The 6 Most Disastrous Attempts at Internet Damage Control

#3. A Magazine Steals From, Then Blames, the Internet

Once upon a time, journalism student Monica Gaudio wrote a pretty kick ass recipe for an apple pie. She posted it on the iInternet, and later it appeared in a magazine called Cooks Source. That sounds like a freelance writer success story, until you realize that nobody at the magazine asked her if they could publish it, and they didn't pay her a dime.

Above: Plagiarism. Or bondage. We're really not sure what the difference is.

Gaudio sent a polite e-mail to the editor of Cooks Source asking that she remove the article from the online version of the magazine and make a small goodwill donation of $130 to the Columbia School of Journalism in lieu of, you know, paying her.

The editor of Cooks Source had a lot of options for making this go away -- for instance, by offering to pay some token amount for the use of the article. The editor, Judith Griggs, instead replied with one of the worst emails ever.

Seriously, people, it is never ever worth responding to the Internet.

The Backfire:

Griggs' response, in part:

"... the Web is considered "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it."

Above: Public Domain.

Holy shit! The "public domain" part is awesome on its own (we're going to start streaming Netflix movies onto Cracked and charge people for that shit). But Griggs wasn't done being an unthinkable bitch:

"You as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally ... We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me!"

Artist's representation: Judith Griggs.

Wow. At this point we can't tell if Griggs is insane, or thought she was auditioning for the part of an 80s movie villain. It was like she stole someone's car and then sent them a bill for the gas she put in it on her way to Mexico.

As you can imagine, Gaudio was pretty pissed. But she wasn't alone.

The Fallout:

The Internet went into meltdown. The Cooks Source Facebook and Twitter page were flooded with thousands of angry comments, with eagle-eyed viewers quickly finding dozens of other cases of plagiarism, all of which were posted immediately on the Facebook page for all to see. When the viewers got bored of finding real cases of theft, they simply began making shit up.

Finally, Griggs was forced to respond to try to put out the fire:

"Well, here I am with egg on my face! I did apologise to Gaudio via email, but apparently it wasn't enough for her."

"Look, I've apologized for putting arsenic in the catnip, but it's really your fault for getting Mr. Jiggles addicted to drugs."

Yes. That's so amazing that we'd actually read a magazine based entirely around Griggs trying to apologize to people. She'll have time -- Cooks Source magazine was forced to shut down under the torrent of complaints and fleeing advertisers.

#2. Golden Beach Hotel Gets Orwellian with User Reviews

Adrian Healey simply wanted a quiet weekend at the seaside with his girlfriend, Sherrie, after being diagnosed with cancer 18 months prior. Two days into Healey's stay, the furious hotel manager burst into his room and threw both him and his girlfriend out onto the street before calling the police.

According to Healey, all he did wrong was ask for an extra towel. According to the hotel manager, he was thrown out for "abusing staff and breaking a rule not to eat hot food in the rooms."

Oh, and incidentally, he had written a negative review of the hotel online.

"Mua ha ha!"

The Backfire:

There are two sides of the story here and while it seems weird that the management would react so badly to a negative Internet review, if you look at you see that the manager apparently sifts through the bad reviews and posts rebuttals insisting the reviewer is lying ("what a load of nonesense... all guests enjoyed the wkend entertainment and the hotel facilities."). When one woman complained that she found hair in her food, management replied, " This lady went back for seconds at breakfast i remeber her clearly... the fact that she cleaned her plate and had seconds speaks for itself." Then you have the flat-out "screw you" rebuttals ("If it was os bad you should have checked out , all other guests where more then happy . If this guest truly felt so bad no one was forceing them to stay!!!").

But the most common management response? Talking about how the guest was forcefully removed for bad behavior, or in one case telling a negative reviewer she wasn't allowed to ever stay there again.

It's a little something called business acument, assholes.

So, yeah, he doesn't take criticism well.

The Fallout:

If you clicked the link at the beginning, you'll see that came from a local paper describing just how much of a dick the manager was. And now here's one all the way from America. Really compelling stories featuring an easily hateable villain have a way of spreading, and tales of the Golden Beach Hotel's shittiness spread 5,000 miles.

But keep rebutting those reviews, guys! You'll win eventually!

Next up: Octopus wrestling.

#1. Digg Rebels Against the MPAA

The conventional wisdom is if you can't get absolute control over a new electronic medium, then you'll never profit from it. Thus companies pour money into making products and media hack proof, which due to human nature, just makes people want to hack them more (See: the guy who hacked the iPad 24 hours after it was released).

So once upon a time HD-DVD was competing with Blu-ray to be the new HD movie format. But a hacker known as Muslix64 was disappointed to find that his extremely expensive HD-DVD equipment wouldn't work with his expensive TV unless he bought the even more expensive cable the HD-DVD company demanded.

Taking matters into his own hands, he managed to find and pinpoint the encryption key on the discs that enabled him to strip the protection and use the format with any device.

The trouble came when he leaked the encryption key online so that anyone with the same problem could easily fix it. The MPAA went absolutely apeshit over this and started threatening anyone who posted the key with legal action. For a while several sites removed the information, and several others were shut down, but then the MPAA sent a cease-and-desist letter to Digg.

This oughta do it.

The Backfire:

Digg is not a guy with a website. Digg is millions of random strangers submitting stories on a website. So, the whole "cease and desist" thing doesn't work so much. Sure, Digg removed the first post, only to see it replaced by several more. Efforts to remove those caused hundreds more to pour in, each containing the HD-DVD encryption key in their headline. Soon, HD-DVD encryption keys totally flooded the front page of the site, until basically no other content was visible.

Posting the key became the popular cause of the day for the Internet. Users got creative, posting the key in songs, in pictures and even in binary code.

Subtlety isn't exactly the Internet's strong suit, is what we're trying to say.

Upon seeing this, Digg founder Kevin Rose posted on the main page, "You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company, (so) from now on we won't delete any posts containing the AACS encryption key."

The Fallout:

With Digg no longer removing any posts relating to the key, the floodgates opened and literally thousands of posts flooded the site all showing off the code. You could buy T-shirts and mugs, and one guy even got a tattoo of it.

My T-shirt breaks the law -- what the hell does yours do?

After Digg struck a resounding blow against Internet censorship, other sites began to follow its example, and started hosting the code too. Google search results showed that around 700,000 websites in total had the code, to which the MPAA responded by sending a cease-and-desist letter to Google telling it to stop returning results including the code. Google obviously did no such thing, because you know Google bows to no one. Except the Chinese.

Karl is a part time comedy writer. If you feel the need to contact him do so here.

To read about stories that were more successfully covered up, check out 5 Stories The Mainstream Media Doesn't Want You to Know About in the new Cracked book!

And for more cases of people fighting the Internet, and fairing approximately as well as Brian Adams in an authority showdown, check out 8 Awesome Cases of Internet Vigilantism.

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