Revenge of the sockpuppet

Some time ago, HumaneWatchers exposed a “secret group” of HSUS fans who were undermining HumaneWatch’s industry-funded efforts to spread lies and libel around the internet. That covert group had been hiding in a place where only the most clever of investigators could have found them: a Facebook group named “Stop HumaneWatch“.

Members of SHW were undoubtedly stunned by the revelation. “How could they have identified us?” they must have wondered. “They must have a spy in our midst!”

HumaneWatch revealed more of that investigative prowess today. David Martosko singlehandedly uncovered the fact that HSUS employees Anne, Sarah, and Hillary were operating under the pseudonyms “AnneHSUS”, “SarahHSUS”, and “HillaryHSUS”. It was a fiendishly clever disguise that only a master of deduction (or perhaps opera) could have exposed. Well, that, or someone who actually reads their comments, in which they often and openly disclosed the fact that they are employed by the HSUS.

Not content to rest on his already-squashed and misshapen laurels, Martosko repeated his false claim that HSUS uses “unethical tactics to hide their identities”, linking to his earlier article about veterinarian Patty Khuly. Following the “sockpuppet” incident — which did not involve an HSUS employee — Dr. Khuly publicly apologized “for having egregiously implied the HSUS was behind the missives”. And in a phone interview, she confirmed that she had notified David Martosko in email that she had no evidence implicating the HSUS or its employees in the incident.

Martosko was informed that his sockpuppet story is incorrect. He knows that his repetition of that falsehood is a lie. and he continues to lie about it, just as he refers to the retracted WSB-TV story he provided misinformation for.

Martosko writes in his blog on sockpuppets:

By trying to hide your identity when you leave a comment, you’re trying to influence everyone else’s perception of how credible the article is by pretending to be a disinterested third party who’s just offering a fair critique.

But here’s a news flash for HSUS employees: Blogs keep logs. And those records include the IP address of everyone who stops by to leave an incendiary remark.

Martosko’s definition is slightly off — a consistent pseudonym does not a sockpuppet make — but his warning about IP traces is absolutely correct.

The HSUS does not use sockpuppets. There is an official policy against it at the Humane Society of the US, and their employees are invariably patient, professional, and courteous in the face of mind-numbing ignorance and hate from HumaneWatchers. If HSUS employees depended on these unethical tactics, they would certainly have been exposed and discredited by now.

Allow me to demonstrate.

Consider the following comment left on this website by an individual named “Greg”, who signed up with the fake email address “”:

Where’s the DISLIKE button? Hope the money from Pacelle feels good. Your heart is a black rock.

When we first saw this comment, we dismissed it as the usual HumaneWatcher bile. But the homoerotic oral fixation expressed by “Greg” towards our happily-married webmaster disturbed us. So we followed Martosko’s advice on incendiary remarks, and traced the IP address of the poster through an IP geolocation service.

A well-known drunk driving zone in Burke, VA

Lo and behold, that IP address is assigned to Verizon FIOS account belonging to a Washington DC account holder residing in Burke, VA. And that address happens to be a stone’s throw away from the home address of that serial liar and crusader against sockpuppetry, David Martosko.

Geolocation is not an exact science: without a subpoena to force an internet provider to hand over access records, only the neighborhood can be pinpointed. So it’s possible that it was one of Martosko’s sexually conflicted neighbors hiding behind that phallocentric sockpuppet identity, and they just happened to randomly target this website with a personal attack. Sure. It could happen.

But it’s far more likely that this is yet another example of Martosko’s true colors showing through his threadbare suit.

Martosko’s lawyer, Atticus Reaser, specializes in DUI defense, traffic defense, and computer crime defense. When David Martosko called his office, Mr. Reaser hit the trifecta.

And here’s a teaser for an upcoming article: if Mr. Reaser can brush up on libel law, he’ll have hit the superfecta.

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