Did Larry Winget Go Overboard?

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If you have been living under a rock in the past few weeks, then you might have missed one of the biggest kerfuffles in Internet history. Or so it seems.

No, I’m not talking about the contested elections in Iran.

I’m talking about the recent Facebook username frenzy, when Facebook allowed its users to register usernames, making profile addresses shorter and more memorable.

Leading up to it, they used a countdown timer. Brilliant.

Last week, I was watching a movie with my wife Sylvie Fortin. At 12:01 AM, I decided to log onto Facebook using my iPhone, just to see. And wouldn’t you know it? I managed to secure Facebook.com/michelfortin for me, and Facebook.com/licorice for our fan page.

(Sylvie also captured “sylviefortin” for herself.)

The Licorice Group, LLC is the name of our publishing company, located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Obviously, “michelandsylviefortin” was way too long and would defeat the purpose of getting a shorter mnemonic. So I decided on “licorice.”

Anyway, you might be wondering why I said this was a kerfuffle. Well, hold on tight, because this one is a doozie (and there’s a marketing lesson in here, too)…

I couldn’t believe it when I saw some marketers who failed to get their very own names because of a few dumbass nitwits, with completely different names, decided it would be cool to register someone else’s well-known brand name.

Yes, as marketing experts, our names are brands.

It happened to my friends Ed Dale, John Reese, Darren Rowse, and a slew of others.

Some people call this cybersquatting, which we see often in the domain name space. One jokingly said, “cybersquatting on Facebook is facesquatting!” But I digress…

Needless to say, this irks me. I think it’s not only unscrupulous, mean, and dumb, but also I believe that people who do this kind of thing are downright scum.

Some marketers have cried foul. They said, “It’s trademark and copyright infringement.” Well, I don’t think it’s a copyright infringement. It might be a trademark one, although this is somewhat debatable since most names are not registered trademarks.

But registered or not, they are trademarks nonetheless.

Whether or not taking a well-known brand name infringes on another’s intellectual property, it can potentially lessen their commercial value, cause irreparable damage, and above all, create confusion in the marketplace…

… The very thing trademarks are meant to avoid in the first place.

Plus, it’s wrong. Very wrong.

But the issue I’m mostly upset about is something else — something that actually happened to one of my mentors and favorite experts, Larry Winget.

Larry Winget is a well-known brand. He’s an internationally renowned and sought-after speaker and consultant, and the author of many books, CDs, and DVDs, of which I own pretty much everything. Yes, I’m a huge fan.

But Larry encountered a problem that went way beyond simple “facesquatting,” and he blogged about his incredible displeasure and rightful outrage at such a tactic.

However, this seems to have rubbed quite a few people the wrong way. Tons of people commented on his blog. They were either for or against Larry’s attempt to publicly denounce this act. And some of the naysayers were very upset with Larry.

I respect other people’s opinions. I always love hearing how others see things differently. But on this blog post, some who opposed Larry’s “overreaction” went just as overboard.

Some stated that the issue was a small one, and that the person who infringed on Larry’s rights meant no harm. It was a small mistake in judgment, albeit a dumb one, but forgivable. And Larry should have been more tolerant.

Say what? Let’s take a closer look.

Someone took “larrywinget” as a username on Facebook. I believe — and I’m sure Larry feels the same way, too — that, if the person who took it was indeed called “Larry Winget,” it would have meant nothing to him. But it goes a lot deeper than that.

First of all, his name surely wasn’t Larry Winget.

But this is not where the story ends. This person registered Larry’s name — get this! — in an attempt to gain Larry’s attention, and perhaps affection for being so bold and creative, that he would be allowed to have an audience with Larry.

When I first read that, my head did a double-take. He went on to say that he would be prepared to give Larry back his name, “no questions asked,” and would understand if Larry refused to give him some of his time. (Double-take? Make that a triple.)

There are so many problems with this.

First off, Facebook was very clear that names cannot be transferred. What this person did was absolutely wrong because it pretty much forced Larry into a corner.

But it goes even further than that.

Short of not doing this at all, he should have changed his username, contacted Larry, apologized, and told Larry that, now that the name is available (by his changing it, that is), Larry should be able to change his username and re-capture “larrywinget.”

But he didn’t do that. Instead, he closed his account and fled, “like a coward,” says Winget, making any attempt to re-capture this newly released name futile.

So Larry was rightfully offended. On many levels. It’s not just about identity theft, which is wrong. It’s not just about trying to usurp free consulting, which is even worse.

It’s about the tremendous lack of integrity, courtesy, decency, and above all, respect. It’s about this person’s belief — and the belief of those who commented in support of him — that this is normal, totally acceptable, and completely forgivable.

After all, no malice was intended. Right?

Wrong. It’s not only sad, it’s downright insulting.

I think it’s a sad world when people’s sense of entitlement allows them to think they deserve it, they can get away with this stuff, their unethical if not illegal actions are excusable and justified, and these experts are “rich enough” to absorb it.

It’s an even sadder world when, while one feels they have the right to do this stuff, the other does not have the right to defend their name and reputation, or feel angry and offended simply because, as some people said, “it’s part of doing business.”

You’re kidding me, right?

If you think I’m arrogant, think again. I would applaud anyone trying creative ways to get my attention. After all, I’m in marketing and I love learning new ways to gain attention. And believe me, in my 20+ years as a consultant and copywriter, I’ve seen quite a few.

But at my expense? No way.

So Larry had every right to react the way he did.

The thief, and all of Larry’s detractors and the thief’s supporters who overreacted just as much, tend to forget the fact that Larry has to spend time to deal with this situation.

He has to take time out of his busy schedule, perhaps time away from working with his paying clients, to fix things and do some damage control. His blog post was part of it.

He had to, in part, to alert his readers, prospects, and followers why they can’t find him on Facebook, and why they might see someone else there instead.

Not only that, but Larry also has to absorb pecuniary losses caused by the confusion this has caused, such as the loss of sales and relationships created by the highjacking, as well as the damage to Larry’s name, reputation, and commercial value.

So he was justified in publicly voicing his concerns.

Now, to those who feel this was mere petty theft, I have a couple of issues to bring up.

First off, what this person did was more than just petty theft.

He stole Larry’s name, and then tried to steal his money by trying to coerce him for some free consulting. Plus, he even lied in his message and, finally, he left and deleted his account, forcing Larry to plead with Facebook and jump through needless hoops.

The first part may seem obvious, but you’re probably wondering why I said “he lied.”

You see, this person’s reply to Larry, which only occurred after Larry got in contact with him to find out what had happened — makes you wonder if he was going to contact Larry at all in the first place — included this interesting tidbit, edited for brevity:

“If not, I didn’t take your name on facebook to try and extort money from you or get anything else, so I am more than happy to turn the name over to you no questions asked.”

Read that again because it’s important.

Some people, quoting this passage, have commented this was evidence that he wasn’t trying to steal, squat, or do something malicious. That he had no ill-intent.

Oh, really? Those commentators failed to look at the rest of what he said, if you were to understand his true intent. Because in the previous paragraph, he said…

“I would love the opportunity to meet with you face to face (…) to bounce some ideas and questions off of you.”

I don’t know about you, but to me that’s a clear and conspicuous attempt at stealing Larry’s name in an effort to coerce free consulting from him. Sorry, but that’s extortion and it’s still wrong, no matter how petty or well-intended it might seem.

So this person not only stole Larry’s name, but also attempted to extort from him and lied about it, too. To me, that’s a three-striker right there, as in “three strikes and you’re out.” Even if each one seemed petty or insignificant, as a whole or individually.

If you, too, think this was merely petty, and that Larry overreacted, then something has certainly gone awry if people think nothing should have been done about it.

For example, just because I wanted to meet with my bank manager when I robbed the bank, even if I had every intention of returning the money, “no questions asked,” it doesn’t make it right. Or excusable. Or wrong for wanting to protect one’s assets.

In fact, the thief ended his message with:

“If it wasn’t me, it likely would have been someone else.”

It still doesn’t make it right!

What gives you the right to rob a bank? And to say, “Better me than someone else?”

I do equate this to stealing from a bank because, to me, it’s no different. Sure, there was no violence. Sure, there were no threats. And sure, there was no actual money stolen. But he did try to usurp Larry’s name, time, and expertise, let alone his reputation.

I recommended this brilliant video before on the whole idea of “free lunches.” It’s from one of my favorite consultants, Perry Marshall, entitled “Those who bite the hand that feeds them, lick the boot that kicks them.” I urge you to go and watch it.

Bottom line, respect goes both ways.

I can’t speak for Larry, but something tells me that, if this guy’s name was truly Larry Winget, Larry wouldn’t care much. I know there are other, well-known people named “Michel Fortin” out there. It wouldn’t have bothered me if they captured my name first.

Well, it would, but not that much. After all, it’s their name, too.

The problem is, this has nothing to do with taking a username. It’s about integrity. It’s about doing what is right. It’s about respecting Larry, his time, and his name.

If you think Larry went overboard for such a petty thing, I have two things to say:

  1. When is doing something wrong no longer considered “petty”? Where do you draw the line? It might seem petty, and petty theft may indeed be petty. But it’s still theft.
  2. It’s a slippery slope. And if you consider this insignificant, that tells me a lot about how much you value your own name, your time, and yes, your relationships.

Think about that last one.

Anyway, way to go, Larry.

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53 thoughts on “Did Larry Winget Go Overboard?

  1. Personally, I can see why someone who hasn’t spent the time, effort, energy, and money to build their name into a multi million dollar brand would consider something like this petty.

    I have been blogging at my personal website for the past couple years. I’ve been doing it for a couple of reasons, but one of the important ones was to gain credibility and to publish insights. In a way, this has developed my “Brand.”

    I want my blog to be read 10, 20, or 30 years from now. I want it to be a reason why people want to have Zachary Spencer involved in their company.

    Because of this, I recognize how dang hard it is to actually create and maintain a personal brand. You have to be consistent, live a life of public scrutiny, and actively ensure you filter yourself.

    This is hard. Very hard.

    It’s as if someone who was not working with UPS registered the facebook.com/ups and said “Well, if you give me free shipping for a year, I will give it back to you!” No one in their right mind would call UPS publicly rebuking the guy “petty.”

  2. Wow, what a dope! (Speaking of the guy who grabbed Larry’s name.) When I wanted to contact a guru a while back, I built a website where I pretended to be stalking him (making it clear that I wasn’t really!) And it worked — I got his attention (he was entertained and impressed by my creative approach). I’ve initiated contact with other gurus by interacting with them on Twitter.

    The guy who grabbed Larry’s name sounds like he has the mentality of a real stalker. You don’t endear yourself to people by invading their personal space and expecting them to be entertained or impressed. You operate from a respectful distance till they invite you closer.

  3. Darren Rowse doesn’t know this, but I could have purchased problogger.com BEFORE Darren did. Was I tempted? Sure I was, but I knew at the time that he must have been on the lookout for it and, in my view, if you mention Pro Blogger to anyone with any clue in the blogging arena, Darren Rowse’s name will come up.

    When I weighed it all up, the ONLY reason I could have purchased the name was to try and get him to buy it from me which, just isn’t my style and I let it go. People can argue it’s only a name all they like until it happens to them. I believe it’s only a certain breed of people who would do what others did with the well known names on Facebook and if you watch these people’s lives, they live a LIE!!!

    As T.Harv Eker says “how you do anything is how you do everything.” And then they wonder why they can’t succeed … it’s called “stinkin thinking.” And for those arguing against Larry, his grounds for complaining in my view is Integrity and some people just need to get a little more (or should I say, a whole lot more) of it.

  4. I didn’t read Larry’s post (yet at least).

    But, no doubt, if someone takes someone else’s name for some perceived gain, they really are doing something seriously unethical. Not only that… it’s very foolish. Whatever possible gains that could be had will be more than overshadowed by what you will end up losing.

    “I know there are other, well-known people named “Michel Fortin”

    Even if they weren’t ‘well known’, it wouldn’t matter, would it?

    The bottom line is… if someone with a real name takes it, whether ‘well known’ or not, it’s of no consquence and completely legitimate. Particularly when you consider they likely are unaware of some blogger, copywriter, (fill in the blank), who also shares their name.

    The only problem is when someone takes someone else’s name when it’s not their own.

    It’s foul. And it should be called out as such.

    Enjoyed the post.

    • Oh, indeed. It wouldn’t matter if he was well-known or not.

      My reason for mentioning this, is, he is well-known because he is just as much a brand and a recognized expert in his field as I am. And someone who would do to me what the thief did to Larry, he would be harming two people and not just one.

  5. I really appreciate what you said here. You are dead on with what you said and with all of the points you made. Taking what doesn’t belong to you isn’t right. There really can’t be a debate about it. There is never justification for it. If it doesn’t belong you, you can’t take it. Not if you are a person of integrity. That was the most disturbing part of this whole thing to me: that some actually thought it was okay. Thanks Michael for being so vocal in your support. All the best! Larry Winget

  6. Man…still had trouble finding the comment box…I’ll get it soon. :-)

    Anyway, I have purchased michelfortin1234567890.com – I would be happy to release it to you for a moment of your time.

  7. It amazes me how many people steal names. I have never understood how this works as once people figure it out that you are not the right person or website than they drop you.

    I just had a client who I supported in creating a social portal which became very successful in the nutrition and bodybuilding world. My client hadn’t posted in a while and was letting the user generate content and didn’t pay attention that his domain name expired.

    It was quickly bought up by not a free loader attempting to extort money; no the top competitor with does over 100 million a year bought it to redirect to their website. What a mess

  8. I think it is terribly cowardly not to develop your own reputation and try to use someone else’s for your benefit. I think also if you read between the lines (most people communicate in negatives so what they mean around those negatives are)” to try and extort money from you or get anything else” was their main intention.
    Funny if this person had the courage to take someone’s name perhaps they should take responsibility for their own actions. I mean it doesn’t equate to murder but when you give of yourself to become someone people can respect it is very irksome for some dumbass to think it is funny. Man Karma rocks.. when he gets his it will definitely hurt.
    Hopefully this can be resolved.

  9. I sympathize with Larry’s plight, there are a lot of unethical people out there waiting to take advantage of the slightest opportunity to gain from some one else’s work.

    I try not to get too worked up over the whole username issue, (although that might have changed if someone had pulled that BS on me.) I was offline that whole weekend and as a result I didn’t get “Bob Crawford” on facebook, another Bob Crawford got it. On most sites I’ve been able to get my name and work on branding myself, but on others I have not. With cross linking and redirecting it almost doesn’t matter.

    One of my mentors reminds me often that my brand will be built on my domains, enhanced and helped along with my presence elsewhere, but those ‘elsewheres’, ie, social sites, are never under your control. Remember that folks, the internet moves at the speed of light and as fast as facebook rose to the top of the heap I am certain that something else will come along soon that promises to be better, faster, and more powerful.

    As for the jerks and pond scum that float about on the net, just remember two things. First, the jerks thrive on attention. Without it they wither and blow away. Second, the more energy that you expend focusing on them and their actions, the less you are focusing on your goals and dreams.

    Peace,
    Bob

    • Bob, agreed. The username is not the primary issue. Again, if someone else had registered it who was legitimately called “Larry Winget,” not even a whimper would have been heard. It’s the fact the his username was taken with the sole intent of attempting to coerce free consulting from Larry.

      It’s an issue that’s near and dear to my heart because I ranted about this before — the whole issue of extortion. Or as reported by some, “friendly extortion.”

      Nothing really friendly about it, in my opinion.

  10. I must say I wholeheartedly agree with you, and with Larry. Taking someone else’s name when it is not yours falls under the terribly childish catagory. Clearly, whoever this was, lacks the maturity necessary to see what they did was unacceptable. Those that take issue with Larry’s response, I must ask you: How would you react if it happened to you? Your name and reputation, your brand, taken by someone else. I know it would set me off. Of course he was underhanded and after something, why else bother taking someone else’s name? He wanted something, period and any way you look at it, that is WRONG!!!

  11. It always leads to a scarcity play … most predictable and reliable human reaction for marketers to understand.

  12. This whole fiasco reminds me of the “situational ethics” the Clintons used while occupying the White House (and before). In that world, there is no absolute right or wrong; there are only situations. What they really meant, just like Winget’s squatter, that the end justifies the means.

    I pity the moral jellyfish who backed the squatter. If only we could count on them to maintain that attitude when they are on the wrong side of one of these incidents. Unlikely. Instead, they’ll scream bloody murder and call for “somebody” to fix things and kiss their booboos…

  13. Name stealing happened always online, for various purposes and somehow it was to be expected… Just remember one or two month ago the craze on Twitter with the faked identities of well known ‘gurus’ (guys, you two are targeted here, LOL).

    That person guy was wrong and surely mal intended, but the most blameable here I guess is FaceBook, for allowing that to happen in the first place.

    Some may argue that is no business of FaceBook’s to mingle with their users choices, but I would say that they should rather have allowed users in the beginning to pick up only their own previous nicknames and/or real names, at least for a reasonable period of time, while not allowing new accounts to get the personalized URL until previous users with the same name would have been asked permission…

    Might sound difficult to implement, but I’m sure could have been done quite easily with the resources they have.

    None of the above is intended to minimize the guilt of the offender, of course.

  14. Nothing more needs to be said. I agree wholeheartedly.

  15. Oh My God – what a story!

    Michel, I am so happy that I real ALWAYS your emails. Didn’t even know about this new thing on facebook and thanks to you I was able to go there in time to get my name.

    I can relate to this story, because for a similar reason another idiot snapped one of my domain names with Polish extention – I do most of my business lately in Polish and for some people I am their Larry Winget. Since in Poland I didn’t find yet a servide offering automatic renewal of domain names, it is easy to lose sight.

    In my case, when I discovered that this guy bought it, he gave the same reason, claiming that it was his expression of admiration for me and that now he just wanted to invite me for dinner during my next trip to Poland and then he will give me the domain back.

    As a gift. (imagine – he REALLY believed it would be a gift :)

    In my case my response was enough to get this guy back to reality (and as you can imagine I didn’t accept his dinner invitation), and I was lucky because he transferred it back to me without too much lost time, but it still was horrible experience.

    And similarly, I wouldn’t even mind as much if he actually NEEDED that domain, the most annoying was that it was his ‘act of love”.

    There are obviously plenty of idiots in the world.

    So, I am really happy that thanks to you this time I didn’t allow anyone to snap my name on facebook.

  16. Once again Michael, a thought provoking post.

    OK, this guy sounds a tad nuts and socially inept. He really thought name stealing was going to work as a strategy for meeting Larry and striking up a buddy-buddy relationship?

    Excuse me, that is not just unethical. Sounds plain bonkers to me. Not quite as crazy as the guy who thought he would get a date with Jody Foster because he shot Ronald Reagan but close.

    Of course Larry has reason to be upset. What is the title of his book? People are idiots and I can prove it? Well, here’s a new chapter for him.

  17. 1. Stealing is stealing is wrong. Period.

    2. Let’s not forget that we’re talking about Facebook here. Is it for kids, relationships 2.0 or business? What kind of service are they providing and what are we expecting?

    If you hang your banner on the carney wagon and it’s gone in the morning, what did you expect?,

  18. Good point, somebody tried to copy one of my trading site trademarks (which Is trademarked) as a copycat-type channel on youtube so I sent youtube a cease and desist and they took off the offending channel…

    …but most people don’t trademark names and other products (it’s expensive and time consuming to trademark every single product name/site name if you’ve got a lot!)… so that would be good to have some kind of ethics out there so people don’t “social site cybersquat” … like they did (and still do) with .edu/.net domains …

    It seems like there’s a lot of lowbrow folks out there in the world, a bigger philosophical picture, beyond the policing/correct legal actions we need to take, is, does this new Web 2.0 world, (and all the bs we’ve seen on forums, comments in news stories, heck even the type of comments we see on youtube videos), show an accurate mirror of society?

    And, of how juvenile, petty and downright scum many many people in the world are? For example look at the types of comments many news stories get, on local news sites… 80% of the comments are often juvenile in nature, with mean/sarcastic/trailer-trash writing, done by the general low-IQ public with petty morals, the rabble of the uneducated.

    The web 2.0 space and commentary doesn’t show the general public to be noble, education-minded, helpful…. there is some small percentage of helpful, noble, honest and useful posting out there… the rare gleaming gems…. but so much of it sinks to a type of tabloid attacks, sensationalism, sarcasm, rudeness, rush-to-judgement/condemnation, and ignorance that produced it.

    I’ve seen the social media, and while some of it is great, funny, insightful and useful, there’s far too much of the “other” type of stuff out there, like wading through 94 spams for 6 useful emails.
    Seems too that the supposed anonymity (which has been just overturned via high court ruling on a blogger case), of the internet brings out the pettiness and reflects the stupidity of the general population.

    Gosh I hope if there’s any alien races out there, they don’t look at all the forums and web 2.0 social bookmarking sites to judge us by, as a people. (said tongue in cheek, somewhat).

    “Is that what we’re really like”?. And for a large percentage of the posting public, the answer is unfortunately yes, the mirror of society that reflects the pettiness of the human condition.

    At least there’s a few gentle souls and knowledgeable, helpful folks out there amongst the rabble, to pay attention to.

    -k

  19. Hi Michel – Yes, what a bunch of scum-bags alright. But I read some time back about copyright and intellectual property issues, and although I suspect it may take a lot of time and $$ ;~( to sort out, that it will be sorted. Either that, or Pres. Obama will handle it for those South of the border, along with the other long string of new health, financial and food . . . . . .(you name it) laws he’ll have pending for approval soon!

    Happy Dads’ Day,
    John

  20. Sorry to get philosophical here, and maybe too idealistic for a nostalgic past, but …

    Up to about 100 years ago, besides a pick and shovel, and maybe a rifle and horse, the only thing most people really has was their Name and their Word and their Honor, which were closely linked and protected to the best of their ability. Your name was your most important possession, because that was the only thing most people had to go by to evaluate you as a human being. Without a good reputation, it was much harder to get by. Your Name and your Word were your bond.

    There were, of course, exceptions, but far more people believed it was vital to Keep Their Word, and respect and honor that of others, and their property. You did not take or steal what was not yours, you earned it. I have no doubt that back then, taking or tarnishing someone’s name was worse than stealing a man’s horse. And we know what they did to horse thieves.

    That might be a bit extreme, but you get the point.

  21. It’s a shame when people have to do this, there’s so many better ways to get attention…http://www.michelfortin.com/larry-winget-overboard/

  22. There’ve been several references to integrity and ethics … which are pretty much non-existent in the IM (info-product marketing/Internet marketing) world.

    If you think about it, most of the treatises on marketing encourage ‘criminal’ terminology, e.g., steal, dominate, conquer, intimidate, beat, sneak, steal, loophole, backdoor, ad. nauseum. With that kind of environment, is it any wonder that this sort of thing happens?

    That doesn’t justify the behaviour, but it does encourage it – even celebrates it. Unfortunately, some individuals get harmed by the ‘groupthink’ hyperbole that is presented on a daily basis, while the ones causing the harm consider it to be ‘just business’, as has also been mentioned.

    The IM group seem to think that morality belongs in the home, not on the Web. It belongs in personal relationships, not in business relationships. After all, why be moral or ethical toward a faceless stranger? Especially if a lack of morality can transfer funds from the stranger’s pockets to yours?

    Michel, I don’t aim this at you, personally – you’re one of the few that I consume on a regular basis – but examine your creed as it applies to the Web and I think you’ll see what I mean. And when it comes to the info-product merchants, all bets are off: anything goes if it will garner valuta.

    So the surprise, to me, is that there was not more of the Winget thing when Facebook did its ‘Oklahoma land rush’ bit. Proper behaviour should have been to offer to existing clients, not make a contest of it.

    All that being said, the actions of the Winget impostor are reprehensible, to say the least, and should be considered as [morally] criminal.

    • I agree with you that Facebook is partially to blame. But my post had more to do with pointing out how such a behavior, enabled or not by Facebook, is wrong, and one should take responsibility.

      Thank you for your comment.

  23. I have to say to is frustrating to say the least. But to say someone is entitled to a username is crap. If that were true then I should be mad that a company owns the domain name of my name.

    Do I run around saying those thieves stole my name when they snapped up that domain? NO

    Believing the username is yours to begin with is whats crazy here

  24. Next to virus creators I put domain squatters just below spammers for their greedy lazy evil.

    The sad reality is that as long as there is only one version of text.com or facebook.com/rickbutts – this is going to be an issue – and a tempting opportunity for the pickpockets of the Internet.

    This is a digital problem, (how domains are assigned) and frankly I can’t think of a solution.

    At present, the dire predictions made by Tim Berners Lee (the real creator of the Internet) that domains would eventually sell to the highest bidder – are proving correct.

    BTW – the guy who squonked on Winget’s domain is a toad – and doomed to have his story told by Larry for at least 200 years. Ask the guy who stole Larry’s motivational speech intro! You Bet!

  25. I have been under a rock :) because I wasn’t aware of this and I don’t actually know Larry Winget who has every right to defend his name because I do and have but I never broadcast it in public.

    If you read Andy Beal’s book called Radically Transparent you will discover there are other ways to deal with people who do stuff like that.

    I will always defend my name and I will always be wary of my words and the impact they have on another person. I have defended my name in anger and it doesn’t work, no matter what the person did (they were using my name for traffic) I really had to consider my actions. I was glad I didn’t do anything permanent like blog about them though (believe me I was tempted). I left them a message on their Facebook profile and what they were doing stopped. They deleted the message too of course!

    Another network used my name after I left because I didn’t like the environment. I wrote to them and reminded them of the UK data protection act, let them know by keeping my details on the site after I left (making it seem as if I was still a member) they were breaking that law and they had 30 days for my whole profile including photo to disappear. Otherwise I would blog about my experience of being a member of that network. Needless to say it all went away.

    I may only be at the early stages of building my name as my brand and I will always defend it. I just don’t believe in public humiliation no matter what a person has done and I certainly never believe that personal insults are necessary.

    I have had worse than someone using my name happen to me. Would I like to blog about him and put his name up all over the internet. Yes I would but Nelson Mandala keeps me from doing that because I figure that if he could forgive after 25 years in prison then so could I. I still have to breathe through this experience when I think about it but nothing is to be gained by public name calling and humiliation.

    I am not condoning what this man did in any shape or form. There are just other ways to deal with it that’s all.

    Go after him….. yes! Make sure he never considers doing something like this again… yes. But calling him a “dirtbag” or “jerkoff” in public when you are as big a name as Larry Winget is un-necessary in my humble opinion – even if you are the “pit bull” of personal development!

  26. Michel,

    It doesn’t matter if Frank Kern or some other big brandable names are stolen.

    In facebook TOS clearly states that you will not misrespresent that your a owner of a company or some celebrity- In other words- You need to be “Official” so to speak.

    In fact, you are now REQUIRED to sign your name- Your IP address, DNS and mac address is all recorded when you hit the submit button.

    So if you cause any type of damage- such as slander, marketing damages or something of the sort- You can be charged with forgery and sued as well to the offended party.

    Not a very smart thing to do for these “blackhatters”.

  27. Identity theft is a criminal act. The ability of folk to do as they are pleased then hide behind their computer anonymity has to (and no doubt will be) be addressed. The next few years will continue to be interesting as the world gets smaller via the net & co.

  28. Assuming everything happened the way Larry reported, I don’t think Larry Winget went overboard. In fact I think he UNDER reacted. I’m no lawyer but it seems to me this guy attempted to get consulting services from Larry at no cost by coercing him through obtaining Larry’s name on Facebook. That’s called EXTORTION and it is a crime, (probably a federal crime since I’m assuming him and Larry don’t live in the same state).

  29. Hey guys
    Yes, the username should be your own personal identity
    Yes, it was Identity theft
    Yes, it it’s downright extortion
    Yes, the IM business is not all that moral, etc, etc
    Yes, you have the right to be raving mad about all this… but Facebook applied this ‘afterthought’… aah ‘username’?!? Light Bulb moment! We are in 2009… and with all the above issues how easy is it for this issue to be resolved – firstly they do not provide a friendly help service and secondly why should the culprit close his account and not the other way around – get kicked out!!
    Oh wait! FB was not equipped for this one. Oh dear!

  30. I believe you are either someone with or without integrity. The way you do and conduct business at any level is a sure indicator of the type of person you really are.

    Perhaps the power of the people in the cyber world will eventually drive this type of behavior out of the business.

  31. Brennan Kingsland

    Yes, Michel,

    It’s a sad day when people no longer feel inappropriate behavior is wrong.

    We are working to straighten-out public schools and there are so many unbelievable behaviors that are being accepted as the “norm” that the task is daunting. It’s NOT just education that is going “down the tubes”, it’s morals, and mores, and standards, and everything else.

    One of the biggest problems is that people are so apathetic about standards, or they actually think this downward spiral is inevitable.

    Please wish us luck!

  32. For a blog by a copywriting consultant there’s an awful lot of loose language here.

    Firstly, while I agree that asking Facebook to give you a vanity URL that bears no relation to your own name is bad behavior, it is neither evil nor criminal.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t believe that the events as described amount to identity theft and to suggest that the person who did this has committed theft may in itself be actionable as criminal defamation. Given your concern over people’s integrity, I would think you would be more careful about bandying around such serious terms.

    Finally, I think that with all the energy you have put into defending his honor, it’s a shame that Mr. Winget didn’t even care enough to create an avatar or spell your name correctly in his comment.

    • Sadly, you seem to have missed the point, which has less to do with usernames and more to do with the laissez-faire mentality and sense of entitlement this person — and others who voiced their support for him — has in trying to coerce others at their expense.

      In fact, your response tells me exactly where you stand.

      • I’m pretty sure you have absolutely no idea where I stand.

        I haven’t voiced support for anyone. I’m just expressing my concern that describing anybody as “downright scum” is unlikely to achieve anything positive.

        Your language is hyperbolic and, therefore, untrustworthy. You have expressed your support for Mr. Winget in aggressive and childish terms. You have demonized one idiot and further vilified anyone who dismisses him as merely an idiot. You have made ridiculous comparisons between an idiot taking idiotic advantage of dreadful Facebook policies and a bank robber. In the eyes of at least one reader, you have done more damage to your own personal brand with this lazy rant than any misdirected vanity URL could ever achieve.

        I find your response to me disingenuous. Your whole post had less to do with anyone’s “laissez-faire mentality and sense of entitlement” than it had to do with your wanting to get noticed by Mr. Winget. That puts you pretty much in the same category as the twit you’re ranting about.

        I apologize for responding in such forthright terms, but I found your response to me to be unnecessarily aggressive and patronizing.

        • Daniel, thank you for the clarification and sober response. You make great points and I do appreciate and respect your thoughts.

          But just one last commentary. If you’ve read other posts on this blog, you’ll notice that I’m very vocal about entitlement mindsets, and wrote about it in other situations, such as on Twitter, “friendly extortion” attempts through unfounded refund attempts, and unethical marketing behaviors.

          These have been issues near and dear to my heart long before I ever knew Larry Winget. Hyperbolic? Maybe. I’m very passionate about such topics. But disingenuous? I think that’s arguable, although I appreciate your view. And was it an attempt to get Mr. Winget’s attention? Not at all. Again, I spoke out against other, similar behaviors in the past on this blog.

          I’m sorry you felt slighted by my response. It wasn’t my intent. It was aimed at those who feel this attitude is forgivable, in which I thought you were based on my misunderstanding of what you implied. My apologies. And thanks again.

          • “…. those who feel this attitude is forgivable”

            This man’s error is not forgivable is that what you are saying? Only I thought murder, rape, slavery and Nazi concentration camps were unforgivable and yet people manage to find forgiveness.

            This is a man with a 20 year brand up against a man with 350 friends on facebook. Its like putting Mike Tyson and Vern Troyer in the ring and expecting a fair fight. Experienced marketers have found a scapegoat and are going after him hard.

            I find the example being set from experienced professional marketers over something that could have been sorted out with a few emails FROM A MEMBER OF MR WINGETS TEAM incredible.

            It has been a real eye opener. This never had to go this far. People like the man who did this can be dealt with professionally and dealt with in a manner that doesn’t involve name calling and public humiliation.

            What he did is UNACCEPTABLE. I haven’t read any comment that doesn’t agree with that. Your question was did Mr Winget go overboard and my answer is most definitely YES – and so too has ever experienced marketer who came down to the level of name calling and insults.

            This was a molehill that has been turned into a mountain.

  33. Although I hate cyber-squatting and people that take names such as this with no intention of using it for the purpose it is intended… I must say I’m finding it odd that this is referred to as stealing, and that anyone can feel they have a right to a username over anyone else.

    I agree it’s a nuisance and the username was not taken for the right reasons but unfortunately it is only a username and no one really has a right to it over anyone else.

    Yes, the reasons and intention for taking it was wrong, but it is not an identity, it’s not an entitlement and there was no previous “ownership” over it so it is not stealing either.

  34. If he had been able to choose http://www.facebook.com/coke or pepsi or any other well known brand, no one would argue that he was out of line. But because the brand is a name, people let him off the hook. It is completely awful and it is too bad there isn’t some recourse to deal with people like this.

  35. Larry’s experience was nothing compared to the one I just went through when some retard in Slovakia hacked into my email account and STOLE my primary domains http://www.MarriageAdvice.com and http://www.MarketingBestPractices.com.

    Yes, the stole the domain and put them up for sale (and used them for spamming) all within one week.

    I was able to retrieve the MarriageAdvice.com domain but MarketingBestPractices.com was very difficult. I had to get the FBI and an attorney involved. And even then it was difficult. For a few days I wasn’t sure whether I would get it back or not.

    And then they used that domain for spamming so now it sits on the black list at spmacop so I can’t use it for doing email newsletters or any type of emailing without my emails hitting the spam folders.

    The internet is still the Wild Wild West. Anything goes.

    David Frey

  36. Michael, Right on. After working my way from the bottom of the ladder to a senior executive insurance claims person over the last 43 years, until I recently retired, all I can think of is the number of times (usually each and every day) that someone tried to tell me what was covered and what was not when they finally had, or thought they had a claim. Even with the policy right in front of them, they would try to tell me what it stated. Some of the logic and/or reason, if I may call it that, absolutely amazed me. All it was about is/was attempting to get my company to relent and pay them, irregardless of what it would or did do to others who legitimately had claims that were waiting to be handled. Sometimes I even came close to agreeing with the usually tainted logic. After 43 years I have forgotten a lot, and granted, sometimes the company policy language was in need of change, but generally most people were easy to work with and made up for the insanity. (I have been threatened with bodily injury, even death on a couple of occasions over my long tenure) and it was hard not to be cynical but sometimes the old expression, ‘if it walks like a duck’ was where my brain went after the fireworks. I am now, because of the economy, mostly, trying to make a dollar on the Internet, which has eluded me for the last little while, but to try to get something for nothing turns what you are trying to get into the same value and I don’t ever want to learn what I need by coercion or extortion. I think you made your point aptly, originally. Unfortunately, no matter, someone out there is going to read it the way they want to see it. Do you know how many times I heard a party to an auto accident tell me that the light was green for him or her, when 5 other people saw the same faceing signal and it was solid red at the same time? I lost count at least 40 years ago and it wouldn’t matter now anyway. I enjoy yours and Sylvie’s words. Keep it up.

  37. I read the article and watched the video. One comment from my own perspective. I am new to internet marketing and it is vitally important that I meet and take advice from proper professionals. Idiots taking other people’s names just make my research more difficult.

    People who need to stoop so low obviously has a very low self esteem and does not believe they can compete and win on a level playing field. They have a poverty mindset and will never succeed until they get rid of it. They prevent themselves from growing by their own actions. Its a kind of personal growth suicide and a huge price to pay for stupidity.

    But then stupid people have been around since the beginning of time and I guess always will be. They don’t last. In the end they will be forgotten whilst the professionals are recognised and applauded and remembered.

  38. Hi Michel,

    As somebody who has suffered being ripped off – online and offline – I feel Larry Winget’s plight.

    I think Ansub Chaudry made some brilliant points and that Larry has that avenue to pursue if he wishes.

    Let me repeat what Ansub says:

    “In facebook TOS clearly states that you will not misrespresent that your a owner of a company or some celebrity- In other words- You need to be “Official” so to speak.

    In fact, you are now REQUIRED to sign your name- Your IP address, DNS and mac address is all recorded when you hit the submit button.

    So if you cause any type of damage- such as slander, marketing damages or something of the sort- You can be charged with forgery and sued as well to the offended party.”

    But I guess it is up to Facebook to honor that TOS committment. It’s a bit like the rampant black-hatting that is going on at Google.

    Many of us know that a certain individual is using a massive link-farm to get his keywords listed on Google’s front page – a page that many of us are also competing (honestly) for but it has been going on for 7 months now and this individual thinks it’s OK to do and then deny knowledge of it. I’ll celebrate the day that he is wiped off Google’s index but I’m not gonna be the snitch.

    One other point… “Eyeview” Daniel came in looking to spar with you. He went on the attack hoping to engage you right from the start. It amuses me to see that the very thing that Daniel cricises you for he does himself. ie name-calling (idiots and twits). Anybody reading Daniel’s comments can see that all he is wanting to do here is to “dethrone” you in your own kingdom thereby making himself look important. Daniel doesn’t fool me.

    Anyway, Michel, I don’t agree with you ALL the time but I do most of the time. I admire your honesty and integrity and the fact that you are willing to stand by your friends. You have a great blog here covering lots of important and “controversial” issues. I come here a lot. I like it.

    Regards

    Gary Simpson

  39. Thewealthapostle

    I actually think the whole thing is a PUBLICITY STUNT by Larry Winget! I know the man is a daring creative marketer and it wont surprise me one bit if he Larry Winget and his team engineered the whole thing

  40. They do it because they think people will come to their profile and fan them probably. But, long term brand can’t be created using this. When people find it’s fake, people leave. On the other hand, when people find the real one, it gets spread faster.

  41. Disgusted in NYC

    Film maker Tyler A. Chase has been working on a film called “A Castle In Brooklyn – King Arthur and the Serfdom of Kent” since 2007. Its about the building in Dave Chapel’s “Block Party” and what became of this spectacular building (a travesty of justice at best). Tyler had considerable internet presence since 2007 with the work in progress. Even went to the UN in Geneva as part of the Periodic Review to speak about the issues inherent in her documentary. Suddenly last year, a small film about Chess (interestingly funded by Brooklyn real estate moguls) decided to name their film “A Brooklyn Castle”. P.S. I saw the chess film and it does nothing and purports to help no one. Not even the inner city kids that are treated like circus animals that can do a trick. Talk about a bunch of despicable people with no talent except for marketing high jack!