Langley resident Cran Campbell says even after some offensive and untrue claims about him were removed from the Craigslist site, they still showed up in search engine results when he ran his name.

Langley man fighting to clear his online reputation

Response to complaints about libelous postings has been inadequate, says Cran Campbell

A Langley City man is “beyond frustrated” after more than a week of trying to remove internet postings that suggest he’s under criminal investigation for sex-related offences.

Cran Campbell emphatically denies the claims, which were posted to a chat forum at the Craigslist online classified ads website.

“It will never be true in my lifetime or the next life,” Campbell said.

A Times search of court records found no evidence to support the claim.

The 67-year-old retiree said that when he spotted the messages, he immediately flagged them for removal by clicking a “prohibited” link and Craigslist deleted the postings.

He also reported the postings to police.

But the messages lived on, Campbell discovered, because internet search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and AOL were still linking to the postings even though they’d been taken down.

The search engines were displaying the first few words of the now-deleted posts, which meant that anyone who did an online search for “Cran Campbell” could still see the claims.

“I don’t want to leave that stuff up and not say anything about it,” Campbell said.

“There’s a lot of people who know me and this is going to put a question in their minds.”

It took several days of phone calls and emails before Campbell was able to get Google to remove the search entry.

He also managed to get Bing, Yahoo and AOL to do the same.

But the message has since reappeared on another Craigslist internet site and so has the search link.

“This is going to go on and on and on,” Campbell said.

“Whoever this is, they need to get help.”

As for why he was targeted, Campbell suspected he may have angered someone by campaigning against hate speech on various Craigslist forums.

Since 2012, Campbell has been going after offensive and racist comments in the “rants and raves” section of Craigslist, flagging postings for removal and reporting them to police.

“I think it put a target on me,” Campbell said.

Information, true or false, has a way of lingering in cyberspace, said Trinity Western University professor Herbert Tsang, who teaches computing science and mathematics.

“Photos and postings from a long time ago can come back to haunt you,” Tsang said.

He suggested people should pay attention to their “digital footprint” and contact the various search engines to correct misinformation.

A U.S. jury recently awarded $1.4 million in damages to a Virginia man who was wrongly accused online of being a molester, had false charges filed against him and his home raided by police as a result of fake online messages.

Campbell said he doesn’t have the resources to mount a civil lawsuit against his tormentor, assuming they can be identified.

He thinks search engine providers should make it easier for victims of online harassment to contact them about inaccurate and libelous links.

A 2014 survey by researchers at the University of Manitoba found people who enjoy trolling are “prototypical everyday sadists” who spend a lot of time online and are more likely to have traits such as sadism, narcissism and psychopathy.

A study by the non-profit Pew Research Center in the U.S. found that 73 per cent of adult internet users have witnessed online harassment and 40 per cent have personally experienced it, usually name-calling and attempts at embarrassment.

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