In the world of online reputations, bad reviews can set a business apart from another, in a bad way. One company in Dallas took the reception of bad reviews to a whole new level. This company had a man arrested for his negative thoughts posted on a blog.
This man in question, William Laurence Stanley, was charged in federal court for his blog posts about merger and acquisitions company, Generational Equity. Last year in fact, Stanley was convicted of extorting the company he once worked for after threatening to ruin their reputation unless they paid him.
Generational Equity is now claiming the charge of retaliation. Stanley owned a SEO business and claims that his controversial posts were written before he was released from federal custody. He was arrested on November 30th, 2016 after Generational Equity filed a complaint with the FBI for Stanley’s reviews.
According to Generational Equity, Stanley’s posts have already cost them around $75,000 in potential sales and could stand to lose up to $50,000 per day. Stanley is on the defense, claiming his rights to free speech. He claims that no posts were slanderous in nature as they were true. He is seeking a trial, mounting a First Amendment defense.
There is a hitch in his First Amendment defense, however. Not all comments made online are protected by the country’s Constitution. Experts from onlinereputationreviews.com believe that all Stanley’s defense will come down to whether his statements posted online are stated as fact or as an opinion.
Stanley’s indictment claims that he posted false comments and reviews about Generational Equity as retaliation against them for reporting his previous crime to the FBI. Stanley claims that he was initially hired by the company for “black hat SEO work” and that the company is involved in illegal activities.
He pleaded guilty at his initial trial, under charges of extortion. Stanley then received 3 years in prison plus an additional 3 months of probation. In the beginning of November, another prohibition was added to those conditions. Stanley was not allowed to post things online that regarded victims without the permission of the probation officer.
Stanley claims he created these posts before this new condition was added, which contained links to about 67 articles and complaints about Generational Equity. Stanley maintains his innocence and also claims that Generational Equity lied to the FBI.