Women all over the internet are up in arms and supporting “Emily” — the allegedly scored wife of “Steven” — by linking to “Emily’s” blog: http://thatgirlemily.blogspot.com/ and adding “Emily” to their Blogrolls in support of her public revenge.
The only problem is “Emily” — and her cheating husband “Steven” — are fake.

They are a Viral Advertising marketing campaign created to dupe people and exploit their emotions for profit:

The latest in viral marketing is brought to you by Court
TV, spokespeople for the network confirmed yesterday, in what industry
experts call a “shill marketing” move, whereby the people – that’s
right, dumb ol’ you and me – are duped into believing a gigantic
billboard in Midtown is for real.

First clue that this open letter from a woman scorned was 100 percent
pure baloney came when bloggers spotted the same billboard in other
parts of the city and in Los Angeles. That’s odd, seeing as how poor,
pilates-obsessed “Emily” wrote on her blog that she placed the ad
strategically outside the office of “Steven,” her supposed no-good
philandering spouse.

You can see “Emily’s” fake video as she tosses all of “Steven’s” stuff
on the street. It would help if “Fake Emily” were a better “Real
Actress.” She wouldn’t get a passing grade in a beginning acting class.
If “Emily” were authentic, she would be in jail by now. Her revenge is
so cruel and over-the-top she would not only be prosecuted on a local
level but on a Federal one as well. “Emily” would be doing hard time in
The Big House.

The most disappointing part of this Shill Marketing Campaign is the
women who support “Emily’s” illegal actions and celebrate her unlawful
behavior on their blogs!
Blogs have power. Bloggers should have authenticity.
When a good blogger not only get duped — but then also celebrates
criminal actions believed to be real — one wonders what sort of
previous emotional and psychic damage was done to the blogger who
supports “Emily’s” revenge.

45 Comments

  1. That’s good analysis, clem. The writing does seem awfully perfect and almost tongue-in-cheek in the way the phrases are turned if you read it closely enough.
    You’re right that the published images of her spray-painting her cheating husband’s car are a dead-giveaway the blog is entirely fake.

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  2. I guess some people like that kind of vengeful life, Katha, based on the bloggers who think Emily and her revenge are real.
    That disturbs me because there are young people who look up to some of those bloggers and when the bloggers say “You go, girl!” you begin to wonder what the world has become where Emily’s “behavior” is something to cheer.
    I don’t think we know the why of the viral ads yet. Court TV is behind the campaign. I guess we’ll find out sometime soon the why behind it all…

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  3. These types of stories are good for their dramatic effect in fictional works, but could get regular people arrested, as you wrote David.
    It also doesn’t win over the judge in the divorce proceedings when the time comes to split things 50%-50%, but you’ve wasted many of the martial assets. Equitable relief requires coming to the court with clean hands. Hubby might have squandered funds with the affair, but wifey might have tipped the scales with all of her spending and waste.
    Also, the criminal activity doesn’t win any friends.
    Sending off for the magazine subscriptions could be considered mail fraud.
    Spray painting the car is vandalism and wasting of marital assets.
    Breaking into the computer is trespass. It could also be the basis for a tort suit by the employer against the wife if business was lost.
    If it was a real divorce case and the couple had children, the blog would be used in the custody battle against the “wife” to show some sort of psychological condition that would make her an unfit parent.
    I didn’t really read too far into the blog, but I’m sure there’s more fun things that would definitely be brought up in a court hearings.
    People who write about their antics should always remember that anything they write can be used against them.
    Don’t be like Emily in real life! Being like the people on Jerry Springer isn’t a good way to live life. Even in a fictional blog!
    Here’s a brief explanation of waste as it relates to division of martial property.
    From ColoradoBiz Magazine:

    While you are traveling on a business trip, you decide to take a quick detour visit to the spa resort with that beautiful lady you met on the last flight to Los Angeles. Being the perfect gentleman, you pick up the tab on your Amex card for the room, meals and a nice bracelet for the damsel. You think that your credit card is absolutely your private property and you are free to use it as you please. Wrong!
    When the divorce hits down the road, your wife’s attorney can subpoena all these records and you will find yourself faced with a claim for dissipating marital assets. Although Colorado is a “no-fault” divorce state, and evidence of one spouse’s misconduct is not admissible in order to determine how property is divided, the court may adjust amounts awarded to each party if it finds that one spouse has squandered or given away marital assets during the marriage.
    Marital asset dissipation occurs when one spouse has previously consumed, given away or otherwise transferred, mismanaged, converted, or otherwise adversely affected property that, had it been before the court, would have been subject to equitable distribution. This commonly takes the form of spending marital funds for the benefit of paramours or wasting marital property.

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  4. Chris —
    I appreciate your voice as an attorney on this serious matter. We know Emily and her story is fake, but the supportive groundswell behind her is alarmingly quite real.
    “Emily” also used his credit card to send a dozen roses to all the women in the office — and a few men — asking them for dates.
    She messed around with his online gambling account.
    She reported all his credit cards and car as stolen. She cancelled his car insurance.
    This is not behavior to be admired — fake or not!

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  5. I read the NY Post story and was struck by the BzzAgent’s comments that people don’t like to be lied to by advertisers.
    Licence to Roam also writes that people are upset about the campaign because it invaded their internet worlds.

    But a few boundaries were overstepped and that could have the wrong implications for the brand and the agency. There’s a hint of astroturfing or just plain stupidness. Emily was out on the blogs and message boards spinning her tale and getting tea and sympathy back. But as with Cillit Bang, it’s not the best thing to be out and about posting as a character in places that don’t expect it. ARGs do this…but a working practice appears to have arisen – there are ways to get attention and not piss people off in the wrong place. ‘Emily’ has hurt some of the people who read and enjoy these boards…not the greatest result.

    I shill almost all of my online businesses on Myspace site — but I’m upfront about it and people don’t mind if they know where you’re coming from. I never spam or intrude into their sites with any of my advertisements either.
    I have 950+ “Myspace Friends” who don’t mind being linked to my page. If I did anything to distrub that trust, I’m sure people would be dropping me as quickly as they could hit their “block” button.
    I also shill other people’s sites in my Myspace blog just to be a good person and without any ulterior motives or expectation for gain — except to build up good will with people who are passionate with what they are doing.
    Today I wrote about a Chicago musician who’s trying to get some exposure in the ultra competive music industry.
    Earlier, I wrote about an up-and-coming model seeking attention.
    Viral marketing doesn’t need to be sneaky.
    You just need to offer “good stuff” so that people talk about your products.

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  6. Hi Chris!
    Viral marketing, by definition, though assumes the receiver is unaware of the infectious intent of the effort and so they unwittingly then spread that virus to others using their good name and reputation to back up the initial exposure.
    What you’re doing is straight-up and honest business.
    I agree the people behind Emily have no idea how things work in real world of the ether of blogs. Once you’re “outed” as a fraud and your real intent becomes known, the hard feelings and hatred that will pour your way forever suggests advertising risks like Emily are not worth the time or the blogs they were written on.
    I wonder if Blogspot is in on the deal or if they are unwitting partners in this scheme? According to their TOS “Emily’s” blog should be deleted because it is, in effect, Spam.

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  7. I read Blogger (and Pyra’s) TOS and note that “spamming” isn’t allowed. In this case, people thought the blog was the reflection of a person’s life and experiences — not a splog. It seems to fit the definition of spam.
    However, I worry about pulling the trigger on “artful” spam, as opposed to link farms and other methods used to trick search engines. Even though the ultimate goal was to sell the product, the blog still exhibits literary and artistic elements.
    As much as I don’t like spam, if I swing a sword, it can be swung back against me sometime in the future.
    Maybe spam is like porn.
    We know it when we see it, but it’s hard to define in concrete terms.
    Should we develop a LAPS test for spam that examines to see if there are any literary, artistic, political, or scientific elements that are useful to society?
    Maybe some combination of a LAPS test with reference to modern community standards?

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  8. Hi Chris —
    I think Emily’s blog is Spam. The viral campaign has been revealed and, like good ad copy, Emily’s blog is one big lie shilling an idea under false pretenses while celebrating breaking the law.
    If Blogspot — if they are not involved in the scam — leave up her fake blog even though they, and we, now know Court TV and their advertising people are behind it… aren’t they just as guilty for perpetuating the scam as its instigators?

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  9. The terms of use prohibit spam.
    The thing is – at least in my mind – until there is an actual implicit request for you to go to court tv or spend money in some way it seems like it’s just a big fat fake blog, and the terms of use don’t seem to prohibit that.
    My father sent me a jpg of a photo taken on 54th and 7th ave in NY of the same billboard.
    I guess they tried a little too hard.
    I sent him a link to today’s entry and he has forwarded it to his whole friend mailing list so if you get a whole bunch of new visitors that’s why. 🙂

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  10. Gordon —
    I understand your point — but a blog that is part of an overall advertising Spam effort should be deleted according to the TOS if the larger picture of content perpetuates Spamming or encourages or celebrates illegality. When that blog builds outside links based on a pack of lies, the virus campaign spreads. The blog is the agent used to push the scam forward.
    The blog in our case is the central core that sucks people in and the sends them out to other pieces of a misleading Spam puzzle. To allow that access of operation to continue when the effort to deceive has been unmasked isn’t right.

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  11. I wonder what Blogspot’s policy is regarding splogs? Not their TOS, but what actually happens when they find one or one is reported.
    According to Fighting Splog on June 2, 2006:

    It has been a rather busy two weeks since I’ve posted a big batch of splogs but to my surprise Google has done very little with them.
    It appears most of them have gone untouched. Only thing Google has done is they selectively blocked AdSense ads from showing up on the splogs I’ve posted but spammer’s AdSense account remains active.
    The AdSense ads on splogs in blogspot.com is no longer showing but it continues to show ads everywhere else.

    It looks like Myspace takes spamming its members seriously, especially when a spammer tries to shake down the service.
    From the Department of Justice:

    A New York state teen-ager was arrested yesterday (2-16-05) at Los Angeles International Airport after allegedly sending waves of unsolicited “spam” e-mail messages to an online instant messaging service, and then threatening additional attacks unless the company hired him as a consultant.
    Anthony Greco, 18, of Cheektowaga, New York, is charged in a criminal complaint with violating the federal CAN-SPAM Act, which was passed by Congress in 2003 to cut down unsolicited e-mail messages. …
    The complaint charges Greco with three offenses — violating the CAN-SPAM Act, threatening to cause damage to MySpace.com’s computers with the intent to extort, and causing damage to a protected computer. If convicted of all three offenses, Greco faces a maximum possible penalty of 18 years in federal prison Greco is scheduled to appear in federal court in Los Angeles this afternoon.

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  12. Would it be different if Court TV had set this up on another server, i.e. EmilysSplog.com instead of using Blogger? That domain is available, if CourtTV wants it!
    Does using blogger make it seem to be more “grassroots” and increase the feeling of deception?

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  13. Google does delete sploggers — it probably just takes some time to root them out.
    From Fighting Splog, see comment above for link:

    UPDATE (5/10/2006 5:25am) – To Google’s credit, they deleted quite a number of splogs since I started accumulating this spammer’s splogs. I’ve removed most of deleted splogs from the above list and the new filtered list is posted below.

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  14. Chris!
    Thanks for all this super research!
    Yes, if Emily’s blog were on her own fake domain it would not have the power of being a Blogspot blog. Being on Blogspot and with all that AWFUL pink makes it look like a “realer” blog and it fooled a lot of good people.
    I am so disappointed in Court TV. That used to be a fine and honorable television channel. To get into the business of faking illegality for profit and kicks just seems wrong on a deep genetic level to me.
    I am glad there are those out there on Splog watch! We need those kind of good people on point against those who wish to wound us.

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  15. Thankyou so much David. I feel ashamed now to admit that I thought it was all real. As I read up the posts, “emily’s” anger seemed too convincing for it not to be real if you get my drift.
    Of course you’ve seen my post about it, and thanks for the link btw, I’ve done another post and added the link. You asked why I’d given her props for doing what she did. Maybe that was a bad choice of words. It wasn’t directed so much at what she’d done, more that I was pleased to see a woman hitting back. Of course, at the time I thought it was all real.
    I’ve left my original post up. I’m not going to delete it. However, I wrote another post above it to rectify the mistake I made – and “her” blog no longer has a place on my blogroll.
    Thanks for exposing this for me David. I appreciate it.

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  16. Hi Dawn!
    I admire your bravery to come over here and post your comment!
    You know I respect you and your blog and when I read your entry this morning I was thinking — “WOW! If Dawn likes this woman, she must be have a good cause!”
    Out of respect for you I followed the link you provided to “her” blog and when I started reading about what she did to her “husband” I began to get a little concerned that she was putting herself in dire legal jeopardy by publishing all this on a blog.
    Then I dug a little deeper and found the whole thing was a hoax.
    I went back to your site and re-read your entry and left my comment about you being duped.
    😀
    I didn’t want to mention you by name here or link you here because I didn’t want it to look like I was putting you on the spot in a way that you would feel forced to respond. I am so happy you explained here what happened and why.
    Then I saw one of your other friends took your link recommendation and build a blog entry around supporting “Emily” as well and I began to see just how cruel and insidious this kind of “viral advertising” is on the web: Fakery spreads like wildfire!
    My genuine concern was your support for — real or not — her actions. In addition to your children, you have great power and influence over the minds who choose to read your blog entries and some of them – the younger ones, perhaps — may feel your endorsement of “Emily” gives them your blessing for them to behave in the same way.
    We both know you would never imitate Emily — but your joy in Emily’s behavior can turn perverse and dark when mirrored into action by your beloved readers who look up to you.

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  17. It’s too bad there isn’t an “Adblock” plug-in or a “safe browsing” feature on Google’s toolbar like they have to try to catch “phishing” attempts to filter out “sploggery.”
    Hi Dawn,
    It’s great that you posted over here. I know there are a lot of women who feel the same way — they’d never do any of those things, but it’s cathartic to think of a fellow woman doing them. That’s why the site was so popular and why it’s such a let down to know it was fake.
    Your post made me think of something.
    I’m glad that my wife and I decided to not attack each other and instead agree to go to marital counseling to resolve our differences.
    Our divorce case is still out there, but at this time it is just pending with no one taking any action. (My wife also has a good attorney who isn’t into “churning” for extra fees.)

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  18. Hi David,
    Thanks!
    Our counselor told me I was extremely lucky to have my wife and to always let her know that. I can never assume she knows — it’s always important to let her know!

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  19. Lol David, it’s all good. If I make a mistake then I’ll stand up and admit it. That was a lesson I learned early on in childhood thanks to my parents.
    As for my post about Emily or whoever that person is … I never really though about it in terms of anyone reading my site who might decide to imitate her actions, or even think that I would endorse that, so thanks for opening my eyes to that.
    I’m glad that, courtesy of you, there was a way to put the record straight. When I first read your comment, I felt so guilty for posting something that turned out not to be true. I guess I was sucked in by the whole thing of her having pictures and everything that appeared to back up what she/he/it was saying. Easy done I guess.
    Chris: I too hope everything works out for you and your wife. My parents divorced 5 years ago this coming christmas when Mom accused Dad of cheating on her. Instead of either of them suggesting Marital Counselling, On the boxing day, my dad spent the day out of the house, and my Aunt caught my Mom with a bottle of Whiskey and a bottle of pills. Dad moved out on New Years eve.
    Now, almost 5 years down the road I see that Marital Counselling wouldn’t have done a bit of good for them Dad is remarried and Mom is with a man who absolutely adores her. Divorcing was the best thing they ever did, and both will admit to that. However, I think for one member of a marriage to suggest counselling shows that all is not lost. Sometimes, couples need a third party to help see where the problem lies, and suggest ways to sort that out without taking drastic – and expensive! action. Kudos to you!

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  20. I can say from personal experience that this is not so far fetched. Although it does seem a bit contrived; I’m sure Chris being an attorney can attest better than I of the outlandish goings on in the divorce/relationship arena. I chose the word “arena” for personal reasons because I find more and more that justice is no longer blind and the awards seem to go to the individual(s) who do not take the high road.
    The lesson here. If you plan on divorcing, make sure you have control of everything at all times. And.. Make sure your attorney works for you and not them self.

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  21. I agree these sorts of terrible things happen, Cryptic, and that’s why this viral campaign is so insidious — because it takes advantage of the compassion of real human outrage and shared gender fury.
    Court TV should be condemned for the campaign, not celebrated because it plays into misogynous stereotypes and creates great damage.

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  22. It seems people are supporting “Emily’s behavior” to achieve some kind of pseudo gratification. They are accepting “Emily” as an icon, which I think, is not fair.
    Personally I don’t think revenge is the only way of justice, but still revenge can be taken without degrading/demeaning one’s self. Whatever that “fake Emily” is doing is downright abusive, that can’t/shouldn’t be encouraged by any means. It will be something like promoting Frankenstein.
    Dawn, I am just moved and touched by your honest post, thanks for sharing!
    Chris, probably I don’t have any right to comment on your personal life but as we participate in the same discussion forum everyday I think I will take my chance here.
    I am a very keen observer of human nature and relationships and here goes my two cents:
    Any relationship under the Sun needs effort, from both the parties – it’s universal. It’s up to us whether we will put that effort for the same person/perspective or a new person/perspective in our life.
    Moreover, every problem has a solution if we want to solve it.

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  23. Hi Katha —
    Thanks for the great comment on a variety of issues!
    I don’t think revenge is ever justified and it cannot, by its purpose, make anyone feel any better. From Oxford:

    revenge
    the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands : other spurned wives have taken public revenge on their husbands.
    the desire to inflict such retribution : it was difficult not to be overwhelmed with feelings of hate and revenge.

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  24. Hi Dawn,
    That’s the good thing about counseling.
    If both parties don’t want to work it out, the counselor will help make the best of the situation so that the parties aren’t fighting and the children and being good parents become the focus of the relationship.
    There is a movement to take some of the adversarial nature out of the divorce process.

    Jay Levy was shocked when his wife, Alison Gerred, asked for a divorce after only two years of marriage. Yet he knew one thing: Even though the marriage was over, he wanted a role in the lives of his two daughters. Things got tough when Gerred began planning to move with the kids to Phoenix. Facing a custody battle, Levy, an electronic and security systems salesman from Northridge, began to interview attorneys.
    “They wanted to destroy the mother of my children,” he remembers. “I knew if we got attorneys involved, we would end up hating each other’s guts.”
    Instead, the couple went to a financial mediator and a child psychologist, eventually reaching a divorce agreement so amicable that they still take weekly trips to the park as a family. Last summer, the foursome even vacationed together in Las Vegas.
    “He had his room, and I had mine,” Gerred explains. “It was kinda weird on one hand, but it was good for the kids.”

    Most of the things people fight about are silly and the law wants to split everything 50% – 50% in most cases. If people don’t fight and decide to amicably split their assets and make reasonable parenting time plans, they can avoid losing most of their assets in the legal battles.

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  25. I do understand and agree with you…
    But still people keep “score” and “settle” it – taking life as a soccer field…! I wonder whether it comes from a desire to “win”.

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  26. You are right…
    Probably “win” was not the right word I was looking for. May be it should have been “desire to have the last word!”
    I think I am a little confused about how it works…

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  27. Katha!
    “desire to have the last word” is keeping score, isn’t it?
    I’m saying — don’t keep tabs on who has what or how many more turns someone has had over another one because in a right relationship everything evens out over time and in the end — when it’s truly over, don’t count back for advantages or slights, just zero out everything and move forward.

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  28. Yes! You are right!
    It’s a vicious cycle…the only way of coming out of it is to “let go!”
    If I find out someone is cheating on me probably I will go numb for a few days and then just walk out without creating any fuss over it. I don’t think I will have the energy or enthusiasm left to make a drama out of it.

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  29. All relationships break down eventually. I had a conversation with a friend of mine and we discussed relationships for a few hours. He drew a set of lines on his white board (we were at work) and he drew two lines down the center similar to a double lane road.
    | || |
    As the discussion progressed we came to realize that relationships are NOT about meeting in the middle but more a series of small compromises that if performed successfully maintain a healthy relationship(Inside the double yellow line). If one person is giving more than the other, the relationship has no balance.
    Relationships are also a series of negotiations. Remember gentlemen, “yes dear” is a verifiable argument against yourself and your position. As in any successful negotiation, both parties should come away [somewhat dissatisfied.] If one person is happy, then an equal an opposite effect must occur and one person is not happy and is usually suymbolic of the age old issue where one person is doing all the giving.
    Test our design. I’ll name it the “JRoad model”. Draw the picture and place each party on either side of the road. Now, using arrows representing various aspects of the relationship, see where you both end up on the give and take road of relational equality. You may be surprised by what you find.
    Synchronicity is key. Like two people using an old lumberjack saw, one person pushes the other pulls. Just like the Yin and Yang theory.

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  30. You have an interesting theory to test, Cryptic!
    Serious relationships are usually really business relationships and not purely made of love. To accept that reality is to make the relationship easier to navigate because goals become facts and discussions more easily turn on resolutions than on emotions.

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  31. No relationship under the Sun is perfect, neither the partners who are there in it.
    And if/when we decide to ‘love’ a person even with his/her faults, that’s not chance – that’s a conscious choice.
    Accepting this is to acception the condition to accomodate and negotiate, even a successful business has to play according to this rule.

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  32. An interesting point, Dave.
    I guess the idea of my relationship being purely business based makes me uneasy. I agree with your comment though and I would have to further that and state that it may be the individuals past that places the relationship in that model. Keeping ones self in a business model offers sanctuary from the harshnesses of love and offers a more comfortable approach to conflict resolution.

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