Note: The Redding business person who wrote this letter asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation that could lead to the further loss of income and/or employment and damage to the person's reputation. While anewscafe.com is not disclosing the letter-writer's name, we have confirmed the person's identity. This is but one of many similar messages anewscafe.com has received recently from North State business men and women who claim to have been victims of Ruben James Porras.
I am addressing this as a both marketing professional and as a victim. Professionally I have 25 years experience in both online and offline marketing. I’ve help build large corporations and managed millions of dollars in media buys. On the other end of the scale, I’ve been involved in social media since 1995, when social media was nothing but news groups and forums, and I’ve had to build businesses with no marketing budget at all, using only no -cost/low-cost media methods.
That said, from a marketing perspective, Ruben (James) Porras Jr. is managing what the public sees on his Facebook presence exactly as it should be managed, in fact there is brilliance in it.
1. He set his objective and stuck with it. That goal was to be @reddingfamous and to have the biggest Facebook page in Redding.
2. He is consistent in delivery and voice.
3. He combines the right amount of personal and community.
4. He keeps the page varied and interesting by combining stories, pictures and videos.
5. He engages his fan.
6. Most importantly, he - and only he - controls the content on the page.
It’s what the public doesn’t see that is harmful to the community:
1. Charges clients for posting their business on his Facebook page is a direct violation of Facebook terms of service. This puts both the Redding California Facebook page and his clients in jeopardy as eventually, Facebook will shut down pages that compete with them from an advertising perspective. In the short term this is a non-issue as Facebook does not appear to care about its terms of service.
2. He violates Federal Law by not disclosing that he is getting paid to make recommendations.
3. Misrepresents his numbers. He represents that his page gets more than 100,000 page views a day and that it has nearly 12,000 fans. What he fails to disclose is that a much smaller number of the fans/followers actually live within 50 miles of Redding. Therefore, from a media perspective, he is overcharging his clients through misrepresentation and nondisclosure.
4. Attacks businesses that won’t hire him or pay him.
5. Attacks competitors or perceived competitors by telling lies.
Other than documenting his lack of ethics, for most businesses, the above issues amount to “so what”?
The real damage has nothing to do with violations of Terms of Service or misrepresentation of numbers. The real damage has to do with the emotional abuse that he inflicts on the community and his victims. It’s behind the veil, and mostly immeasurable.
As a child I was severely abused, the kind of abuse that people had to have noticed but chose to ignore. I often wondered why no one stopped it or cared. Later, when the abuse turned into the kind of abuse that couldn’t be seen, I had learned to say nothing and suffer in silence. My dealings with Ruben (James) have brought back these emotions and the sense of powerlessness that I felt as a child. He is currently attacking my business and my credibility and there is nothing that I can do about it.
It is this kind of silent abuse that Ruben (James) is inflicting on the community. He starts with a tiny grain of truth and wordsmiths it into a total lie that benefits him. The problem is that the tiny grain of truth gets people confused. The community ignores the abuse because he purports to have numbers that will help their business.
The fact of the matter is that people do see his abuse, but they choose to stay silent for fear of retribution. I myself am guilty of being quiet when I should have spoken up. I thought that by not giving him the attention it would die down. Unfortunately, this only makes him stronger.
If I hear someone say, “I didn’t see it for myself” one more time my head is going to explode. Ruben (James) abuses and extorts money out of clients and hurts the very community he claims to help. He does this by creating fear and mistrust in the community and among colleagues. He turns the victim into the accused by misusing the voice that he created on social media. At least one business has closed as a direct result of Ruben’s unprovoked attack. He is currently attacking my business behind the scenes. My business partner is ready to walk away and I will likely build a national presence and curtail my local business.
There are businesses that will not touch social media simply because of the controversy that Ruben (James) has created. At a time of 15 -percent stated local unemployment and 30-percent real unemployment, businesses need to adopt new ways to connect with their clients, yet Ruben’s (James) negative tactics are hurting the community.
I believe that if the community continues to support Ruben (James), his attacks will eventually cause real harm, either directly by Ruben (James) , or worse, he will push someone to hurt themselves because of the bullying and attacks.
Ultimately it is Facebook’s responsibility to enforce its terms of service and stop the abuse inflicted on the community by the Redding, California Facebook. Until then it is the responsibility of the community to stop supporting his page. Then and only then can we move forward in a positive manner and experience the positive benefit that social media can bring to a business and a community.
(Editor's note: This piece was submitted before the Redding, California Facebook page was taken from Ruben and returned to the original founder. However, Ruben Porras still has other Facebook pages and various social media sites, and is purported to have created new sites since last week.)