Written by Gordon Williamson
Putting a human face to slander in cyberspace
From amputees, to local hip hop producers; no one is safe from The Dirty.com.
The gossip site, based out of Scottsdale Arizona, is owned and operated by Nik Ritchie. Instead of slinging dirt on celebrities, its main focus is on normal, everyday people.
The content is user submitted. Meaning, it could be anybody from ex-lovers to anyone else who feels jealous or wronged can write and post pictures attacking your character.
Most posts are in written and directed in a mean spirited way. Most common posts accuse woman of being sexually promiscuous.
More often than not, people’s real names are posted, along with their photograph. Virtually all posters are anonymous. They are not required to reveal their identity when postings others.
For example, when it came to local Calgarian Annette Bisio, she was made fun of for being an amputee, and sleeping with married men.
“Nik, this amputee is known for sleeping with married men and starting rumours about people she is jealous of,” wrote an unkown source.
At the bottom of each post, is a caption where Nik’s comments on the posted.
“Did you seriously submit an amputee…your going to hell.- nik”
Most of time, Nik sides with the poster — while making fun of them.
“As for sleeping with married men, no, that part was little over the top but she’s obviously just a hurt person trying to hurt people. And that whole website seems to be built on it.”
As one could imagine, those who appear on The Dirty are not amused. Bisio goes on to say that she has never slept with a married man.
Bisio, who has never heard of the site before, was shocked that someone could do this to her.
“It was extremely hurtful, and I was shocked that someone could actually publish stuff like that, with my picture and my name, “ says Bisio.
She has a feeling of who posted about her, but is not entirely sure who it is. She promptly deleted her from her Facebook.
Although Bisio is deeply hurt by this, she refuses to lash out in retaliation. If anything, she feels sorry for the person. Bisio adds that: “As for sleeping with married men, no, that part was little over the top but she’s obviously just a hurt person trying to hurt people. And that whole website seems to be built on it.”
She also adds “I don’t know if I could trust myself to say anything to them. I don’t want to hurt her. I’ve gone to a spiritual place in my life. If I have to say anything, is that I’ll pray for you.”
Most of the site seems to be devoted to women, however men are also targeted. Tom Corea, a local hip-hop producer/rapper, has also been a target of gossip. Corea is also a father of two.
The poster called Corea out as a “wannabe rapper” and in the comment section, someone accused him of cheating on his wife.
“I don’t appreciate somebody trying to ruin my life, especially when I have a family. There are comments about my family and my kids and my wife and all those things and that hits deep,” says Corea, adding that the post has also put his marriage in jeopardy, saying that the situation almost resulted in a divorce.
Corea says he has been producing music for 15 years, and he feels the post has been a “slap in the face”, and feels the accusation is unfair.
“I’ve been at this stuff for 15 years. To be called a wannabe, it just blows my mind, it discourages somebody, but also makes somebody want to work harder” says Corea.
When asked for advice for the next person who gets posted on, Corea suggests ignoring the site all together.
“Don’t even read the comments don’t even get on that site. You can see for yourself, but jump off don’t read into it. Because if you read into too many of those comments, they can affect you. It affected me for a couple of days but then I got through it, the first couple of days where shocking so I would defiantly suggest not reading into it. “
According to Alexa, a web-traffic analyst site, most readers are college educated, are mostly male, and read the site from school or work. Most readers don’t have children, and are between the ages of 25 and 31.
Almost 85 per cent of the traffic comes from the U.S. where searches are filtered through by cities, as well as American colleges.
About 10 per cent of website hits are from Canada. However, the site averages 1-3 new posts about Calgarians each day.
After visiting The Dirty, almost 20 percent of web traffic goes onto Facebook.
Mark Wolfe, a communications professor from Mount Royal University, says that the site is like a “communal screaming match” and is a build up of angst in our society,
He points out (in an email) that the site gives an allusion of safety, while knowing that he posters identity most likely won’t be revealed.
“And it's safe, or has the illusion of safety, partly because of the quasi-anonymity of the net and partly because we all now half expect this to be an anything goes domain anyway,” says Wolfe.
As far as protecting one’s self from The Dirty, Wolf advises starting a blog, that puts forth your message, and getting a life outside your computer.
“Two pointers, in the following order:
1. Start a blog that's reasonable/rational/deep//creative/inspiring and prove them wrong.
2. Turn all this stuff off for a few hours get something resembling a real life — one that happens in the real world in co-presence with real people.” says Wolfe.
Local lawyer Victor Vogel, says in order to take any legal action agaisnt the site, you would first have to prove that the allegations are not true.
Although there is a disclaimer at the bottom of the site, that says the content is based on rumors, and may not be true.
Taking legal action can be a costly alternative, according to Vogel. Not only valuable time and money, but it only draws more attention to the defamatory statements.
Instead, Vogel advises ignores the post altogether.
“I would probably encourage most people to ignore it because most people are smart enough in the world to consider the source,” advises Vogel.
He continues: “Why get in a contest with a low life who defames people it may make it worse for you. If you sue them, you’re more likely to have more people become aware of it.”
After several attempts, (at least eight times) Nik Ritchie could not be reached for comment regarding this story.