Thursday, April 19, 2007

eBay Censoring Members on Community Message Boards as Fraud Continues to Spiral Out of Control

The blogger and owner of both the FireMeg blog and the FireMeg website was suspended by eBay at the end of March for 30 days for speaking out about fraud on eBay's community message boards. This blog has recently received communications from eBay members that have been sanctioned and indefinitely suspended from eBay for speaking out about fraud on its community message boards. Gag orders, known as "pink slips," notifying members that their posts have been removed by Live World, community board sanction notices, and eBay registration suspension notices are constantly being emailed to its members.

eBay has become more heavy-handed in censoring its members, because it continues to DO NOTHING about fraud and it doesn't want its members discussing it on eBay. eBay now has zero tolerance when it comes to its members discussing fraud on its community message boards. The only way to keep the discussions about fraud off of the boards is to censor its members. In eBay's eyes, if there aren't any active discussions regarding fraud on eBay, then there isn't any fraud running rampant on its platforms. In essence, if you can't see it, it doesn't exist.

When people register to become eBay members and post on eBay community message boards, they give up their rights to free speech. eBay has Board Policies and a Policy Explanation Board explaining the rules. Bottom line, you either play by eBay's rules or risk being silenced and having all of your privileges suspended.

Most recently, eBay has been locking down threads on the Trust & Safety (SafeHarbor) message board. On Wednesday, April 18, the thread entitled Massive, worldwide, multiple user hijacks Thread 2 4/4/07 was locked down to prevent further discussion about fraud (the first thread was locked down because of the vast amount of posts on it). The last post on the second thread is from the eBay employee that locked it down.

This discussion is now closed. Please review the Board Usage Policy and Policy Explanation board before posting further.


It appears that eBay doesn't want constructive criticism from its members, yet it wants its members to police its platforms and quietly report fraud, but only to eBay. eBay does not like its members being publicly critical, therefore, posts on eBay's community boards are continuously being removed and threads are being locked down. As a member, if you are outspoken, you will be sanctioned for it. eBay thinks it has the upper hand by censoring its members on the community boards, but there are plenty of blogs and message boards off of eBay where members have been voicing their criticisms and they are not being censored.

It's too bad that eBay moves at warp speed when it comes to censoring critical comments from its members, but moves at a snail's pace when it comes to nullifying fraudulent listings and securing accounts. eBay needs to get its priorities in order.

The truth is that fraud is spiralling out of control on eBay, and Rob Chesnut, eBay's Senior Vice President of Global Trust & Safety, doesn't have a handle on it. We believe that Chesnut is most likely the person behind the scenes requesting that the critical eBay members be censored. We are now certain that Chestnut's Trust & Safety group is actually the local division of the Keystone Cops.

In a recent blog post on FireMeg dated April 16, the blogger referred to Chesnut as a pathological liar and bumbling idiot. In a nutshell, eBay's head crime fighter is inept and grossly underqualified for the position that he holds, and Chesnut would be better suited securing employment as a character at a Disney theme park because he lives in fantasy land. We propose he apply for the position of "Pinocchio" because he is such a proficient liar. Apparently eBay's hiring criteria is based on the Peter Principle, meaning "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." Chesnut has arrived!

Fraud is on the increase at eBay. However, Chesnut infers that it is significantly reduced, ignores that it exists, falsely misleads members into believing new fraud prevention initiatives have been put into place, or implements flawed fraud prevention initiatives to mask it and protect the thieves. There is no longer any transparency at eBay. eBay, with its quick trigger finger, deletes the evidence and because of the cover up should be renamed eBayGate.

Prior to Chesnut's employment at eBay, he was an assistant US attorney for the Southern District of Virginia. Chesnut used to seek justice from corruption; under the veil of eBay's 'venue' status he now helps hides it. Per Martindale-Hubbell, Chesnut is admitted to practice law in Virginia, but not admitted in California. He does not need to be credentialed in California to be employed as corporate counsel because he is not litigating cases. One has to wonder, however, why Chesnut has not sat for the California bar examination.

Opinions by eBay members about Chesnut's qualifications do not vary. When recently asked about Chesnut's qualifications, an eBay member stated:
I've always felt that Rob Chesnut is highly UNqualified for his job. Through discussions over the years he has admitted that he's "not very good with computers", and doesn't know how to do html. I've had conversations with him about viruses, computer coding, etc. He doesn't have a clue. So how can someone be head of trust & safety for an online company - one that uses computer technology to provide their services - and not know a damn thing about computers?

And as for illegal activity and how to detect same, he doesn't have the first clue.
Another member feels as though Chestnut's impotence elevates him to 'blivot' status.

An eBay watchdog reported earlier this week that since Rob Chesnut announced the new proactive fraud initiative on April 9, that accounts detected with fraudulent listings have increased by 20% when compared to the same time period a month ago. Other members reported on Tuesday that the Chinese hijackers' fraudulent Apple I-Pod and Microsoft X-Box listings are now appearing by the thousands and that eBay cannot take the listings down fast enough. This blog, which usually captures approximately 200 of the thieves' email addresses and fake domains on eBay every week, captured 182 email addresses on Tuesday, and in the past 4.5 days has added 411 new email addresses and fake domains found in eBay listings to the blog.

Investors, analysts, eBay management and even the thieves that fraudulently list on eBay may be happy with the recently announced first quarter earnings results, but the eBay watchdogs and members that have been harmed because of eBay's blatant inattentiveness to fraud are angry and will continue to complain about it.

eBay may continue to censor any member that speaks out about fraud on its community message boards, however, you can make eBay hear you very clearly if you refuse to transact any business on its platforms.

Boycott eBay; it is unsafe. Spend your money elsewhere.

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