If he does you www.wrong ...
She set up her site to give women a place to rat out the rats. But some of the men profiled want to fight back.
By MARLON A. WALKER
Published July 12, 2006
The profile begins like many found on the Internet: Male, 38 years old, 5-foot-10, nicknamed “Blue-Eyed Boy Toy.” His handsome face adorns the screen, along with a few more personal details.
But before a woman gets too interested, she’s warned to keep away from the “fat face loser from Tampa” who likes to have his cake and eat it, too.
He’s one of dozens of men in the Tampa Bay area who can be found on www.dontdatehimgirl.com, a site built to help women steer clear of cheaters and abusers, according to its creator Tasha Joseph.
“I’m just trying to provide this forum for women where they can gather to discuss their experiences,” said Joseph, 33, a communications consultant and former columnist for the Miami Herald.
The year-old site is causing quite a stir as women across the country dish about the men who they feel have wronged them and others scroll the roughly 11,000 profiles of men to make sure their loved ones are clean.
The men who find themselves targets are in an uproar, angry about having their intimate information posted for the world to see. One Pittsburgh man has filed a defamation lawsuit against the site saying it is destroying his reputation.
Joseph got the idea for the site, which boasts about 6-million visitors a month, when she was dining out with several girlfriends last year. The conversation had gone from pleasantries to concerns over cheating men. She said she felt like she had to do something. She had felt the same pain once before.
“I figured there’s got to be a way for women to find out if a man’s a cheater before they invest any time in him,” she said.
Dontdatehimgirl.com was born.
Some women who hear about the site seem tickled that someone is helping their search for Mr. Right.
Shancy Pacella, 28, sees it as an easy way to help women weed out men that aren’t worth their time.
“I think it’s a good idea. You never know who somebody could be,” she said. “They could be rapists, drug addicts, gamblers, you don’t know.”
And, she said, she wouldn’t hesitate to post a profile on her husband Frank, 27.
“If he was cheating, I’d post it because the girl he’s cheating with might not know,” she said. “I’d do it just to warn people, so the next girl wouldn’t get hurt.”
The men who find themselves profiled are less happy with the site.
Anthony Inniss of Tampa is said to be “all about seeing how many women he can juggle.”
Inniss, 35, said the posting, by his ex-girlfriend, offers a distorted image of what he’s about.
He and his girlfriend hooked up through an Internet dating service and had been together for about a year when they started making bigger plans for the future — getting married, settling down, maybe even kids.
But he said something in the back of his mind made him wonder if she was, indeed, the one he was meant to spend his life with.
So he sought out other women on the Internet to solidify the decision to take their relationship farther.
“We’d gotten pretty serious, and I’d been asking myself 'Is this the person I want to be with?’ ” he said. “But saying 'Let’s see other people’ sounds like 'Let’s go our separate ways.’ ”
When she found out, she wasn’t too pleased and took her post-break up thoughts to the Internet.
“A friend of mine told me about it the first time,” Inniss recalled, remembering how he found out in December about his profile on the Web site.
While the profile was technically correct, Inniss said some aspects, such as having his picture posted, are just not necessary.
“I told her if she was going to post it, at least don’t post my picture and use my whole name,” he said. “Anybody could find me. I’m listed in the phone book.
“I could see if it were something I’d been arrested for. Like on Smoking Gun. If there were a male version for girls, and I wanted to be nasty, I’ve got pictures of her and I could do the same thing, too.”
His ex-girlfriend could not be reached for comment. Inniss said the pair reconciled after the initial posting, and she took it down.
But when they broke up again, it went right back up.
Todd Hollis found out he was on the site in late May when a family friend called to warn him.
When he logged on, he found four profiles. One said he had a sexually transmitted disease.
“I was extremely appalled, embarrassed, angry,” said Hollis, 38, a criminal defense attorney in Pittsburgh.
It’s not a game, argued Hollis, who said some of his clients who heard about his profiles withdrew their business from his private practice.
He said he tried talking to Joseph, who “snubbed her nose” at him and gave him the name of her attorney should he think of suing her.
On June 29, he did just that, filing a lawsuit alleging defamation of character against Joseph and two of the women he alleges posted profiles. He said he used a private investigator to track them down because the names of the women who post the profiles are not displayed.
“I will never allow anybody to take from me what I’ve worked all my life to achieve,” Hollis said. “I’m very determined. I’m willing to lose everything for what I believe in.”
According to the Federal Communications Commission’s Web site, any information on a Web site that does not involve a “clear and present danger of serious substantive evil” is constitutionally protected under freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Janice Wise, the FCC’s press spokeswoman for its enforcement bureau, said she could not confirm whether any complaints had been lodged against Joseph’s site, or any other site, for that matter.
Joseph insists the site simply gives women the space to warn others about men they feel have wronged them.
“The Communications Decency Act clearly immunizes Web sites like mine,’’ she said.
Jim McGuire, an attorney with Thomas and LoCicero in Tampa, said the Communications Decency Act could provide protection for people like Joseph, who see their operations as host sites allowing people to post information.
It provides “very broad protections” for Internet service providers such as America Online, he said, but also seems to include individuals who create chat rooms where people post information.
“Those people who would be hosts would not be responsible,” he said. “There hasn’t been a great deal of case law on this, but it seems the courts are interpreting this very broadly.”
Joseph doesn’t plan to back down.
“I’m just trying to provide this forum. Trying to get guys to change their behavior,” she said. “Maybe a guy will think twice about how he acts because one of the chances is that he’ll be listed on dontdatehimgirl.com.”
Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Marlon A. Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8737.
[Last modified July 12, 2006, 23:48:14]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]