I was very recently attacked via email by a business who's forum I openly expressed an opinion and concern about in a negative way on. Not long after I left my valid and non-offensive thoughts on the forum, I received a personal email from the business, threatening to sue me and one of my friends (really) for defamation of character (libel) and threatening to release details about my Facebook profile and other personal information that they had searched for online by tracking my activity through social media.
What had just happened, if you didn't already know, was a form of extortion by a business against their customer - threatening to publicly humiliate me and take legal action against me (which they couldn't have any way) if I didn't remain silent about my thoughts on the business.
This is a serious offence, and if inclined I could very well sue the company for extortion, cyber-bullying and online stalking according to the laws in my state and country. But will I... ?
I have personally suffered from this attack - which continued through three emails sent to me all attacking my right to freedom of speech - and the last 24 hours have been very stressful for me, especially considering my mental condition. I have had panic attacks, felt victimised and lost my appetite and motivation to do anything creative, and I fear the effects will have a residual effect on me which will take some time to wear off and for me to gain my composure once again.
... But I refuse to retaliate just because I was wronged. I refuse to waste my time (or money) on seeking reprisal for what has happened to me, because I know from personal experience that harbouring resentment is devastating to all the hard work I've put in to becoming the person I am today and dealing with my health conditions, as well as helping others to cope through advice.
Needless to say, this is an abhorrent and utterly underhanded attempt by a business to use threats and fear tactics to silence my (very valid) public opinion and freedom of speech. I hope this never happens to anyone else at the same company's hand, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did.
If this ever happens to you, don't hesitate to go public with it and inform the right authorities about the incident. It is not legal and it can make a person feel humiliated or even fearful of sharing their experience with others.
Stay strong, people. We have rights and no one has the jurisdiction to challenge that.