Ever heard of the website The Dirty? Kendra Olesen has. The 23-year-old Saskatchewan mom is speaking out about her personal ordeal with the American gossip website. Olesen's story was reported by the CBC who, in a bizarre twist, actually became involved in the story.
If you haven't heard of this rather horrible web enterprise, here's how The Dirty works. Anyone can anonymously send gossip to site creator Nik Richie, who then posts the juicy stuff without verifying whether it is true. Lovely.
His site has sections on several Canadian cities and hundreds of posts about Canadians.
Olesen discovered submissions about herself on the site, claiming that she drinks and drives and sleeps around. She says that much of it isn't true, and that many mean comments on the post were written by strangers.
Olesen shared her ordeal with the CBC's Go Public program, which asks the public to submit story ideas for investigation. She says she was so distraught that she attempted suicide, and was inspired to share her story by the death of Amanda Todd, a Vancouver teenager who killed herself after suffering years of cyberbullying. Her main reason for speaking out is because she is concerned her six-year-old twins will one day see the post.
You would think that the CBC investigation of the site might help Olesen's chances of getting the negative material removed from the site, but an errant email from the Canadian news organization nearly cost Olesen that chance.
Initially, site creator Richie agreed to take down the material about Olesen after the CBC contacted him and told him that "Olesen was trying to turn her life around."
Richie replied, "This is the first I have heard of it or of her … I will remove," and "Looks like the wakeup call worked then. Give Kendra my best and I wish her continued success. Post removed."
But then, CBC producer Mike Clarke, who had initially contacted Richie, accidentally emailed him a message intended for Go Public reporter Kathy Tomlinson, in which he referred to Richie as "the scum of the earth" and said "Creepy doesn't begin to describe it."
As you can imagine, Richie didn't like that.
He posted the CBC email exchange on his website along with the following comment:
"So Kendra when this hate story comes out and the world wonders why I'm such an a******… your post is still up because of IDIOTS like Mike Clarke who is the definition of true journalism."
Though Clarke's mistake was definitely an embarrassing blunder, there's no doubt that anyone who reads about Richie and his site will have no trouble figuring out who the real idiot is.
As it turns out, Ritchie eventually decided to remove Olesen's post after she emailed him directly with a plea.