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Dear Larry Page and Paul Edmondson

By Edited Apr 24, 2015 2 11
Me interviewing Larry Page
Credit: RoseWrites head added to Black and white background photo by wonderlane on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic | Larry Page photo by Steve Jurvetson on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
It's funny, but when Facebook put together a Year in Review page for me, it prompted me to mull over 2014 - writing online for a living.
Looking back, I see some red flags that were never fully explained. 
I've been writing for InfoBarrel most of the year. During this time, Squidoo sold out to HubPages (but announced it mid-August). Prior to that, there were some clues that something wasn't right.
I enjoy being direct and asking the original source for answers. So, here it goes. 

When You Sell A Domain, Like a Home

You don't automatically get to keep the family inside

House for sale by owner
Credit: Images_of_Money (TaxRebate.org.uk on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

First Strange Thing I Noticed

In July 2014, I noticed a "Tracking Code Mismatch" notification on my Google Analytics dashboard which stated:

Tracking Code Mismatch

Tracking code on page www(dot)squidoo(dot)com does not match property
SousababySquidoo's tracking ID UA-8 digit number-1.

Missing Tracking Code
At least 351 pages are missing valid tracking code for property

I reported it to Squidoo's Gil Hildebrand July 16th, 2014.

The funny thing is, I didn't have 351 pages (I deleted about 50 of them since I began writing on InfoBarrel).

I tried to find the original notification on Google Analytics, but it appears that there is a 180-day limit on archived notices?
The only one I could still find was this one (shown in the screenshot next).
I never changed my Google Analytics tracking ID on Squidoo (or on InfoBarrel) and I find it strange that 351 lenses were cited in the first notice and then later only 301.
My thoughts? As I stated in my article Squidoo's September Earnings Update and What You're Not Told, it sure looks like all of my Squidoo work from early spring/summer was being saved or prepared "somewhere" for the automatic transfer to HubPages before the August 15th post by Seth Godin.
Wonder what Gil Hildebrand had to say? Not much. His response was:
Sorry about that!
It could be that your Google Analytics ID is setup for Universal Analytics, a new feature set from Google. Unfortunately the Squidoo tracker does not yet support Universal Analytics, which might explain the error you received.
I can't seem to find a way to downgrade a Google Analytics account once it has been upgraded to Universal. Unfortunately it looks like the only way to proceed is to create a new tracking ID and avoid upgrading to Universal on it.
Please give this a try and let me know if it helps. Sorry for the trouble.
Bottom line: I asked my IT guy to help me and we went through the GA instructions again. It turned out, I was already upgraded to Universal Analytics. In fact, there was no "button" for me to push to upgrade to it again either.
Author's note: I find it interesting that Gil wrote sorry twice in his response to me. The SquidTeam was never remorseful in the past whenever I reported anything odd to them.

So, I Wonder How This Happened?

And precisely how did it get resolved?

Missing Tracking Code Notification
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved
Credit: bigcityal on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Second Unexplained Line of Reasoning

When it was first announced in InfoBarrel's forum that Squidoo is Moving to HubPages, someone who later identified herself as Marisa Wright in my article Why on Earth Is Any Squid Filing a DMCA With Google? wrote the following:

Would you agree that you assigned publishing rights to Squidoo? Would you agree that publishing rights have a value? That's what they have sold to Hubpages. You assigned those rights to Squidoo so they own them and they can legally sell them. They didn't sell your articles per se.[1]

Yet, in another article[2] about my work and cited in Want to Leave HubPages? How to Get All of Your Earnings, she stated: 

Squidoo had the legal right to sell their business to HubPages, which included their articles.

And Barbara Kay in HubPages forum[3] stated:

After paying money for the Squidoo lenses...

Paul Edmondson forgot to deny paying for them in the following post[4] (shown as a screenshot).

Marisa Wright to Paul Edmondson (he forgets to deny paying for content)
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel

Proof is Right On HubPages

In the article titled Seth Godin's Failed Squidoo Site Sells Out to HubPages,[5] I found more proof that this was indeed a sale of user information and content (without the permission of authors).

Addendum April 24th, 2015:

The author of the article referenced above confirmed that money was involved in this business transaction. S/he asked a high ranking staff member of HubPages. And the answer was "yes."

Note: I sense that the article I've referenced above may become inaccessible in the near future.

Oddly, It's Hard to Find Squidoo's TOS Now

Squidoo Terms of Service
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel

I Never Joined HubPages

And Squidoo assured me (and you) of the following:

As stated in the removed copy of Squidoo's Terms of Service:[6]

  • We don't ever sell your email address...
  • We're also committed to keeping your lenses and identity protected from others off the site...
  • We will NEVER, however, disclose personally identifying information, except as specifically authorized by you...

Well, somehow HubPages obtained my email address, identity, and 293 of my articles without my permission (and in spite of my numerous public protests).

Third Strange Fact

I've had at least half a dozen people tell me "your work is still on HubPages, you know" or "I can't believe they've kept your work on HubPages" and that kind of thing.
I'd like to know too.
I haven't been notified that there is any earnings tallied for me either.
Everyone knows that HubPages and Squidoo have identical statements in their terms of use. They acknowledge they do not own the content. Yet, somehow, HubPages has found a way to keep my content on their site for months - without asking me or without even offering to pay me.
And yeah, I know the big push to "follow a link" and enter a verification code. But why do I need to indulge further into this illegal transaction?
Yes, it's illegal to sell something (content) that you don't own. But it's also illegal for Paul Edmondson et al. to buy that content and even worse, try to profit from it. I detail the legalities with footnotes in my article Why on Earth Is Any Squid Filing a DMCA With Google?
My sense is that Paul Edmondson and his lawyers knew this risk - but counted on few (if any) lawsuits. Overall, even with a few legal settlements, they thought they'd profit. And I have to admit, the shills have done a good job of convincing many writers to go along with this deal.
But the gig is up. I'm asking you Larry Page to do the right thing. I've already asked Level 3 Communications and no one is responding. I think it's time that writers retained the right to their work.
For what we have here is a tangled mess of words and clauses that has stripped me of my rights as an author (and others). For someone else to profit from my identity and my work (or anyone that is deceased, for that matter) is clearly deceptive and unconscionable.

Addendum: February 8th, 2015

Why is my identity and my work STILL on HubPages?

Feb. 8th, 2015 HubPages is STILL posting my identity, profile, avatar, and content!
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel

I've Filed the Following

An IC3 report, which I talk you through step-by-step in my article HubPages is Publicly Posting My Content Without My Permission (Part 1). (You would need to file prior to February 15th, 2015).

I wrote an open letter to Mr. Brian Britton, General Manager of Level 3 Communications - the ISP for HubPages.

I let the Google removals team know the situation but was informed the following:

If you pursue legal action against this site that results in the removal of the offending material, our search results will display this change after we next crawl the site. If the webmaster makes these changes and you need us to expedite the removal of the cached copy, please submit your request using our webpage removal request tool at http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals.

So, I complained to Consumer Affairs[7] and provided links and screenshot proof (some of which is publicly posted). The status of my complaint states, "This review is waiting for a response from the company." There have been 4014 views and 21 people have found my review helpful as of February 8th, 2015.

My Consumer Affairs Complaint Status

Note: A minimum of a 1-star rating is required

Feb. 8th, 2015 My Consumer Affairs Complaint Status
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved

From Sue Adams (via HubPages)

Subject: "Stop it already" (Is this best practices?)

Email from Sue Adams on HubPages Company Letterhead
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved


Dec 28, 2014 7:15am
I'm surprised that your work is still online on HP: after all of your public protests, I thought HP would delete them. Have you tried contacting HP directly? I noticed that you used #HubPages in your G+ posts, but have you tried using +HubPages and get their attention?
Dec 28, 2014 7:45am
Actually, I believe Consumer Affairs has contacted them. And yes, I received a "warning" from Sue Adams on HubPages company letterhead. Thank you for reminding me, I should include a screenshot of her letter - yet another fine example of "best practices" I suppose.

And here's the thing, I'm fairly certain that clicking the link and entering that 10-digit verification code (in that first email from HubPages) somehow ensures that Paul Edmondson and/or Seth Godin get paid for a large "batch" of lenses (former Squidoo articles). I mean, why else wouldn't they (or their ISP) simply delete my profile, identity, and 293 of my articles?

I feel a third party may actually be hosting (or already bought) Squidoo writers' user information and content - so perhaps Level 3 Communications (HubPages's ISP) isn't where the trail ends.

A most disturbing part of this whole transaction is discovering that HubPages completely controls the allocation of earnings from Amazon and eBay. How can anyone trust them to do that? I read on HubPages forum that an author sold 18 units of her own books on Amazon but NOT ONE had shown up in her Hubpages revenue. At least on Squidoo, you didn't have that concern.

Oh and I almost forgot, on my previous articles I used a +Paul Edmondson, however he must have blocked me. TanoCalvenoa (another writer affected by this mess) had to use the + prompt on one of my posts to ensure he was also notified. I did the same with +Brian Britton (Level 3 Communications General Manager).

I have had success using +Larry Page, so I'm hoping that Google can move some mountains for writers who never wanted their user information, identity, and content bought and sold.

The bigger issue is retaining the rights to our identity and our work online.
Dec 28, 2014 8:13am
Squidoo also explicitly controlled all eBay and Amazon data, so we actually have to trust them. There is also an option whereby you can use your own Amazon account if one does not want to provide HubPages that control. As far as the writer with 18 books is concerned, that issue has already been solved in the forums, and she is happy she has been explained so good. Squidoo's and HP's way of distributing earnings is entirely different, so the reports do not match at all.

I have no information regarding HP selling our contact information to a third our fourth party. And I haven't gotten a single spam email from anyone on the account I created (if that helps). As far as Sue Adams is concerned, it might not end there. Not only Sue Adams, anyone can contact you from visiting your profile page but they don't have your email address. It's only one way - they don't see your email unless you reply back.

The deal is done and the money is sent, so you not clicking on that link does not hold Seth Godin from getting the money Paul has promised, because every one of your article is there. HP is not deleting your articles because they clearly don't feel pressured from ISP or Google. (And by the way, Google has no right to delete articles from any website, also - they can't.) And yes, they ARE making money from your articles - there's no denial to that.

The link as far as I can see, is just to sign you up and the verification code is a process for signing up (not just for HP, for any website). Of course I'm not a HP staff or their affiliate/worker who's here to make you feel pressured - just like they say - "just saying." You can get direct and more effective response if you contact HP directly than trying to get attention from Larry Page (whose Google does not have power to delete anyone's articles from a single website).

Take care.

Dec 28, 2014 8:57am
Okay, I'll try to address your points one-by-one since I'm not sure you understand all of the facts of my case or perhaps my logic.

1) I did not have an affiliate account on Squidoo. And, in the 4 years I was there, they split the earnings with me. Every purchase was recorded - not the way it is (as I understand) on HubPages. I find it disturbing that the earnings reports do not match at all on HubPages (as you confirmed to me).

You state, the author with the 18 books "is happy she has been explained so good" - but seriously, you are NOT her. How do you know she is "happy" (I'll bet she's pretty leery but too afraid to go to the forums to complain).

2) Yes, you do NOT have any info regarding the sale of our user information or content - but I fail to see how NOT receiving any spam emails is any consolation. Our identity and user information could be used for numerous reasons that are unlawful (without us even knowing about it).

HubPages (and Squidoo HQ members) are well aware of my complaints - which began August 16th, 2014. I am certain that Paul Edmondson is completely aware too. My guess here is that Sue Adams is trying to "limit" the number of lawsuits.

The fact that Sue Adams chose to use company letterhead tells me (and any one in the legal field) that HubPages has been informed. Not to mention the shills that have been following me around from day one.

3) I'm completely puzzled that you are so sure that "the deal is done and the money is sent." HubPages posting "every one of my articles" is no reassurance that some third or fourth or tenth party hasn't been bargaining to pay for my user info and content somewhere else - right?

4) And how do you know "HP doesn't feel pressured from their ISP or Google"?

I am aware that Google cannot delete articles from a website (except Blogger) BUT Google CAN cooperate with the IC3 (who was informed within 24 hours of me receiving that first email from HubPages). The IC3 has powers that go beyond any lawyer - they are an affiliation with the FBI and white collar crime divisions in the US.

5) Your last paragraph is something that is simply a guess and your opinion. I did not join HubPages and never intended to. I was assured (as TanoCalvenoa was) right here in InfoBarrel's forum (by Marisa Wright) that my work would simply "disappear offline." I fully expected that.

To receive an email that my lenses (articles) had been imported was like akin to 4 years worth of my work being stolen and then receiving an email from the thief telling me to "follow his link" and enter some code of his. This is FORCED consent of some kind. No one need to bargain with anyone who has clearly broken the law. And NO, I've never had to do this on any other site. InfoBarrel did not steal my work and then make me follow a link and enter a code.

As I stated, Consumer Affairs has taken my complaint (and others) seriously enough to pursue this on my behalf (and hopefully more writers too).

6) Thank you, at least, for acknowledging the following: "And yes, they ARE making money from your articles - there's no denial to that." Because profiting from stolen work carries a hefty punishment under California law (which HubPages is held to).
Dec 28, 2014 10:29am
One more thing, Google CAN revoke AdSense from HubPages.

RE: "As stated in our program policies, AdSense
publishers are not permitted to place Google ads on sites involved in the
distribution of copyrighted materials. This includes hosting copyrighted
files on your site, as well as providing links for or driving traffic to
sites that contain copyrighted material." Source: https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/48182?ctx=as2&rd=1

So yeah, "getting attention from Larry Page" is well worth it.

Dec 28, 2014 10:16am
As per your suggestion, I just added +HubPages, +Brian Britton, and +Level 3 Communications to my Google Plus post. Thanks!
Dec 28, 2014 11:37am
When the transfer from Squidoo to HubPages was announced, they were very unclear about everything, and quite a few statements have been shown to be 100% dishonest. Such as that accounts without articles would not transfer. They said that, but then did it to me.

I see that you were falsely told that accounts WITH articles would also be deleted if an author didn't push their big green consent-to-transfer button. It's unbelievable that they even offered that button if anyone who didn't press it would have the exact same thing happen (account transferred to HubPages, whether you had any articles or not)!

Something's obviously incredibly fraudulent about this entire situation - not the least of which is the fact that they still have your work on their site without your consent, and are profiting from it, and seem hellbent on ignoring every request to do otherwise. How is it that they think it's more worth doing this than all the bad publicity they're getting as a result?
Dec 28, 2014 12:01pm
I agree.

And since some kind of "tampering" with my Google Analytics prompted an alert that there were "351 pages without a tracking code" tells me that this transaction was done behind closed doors, early spring/summer 2014.

I think selected authors (like you) were automatically transferred over too. Your profile page had a lot of weight. My profile PageRank was 5 on Squidoo - and I found my profile URL embedded in the work and profile pages of other people (as well as some of my article URLs).

What "could" be a factor is that somehow my comments from Squidoo ALSO transferred over to HubPages. I don't know what kind of weight a comment from my profile page would have but I wonder if this is all intertwined in the "bundle" that HubPages purchased (or sold) or somehow cannot easily undo.

At any rate, every Squidoo writer had their user information and content sold and bought without their permission. Therefore, everyone who was on Squidoo (whether they pushed a button or followed a link, etc) could file a free report with the IC3 and/or Consumer Affairs.

I sure hope more writers from Squidoo file a claim, but we'll see. Thanks so much for dropping by, thumbing, sharing, and commenting.

Take good care,

Dec 31, 2014 5:23pm
I noticed the comments thing when searching for my Squidoo username. Every result that came up was to articles I commented on that were now on HP. Something else I noticed during the announcement and phase prior to the lock out of lenses was that some of my lenses status changed.

Of the lenses written, only one was a purple star. While collecting lens information I noticed that a majority of them were purple stars when they weren't before. This is another fine article you've written; thanks for sharing.
Dec 28, 2014 5:57pm
WinterWolf, I had to delete your last comment - it was too abusive for my article. I've kept a copy in my email for InfoBarrel's admin (just in case). I think you made logical points previously that warranted some answers and clarification from me (so I will keep those). If you wish to pursue the points you just made, I suggest you write your own post or article.
Feb 13, 2015 9:24am
Good luck. I think that you make great points that are essentially being ignored by HP.
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  1. "Squidoo is Moving to Hubpages." InfoBarrel Forum. 27/12/2014 <Web >
  2. Kasman "Is HubPages in trouble?." Persona Paper. 27/12/2014 <Web >
  3. "Is There Some Kind of Filter On Squidoo Lenses That Came Over?." HubPages Forum. 27/12/2014 <Web >
  4. "Why Did Hundreds of Hubs Become Unfeatured for Quality Today?." HubPages Forum. 27/12/2014 <Web >
  5. Writer Fox "Seth Godin's Failed Squidoo Site Sells Out to HubPages." HubPages. 27/12/2014 <Web >
  6. "Squidoo Terms of Service (TOS)." Internet Archive WayBackMachine. 27/12/2014 <Web >
  7. Rose of Milton, ON "HubPages Complaint." Consumer Affairs. 10/11/2014. 27/12/2014 <Web >

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