Money Crush (105/365)
Credit: Rocky Lubbers on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Many former Squidoo writers are dismayed about the deal that Seth Godin made with Paul Edmondson to sell user information and content to HubPages. 

Some have expressed regret about their decision to either delete their accounts/content by or before August 29th, 2014 or agreeing to the transfer.
What's worse, fellow writers who have been offline (tending to family matters or their studies) were shocked to find their profiles, identities, and all of their content on HubPages without their consent.
The first email they would've received from HubPages said: "Your Lenses Have Been Imported!"
Since I publicly protested the transfer of my account and content (and Squidoo HQ members knew my wishes), I immediately filed an IC3 report. This is entirely free to do - without a lawyer. 
Today, I thought I'd reach out to help those who may have been under duress and didn't have time to assess the situation fully before making a decision about whether or not they wanted their work on HubPages.

Recent Developments

The recent Panda 4.1 update was designed to help small to medium high quality websites. HubPages has lost a whopping 46% SEO visibility.[1]

Two weeks ago, Paul Edmondson posted that he and their team was aware of "dramatic traffic changes particularly for recently imported Squidoo accounts." He went on to state they "will work on recommendations for people that are interested in best practices."[2]

Best Practices?

This whole transaction (for those away from their computers for the last two weeks of August) was like waking up in the morning, finding your car stolen, and then getting an email stating "we have your car and in order for you to get paid something for it, you need to verify your payment information with us by following this link..."

On Squidoo's End

On October 4th, 2014 Corey Brown posted An Update on the Payment Schedule.[5] In it, he states "If you had earnings in August, you’ll receive that payment early in the week. If you also had earnings in September, you’ll receive the second payment around mid-week."

Notably, in the comments section, people are still looking for answers and no one from Squidoo HQ has stepped forth to answer them:

"Will we lose any new income?"

"Corey will there be tier payments for the month of August?"

"Corey, what about August and September Amazon sales? Historically, those were not paid out until two months after the sale. What is happening to those?"

"Why weren't we given the four months grace period here as with HP?"

To Recap

1) Corey Brown stated in his post Reminder: HubPages Opt Out Deadline is Tomorrow: "We want to make it clear that even after tomorrow’s deadline, you will have complete access to your Dashboard..."[3]
False. You were denied access to your work/account after August 29th, 2014 at midnight (on Squidoo) even though your work was publicly available and showing ads online until (at least) September 2nd, 2014.
2) Corey Brown stated: "Everything is on track for the timeline to begin converting accounts on Tuesday, September 2nd."[3]
False. By being forced to decide on or before August 29th, 2014 whether to delete your work/account on Squidoo their "as usual" payment policies applied. This meant you lost ad pool revenue and were only entitled to Amazon and eBay royalties for the preceding 60-day pay period.
3) In Corey Brown's post An Update on September Earnings[4] his final sentence states, "In other words, any revenue generated by lenses will be paid for as long as they remain live on Squidoo."
False. He clearly led people astray.

Want Proof?

Check out the commentary on DebW07's article The Online Giant Squid Becomes 'Hub' Sushi: Squidoo Lenses Turn Into Hubs where she mentions:

"I did just read, however, the notice from Corey Brown today that indicates people who delete their accounts will still be compensated. Here's what Brown said; "If you’ve already deleted your Squidoo account . . . remember, you'll still get paid for all the time your account has been live."

The Legal Matters

Clearly, people were pressured to push that big green transfer button. Furthermore (and I've posted it before), there is publicly posted evidence of coercion while under duress.

First of all, the law was broken when Seth Godin sold user information and content (which never belonged to him) to HubPages. Writer Fox asked HubPage's Product and Quality Manager, Marina Lazarevic, "if money actually changed hands in the acquisition. Her answer was yes."[6]

Acting under duress (and there are many explanations of it) means to compel someone to act contrary to his or her wishes or interests. If duress is used to enter into an agreement, a court may find it null and void.

Reasons Why You May Want the IC3 to Find

The HubPages/Squidoo Agreement Null and Void

1) In order to obtain your fair share of the ad pool for the entirety that Squidoo displayed your work (with their ads on them) and any other monies owed including "late payments" from "some partners" that Seth Godin referred to in his initial post.
2) If you agreed to the transfer but wish to have your work removed from HubPages. Currently, HubPages states in their Terms of Use:
"By posting Hub Content on the Service, You grant HubPages a worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license, for as long as Your Hub is displayed on HubPages and for a commercially reasonable time."[7]

What's a commercially reasonable time?

Probably until after the winter holiday season is over. You also need to provide written notice to HubPages if you wish to terminate your account. Oh and by doing so, HubPages gets to keep the "entire amount of your earned balance in your account."
Unless, of course, the IC3 (or a lawyer acting on your behalf) determines that you entered into this contract under duress.

Want to File an IC3 Report?

Here are some things you need to know:

Once you file a report, you cannot change your mind and cancel it. You need to provide the following information: 

  • Your name, address, phone number
  • The name, address, phone number, website and email address of the business or individual that defrauded you
  • Specific details about how you were defrauded and any other relevant information required to support your complaint

Internet crime is defined as (and I bolded what is applicable to the sale of your identity and your content):

  • Any illegal activity involving one or more components of the Internet, such as websites, chat rooms, and/or email. Internet crime involves the use of the Internet to communicate false or fraudulent representations to consumers.
  • These crimes may include, but are not limited to, advance-fee schemes, non-delivery of goods or services, computer hacking, or employment/business opportunity schemes.[8]
  • Include that you received an email from a financial institution or other entity asking to verify your personal account information.
  • Identity theft occurs when someone appropriates another's personal information without their knowledge to commit theft or fraud. Identity theft is a vehicle for perpetrating other types of fraud schemes.
  • Typically, the victim is led to believe they are divulging sensitive personal information to a legitimate business, sometimes as a response to an email solicitation to update billing or membership information, or as an application to a fraudulent Internet job posting.[9]

I take you through the entire IC3 complaint form in my article HubPages is Publicly Posting My Content Without My Permission (Part 1) however you obviously need to fill in your own monetary loss and description of the incident.

Up next, I include some posts (and you can cite my articles as proof as well).

Found in Comments of Search Engine Watch

Article "Seth Godin's Squidoo Acquired by HubPages"

Smartellie comment on Seth Godin’s Squidoo Acquired by HubPages
Credit: Screenshot by RoseWrites on InfoBarrel

Yes, People Admit to Being Under Duress

Comment on My Article "NEW: Video Added | Squidoo's HubPages Opt Out Deadline and What is Wrong With It"
Credit: Screenshot by RoseWrites on InfoBarrel

Once the IC3 Receives Your Complaint

You will receive an automated reply that begins with "Thank you for filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). This is the only reply you will receive from the IC3."

They also provide you with a link to provide additional information/updates (you are allowed a maximum of three updates, so use them wisely). You will receive a complaint ID number and your own password.

The automated response also states:

"once we forward your complaint to investigators in the field, they may contact you for further information. Consequently, it is important that you maintain any evidence you have relating to your complaint. Evidence can include cancelled cheques, credit card receipts, phone bills, mailing envelopes, mail receipts, printed copies of websites, copies of emails, or similar items."

You don't need to use any fancy legal terms, just explain what happened, how you were misled and defrauded. The worst that can happen is that you receive no money in return for filing an IC3 complaint.

The best that can happen is that you receive some or all of your owed earnings and HubPages is not able to keep your earnings should you choose to leave their writing platform.