I don't usually write like this. I want to explain something to all of you and I hope some of you may be able to help me-please. I'm desperate!
I'm going to start from the beginning and I would really like any advise on how to handle this all going forward as I literally haven't got a clue. I'm not used to knowing or having anything to do with quite frankly, very nasty people. So here it goes...
As you all know I run a facebook business, although I sell in other places too, at the moment while my website is being developed I am a facebook business predominantly. I work with wood, design all my own creations and get to do something I love and that lets me escape the situation at home with regards to how my sons father's spinal disease has affected our life. Likewise my Mum had a very small little page on facebook too. Lasy year she was diagnosed with M.E and spent almost an entire 12 months bedbound. She's finally got some level of life back now which is a huge blessing, and one thing she does to keep herself busy, and to keep her mind of the difficulty of her situation-is to sew. She makes little buntings, cushions etc. So that's the background on us.
One of my previously favourite pages on facebook was a lady who made one product-but what she did, she did very well. Her work was gorgeous, and she's spent years building it up and has a huge following on facebook, thousands upon thousands of followers, and she's very active on the business forums that are a great tool for businesses on facebook. I would go as far as to say I became friends with this lady, she gave me help and advice in the early days and she bought from me and I bought two items from her for my house. Seems all very normal right? Well that's when it turned sour.
My Mum saw the two items I had bought from her in my house and thought they were lovely, and decided to have a go at recreating something herself that was similar. No malice in it, just she was so impressed she thought she would have a go and see what she came up with-after all she loves to sew things, and she was really excited about making something like this herself...In the end her design was similar but very different in size, colour and overall appearance. She put a picture on her facebook page to show off her handiwork and oh-my-days the uproar was HORRIFIC.
The lady who I bought my two items from got wind of this and accused my Mum of being a 'copycat' and me of buying the items for them to be solely copied...not only did she accuse my mum of this, but she also named and shamed her on a very prominant business forum for tens of thousands of people to see. She made everyone think my mum had set out to steal her idea, to think that my poor mum who only ever wanted to make something pretty, had done it to be nasty. Which was so far from the truth. Because she is so prominant in the facebook business world, everyone jumped to her 'defence' and my mum received the worst level of harassment I've ever been witness too. People bombarded her page with nasty message, after nasty message. They all slated her work, they contacted people who had left nice comments on her pictures to disuade them from having anything to do with her and literally sabotaged her page. And it just....didn't...stop. It went on for days. Not being emotionally equipped to deal with this sort of thing, my Mum was terrified to go on the computer for a while. So after a few days deciding, I thought it would be a good idea to build some bridges, I messaged the other lady...
We were chatting by email and I was polite, chatty and friendly-like I always am. As a teenager I left school early because of the bitchiness of girls-I just can't stand it, don't have time for people like that- so I'm hardly going to be saying anything along those lines. Also because I really didn't want her to think my Mum had done something untowards-it just wasn't like that. So anyway, chatting away we were when suddenly she sent me a message telling ME I was harrassing HER. Obviously I wasn't doing any such thing and apologised profucely as I explained I think she had the wrong end of the stick...as I really didn't want to fall out with her, I liked the woman, appreciated her previous help and thought her work was fantastic. I'm not blinded by loyalty that I can't see both sides as I understood she thought something 'bad' had gone on but I wanted to help her see it wasn't done with malice, assuming she would understand and that we could all kiss and make up-like Big girls. Nope, wrong again.
Now it's very important to point out that on facebook the handmade business pages are full of the same types of things. We all make our own things unique but all you need to do is look on google, pintrest, ebay and amazon and you will find lots of people doing the same sorts of things so really this other woman had no footing to stand on with accusing my mum of 'copying' her, lots of other people did the same things too! However she went to all the big movers and shakers in the networking world and made them aware of me and my mum, and BOTH our businesses although mine actually had nothing to do with the whole thing. Instantly neither me or my mum were included on the networking sessions...they made that decesion on a one sided story.
After my mum spent a few days getting over the awful messages she was bombarded with she contacted another lady who likewise made the same type of products as my mum and woman 'x'. She explained and the lovely woman 'y' said although she did feel my mums were a very close design, there was enough space in the market for everyone. She was so lovely and helped to re-build my mums confidence. Somehow, she ended up contacting the first woman to try and help I think, but this is when the lies started coming. The lady in question here told woman 'y' that I had said lots of VERY untrue things about her, slating her business, saying her products were rubbish and generally being very horrible about her-none of which has any remote truth in it. When confronted about this I was so shocked a grown woman could so openly lie-AND write 'mesages' that were supposedly from me too. Anyone that knows me knows I wouldn't have written them as there was wording etc used I don't use at all! She also in this time was STILL bringing it up on networking pages, to make more people think me and my mum were the facebook crafters version of the enemy. She said I was sending her harrassing messages-I wasn't sending her ANY messages!
So, the whole thing was continuing, almost every day there would be a new 'topic' on the networking pages with people making reference to it, we were continuing to be excluded from networking sessions and the general slander was ongoing. Woman 'x' clearly couldn't let it go. SO my mum finally decided she would put some new pictures on her facebook page and when she did it all started again. Woman 'x' went to the biggest of all networking pages and told her side of the story and they likewise picked the whole thing up and made it a huge issue again. Whats more this networking forum pride themselves on not naming and shaming and yet very frequently woman 'x' and her friends would make sure all the people who were discussing the issue of 'copycats' knew that me and my mum were apparantly copycats. It's all VERY PATHETIC! My mum publically apologised and unable to take the slander and harrasment has withdrawn from her page, she was bullied in to it.
Now my mums page has gone, I'm getting the blunt end of it-despite me not even having anything to do with the initial issue. I am still getting named and shamed every time I try and say anything about anything-just the normal stuff. Between her and her contacts a 'Stop The Copycats' page was set up on facebook too! All in our aid I assume! I merely dared to say that I thought this was a bad idea because who would police it properly? Who was to say that innocent parties wouldn't be labelled as 'copycats' and have their pages sabotaged just because their competition wanted to remove them from the market? I didn't want anyone else to go through what this had done to my mum. Yes she made something similar, but lots of other people do too and she was hounded for it. I've never seen bullying like it. After making my comments (where I didn't even mention me or my mum) I was given some very pointed comments and named and shamed again-it's relentless.
Now I am so demotivated by it, I'm scared of what's next and I don't know what to do. Woman 'x' tells lies, slanders me and my business despite me not having anything to do with the whole thing. But what she does is very clever-she deletes her bad-mouthing comments after the damage is done-so I can't report her. Facebook don't allow you to report someone and explain the situation, it's all automated and if you don't have a paper trail to start on you have no chance of reporting them-she deletes her comments so I have nothing to report...It's taking a toll on my business now and it's making me paranoid too. She's contacting my customers and suppliers alike. For example she had never had anything to do with one of my suppliers and suddenly they have become friends and I am told by my supplier basically that she won't supply me any more! I can only imagine what she's been told to say that to me after we've had a previously great working relationship.
I can see both sides, at first woman 'x' felt wronged, I understand that. But I know I explained it wasn't like that, I made her aware nothing was done with malice and quite frankly the whole thing is ridiculous-she's had an apology, my mums page with the offending items is gone! She knows this and has still continued her hate campaign. That to me isn't a level headed person. And because she's so well known and liked on facebook no-one even considers that she's telling lies or behaving in a bullying manor. They just want to jump to her 'defence' even though I've said and done nothing since the original emails-which were nice and fully of apology!
My thoughts are how pathetic the whole thing is! This is facebook for goodness sakes, get a grip woman! She DOESN'T have copyright despite claiming she does-we know, we checked with a solicitor! Nothing has been done to her in malice and yet she's gone on a hate campaign, to be honest I think there are bigger fish to fry in the world than this! BUT she's affecting my business and my only source of income and supporting my son. It's also making me very miserable and a nervous wreck always worrying whats going to be the latest progression when I turn the computer on. I just don't know what to do anymore? Do I bow down and back out like my mum was forced to do despite my business being the only good thing in my life right now? I don't know. But I really, really need some advice please?
Facebook are absolutely useless at dealing with the issue of bullying and after so much in the press about cyber bullying I assumed it would be an easier system. It's not. And I've learnt that some people just want to be...nasty. And what's more, there is absolutely nothing you can do to change it.