A few days ago, I received an email from a nice gentleman named Mark. He was inquiring about my writing services and, being a freelance writer and a blog owner, I didn’t see anything unusual about his message.
Then he referenced my Fiverr account and I was all what the whaaaa?
I had never heard of Fiverr, so I asked Google and He told me it’s a virtual marketplace where people buy and sell certain tasks and services. Many freelance writers use this site, only charging $5 for their work. Clearly, it’s quality stuff.
My new pal Mark included a link to “my” account and guess what I found there?! My fat head plastered all over the place! A person had not only stolen my face but also my expertise: seller iammonica was offering services ranging from writing research papers to other academic assignments such as creative writing and completing homework. You know, the stuff a teacher assigns. A teacher like me.
After sufficiently freaking the freak out, I returned Mark’s email, confirming his suspicions and the results of his image search: I am NOT Monica; iammonica had lifted my photograph and pretended to be me.
Not cool, Mon. Not. Cool.
Shortly after freaking the freak out and returning Mark’s email, I contacted the seller:
My name is Stephanie Jankowski, creator of WhenCrazyMeetsExhaustion.com, and you are currently using a picture of me as your profile shot. Please remove it IMMEDIATELY. If it is not taken down within 24-hours, I will pursue legal action.
I quoted her 24-hours, which in cyber time is about 20 minutes. When I received no response and the pictures remained, I contacted Fiverr’s legal department. Their response wasn’t quick enough for me (please note: I require a 4-minute turnaround), so I posted this on my Facebook page:
My pals did not disappoint. Some contacted the seller on my behalf; others gave me great advice like, “Hey dummy, you ever hear of Twitter?”
I took to the Twitter and within a matter of 1 hour, I had received a response from Fiverr’s legal team, they contacted the seller, and my picture was removed. A bit later, the seller herself (himself?) got back to me:
No, iammonica, I don’t understand. I don’t understand why you’re offering to do students’ homework for them, why you’re lying about your face, or why you thought it was okay to steal a random woman’s identity. Did you realize I was a teacher? Did you think about the repercussions for me? Or were you so excited about that $5.00/400 words that you just slapped the first blonde highlighted head up on your account and called it a day? Either way, I think you suck.
Something else I don’t understand is Fiverr’s claim,which was included in my “your issue is resolved, but heads up” email that it is not responsible for the content on the website:
We wish to remind that Fiverr.com‘s content is based on User Generated Content (UGC). Fiverr does not check user uploaded/created content for violations of copyright, trademarks or other rights. We invite everyone to report violations together with proof of ownership. Reported violating content may be removed or disabled. Furthermore, Fiverr is not responsible for the content, quality or the level of service provided by the Sellers. We provide no warranty with respect to the Gigs, their delivery, and any communications between buyers and sellers. We encourage users to take advantage of our rating system, our community and common sense in choosing appropriate GIGS® service offers.
Hmmm…that’s like me saying I’m not responsible for my kids or pets. “Hey neighbors, my dog just dropped a deuce on your front porch, but despite wanting them and bringing them home and calling them mine, I am not responsible for what they do! K thanks!”
Fiverr isn’t responsible for the sellers on its site, the tasks or services being offered on its site, and–conveniently enough–if something goes awry, say, when a dishonest lying liar pants laughs in the face of copyright laws, buyers aren’t even able to leave an honest review, thereby “taking advantage of their rating system.”
Well isn’t that special! (say that like Saturday Night Live‘s Church Lady or you’re wasting everyone’s time.)
No offense to Fiverr, but WTF? If you’re a marketplace that invites people to sell goods in your marketplace, then you need to take ownership of the marketplace. While I am very happy that my mug no longer lives on iammonica’s account, I really wish she would have been banned from the community all together. Why are you allowing a person like that to represent your space? If she’s lying about a stupid photo, stealing and breaking other laws, and generally being a very dishonest business person from the jump, what else is she doing that’s underhanded? All her great reviews–are they really from happy customers, or is her grandma helping bump her ratings?
Oh, and this person:
YOU’RE going to have to learn to write some of your own stuff. Practice makes perfect.
Possibly the most irritating part of the whole situation is that I had to create a Fiverr account just to communicate with the legal department and iammonica. Now my name is actually on the site, so I might as well start selling stuff. First up: for the low, low price of $5/1,000 words, I will write a scathing review of Fiverr that will never be published because that’s not allowed. And if you need to find me quickly, look for my profile pic…
WOW! I’m sorry this happened to you Stephanie. Thank you for sharing this – although I don’t know where I’ve been since I missed the social media updates on this. I was considering using Fiverr…but that’s not going to happen now. I cannot believe that iammonica is still on the site. That says a whole lot about the Fiverr community.
Stephanie Jankowski says
They’ve gotten really bad reviews from most everything I’ve read, Vernette!
Bob M says
(before I start, I have nothing to do with Fiverr… never heard of it prior to this and probably never will deal with it after this. I’m just a geek who had minor experience with this stuff and can probably shed some light on their WTF response).
Fiverr’s basic response is the same of any other company the provides some kind of service (bank, twitter, telephone co, etc). In that they typically don’t police their service because if they do and miss one then they’re required to catch everyone and held legally responsible when they don’t. Your dog example isn’t quite right in this case (you’re responsible for dog, kids ,etc). If someone uses a phone to coordinate a drug deal then the phone company is an accessory to the drug deal because they provided the way for the deal to go down. The phone company doesn’t (and can’t) monitor all of the calls for illicit activities (you can make your own NSA joke here), thus letting them off the hook for how people use their service. They are required to help out when someone comes to them… ie the police have the drug lord’s cell number and they need help tracking him down.
Copyright is another area of things that can get shady / not make sense to people. The picture in question, you actually might not be allowed to use on your site because the photographer owns the rights to it. Give this a read: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/culturebox/2012/03/stock_photo_mistake_my_boyfriend_s_face_ended_up_on_howaboutwe.html
The other problem is that they need to operate in good faith with their users. They really had no way to verify the picture that person used wasn’t them. They did what could do when you reported the problem… they might (or could) do more based on what their terms of service are (that big long legalese thing that no one reads but always accepts), but probably the worst thing they could do is close her account and not allow her to create a new one with that name.
All in all, this sucks and I’m sorry you had to deal with it, but hopefully this explains their stance.
Stephanie Jankowski says
Bob, everything you say makes sense, and the logical side of my brain understands. Even still, I’m all DO NOT LET THAT LYING THIEF HAVE AN ACCOUNT, FIVERR!!! I blame hormones. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment 🙂
You do know what your problem is, don’t you? If you weren’t so damn freaking adorable, iammonica would’ve just moved on to the next hot teacher chick. So really, it’s all YOUR fault for being too cute. I blame you.
Stephanie Jankowski says
HA! I love when you visit 🙂