Normally I think people who post anonymously online have a right to their privacy and their identities should generally not be revealed. I make exceptions under certain circumstances. Joecool for example, I originally uncovered when he was (falsely) accusing IBOs of threatening his family and later was shown to be posting under different names, pretending to be IBOs or former IBOs in different Amway groups. As far as I’m concerned, once you cross from sharing your opinion to fraud and libel, you’ve relinquished your right to privacy.
While Joecool remains the most prolific anti-Amway obsessive on the internet, back in 2010 another reared their ugly head – “Anna Banana” and her blog “Married to an Ambot“. On her blog, Anna Banana doesn’t hold back, with regular foul-mouthed tirades against Amway, Amway products, and her former upline. The comments she allows are often even worse, with crude anonymous abuse of the worse sort. I sometimes wonder how much of it is hers rather than legitimate commentary.
When the blog first launched, there were suspicions that Anna Banana was yet another Joecool alias. These were raised even further when I discovered “Anna Banana” was the name of a bar just down the road from Joecool’s then place of work. I did some checking with others and concluded that, unlike a number of other blogs, this one was actually a legitimate newcomer, located in the Pacific North-West of North America. Since then I haven’t particularly followed her blog. Any attempts to engage in adult dialogue on her website have been returned with childish abuse.
In April this year though, Anna Banana highlighted some comments on her blog that she says were directed towards me. Comments like this –
“You took my friend and soon you’ll regret this scambot.”
“Typical Scambot unit! I sure hope your upline programmed a few more lines to defend your mission for Scamway/Quickscam. Those like you took my friend and I’ll make sure to make you regret it Ambot!”
“The countdown has begun Ambot! The day when I shall have your head and theirs overlooking my nightstand will not come too soon shitway. I swear, they should upgrade your programming, that old recording in your memory-bank is starting to piss me off scamshit!”
People were posting death threats against me on her blog, and she apparently found it amusing and worth highlighting. Given that Amway critics had already posted my name and address and photos of myself and my children online, and that Anna Banana was regularly allowing her commentators to link to this information, this was more than a little concerning. The entire tone of her blog and her comments does not engender confidence that these are in jest. Needless to say, such activity is also illegal for both the poster and the publisher (Anna Banana).
As far as I’m concerned, if you publish (and encourage) death threats against me you have well and truly relinquished your right to privacy.
So who is Anna Banana?
The internet isn’t as anonymous as you might think. People often leave traces they forget about, like Joecool leaving his email address published on links on forum posts, which allowed me to identify him. Has Anna Banana done similar? I’ll admit, she’s been careful. She gave no email address on her blog to contact her that I could find, and she never comments on my blog, make it difficult to trace her internet address or other information. When she has commented elsewhere she’s always been careful not to give away too much. Trying to work out her story was difficult, as many of her rants seemed to be about issues that must have been more than a decade ago (talking about tapes) yet she also spoke about other things as if they were recent, even current. Much of the stuff she talked about seemed like little more than caricatures of Amway criticism rather than actual experience. About all we knew was that she was married, she and her husband had been IBOs more than once, and they’d been associated with WWDB.
To see if I could find anything about her, I looked again at her website, and in particular the “source code”. I’d done the same thing with Joecool and several other blogs and discovered that they were using the same google adsense code – identifying them as being by the same person. There was one clue on Anna Banana’s website. She had some code called “IP Blocker” that is used to redirect people from certain internet addresses to other websites so they can’t read (or comment) on her website. This is the code –
The code had a member ID – “mermaidude”. Could that tell us anything? I went to google.
“mermaidude” isn’t a common internet nickname, indeed it appears to be unique. A review of the (many) links google revealed showed that “mermaidude” has been active a long time on the internet, with interests ranging from geocaching, to recipes, to horses and dogs. There were also three email addresses and a name that kept coming up – Continue reading