I’m not a ‘big’ blogger, but in my own small corner of the blogosphere and social media world, I’m reasonably well known. I’ve been blogging for five and a half years and I have nearly 6,000 followers on Twitter. I have regular readers who like what I write about. They know what they will find when they visit my blog. They know I’m always up for a chat on Twitter. Above all, they know my brand – my blog header.
In a world of hand illustrated blog headers and stylish magazine formats, my header stands out a bit. It’s unique. Nobody has anything quite like my road sign. The original concept was designed by an old colleague just after I started my blog. I had a subtle redesign by my blog designer a few months ago, to reflect the fact that I don’t have three kids who are smaller than me any more. Needless to say, I paid for that redesign. That blog header is mine.
I never expected it to be stolen and I never considered how I would feel if it was.
Then last Monday I got a DM on Twitter from my friend Natalie at Plutonium Sox blog. It simply said ‘This isn’t you, is it?’ and included a link to a Twitter account. A Twitter account that most definitely wasn’t me. A Twitter account that included MY header.
And suddenly I knew how I would feel if my blog header was stolen. And it wasn’t a good feeling.
Sad. Angry. Shocked. Violated.
It’s not my laptop, my TV or my car, but it’s still my personal possession and it had been stolen.
It was probably an innocent mistake. It was clear she was very new to Twitter. We all make mistakes when we start out. But how incredibly naive. Doesn’t everyone know that you can’t steal images from the web?
To make matters worse, the account name included Sarah. With the whole three kids thing, her account name and identity was pretty similar to mine. Could it be worse than a silly mistake? Was she trying to be me, to steal my identity?
I remained calm and I sent her a polite and friendly tweet telling her the header was mine, she had nicked it and she needed to take it down.
And I waited. And I waited.
I checked her account. I checked it again.
It would be OK. She would see the tweet as soon as she next went on Twitter and she would change it.
A couple of my friends saw my tweet and retweeted it.
It would definitely be changed within the day.
Then I realised she had been back on Twitter and she HADN’T CHANGED IT.
I started to feel more upset, more angry, more violated.
I tweeted her again. I went to the blogging groups on Facebook to ask for help. More friends started retweeting my tweets and some wrote their own original tweets, pointing out that my header was copyright, using it was theft. She needed to change it.
But she didn’t change it.
I became obsessed with checking her account. And every time I did it, I felt sick. And sad. And angry.
I reported it to Twitter, but it was rejected on the grounds that she hadn’t stolen my identity. So I had to start getting material together to prove that my blog header was copyright.
It made me angry. I’ve got kids, a house to run, a job to do and I was wasting my time trying to prove something that is most definitely mine, is mine. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people, who could tell Twitter that it was mine. It was becoming a huge drain on my time.
And all the time I was starting to feel sadder and sadder. Sicker and sicker. It was affecting my sleep. I was waking up at 4.30am and was unable to get back to sleep.
Would it ever change?
More and more people were supporting me and I am so grateful to every one of them. I knew I had friends online, but I didn’t know I had quite so many and they cared so much. They are what made this whole sorry nightmare just that little bit better. They kept asking me how it was going, retweeting my tweets, contacting her themselves.
And not once did the woman who had nicked my header get back to me. Not once did she acknowledge what she’d done or apologise.
Not on Wednesday.
On Thursday morning I got up and, yep, the blog header was still there. I felt like it might be there forever. I tweeted her again. I was just going through the motions now. She’d stolen my image, my identity, and she wasn’t giving it up.
And then an hour later, one of my friends tweeted me – she’d taken it down!
She tweeted about how she’d been bullied (she hadn’t, we had been polite, said please and never sworn). She said it was hardly ‘nicked’. It was an honest mistake. I get that, but why didn’t she take it down as soon as she saw my first tweet? Why did she wait nearly four days and put me through so much stress?
I tweeted people to let them know, to thank them for their support so they would stop contacting her. One friend tweeted that she didn’t think she’d ever been so happy for someone she’d never met!
But that woman never once apologised.
Apparently she sent me a message. But we all know you can’t send a message if someone isn’t following you. You can draft something, but it won’t send. It’s quite obvious it’s not sending. And as I didn’t receive the message, maybe she could have tweeted me openly, so I could have seen it, along with all the lovely people who had supported me?