members with readers and to cause dissension among the staff. Some of the impersonations reflect some knowledge of the staff members who are being impersonated, which indicates some research and poking around of staff backgrounds.
Judi – once told about the impersonation – was very upset and told us:
I received a call today about a comment I supposedly made re: Justice for 12 year old Tamara Rice. The comment was nasty; prejudicial; and 180 degrees away from my feelings re: this injustice. To make matters worse, my picture accompanied the comment. I am absolutely outraged. NEVER would I make the comments alleged to be mine. Someone hacked into my account and lifted my address and avatar. This is a complete feeling of violation.
To further reiterate what is happening, Patty stated:
These comments where someone is impersonating one of our staff are being done in order to discredit us and cause dissension not only between us and our readers but each other. Although these comments may be posted initially we will remove them once we discover them.
She also has a plea to our readers:
If any reader sees a comment that is totally out of character for one of our staff please let us know so we can investigate.
And that reader can contact us in confidence at our official email address:
We have to ask, why would anyone do this? Perhaps it’s more than one troll. But their aim is the same. Cause dissension and discredit.
The OB Rag has made a number of enemies over the years, and we have certainly received our share of crazy, nut-case, right-wing, or racist comments that disparage others humanity that are left to our articles. Most by far are caught by staff and never make it to the internet. Some do, however.
In terms of enemies, however, that we have recently made, the OB Rag has certainly stirred up SeaWorld supporters – and allies of a local hotel empire – who have taken us on by name.
Plus, over the last several years we have been notably supportive of SeaWorld critics; we ran a series on each of the captive Orcas; we publicize protests, etc.
Just to be clear: we have no direct proof that these impersonations of OB Rag staff have been made by SeaWorld supporters or staff or any hotel staff or allies.
But someone is pissed off enough to deliberately disrupt the OB Rag and its staff with these impersonations. Their comments reflect research into the backgrounds of the staff members and a certain level of tech capability.
We’ll stay vigilante – and we ask our readers to do so as well.