Gawker Responds To Lycos' Aluminum Foil Sword Rattling

Lycos, don’t you have better things to do, like fade quietly into the night?

What Gawker legal told Lycos legal, inside.

Mr Blais,

The extent of the adverse reaction engendered by this situation is admittedly surprisingly extreme, and unfortunate. However, the existence of this image is simply not the cause of any harrassment of Mr Jandreau. If anything, his name is the thing that enables people to research and find out more information about him (all of which is publicly available on his own sites) and thereby contact him. His name was made public on several other sites before we published it, so we disclosed no private fact.

As I have stated, all we are doing is reporting on a newsworthy story. Because we are online, it is admittedly true that we could choose to comply with your demands out of our own discretion, but I am curious as to what you would be doing now if this article had run in a print publication? Why would you consider this any differently? We are a publication, and we ran a story with fair use of an image. Why do you expect us to throw over the principles of journalism because a subject doesn’t like our story? It is simply not the case that our story, or the existence of the image on the site, is any way is responsible for anything that happens to Mr Jandreau. This story has been reported very widely now across the web, so why is it our site that is to blame for people showing up at Lycos’ door? Anyone can find out what Mike looks like by looking on his own site, his name is in the public domain.

You’re basically saying the equivalent of that, if someone hurts another person because the New York Times runs an unfavourable story about that person and included an image with the story, then it is the fault of the New York Times. That is simply not a valid argument.

In the circumstances, I’m afraid we cannot comply with your demands.



Lycos Steps Up Legal Threats To Get Meanypants CS Manager’s Photo Down
Lycos Customer Service Manager’s Picture Held Hostage Until He Restores Customer’s Email And Apologizes
Lycos Deletes All Of Customer’s Email, Tells ‘Em To Suck It

Original blog entry down to CPU overload, here’s a Google cache.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Gaby is the balls

  2. Soulgenesis says:

    simply wow. and that’s why i love being here. pure simple logic.


  3. VG10 says:

    woohoo! when does the picture get posted again? Great job consumerist !

  4. Kos says:

    Gaby has a nice set of Thatchers.

  5. Wheee! Gawker/Lycos fight! My money’s on Gawker, duh.

  6. dohtem says:

    I guess some lawyers are decent folks after all ;)

    This is starting to look a lot like the “Jason Fortuny” incident. Mike Jandreau had better chose his next moves very carefully.

  7. Johnny Eclectic says:

    Can’t wait to see how they reply, Well done!

  8. bluegus32 says:

    Well put indeed.

    Time to eat some crow Lycos. Maybe if you APOLOGIZE then this might go away. It is your own stubborn ways that has brought this situation and all of its bad press to your door.

    I now vote that Lycos try to save face by firing the douche-bag.

  9. Don't be Silly says:


  10. stephen5 says:

    update Lycos was knocked offline Tuesday and the search engine is blaming the company’s Internet service provider for the outage.

    Lycos’ customers were without access to e-mail and other services after construction workers accidentally damaged the systems of Savvis, a publicly traded ISP, on Monday night, according to Kathy O’Reilly, a spokeswoman for Lycos. The Web portal was back online early Tuesday afternoon.

    Their ISP, Gaby or just Karma?

  11. acambras says:

    The folks over at Lycos obviously never read the threads and all of Shaun Larson’s silly demands. If they had, they would know that all they’ve done here is add fuel to the fire.

    In the original post (on the complaintant’s blog), a lot of the commenters had sided with Lycos (most saying that one shouldn’t complain so much about the TOS of a free e-mail service).

    But it’s Lycos’ subsequent correspondence (Mike’s e-mails to Whitney and Consumerist, and the lawyer’s e-mails) has thoroughly escalated the douchery and resulted in most of us siding with Whitney, Consumerist, and Gawker.

    Oh, and Gaby rocks.

  12. Brian Gee says:

    Wow. I wonder how Lycos would have felt if, upon calling Savvis to find out what was wrong, they were told, “I’m sorry, no one here has any intentions of helping you with anything.”

  13. scourge15 says:

    Nice work gaby.

    but there might be a typo in the response,

    “It is simply not the case that our story, or the existence of the image on the site, is any way is responsible for anything that happens to Mr Jandreau.”

    “is any way is”?

    maybe it was just copy/pasted wrong.

    lycos is a joke

  14. I want to know who these people making “death threats” are. You hear about these kinds of things all of the time in similar situations but it always surprises me. I want to know who goes:

    “Hey I’m not involved in this situation and I don’t know very much about either side of the story but by God I want that guy to die!”

    Then proceeds to:

    1.) Drive to Lycos’ offices
    2.) Write nasty email
    3.) etc etc…

    Because they’re just as much of an asshat if not worse than the actual perpetrator in the story itself.

  15. MattyMatt says:

    Gaby’s letter is very calm and polite. It seems to me that a little more language along those lines, exercised by Lycos’ folks, would’ve stopped this issue in its tracks before it ever blew up.

    I too am curious about the people issuing death threats. What the fuck are they thinking? Calm down, weirdos.

  16. bluegus32 says:

    Ok, so now this whole thing has me flipped out. I have a Yahoo! Mail account and I certainly don’t want to lose all of my archived e-mails. Anybody know how to download them to my hard drive? Or port them over to GMail?

  17. Kornkob says:

    You can set up an email client on your machine as a POP client and pull all your mail.

    Actually that’s what I do at home. My mail client at home pulls all my mail down locally where it is backed up like everything else I have at home that’s important.

  18. JMB says:
  19. What is the desired outcome of this now? An apology from Lycos? An apology from Mr Jandreau for being unsympathetic? What if the email is really gone? (I know that data is never really gone…)

  20. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Yahoo pulled free POP access years ago. You now have to pay for the premium services if you want to get your mail through POP.

    A couple of possible solutions:

    1) Pay for the premium service. Download all your mail through POP and an e-mail client such as Thunderbird or Outlook. And then cancel your premium service.

    2) Manually forward all of your mail to a different mail account.

  21. thejbs says:

    As it says on their website:

    “Sign up for Lycos Mail and take control of your email experience.”

  22. bluegus32 says:

    Kornkob: “You can set up an email client on your machine as a POP client and pull all your mail. “

    English please. Mind walking me through it?

  23. kastickboy says:

    HAHAHA! Getem’ Gawker! This guy is getting some terrible CS due to his horrible outlook on Service to his customers. Now for the death threats and people showing up at the office, thats psycho and never should have happened.

  24. juri squared says:

    That letter is a thing of beauty. Kudos, Gaby!

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    Wow, no where can I find the text, “f*ck you, Lycos” yet THAT’S the message I get after reading the article.

    Yay, Gaby – mad writing skillz!

  26. silverlining says:

    Wow. Gawker, you’re my new heroes. Yall rock. Keep up the great work.

    Anyone notice that Lycos’ legal team says Jandreau received fifty emails, and Jandreau’s letter mentioned over eighty? I wonder why they wouldn’t keep the number consistent across all Lycos communications to Gawker. Not that it appears Lycos’ business is all that coordinated or organized to begin with.

    Someone should send Lycos’ communication/PR folks a case of ibuprofin for the headaches they’re going to have. I’d hate to be the chump who has to clean up after this completely avoidable PR crapfest. Just ask Jandreau to apologize for being a jerk. Even if they don’t want to open up the floodgates of potentially thousands of customers following a precedent of getting hostage emails for free instead of $20, Lycos could at least ask Jandreau to apologize–or better yet, fire him for badly leading the customer service department.

    Is there still time to get in on that 2nd Annual “Worst Company in America” award? Lycos is admittedly a late entrant, but their work surely has earned them consideration ;)

  27. Sudonum says:

    As the saying goes, Gaby was able to tell Lycos to go to hell in such a way that they are now looking forward to the trip.

  28. valel says:

    Oh man, don’t they know better than to go after a bunch of sharp and quick witted new yorkers? Like will just sit on the request and not tell anyone?

  29. Citron says:

    Who, exactly, is seriously threatening to kill this guy over this? Isn’t that a bit much? And by “a bit much,” I mean, “very hard to believe.”

  30. Trai_Dep says:

    The good news: Lycos is in the news for the first time in five years.

    The bad news: Lycos forced to acid-test the adage, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

    The worst news: Lycos, facing massive confusion of their target market, forced to replace their black Labrador icon with one of Jandreau’s face.

  31. vambery says:

    Respectfully, it appears that both parties in this dispute are talking past each other. Lycos is citing Gawker’s “Terms of Use” policy forbidding harassment. For its own reasons, Gawker’s “Terms of Use” apply only visitors not to Gawker’s own editorial staff. Gawker’s reply, though, tries to paint the situation as a freedom of the press issue. The analogy is highly relevant for rhetoric reasons, as the comments bear out, but puzzles me when I try to follow the logic. Does the New York Times (Print Edition) have “Terms of Use”?

  32. valel says:

    Sheesh, have’nt these companies learned from past companies that have tried to lock horns with the likes of

  33. nick says:

    Hooch (e.g. Lycos) is seriously crazy.

    Oh, and Gaby rocks my socks off.

  34. Skeptic says:

    Hmm…curious that the photo is still up at moviesnobs.

    Now why would MJ and Lycos allow such a thing? Could it be that they know that the photo in and of itself is not harmful. If they were really all that worried they’d take it down. Of course, when they see that people realize they are being inconsistent in their story they will take it down to save face…

  35. krunk4ever says:

    I didn’t want to say this but with the attitude that many have been holding (including the editors of this blog) I felt that I should say something. I may be disliked for saying this, but I honestly believe both sides should just stop with this non-sense. The more Lycos and the service rep try to get his story removed, the more people will know about it.

    On the other hand, the original victim of this story will most likely never get back their email. If Lycos wants to keep this consumer, they probably would give her an apology, but they DO NOT OWE her one. From the sounds of it, they probably don’t want to keep her anyway. There is no law against service reps from being rude. Public reputation on the other hand is another story.

    Also, they DO NOT NEED to restore her emails. It was in the policy and it’s not like Whitney can sue them and win and get her emails back. If they DO RESTORE her emails, it was a courtesy, not a obligation.

    Also, those who have been harassing this service rep are the worst of all. You may feel like you’re doing the right thing, just like paparazzis feel like it’s their duty to report the news. Feel free to comment on public forums about your opinion, but don’t go harassing this individual. You can send emails to Lycos corporate/headquarters telling them what you feel about this guy, and hope they fire him, but leave this poor guy alone.

    Just my 2¢

  36. Skeptic says:

    “If Lycos wants to keep this consumer, they probably would give her an apology, but they DO NOT OWE her one.”

    I don’t know.

    Her: “I my emails are gone. Can you please restore them?
    Lycos; “Yeah, we got all of your your free account emails right here, babe. Pay us $19.95 if you ever want to see them again!”
    Her: “That’s extortion!”
    Lycos: “Tough tities! Now I’ve deleted them permanently just to be an a55hole :-p”
    Her: “Let me speak to your supervisor.”
    Lycos: “FU. Mwuhaahaaahaaaaaa!”

    Now, granted I’ve punched up the dialogue but the exchange is essentially correct. Tell me that doesn’t deserve an apology? Lycos should have apologized on the merits but they really should have rolled over the minute it became a web sensation.

  37. VeryFancyBunny says:

    Agreed, Skeptic. Even if he doesn’t owe her an apology for the original e-mail deletion, he at least owes her an apology for being so very asstacular. That’s just good business sense, and overall human politeness.

  38. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Gaby rocks!

    And yes, it was just really, really sleazy to say to somebody “Well, your mail isn’t really gone yet and you can have it back for $19.95,” even if you don’t say it like a stuck-up asshat.

    Unfortunately, Mike decided to be that asshat..and well, karma is a bitch.

    Sadly, most cases of asshatism go unpunished, so that’s probably why it feels so good when one doesn’t.

  39. emax4 says:

    I feel that the client should have read the information regarding the 30 day login, but cmon, who takes the time to read those end user license agreements (EULA) anyway? And with a biggie like having to log in at least every 30 days, they should make something like that in big print. Nonetheless Lycos really made a booboo this time, and with the magnitude of the poor customer service it makes the client look like an angel, then it got out of hand. Thankfully we can see the skillful and courteous wording from Gaby who is a hero now.

    I write for a Macintosh instruction site for nonprofit, and hopefully I can get around to a tutorial on how to do email backups on both the Mac and the PC. I encourage everyone to look it up if there is already a tutorial out there covering this so no one else has to suffer the same consequences from their own email provider, free or otherwise.

  40. Stepehn Colbert says:

    Well, I suppose Lycos’ next move is to send over the gypsy guy, Glimpky from “Thinner” to curse Gawker and consumerists alike. “White man from town says Take it [down]”.

  41. weave says:

    I doubt he got death threats. He may have received a few emails calling him an asshole. If he actually got death threats, did he call the police? I’m doubting it because crying wolf to the cops will land your ass in jail.

    I think this guy is in serious need of Reputation Defender’s services.

  42. Kornkob says:

    Even if he doesn’t owe her an apology for the original e-mail deletion, he at least owes her an apology for being so very asstacular. That’s just good business sense, and overall human politeness.

    Exactly. If you go back through the original comments, I think the consensus was:

    A) Lycos’s policy sucks for that user but it isn’t a secret so while its a crappy policy to delete emails like that there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a policy and enforcing it.

    B) Mike is a jerk to have treated the user in the fashion that he did. Mike and Lycos owe the user an apology for that behavior.

    Now that they’ve made the problem worse with their stellar douhebaggery they deserve the flack they are catching.

    Anyone forwarded this story to the executives at Lycos? Gotta wonder if they know that their minions are acting like this in public (and in the name of Lycos). I mean, Mr Deputy Counsel probably has real work to do, instead of wasting his time sending emails out to try help make the CSR Manager feel better.

    As for the death threats. *shrug* One of the most unfortunate side effects of the intarwebnet is that it does seem to make people think that they can do anything they want without fear of reprisal. It turns the meek into intolerable bullies and boors. Given the nature of the interwebnet to create such spectacular assholism, it would not surprise me to find that people did, in fact, make threats of ‘killing’ Mike if they ever met him.

    When I was a moderator at a rather popular game website I got death threats on a fairly regular basis. I got a death threat once for deleting an image of ‘tubgirl’ from someone’s signature file. (If you do not know who tubgirl is do not under any circumstances google her— you will never get those memory cells back.) People on the intarwebnet can be incredibly stupid.

  43. DuncanC says:

    I think this has turned into another one of those great internet battles where everyone, on all sides, just ends up looking stupid.

  44. Kornkob says:

    Well, Duncan, Welcome to the battle– which side are you on? :)

  45. 2997fps says:

    Lycos could be a pilotfish toward a general realization that a.) you bet they are gonna dump that stuff in 30 days if you don’t check it
    b.) in 12 months or so, they’re gonna dump it anyhow
    c.) none of those guys even thinks in terms of not dumping it,

    Man, has everybody forgotten that Eastman and Agfa let us make billions of photos on crappy negative and print paper stocks, knowing they would self-destruct in six or ten or fifteen years?

    I say: stay tuned for plenty more moaning and groaning as digital
    images pop into the ozone, as beloved digital home-videos crash,
    as all sorts of digital products yet to be made and named plunge into various black holes without a trace.

    Lycos and Shmoogle and SplogMail or whatever their names are this month don’t give a whit about our precious information because they can’t. Anymore than General Motors can help us out with Auto Insurance. Wrong business model.

    Eventually, whoever comes in early and stays late on the R&D floors of the risk-managment will convince their elders that there is heavy coin to be made in a business called “information insurance.”

    When somebody has to write you a big check when the Lycos of the future (or even this Lycos, what the hell) loses your e-mail—
    you get the idea.

    Instead of strolling out in front of a dramatic car crash, the Allstate Care Bear will be shot strolling past cubes of anti-Jandreaus, migrating all our information, or else…

    Blaine Dunlap,
    New Orleans

  46. Here’s a nice summary from gsn (989808) over at slashdot. However, the real story is how the other managers at lycos invoked their legal department to seek an asinine resolution to this whole debacle. If they would have just kept their mouths shut, I believe most would agree that this lady would have had her five minutes and everybody would have forgotten about it 2 seconds later. BTW did lycos’ legal manage to get google to remove the cached version of her blog? I havent been able to bring it up for a couple days now.

    1) 2002, Company offers free service with additional features like account protection/backup capability at a price.
    2) 2005, New customer signs up for free service without additional features that she sees no value to.
    3) Two years on she loses all her mail because of the ToS of her free service.
    4) She now sees value of additional features.
    5) Emails customer support asks for help.
    6) Is told please pay 20 bucks to get your mail back.
    7) Despite apparent value of offer, she accuses company of extortion and refuses to pay.
    8) She loses all her mail.
    9) and gets told to FOAD by customer service rep.

  47. ktowner says:

    I have no sympathy for Lycos, Janreau or their team of lawyers. However…

    I object to Gaby comparing this site to journalism. A journalist wouldn’t post personal information out of spite. A journalist might actually interview the person in question. A journalist would try to get all sides of the story.

    If you want to be a snarky, wise-ass blog, go for it. You’re quite amusing that way. But don’t pretend it’s journalism.

  48. Ben Popken says:

    Anon emailed this to Mike and cc’d us on it:

    “Lycos Mike,

    Dude, you suck. U R teh sux0r. All our assholes are belong to you. How many ways can it be said? How hard would it have been to apologize for the girl’s distress and explain, for the umpteenth time, that there was nothing anybody could do? How much extra time would it have taken to write a message with a positive tone? With sympathy?

    Dude, you suck. Though I guess you deserve congratulations for being the highest person in Lycos’s service department at what would seem to be a young age. Too bad you didn’t bother to check with anybody higher up, though, who might have warned you that you were about to commit a blunder so monumentally stupid that you’re now a) a laughing stock, and b) teh sux0r. You even earned your way– YOU did it, boy, all by yourself– you earned your way into Good Morning Silicon Valley– John Paczkowski’s final post, no less– and you’re now immortal; you’ll forever be the poster-boy for Dumbass.

    I hope you get so bombarded with so much e-mail that you have to convert and become Amish to get away from the blow-back. Good luck with the rest of your career at Lycos … it’s a footrace now to see whether your company fires you before it disappears forever, or if you’ll be spared the axe because your company is too busy deleting people’s inactive accounts to fire you.

    Find the time to track down this victim of yours. Apologize. Send flowers. Offer to manually re-key every message that was deleted. Win her over. Get her to write a post to your blog about what a great guy you are, and how you were just doing your job. Then, maybe, this will all go away in a few years. But for now, kick back, relax, and enjoy your temporary position at the top of the list of shitheads. You should probably hope that Martha Stewart runs over a puppy while bitch-slapping a lackey; that’s the only way you’re going to move down on the Moron Meter. Or maybe Paris Hilton will kick a homeless child while IM-ing her under-age lesbian lover about buying meth. That could do it. But other than that, bro, you’re done. You’re toast. George Bush could invade Canada and you’d still be a bigger schmuck.

    Man, you really suck. That’s all.”