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The end of kindness: weev and the cult of the angry young man.
September 12, 2013 10:17 AM   Subscribe

The end of kindness: weev and the cult of the angry young man.
posted by kmz (280 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
He's quite the doucheturd, for sure. Although, I wish some of the good things about his approach could be distilled and put to good use ensuring better data safety. Otherwise, the well is thoroughly poisoned. A waste of good LSD.
posted by planetesimal at 10:27 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


weev is many things, many of them very bad, but I think it's probably a bit intellectually dishonest to call him a "known ... anti-Semite".

As far as I know, he's been called an anti-Semite for saying that Israel is perpetrating a genocide against the Palestinians. He denies he has anything against Jews, his criticism has been of Israel only, which should be well within what most people on MeFi consider legitimate political viewpoints, not racism.

(There's a lot of racism in his trolling and trolling in general, but it's also pretty obvious that that's not really sincere, it's solely intended to offend. I don't know if there's been any anti-Semitism as part of his trolling.)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:28 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The article's layout made me angry.
posted by davebush at 10:29 AM on September 12, 2013 [35 favorites]


weev is many things, many of them very bad, but I think it's probably a bit intellectually dishonest to call him a "known ... anti-Semite".

From TFA:

"The Jews are winning," Auernheimer says at one point in the video. "I think we should hold the people producing it responsible … We take all these vile pornographers, and all these fucking bankers that fund pornography, we line them up in the street and we crucify them, just like they crucified Christ. And that would be change I could fucking believe in … blood in the streets."


I guess that's just too epic trolling for me to distinguish it from actual anti-semitism.
posted by artichoke_enthusiast at 10:30 AM on September 12, 2013 [92 favorites]


>There's a lot of racism in his trolling and trolling in general, but it's also pretty obvious that that's not really sincere, it's solely intended to offend

You say that like it matters.
posted by anti social order at 10:36 AM on September 12, 2013 [90 favorites]


This would be ridiculously easy to solve for Twitter.

Make an optional pay real identity authentication service that gives you a little verified style badge. You can still be @FelixTheHung, but twitter says, "We know how this is in real life." I'd pay money to have such a badge. I'd also think twice about following those who didn't. A simple preference that says, Don't show me @replies of people that aren't real, and I bet the problem would go away fairly quickly.

Anonymous generally means asshole.

(There's a lot of racism in his trolling and trolling in general, but it's also pretty obvious that that's not really sincere, it's solely intended to offend. I don't know if there's been any anti-Semitism as part of his trolling.)

That's a distinction I don't care to make. if you want to pretend to be a racist to get a reaction, generally the reaction you're going to get is people thinking you're a racist. At the end of the day I don't really care if you are a sincere bigot.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:36 AM on September 12, 2013 [34 favorites]


artichoke_enthusiast: "weev is many things, many of them very bad, but I think it's probably a bit intellectually dishonest to call him a "known ... anti-Semite".

From TFA:

"The Jews are winning," Auernheimer says at one point in the video. "I think we should hold the people producing it responsible … We take all these vile pornographers, and all these fucking bankers that fund pornography, we line them up in the street and we crucify them, just like they crucified Christ. And that would be change I could fucking believe in … blood in the streets."


I guess that's just too epic trolling for me to distinguish it from actual anti-semitism
"

I hadn't seen that, but watching two minutes of the video made it absolutely clear to me that he's trolling. This is a guy who was president of the "Gay Nigger Association of America" talking about how bad the sexual subjugation of women is and quoting Bible verses to explain Christ's view on pornography. So yeah, I'm pretty sure he's trolling, but I can see how you'd come to the conclusion that he's an anti-Semite.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:36 AM on September 12, 2013


Lol, I pretended to be a racist and you actually believed me! Le master trole!

GNAA was fucking ridiculous. A total scourge on anything they came near. Anyone remember the quickly deleted GNAA FPP that was full of malware?
posted by Ad hominem at 10:40 AM on September 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


people want to cover their shitty behavior with the blanket of trolling, as if pretending to be an unmitigated sack of shit is better than being one. to my eye there are arguments to be had that the trolls are even worse than the true believers in that regard.
posted by nadawi at 10:40 AM on September 12, 2013 [73 favorites]


anti social order: "You say that like it matters."

I think it does matter. It's perfectly fine if you don't make that distinction, and I understand why you don't, but to me, there's a big difference between the "offend everyone and everything on purpose in a flurry of offensiveness" troll mentality and true bigotry. I mean, if you're going to attach the label "anti-Semite" to a troll, you're probably also going to have to attach a couple of dozen other labels, some of them contradicting others.

So yeah, I see why you just label him bigot and move on, but I think it's possible to argue that he's not. (I mostly label him asshole and move on, myself, but I think there's a difference.)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:40 AM on September 12, 2013


to my eye there are arguments to be had that the trolls are even worse than the true believers in that regard.

Yeah, I will never really understand why "oh i was just saying this thing that i don't even believe just to hurt others as much as possible" is somehow seen as a valid defense of shitty behavior.
posted by elizardbits at 10:42 AM on September 12, 2013 [135 favorites]


"Unmitigated sack of shit" works for me.
posted by bumpkin at 10:44 AM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think it does matter.

is there any difference to their victims though? or is this a distinction for those who identify more with the aggressor?
posted by nadawi at 10:44 AM on September 12, 2013 [29 favorites]


The old I was only kidding. Can't you take a joke? Sheesh, lighten up defense is as old as time.
posted by jquinby at 10:44 AM on September 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


"I have this beef with a lot of organizations, including EFF," Aurora said. "This is another case where they’re saying, ‘The cases we care about are the ones white men are interested in. We’re less interested in protecting women on the web.’"

This is something to think about.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:45 AM on September 12, 2013 [18 favorites]


Anonymous generally means asshole.

just another day on assholefilter, then, i guess

on the other hand - just what is wrong with people these days?- what's going on with people committing a virtual gang rape on those women they've decided to target?

back in 97, when i first got on the net, this wasn't that common and now it seems like a mass psychosis in development

i don't understand how this has grown to be such a major problem - are there more psychotics out there or are they just getting braver?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:45 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


ain't no such thing as "ironic" bigotry. There's bigotry that people are willing to stand behind, and bigotry that people would like to escape the social consequences of, that's all.
posted by KathrynT at 10:46 AM on September 12, 2013 [68 favorites]


are there more psychotics out there or are they just getting braver?

I personally see a parallel in the growing number of women actively speaking out against such behavior with the growing number of individuals eagerly participating in such behavior. YMMV.
posted by elizardbits at 10:47 AM on September 12, 2013 [31 favorites]


i don't understand how this has grown to be such a major problem - are there more psychotics out there or are they just getting braver?

Well, with the expansion of internet access, the playground of middle/upper class white cis males of a technical bent is getting overrun with all these Others that seem to think ironic racism is actual racism and, get this, they want to be treated like people. It's the worst.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:48 AM on September 12, 2013 [18 favorites]


"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

- kurt vonnegut jr
posted by pyramid termite at 10:49 AM on September 12, 2013 [80 favorites]


I personally see a parallel in the growing number of women actively speaking out against such behavior with the growing number of individuals eagerly participating in such behavior.

Do you mean a kind of "yo, bitch, if you think it's bad now, just keep talkin'?"
posted by No Robots at 10:50 AM on September 12, 2013


i think it was less public in '97 - i got a lot of pretty scary email back in the mid 90s. but, i also got creepy letters at school and a guy who would break into my locker and hang teddy bears that had been ripped open and colored red. the internet, and greater connectivity of the internet, allows women speak up more and with that speaking up comes agitation from those invested in keeping women quiet.
posted by nadawi at 10:50 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Scratch an ironic racist and you'll usually only scratch off the irony.
posted by fatbird at 10:50 AM on September 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


I get the sense that the technical solutions won't get us far as long as you can shame a woman for liking sex, but you can't shame a troll for ... being an unmitigated sack of shit.
posted by pulposus at 10:50 AM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


pyramid termite: "i don't understand how this has grown to be such a major problem - are there more psychotics out there or are they just getting braver?"

My guess: more venues for harassment, a willing audience, the delusion of anonymity, greater reactions = more fun in the provocation.

Finally, the ready defense: it was just for the lulz, man. I didn't really mean it.
posted by jquinby at 10:51 AM on September 12, 2013


I was an angry young man BEFORE it got all rapey and douchey and strange. Back then we were just angry.
posted by nevercalm at 10:51 AM on September 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


To clarify, I don't mean that the number of men willing to step up and say this is shitty behavior hasn't increased - it certainly has. But it doesn't seem to engender the same level of vicious, savage retaliatory hate from froth-flecked MRA types as it does when women dare to say that a pattern of social behavior might be suboptimal.
posted by elizardbits at 10:52 AM on September 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


That brief bit about ex-boyfriends posting "Come Rape Me" ads on Craigslist = the most horrifying thing I can imagine. Solution: New version of To Catch a Predator. Post fake versions of these ads, and when the guys show up to rape someone, sit them down on camera and explain that they shouldn't believe everything they read on the internet.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:54 AM on September 12, 2013 [23 favorites]


There's a lot of racism in his trolling and trolling in general, but it's also pretty obvious that that's not really sincere, it's solely intended to offend

He's not a violent man, he just beats women because it's an expedient way to hurt them.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:57 AM on September 12, 2013 [31 favorites]


Joakim, do you feel there's a difference of moral importance between expressing sincere racism vs. doing it for the lulz?
posted by fatbird at 11:01 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


But seriously, I would donate to a feminist squad of detectives that named-and-shamed hateful sexist trolls and revenge porn posters. It's really not that hard to entrap or puzzle out the name of dudes who do evil shit (a la that creepshots tumblr) and then post their misdeeds on their facebook walls, call their employers, and otherwise wreck their lives. The right to be anonymous is balanced by the right to call out assholes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


[Folks, we don't do that "let's talk about violence against others for the lulz" thing here. The thread doesn't need to become a mirror of what it is discussing.]
posted by jessamyn at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


sadly, as these things go - that feminist squad better be made up of all men because women who name and shame are visited with attacks far out of proportion of their original actions.
posted by nadawi at 11:07 AM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I saw Kathy raising a stink about weev again on Twitter, because he won some sort of award at the last TechCrunch Disrupt conference. That seems kind of crazy, to give that guy an award.
posted by mathowie at 11:10 AM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Whoa. What happened to Kathy Sierra was totally awful and wrong. I'm generally against corporal punishment, but my less-evolved instincts want to see this guy in some kind of terrible pain for a long time. What a horrible person.
posted by gauche at 11:11 AM on September 12, 2013


There is this actual feminist organization helping to fight revenge porn in the courts. Until we get an Anonymous Lady Avengers I'll donate to that instead.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:12 AM on September 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


That seems kind of crazy, to give that guy an award.

He's an asocial self-entitled white male; it would be crazier if Silicon Valley drones didn't give him an award.
posted by aramaic at 11:13 AM on September 12, 2013 [16 favorites]


There's a lot of racism in his trolling and trolling in general, but it's also pretty obvious that that's not really sincere, it's solely intended to offend

Ah, yes. A variation on the Limbaugh "I'm just an entertainer" defense. Never mind, then.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:14 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it does matter. It's perfectly fine if you don't make that distinction, and I understand why you don't, but to me, there's a big difference between the "offend everyone and everything on purpose in a flurry of offensiveness" troll mentality and true bigotry.

Except, weirdly, the "offend everyone" group oddly do not offend white men. They rarely offend people with real power. They offend people who they perceive as too weak to hurt them back.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:15 AM on September 12, 2013 [87 favorites]


Yeah, I think there's a moral difference, to me at least, and I also think the comparison between saying bigoted things and beating women is pretty dumb.

For instance, racism and anti-Semitism isn't bad primarily because it makes people say things about black people or jews that offend. It's bad because it systemically oppresses those groups, in very real and practical ways, affecting their economic and social opportunities, health, and even life and death.

Saying "This is all the fault of the Jews" on the internet, especially when you have a pattern of over-the-top trolling and deliberately causing offense, does not do those things. It offends. At worst, if real bigots take it seriously, it contributes to an overall climate of hatred and bigotry, but if (theoretically, at least), the person doing the trolling is in all other respects and contexts perfectly non-bigoted, then yes, I think there's a moral difference.

It's asshole versus actual bigot. Again, these are just my opinions, I don't really have any problem with people just grouping the trolls in with the bigots and calling it a day.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:16 AM on September 12, 2013


GenjiandProust: "Except, weirdly, the "offend everyone" group oddly do not offend white men. They rarely offend people with real power. They offend people who they perceive as too weak to hurt them back."

In general, yes. Although there's political trolling, which tends to assume ridiculously extreme stands on both ends of the political spectrum.

Or nerd trolling on Slashdot, which involves 95% straight white males.

But you're right, although I'm willing to think it's mostly about easy targets, and also probably about who they perceive as different from themselves.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:21 AM on September 12, 2013


At worst, if real bigots take it seriously, it contributes to an overall climate of hatred and bigotry, but if (theoretically, at least), the person doing the trolling is in all other respects and contexts perfectly non-bigoted, then yes, I think there's a moral difference.

I'm inclined to say that I'm perfectly alright with not worrying about this particular moral difference if the worst outcome is also the likely one.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:23 AM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


and also probably about who they perceive as different from themselves.

yeah, that's the bigotry.
posted by nadawi at 11:27 AM on September 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


but if (theoretically, at least), the person doing the trolling is in all other respects and contexts perfectly non-bigoted, then yes, I think there's a moral difference.

I might be inclined to agree with this assessment if I thought there was even a 1% chance of this hypothetical person's existence.
posted by elizardbits at 11:28 AM on September 12, 2013 [19 favorites]


I'm interested in this point about the EFF. I completely understand why they're defended weev from the specific charges in his case–it's a shitty case and goes to the heart of the hacker-friendly issues they traditionally focus on.

But I'd like to see two changes in their approach.

One, I'd like them to be a little more clear that they're doing this for the same reasons the ACLU often defends Klan members on free speech issues. When the ACLU does that, most people understand that it's about the specific issue (freedom to muck about with computers) not the person, and that the ACLU is not a fan of the Klan. I hope this is true of the EFF, and if it is, I want them to be loud about it.

Second, I wish they would pick up harassment, and particularly harassment of women online, as a issue in its own right. It would be tricky in some cases (where anti-harassment efforts might conflict with pro-privacy efforts, for instance) but they're grown-ups and can handle it.

Right now there's a risk that the EFF (and similar groups) could get pitted in the public sphere against anti-harassment efforts in general, rather than just in specific cases where there's a clash of interest. I'd rather the EFF put a very public marker down that they are not pro-harassment. Perhaps with a little public encouragement they will do so.

In case it's not clear, BTW, for me the best-case–and impossible–outcome is that weev goes free for this ridiculous charge and then is immediately prosecuted for his actual crimes. Not gonna happen, but we can work toward a world where that is the norm.
posted by feckless at 11:29 AM on September 12, 2013 [43 favorites]


Solution: New version of To Catch a Predator. Post fake versions of these ads, and when the guys show up to rape someone, sit them down on camera and explain that they shouldn't believe everything they read on the internet.

And then they sue you for defamation (if it's broadcast) and entrapment (if you have law enforcement present). From the article, it doesn't sound like there are a lot of good legal options yet for pursuing these people.
posted by limeonaire at 11:33 AM on September 12, 2013


No law enforcement necessary, it would merely be about deterring people from answering these ads sight unseen without, say, calling and talking to the woman first. I presume this is a webshow of some kind. Also all the feminists involved would be wearing costumes. I'll be the one in the wheelchair with a jetpack on. And I have a hawk wing helmet on for some reason.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:36 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a great article, and shocking in many ways that I think are important. On the upside, I feel like this "cult" is increasing in intensity because they are losing the idealogical battle.

Then I read the comments (hint: never read comments) and some dude is saying that this is all well and good but feminists don't want him to have sexy ladies in his video games so women kind of deserve what they get, and I lose faith again.
posted by jess at 11:38 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


They offend people who they perceive as too weak to hurt them back.

Yet to see them trolling the Koch brothers.
posted by arcticseal at 11:39 AM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I hadn't seen that, but watching two minutes of the video made it absolutely clear to me that he's trolling.

So what? The phrase "he's trolling" - or in its more common form, "he's _just_ trolling", is nothing more than an attempt to deflect responsibility from bad actors and blame the victims of harassment for their reactions; see also, "she can't take a joke".

And fuck every last thing about that, frankly.
posted by mhoye at 11:39 AM on September 12, 2013 [45 favorites]


I saw Kathy raising a stink about weev again on Twitter, because he won some sort of award at the last TechCrunch Disrupt conference.

So the conference that kicked off with "Titstare" went on to give weev an award?
posted by gladly at 11:41 AM on September 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


I saw Kathy raising a stink about weev again on Twitter, because he won some sort of award at the last TechCrunch Disrupt conference. That seems kind of crazy, to give that guy an award.

Wow, TechCrunch Disrupt just keeps on giving. (I couldn't find any record of an award for him on there, but he seems to be a regular blogger on their web site, with a byline and everything.)
posted by whir at 11:42 AM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the use of "trolling" as some excuse for horrifying behavior is such a.. thing. I can't believe otherwise intelligent people give such importance to the difference.

This guy is a horrible human being; an obviously racist, hateful little turd. We're splitting hairs here on how smelly the turd is.
posted by lattiboy at 11:42 AM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


mhoye: "So what? The phrase "he's trolling" - or in its more common form, "he's _just_ trolling", is nothing more than an attempt to deflect responsibility from bad actors and blame the victims of harassment for their reactions; see also, "she can't take a joke"."

"Don't feed the troll" is a tried and true internet adage. It works. There are trolls, they want attention, they want people to disagree with them. It's been proven time and time again that if you don't engage with them, they go away.

This was good advice when I first heard it back in the 90s, and it's good advice now. I don't think implicitly calling it victim blaming makes that any less true.

(I'm obviously talking about the smaller stuff here. When things rise to the level of threats and other things, get law enforcement involved.)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:43 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So the conference that kicked off with "Titstare" went on to give weev an award?

It looks more like the other way around, chronologically speaking, but that's a po-tay-to/po-tah-to kind of thing.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:43 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have kind of a beef against the EFF as well. I felt like when they first started they quickly began to back away from many hackers when it became clear not all of them were political or interested in freeing information. They seemed to me to move away from legal defense of hackers and into political activism. I think they were a little shocked to find most hackers were just criminals and not freedom fighters. They were kinda like "Don't worry, we got your back.... Oh wait. No we don't"
posted by Ad hominem at 11:45 AM on September 12, 2013


[H]e [Auernheimer] seems to be a regular blogger on their web site, with a byline and everything.

I'm floored. I knew nothing about this creep before reading this but -- there's an actual functioning business that wants to be associated with him? Good lord.
posted by Eyebeams at 11:46 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Starting in 1995, I worked for various ISPs in two states. I sat at my desk ready for Y2K, watching the parties on 6th street in Austin. To an extent, along with thousands of others, I helped build the Internet we use today.

I'm all for freedom of speech and expression - but I hate and despise seeing it used in this manner.

We need more "gold mines" of useful interesting information (one of my favorite examples: YArchive) and less trolls.
posted by mrbill at 11:48 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, we're discussing whether or not this guy is an anti-Semite, or whether or not he's trolling? Maybe we could discuss the fact that a non-trivial percentage and number of men and boys use the anonymity of the Internet to oppress women, to threaten, savage, hurt, degrade, hate women and girls. Women in the US have had the right to vote for fewer than 100 years. There is no Constitutional amendment protecting women's equality. Rape is still common and poorly prosecuted. It takes a hell of a lot of courage for women to join the military, and then to stay, given the frequency of rape and the failure of investigation and prosecution. Lots of women are still discriminated against at work, school, in sports. Wanna be poor? it helps to be female.

The article's not just about Weev; it's also about the cult of angry young men (plenty of angry old men, too, why discriminate). It's about a woman losing a big chunk of her life.

Like a lot of women, I have to not think about this stuff all the time, or my anger would choke me. This is so horrible, and so important. Thanks for posting kmz.
posted by theora55 at 11:50 AM on September 12, 2013 [68 favorites]


It's like...yes, you're trolling. Congratulations, you are not actually racist enough to be lynching anybody. That's a good thing. It is also a thing which is not anywhere close to being not racist at all. My ex was like this--basically sure he was a feminist because he was fine with girls having jobs and stuff and never doing any deeper analysis. But there are precious few people these days who, say, genuinely think Hitler had a good plan. That doesn't mean we're all better and we don't need too worry about these things anymore.
posted by Sequence at 11:50 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Don't feed the troll" is a tried and true internet adage. It works.

That is absolutely, categorically wrong. "Don't feed the trolls" means "silence yourself". You are telling the victim to shut up and take it.

How the hell do you stop "feeding the trolls" if their fundamental problem is you're a woman with an opinion? Telling somebody not to feed the trolls is precisely like telling victims of crime not to report it and then claiming the drop in the crime stats means the city's getting safer.
posted by mhoye at 11:51 AM on September 12, 2013 [90 favorites]


Saying "This is all the fault of the Jews" on the internet, especially when you have a pattern of over-the-top trolling and deliberately causing offense, does not do those things. It offends.

Not all offensive language is created equally. There is no comparable way to offend somebody who has the privilege that comes with not being part of an oppressed minority, and when the offense comes from the language of oppression nobody gets to say dick about how okay it is except the people who were targeted by it. I am a straight white American male: I will never know that kind of offense. What right do I have to say it's no big deal, and why should I get a pass for using it ironically? Racist trolls are like babies playing with guns, except babies can't know the reality of their situation while trolls could easily figure that out but refuse to assess or acknowledge it. It's hurtful, shameful behavior that's absolutely dripping with privilege.

At worst, if real bigots take it seriously, it contributes to an overall climate of hatred and bigotry, but if (theoretically, at least), the person doing the trolling is in all other respects and contexts perfectly non-bigoted, then yes, I think there's a moral difference.

It doesn't require real bigots taking it seriously for it to contribute to that climate - every "ironic" bigoted remark that is given a pass provides cover for real bigots to hide behind, and it normalizes the act of letting it slide, which gets anyone who takes issue with the offense marked as overreacting.

"Don't feed the troll" is a tried and true internet adage. It works. There are trolls, they want attention, they want people to disagree with them. It's been proven time and time again that if you don't engage with them, they go away.

This was good advice when I first heard it back in the 90s, and it's good advice now. I don't think implicitly calling it victim blaming makes that any less true


This is good advice, too: "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept." - Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Australian Army Chief
posted by jason_steakums at 11:51 AM on September 12, 2013 [32 favorites]


"Don't feed the troll" is a tried and true internet adage. It works. There are trolls, they want attention, they want people to disagree with them. It's been proven time and time again that if you don't engage with them, they go away.

Yeah, not in my experience. In my experience if you don't engage the trolls, then they start garnering more and more support from the audience, including people who are 100% definitely not trolling, and then you have to leave because you just can't bear it any more.
posted by KathrynT at 11:52 AM on September 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


The most shocking part of the article to me:

Jacobs’ ex sent copies of the photos to her boss and suggested she was sexually preying on students. Jacobs’ employers, fearing bad press, asked her to prove she didn’t upload the photos herself.

What the fuck? What kind of bullshit presumption of guilt is that? How uncompassionate can you be? Oh right:

Now, society was telling her that she had committed the unpardonable crime of being a sexual woman, that sex is still only acceptable for men.

That sounds about right. This is like a much milder version of the women in Muslim countries who get charged with adultery when they're raped.
posted by Dasein at 11:58 AM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


> "Don't feed the troll" is a tried and true internet adage. It works. There are trolls, they want attention, they want people to disagree with them. It's been proven time and time again that if you don't engage with them, they go away.

I've kind of given up on maintaining the distinction between harassment and trolling when one definition means ignoring doxxing and rape threats and the other means ignoring someone who insists that Gandalf is the best Harry Potter character

I mean okay, the former get to be called trolls if they want to, but it's not really the same thing and the same tactics for handling them don't work.
posted by postcommunism at 11:59 AM on September 12, 2013 [30 favorites]


"Don't feed the troll" is a tried and true internet adage. It works. There are trolls, they want attention, they want people to disagree with them. It's been proven time and time again that if you don't engage with them, they go away.

Yeah, except it's pretty clear that harassment has gotten demonstrably worse over the past decade or so, not better.

I've been on the web from the mid 90's on, and the first time I encountered the mob mentality online harassment was 2005 or so. Since then, it has escalated massively from a few people harassing people, to "merely" stalking victims online, to publishing personal details about them, to physically stalking them, finding and posting nude photos of them anywhere and everywhere, to calling SWAT teams in on their houses, attempting to get them fired from their jobs, and posting craigslist ads that led directly to the theft of all their property, in rape, and in death.
posted by zug at 12:01 PM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Don't feed the troll" is a tried and true internet adage. It works.

Sadly, no:
If there’s one thing I want to come out of what happened to me, it’s for the phrase “don’t feed the trolls” to be scrubbed from the annals of received wisdom. Not feeding the trolls doesn’t magically scrub out the image in your head of being told you’ll be gang-raped till you die. What are victims meant to do with that image, the rage and the horror that it conjures up? We’re meant to internalise it until it consumes us? Well I’m sorry, but I’m not having that.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:02 PM on September 12, 2013 [35 favorites]


Yeah not speaking up against racist speech just normalizes racist speech.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:07 PM on September 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


Do not feed the trolls works fine if trolls don't have critical mass. After they have a little cheering section (a few fellow trolls and their respective armies of sock puppets) your not feeding them is irrelevant as they can feed off one another. This is why medium to large communities almost always turn into free fire zones or have some sort of moderation.

And then, as Postcommunism points out, we've got the phenomenon of people who have taken trolling to a level that is orders of magnitude beyond making pointless arguments about shit on the web. Once you've started making real world threats of violence, you're no longer trolling, you're committing crimes.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:07 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


"don't feed the trolls" is good advice to deal with trolls

"don't feed the psychotic idiots that are doxxing you, threatening you and sending nasty people to your home" is awful advice

these harassers ARE NOT TROLLS - they are bullies up to and past the point of criminality
posted by pyramid termite at 12:08 PM on September 12, 2013 [23 favorites]


I just don't understand why the prosecutor didn't slap this guy with several charges of harassment and incitement to violence while he had him on the dock. It seems like if just a handful of dudes who posted this shit went to jail, it would trail off real fast.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:13 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Free speech as a principle is a wonderful thing. Free speech in practice is a nightmare scenario of harassment, racism, misogyny and worse. Perhaps it's time to give up and admit that we can't implement free speech in a non-harmful way.
posted by tommasz at 12:13 PM on September 12, 2013


Don't feed the trolls only makes sense if you're not in one of their target group, ie you're a white, straight bloke.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:14 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think a better solution would be to have people correctly educated on what freedom of speech actually entails.
posted by elizardbits at 12:15 PM on September 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


hint: it's not about having one's shitty comments online protected or deleted
posted by elizardbits at 12:15 PM on September 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Exactly: there's trolling to raise people's anger and stir shit, then there's posting someone's home address, social security number, and filling out sex-wanted ads with their address and telling men to come by at any time.

The latter crosses from being the pinnacle of an online jerk (like alt.tasteless invading rec.pets.cats) to being a psychopath with an emphasis on directly causing grief (when the tasteless crew moved beyond simply destroying rec.pets.cats as a place to communicate about cats, and started calling the cat lovers).

Categorizing both together lessens the latter. "Oh, he's just being an internet jerk." No, has interfered with her day-to-day life, and is a psychopath.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:16 PM on September 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


Goddamn. I wasn't aware of weev's lady-terrorizing activities, but I already thought he was a douche for the AT&T breach thing and subsequent whining about the consequences he faced. I didn't imagine it was possible that that was just the tip of the doucheberg for him.
posted by mullingitover at 12:17 PM on September 12, 2013


Joakim Ziegler: “(I'm obviously talking about the smaller stuff here. When things rise to the level of threats and other things, get law enforcement involved.)”

The misconception here, I think, is the notion that there are actually small things in this case. But we're not talking about conversations where someone said something mildly insulting. That is not at all what happened in this case. We're talking about hatespeech and threats. It would be worth giving this advice if we were talking to children who were hurt that someone at school said they weren't smart. It is not worth giving it when rape threats and death threats are happening.
posted by koeselitz at 12:19 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Throwing this weev guy in jail for the AT&T stuff but ignoring what he did to Kathy Sierra seems on the one hand like "of course, targeting people means nothing and targeting a corporation means everything". On the other hand it's kind of like Al Capone going to jail for tax evasion.
posted by immlass at 12:21 PM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


As a Jewish woman who has been doxxed and harassed and ran off of numerous websites by angry violent men for writing about social justice issues, I can't say that reminding myself "they're just doing it for the lulz" makes me feel any safer. Okay, sure, a dude who tells you he's going to rape you with a chainsaw MAY be just a troll trying to get a rise out of you, but I don't think that distinction matters. This shouldn't be something women have to deal with online.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 12:23 PM on September 12, 2013 [24 favorites]


"Except, weirdly, the "offend everyone" group oddly do not offend white men."

Speaking as a white man, I disagree. What I expect you mean is that they don't offend bigoted white men.
posted by walrus at 12:23 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think maybe the point of the comment was "they do not deliberately target white men with threats and harassment"?
posted by elizardbits at 12:24 PM on September 12, 2013 [16 favorites]


And as seen in the rise of alt.tasteless to include a group of people who invaded people's physical space, this "rise" has been happening for about two decades. I'm sure it's gotten more wide-spread, but there have been internet psychopaths ruining peoples lives for a while. This is to say, kindness is not dead, rather that the internet has enabled the amplification and broadening the scope for absolute assholes of the worst sort, while it has also globalized acts of kindness, as seen with Karen Klein, the older lady who was harassed in her duty as a school bus monitor. A local fundraiser might have never happened, or if it did, would have never gotten that big.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:26 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Free speech doesn't actually mean being able to say whatever you want.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 12:26 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fair point elizardbits. I think anyone not offended by this type of behaviour is probably quite disturbed though, and that's a fair point too.
posted by walrus at 12:27 PM on September 12, 2013


That's a really good point, filthy light thief. One of the worst things about violence is it takes very little violence to make things completely unbearable for everyone. One violent person can ruin a thousand people's day, while kindness doesn't scale to quite the same extent.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:31 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a Jew, I'm glad to know that they are just targeting me because I am Jewish, and therefore a good target for bullying and mockery, and not because they are actual antisemites who might do exactly the same thing because they hate Jews.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:34 PM on September 12, 2013 [45 favorites]


What happened to Kathy Sierra should have been a wake-up call in the tech community about the treatment of women online, and about how online communities can foster harassment toward those perceived as outsiders (i.e., anyone not white, straight, and male). That it wasn't speaks volumes.

I suppose it's progress of a sort when guys like Pax Dickinson can get fired for spouting satires of racist and misogynist sentiments. But it's far from the reckoning the industry deserves.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:36 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I came in to say what feckless said.

pyramid termite: "i don't understand how this has grown to be such a major problem - are there more psychotics out there or are they just getting braver?"

Here's what I think (part of) the problem might be: in addition to manipulating their victims, psychotics are also known to manipulate accomplices or sympathizers. So at least some Internet harassers (not that this excuses the behavior in the least) may be manipulated participants themselves who, without access to the words of a psychopath, might just be depressed.
posted by Apropos of Something at 12:37 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's been proven time and time again that if you don't engage with them, they go away.

Has it been proven? I've never seen any serious study of this. I'm more inclined to believe that when you don't tell people about the harassment you're receiving, those who aren't receiving it themselves convince themselves it's not happening. So as far as they know, it only keeps happening to people who keep saying it happens.
posted by jacalata at 12:38 PM on September 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


> I can't say that reminding myself "they're just doing it for the lulz" makes me feel any safer.

The 'I was just trolling' excuse in those cases is frustrating in part because, if sincere (and I think it often is), it reveals such a desert of personal unreflection.

If someone posts a google street view of my house with accompanying threats, even if they don't intend to follow through, I am in exactly the same position as I would be if they did intend to. And regardless of intent, they place themselves in the exact same position too: in either case, they get to be the one who knows for sure whether something bad will happen to me and I'm the one left in the dark.

Like, a moment of reflection would show how stupid the excuse is.
posted by postcommunism at 12:41 PM on September 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


I have never ever responded to any of the trolls who have emailed me to tell me they were going to rape or murder me, but their emails and phone calls to my home still persist, even years later in some cases. "Not feeding the trolls" doesn't do shit to solve the problem, just saying.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 12:41 PM on September 12, 2013 [17 favorites]


Look at how a group like ExiledOnline or NSFWCorp responds to trolls: withering sarcasm and profanity. It works.

This thread is a good reminder to all the nice liberal folks here on mefi, to again question their politics; what do you do when the government cannot or will not protect you?
posted by wuwei at 12:44 PM on September 12, 2013


By your own logic I should respond to your comment with withering sarcasm and profanity.
posted by elizardbits at 12:45 PM on September 12, 2013 [26 favorites]


Look at how a group like ExiledOnline or NSFWCorp responds to trolls: withering sarcasm and profanity. It works.

Again, these don't have to deal with non-stop rape and death threats.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:45 PM on September 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


don't ignore the trolls, feed them until they explode
posted by nadawi at 12:46 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


"i don't understand how this has grown to be such a major problem - are there more psychotics out there or are they just getting braver?"

I think there's a lot of merit to Anita Sarkeesian's analysis, which she witnessed first-hand: That the web has created an environment where harassment has functionally been gamified, with the target of harassment acting as a sort of boss level for the harassers.

There is this disconnect, which I think, to an extent, has been demonstrated in this thread: That something done for LULZ or for trolling is not really doing that thing. That a threat done to get a reaction is not a threat, but a troll. That hate speech done for fun is not real hate speech, but ironic comedy.

And then it is simplified and magnified by the web. And many don't see themselves as actually engaging in hate speech, or harassment, or sexism. They see these as the tools of the troll, and unmeaningful in any real sense, because its all just meant to get a reaction.

But this is just a lie they tell themselves. They are, in fact, engaging in real-world harassment and hate speech. And they're doing it in a way that targets the very people who have historically been targeted by harassment and hate speech. But because of this moral disconnect, this vacuum, they think they're just pranksters, instead of what they actually are: criminals.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:46 PM on September 12, 2013 [56 favorites]



"Don't feed the troll" is a tried and true internet adage. It works. There are trolls, they want attention, they want people to disagree with them. It's been proven time and time again that if you don't engage with them, they go away.


So basically in addition to Schroedinger's rapist we now have Schroedinger's troll, I guess - women don't know which guy is all mouth and which guy is going to go on Craigslist and get an army of scary, entitled men to harass you at home. Ignoring is well and good in general, as long as you're confident that all the troll really wants is attention, but it seems like a reasonable chunk of these guys would actually rape, torture or murder a woman who angers them (or arrange for that to happen) as long as they have some reason to think they can get away with it.

I just honestly despair of people sometimes. Personally, these things bring up a really visceral rage and despair about men, but then I remember that for a lot of people of color, they get the same kind of scary awful treatment from white people of all genders. So basically, it's just that as long as you have power, you will perpetually be in danger of tipping over into horrible, stupid, selfish and sometimes violent cruelty.

The world without us? That might be the best course.
posted by Frowner at 12:49 PM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Effect should always weight heavier than intent.

(just because I haven't seen anyone mentioning it though (perhaps it's assumed) let me just say that understanding intent is critical to understanding causes. So while effects should always weigh heavier than intent, the relationship between the two should be hierarchical rather than binary. Intent matters, but not always as an excuse.)
posted by tychotesla at 12:51 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


If it sieg heils like a duck, it is a duck
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:52 PM on September 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


This thread is a good reminder to all the nice liberal folks here on mefi, to again question their politics; what do you do when the government cannot or will not protect you?

This comment is a good reminder to all the nice liberal folks here on MeFi that there are people who are willing to blame you for the assholes who get into government specifically to deny ability of the government to protect you.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:52 PM on September 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


This thread is a good reminder to all the nice liberal folks here on mefi, to again question their politics; what do you do when the government cannot or will not protect you?

Obviously, I find the nearest strong white male and throw myself under his protection, trading sexual favours for food and shelter the way god intended women to do. Is that the answer you're looking for?
posted by jacalata at 12:53 PM on September 12, 2013 [30 favorites]


The other thing about trolls, be it random griefing comments or those troll pile-ons where all it takes is a handful to get the ball rolling, is that I'm not fully convinced the number of astroturfing campaigns with an agenda that stir that shit up against specific people and opinions is all that low. As dirty tricks go, it's cheap and easy to set that up with plenty of distance from whoever wants it done - why wouldn't that low hanging fruit be a popular choice?
posted by jason_steakums at 12:54 PM on September 12, 2013


This thread is a good reminder to all the nice liberal folks here on mefi, to again question their politics; what do you do when the government cannot or will not protect you?

If the government cannot or will not protect us, then we're basically Somalia, in which case we would have much bigger problems than hate speech online.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:54 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Don't feed the troll" is a tried and true internet adage. It works.

That is absolutely, categorically wrong. "Don't feed the trolls" means "silence yourself". You are telling the victim to shut up and take it


You're both right. The best way to deal with trolls - i.e. those who intentionally start drama online for their own amusement - is to not engage them.

But this waste-of-life motherfucker here is not a troll, and his actions are not trolling. They are crimes. And when weev determines a target to sic his bully army on, not engaging will do nothing to help the situation. The truth is that he should probably just be in jail, and not, you know, getting awards from industry conferences.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:55 PM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


They are, in fact, engaging in real-world harassment and hate speech. And they're doing it in a way that targets the very people who have historically been targeted by harassment and hate speech. But because of this moral disconnect, this vacuum, they think they're just pranksters, instead of what they actually are: criminals.

Yes. And in the UK at least, thanks to a series of high profile harassment cases, the harassers are now finding out themselves, that yes, online death threats are still death threats and a crime. Police and political attention has been brought to this "trolling" and it turns out ordinary people don't like this shit.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:56 PM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Effect should always weight heavier than intent.

Yes, exactly. Thus, involuntary manslaughter is, while presumably accidental, still a crime. (i realize this is a sweeping generalization of a legal term with which i am not wholly confident of my knowledge of all nuances of definition, yes.)
posted by elizardbits at 12:56 PM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


if you want to pretend to be a racist to get a reaction, generally the reaction you're going to get is people thinking you're a racist.

Yes, and that is what the trolls are counting on. Trolls aren't usually sincerely bigoted -- they just want you to believe they are.

A lot of people seem to believe that trolls exist because we as a society haven't condemned bigotry and hate speech strongly enough, as if they are only doing what society permits. But the perversity of trolling is that they want to be condemned. More often than not, they stoke outrage to demonstrate how little they care about what people think of them, that they can transgress the norms and taboos of mainstream society without any qualms. The more we react with outrage, the more we enhance the troll's feelings of power, a power that is heightened by the contrast with our own impotent rage.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:57 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


this is why dementors should be a real thing
posted by elizardbits at 12:59 PM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Trolls aren't usually sincerely bigoted -- they just want you to believe they are.


Do you actually know this for a fact? And what difference does it make if you say something hateful because you are hateful or if you say something hateful because you enjoy hateful behavior?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:00 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


"The more we react with outrage, the more we enhance the troll's feelings of power"

Well that's all well and good, but the more people DON'T react to horrible hateful sexism with outrage, the more they enhance my feeling of being powerless.
posted by jess at 1:03 PM on September 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


The more we react with outrage, the more we enhance the troll's feelings of power

Then putting them in jail is win-win, right?
posted by No Robots at 1:04 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know, most sexist racist "trolls" just seem like plain old sexist racists to me. Threatening someone with bodily harm doesn't seem much like sticking it to the man.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 1:04 PM on September 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Can't say I care for this article. Weev is terrible and online harassment is a serious problem, almost exclusively perpetuated by men against women online. But again and again we see that there is an institutional reluctance to not take the claims of women seriously on the part of police. This isn't new to the internet, it's just that the silencing of victims by law enforcement is becoming less effective (a good thing).

So when Criado-Perez rightfully acknowledges that "social media doesn’t cause misogyny;" her follow-up claim that "the police can’t cure it" demonstrates a failure to understand exactly what's going on. The police themselves are by and large misogynists in practice; they enforce the law selectively in favour of wealthy white men. Their neglect to treat online harassment seriously is no surprise, as they rarely take any claims of harassment seriously. The behaviour of "online trolls" is signaled to them as perfectly fine by the institutions of our society; if they didn't learn it at home, they probably learned it in undergrad...
posted by mek at 1:04 PM on September 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


The more we react with outrage, the more we enhance the troll's feelings of power, a power that is heightened by the contrast with our own impotent rage.

If the rage was really impotent, they wouldn't require anonymity or the threat of litigation (hello Westboro) or at least the good safe distance the internet gives them from their targets. Decent people have all sorts of power over trolls, they only cede it by ignoring them.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:07 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the article nadawi linked, by the amazing Lindy West:
...the conventional wisdom has been to ignore them. Ignore them and they'll go away. Stop feeding them and they'll starve. Except...has that worked? That's been the policy since day one, and has trolling gotten better or worse? I'd wager that the people who are drawn to trolling, for the most part, are people who are used to being ignored. Ignoring them is playing to one of their strengths. So instead of fading away, they're intensifying. And if you disagree with that assessment, you're probably not a woman.

[...]

In other words, when we ignore the issue—leaving trolls to twist in the wind—not only does it not fix anything, it actively hurts us. It poisons healthy conversations. And, more specifically, it actively drives women off the internet and out of the conversation and back into our "safe spaces"—which is exactly what the trolls want. They want us to shut up. They want us out of their territory.

But engaging with the issue is exactly what trolls want too. They revel in attention. So that's the conundrum: As soon as we acknowledge them, they win. But if we never acknowledge them, they also win, plus discourse shuts down and we all get dumber.
If our options are limited to "engage" or "ignore," we cannot win. Do you see how this works? We'll be blamed either way -- for doing too much, or for not doing enough. Same as it ever was.

And particularly when it comes to leveling threats of identity theft, rape, and murder, I fail to see how it is both incumbent upon us to somehow ascertain that certain people are in just it for the lulz AND shoulder both the full burden of and total responsibility for whatever needs doing that will magically prevent these people from treating us like shit. Please, explain the necessity of these duties to the woman from TFA who was "raped with a knife sharpener in her home after an ex-boyfriend assumed her identity and posted a Craigslist ad that read, 'Need an aggressive man with no concern or regard for women.'"

Back to Ms. West:
So what are we going to do? Well, in light of that idiotic Catch 22, I know what I'm going to do. Whatever I fucking feel like doing. I'm sick of being told that I'm navigating my own abuse wrong. I am not interested in being anyone's chew toy—you can chew on me, but I am full of poison.
posted by divined by radio at 1:10 PM on September 12, 2013 [34 favorites]


I don't understand why this happens at all. Is it really as simple as the fact that society as a whole is pushing an anti-women message? What's going on with these men that makes them hate women so much? Even going on reddit there is so much misogyny and sexism, and I've deleted friends from Facebook due to their views on women. It's a point of view that I really cannot understand.
posted by gucci mane at 1:14 PM on September 12, 2013


I don't understand why this happens at all. Is it really as simple as the fact that society as a whole is pushing an anti-women message?

I don't know if it's as simple as that, but, yes, I think that's at the very core of it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:15 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remembered the Sierra incident, but had forgotten just hoe vile and scary it got. I'm appalled.
posted by thelonius at 1:17 PM on September 12, 2013


If law enforcement doesn't help, what about civil suits for harassment or something along those lines? Would that be an option?
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:20 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Trolls aren't usually sincerely bigoted -- they just want you to believe they are.

Yeah, they all had mothers, and
some of their best friends are whatever, and ...

Doesn't matter if their heart is in the right place
Their blogging is in the gutter.

Decades back there was a short science fiction story that gave me the creeps at the time -- the aliens land, they're all cheerful and hearty, their society has eliminated war and turned its energies to building starships -- and it turns out they've bred for this result by providing every child, on reaching adulthood, with a quick easy socially approved way to suicide, and figured, those who'd kill themselves ought to be encouraged to do it.
Some difficult but not impossible yoga-type position, and click, you're dead.

And there's no empathy for anyone going out that way. Society of space-traveling sociopaths, it sounded like. Wall Street in space, success at any price kind of society.

The protagonist thinks of his kids, a cheerful and hearty boy and a sensitive, easily hurt girl, and muses she wouldn't likely survive -- and does a Jack Benny on whether or not it'd be worthwhile, to make the species stable enough to build starships.

This feels like that story a bit.

Not the part about the notion that 'cheerful and hearty starship builders' result -- that's nitwittery fake eugenics.

The part about people who lack the ability to understand that others have feelings.
Mirror neurones seem to be lacking in some people.
Or they don't work for some people online, at least.

How many of these bad actors would act the same way face to face? If they had anonymity and deniability, I'd guess most of them, at least when in groups.
posted by hank at 1:22 PM on September 12, 2013


I know a lot of trolls through various online circles I've run in over the last 20 years, though I've never participated myself. All shared one common motive: poke until they get a response, and then poke harder. It's really that simple. The tactics have become meaner and more vile, sure, but the rule still stands.

That said, a lot of what gets qualified as "trolling" is, as others have said, just dumb bullying. It's artless, cruel harassment: rape threats, disclosure of sensitive personal information, etc. I personally feel these should be prosecuted where possible, because normalizing online behavior that offline nobody would tolerate (or which is actually illegal) is probably not a good idea.

As much as a lot of folks on the blue don't want to hear this, it is the best advice I can give: ignore anything short of physical threats, and report those to the police. Aside from that, nobody's going to prosecute a troll for being mean or offending your delicate sensibilities—and don't say that to patronize anyone but as a sincere statement of fact. Becoming outraged over how base and ugly people can be on the Internet or otherwise and trying to push back is only going to paint you as a larger target and give a troll exactly what he or she wants.
posted by echocollate at 1:24 PM on September 12, 2013


"I know a lot of trolls through various online circles I've run in over the last 20 years, though I've never participated myself. All shared one common motive: poke until they get a response, and then poke harder. It's really that simple."

This in itself is an indicator that someone is a fairly nasty little shit. If other nasty little shits approve, it doesn't make it any better.
posted by walrus at 1:28 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


But the perversity of trolling is that they want to be condemned. More often than not, they stoke outrage to demonstrate how little they care about what people think of them, that they can transgress the norms and taboos of mainstream society without any qualms.

You've illustrated the key issue here. Trolls do care very deeply about what people think of them; the question is, which people?

Trolls find that their behavior earns them accolades and fame and support online. People like weev can become Internet celebrities that they can even earning a living with. In the real world, portions of the tech community cheer them on.

And that's why it's so vital to speak out. To educate. To try and change things so that trolls aren't elevated to folk heroes online. So that "pretend racism" doesn't earn you laughs and high-fives but ostracization and pariahood. So that real-world tech entities like TechCrunch shun you instead of giving you a byline.

Trolls are desperately alone and find validation and acceptance through trolling. If trolling lead only to isolation, no one would do it.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:35 PM on September 12, 2013 [22 favorites]


it's interesting that the people being harassed tend to disagree that ignoring the trolls/harassers is the only avenue but those who know some trolls think we should all just ignore it and they'll go away.
posted by nadawi at 1:37 PM on September 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


offending your delicate sensibilities

...aaaand there it is. Gotta say, I thought it would take longer for this sort of thing to appear. Toughen up ladies! Quit clutching those pearls! This is what happens in the rough-and-tumble Man's World!

Counterpoint: observe the aggressive moderation here (even in this thread), compare it to elsewhere. Then compare the resulting discussions.
posted by aramaic at 1:38 PM on September 12, 2013 [34 favorites]


I don't understand how trolls aren't "really" bigots. How does their "not really" show itself if they are acting exactly like bigots and perpetrating the same harm that bigots perpetrate?

It comes down to the whole intent argument - "I didn't MEAN to offend anyone, I was just joking (or too ignorant)." It doesn't matter what the intent was.

Also, as said upthread racism isn't only guys in white hoods and sexism isn't only "women shouldn't work."
posted by sweetkid at 1:38 PM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


This in itself is an indicator that someone is a fairly nasty little shit. If other nasty little shits approve, it doesn't make it any better.

I'll be the first to admit that many if not most were indeed fairly nasty little shits. I'm not sure what bearing this has on what I caution though.

If others feel that taking on trolls directly is a more fruitful course, by all means do. But be prepared for a swift and ugly escalation beyond what you're prepared for. Maybe you can goad them into making prosecutable offenses and get the law involved.
posted by echocollate at 1:38 PM on September 12, 2013


back in 97, when i first got on the net, this wasn't that common and now it seems like a mass psychosis in development

I came to say that this isn't really the case. You could get the same shit on bbs's and newsgroups. The scale was smaller, as was the observed scale. But it was hardly absent. In some cases, it was easier to hide your identity, so unless you said you were a woman, no one would be the wiser. And there were fewer women online, so there was this automatic "let's not scare them away." thing going on. But yes, if you ended up doing something that some guy perceived as a slight, in some cases not dating them, there was just as likely to be a shit storm calling you a slot and a whole and making threats against your person.

Anonymity had its benefits back then; you were less likely to have your personal info found out. Though for the local bbs's, if you did meet with people, yeah, they could get crazy and there were a few times I feared for my person. (though being young and stupid, I probably didn't take the threats seriously enough....)

I tend to be full of piss and vinegar online, and I think a lot of it comes from my early experiences of having to not only have a thick skin, but having to dish out as good as I got to be able to be "respected" Which really was an illusion, people's attitudes could change at the drop of a hat. I remember on one BBS, a whole sweet of macros were made as derogatory comments towards me because I started dating someone IRL. I only knew about it because I once was part of the "cool kids" and someone forgot to remove my permissions when they started making those.

I've been working on being less "piss and vinegar" filled, though it's a hard habit to break, because it was survival back in the early Internet days. But I'm glad it's changing, even if I'm struggling to, because it means that despite the wildly out of control misogyny, the Web is a more inclusive place (even if new problems have come up in its place.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:40 PM on September 12, 2013


"I'm not sure what bearing this has on what I caution though."

It was just an observation.

More pertinently to your point, hate speech, at least in my country, is a crime. Ignoring crimes doesn't tend to stop them occurring. Reporting them might.
posted by walrus at 1:41 PM on September 12, 2013


...aaaand there it is. Gotta say, I thought it would take longer for this sort of thing to appear. Toughen up ladies! Quit clutching those pearls! This is what happens in the rough-and-tumble Man's World!

...aaaand I anticipated precisely this kind of reaction, which is why I qualified the statement as carefully as possible. If you're a woman and someone threatens you with rape—ironically or otherwise—report it to the police. You don't have to "just take it." In fact, you don't have to like anything a troll says or does. But controlling your response as a means of denying a troll what he or she feeds on is, in my experience, a more sound strategy to avoid harassment than loudly proclaiming your offense.
posted by echocollate at 1:41 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


the whole point is that no reaction at all is required for ugly escalation of hostilities.
posted by elizardbits at 1:43 PM on September 12, 2013 [24 favorites]


More pertinently to your point, hate speech, at least in my country, is a crime. Ignoring crimes doesn't tend to stop them occurring. Reporting them might.

Ah, yea, it's certainly a good and valid observation. The U.S. has pretty strict free speech protections, which is on balance a mixed bag. It's up to the courts to ensure that "ironic" threats of violence/rape don't go unpunished.
posted by echocollate at 1:44 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


echocollate: "...aaaand I anticipated precisely this kind of reaction, which is why I qualified the statement as carefully as possible. If you're a woman and someone threatens you with rape—ironically or otherwise—report it to the police. You don't have to "just take it." In fact, you don't have to like anything a troll says or does. But controlling your response as a means of denying a troll what he or she feeds on is, in my experience, a more sound strategy to avoid harassment than loudly proclaiming your offense."

What do you think the police will do with a call like that?
posted by Karmakaze at 1:44 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


...ignore anything short of physical threats, and report those to the police.

I wish I lived in a world where this could even be remotely considered as a reasonable or rational solution.

Do you honestly believe that law enforcement officials are going to expend the time, resources, and effort required to track down the thousands upon thousands of anonymous people who regularly physically threaten women online and... what, arrest them? Put them in jail? How are we even supposed to know which police department to call? Whose jurisdiction is this under? How are we supposed to reliably locate or even identify our harassers? With an easily faked IP address? Or are we just supposed to ask the police in our home cities to take legal action against citizens who might live across the country, or on the other side of the world?

It should also be noted that the naive simplicity of "just call the police" doesn't even manage to touch on the utter ineffectiveness of trying to get help from law enforcement in real life harassment and assault cases. Even if we're talking about in-person sexual assault, out of every 100 rapes, 12 lead to an arrest, and only 3 rapists spend even a single day in prison. This is the same justice system we're supposed to approach in order to receive justice in online harassment cases? I think not.

If others feel that taking on trolls directly is a more fruitful course, by all means do. But be prepared for a swift and ugly escalation beyond what you're prepared for.

So we're just supposed to stop overreacting and suck it up, right? And if we don't, we're pretty much asking for whatever we get?

Consider my pearls duly clutched.
posted by divined by radio at 1:44 PM on September 12, 2013 [29 favorites]


Instead of it being incumbent on people to ignore the trolls—where "troll" means "harasser" here—why don't the trolls just ignore the people.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:44 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


...aaaand I anticipated precisely this kind of reaction, which is why I qualified the statement as carefully as possible

But you didn't qualify it as carefully as possible. You phrased it in a relatively patronizing way - the phrase "delicate sensibilities" was a poor choice, since it's a catch phrase used to suggest that people are being pearl-clutching and too sensitive. And "I don't say this to patronize anyone..." is strongly parallel to "I'm not trying to be rude but [rude thing]". You framed it as "I, unlike you, perceive the correct answer; you have [a kind of sensibility that is routinely mocked as silly and over-developed] and that is your weakness."

It was a poor choice of words if you weren't trying to push people's buttons.
posted by Frowner at 1:47 PM on September 12, 2013 [16 favorites]


And in the UK at least, thanks to a series of high profile harassment cases, the harassers are now finding out themselves, that yes, online death threats are still death threats and a crime.

Caroline Criado-Perez, arguably the most highly profiled of the victimised, was saying shortly before she left Twitter a week or so ago that the Met Police had managed to lose all the rape threats she reported to them, and effectively lost all the evidence. I think that kind of shows how seriously they're taking it.
posted by ambrosen at 1:48 PM on September 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


the whole point is that no reaction at all is required for ugly escalation of hostilities.

yea, i mean i get this. and i understand the stand-up-to-a-bully mentality when it comes to feeling powerless and harassed. it really depends on the situation. if you have the emotional fortitude to take on a troll, do so. in my experience, minimizing oneself as a target by denying the troll what it's after (namely, your reaction) is the most effective course of action. i think there's a disconnect between how people think this ought to work and how it actually works. if you feel differently, that's cool too.
posted by echocollate at 1:49 PM on September 12, 2013


"Caroline Criado-Perez, arguably the most highly profiled of the victimised, was saying shortly before she left Twitter a week or so ago that the Met Police had managed to lose all the rape threats she reported to them, and effectively lost all the evidence. I think that kind of shows how seriously they're taking it."

That kind of thing is what the IPCC is for.
posted by walrus at 1:50 PM on September 12, 2013


Ugh, this subject makes my skin crawl and the bile rise in my throat.

I can't help but think of a quote, which, oddly enough, is from a WWE wrestling promoter:
"What is wrong with you people. You cheer for violence. You cheer for indecency. Don't you know, IT'S WRONG."

But, as AlsoMike points out, that is what they want. To a greater degree, I think it is definitely a broken psychological trait. The need to distinguish oneself as different and special, thus exceptional and worth praise or fear. Tying this into the Putin letter thing, this is what his speech writer was referring to. This disconnect and belief that by transgressing against taboos, one achieves a heroic (or anti-heroic) status, a sense of value above others.

And when this is reinforced by those attitudes and beliefs being marketed to you, politicians use this against you to get your to support their agendas, employers use this to isolate and keep you from organizing, NGO's and corporate interests astroturf civic discourse by feeding you more and more lies about how being an independent, skeptical, "rational" individualist: it all adds up to making you (figurative, i.e. the troll) weak and powerless, even as you are being told you are in control.

And here's where I've seen this get really, really, strange. The typical troll is a dime a dozen. There is nothing special about them. They are almost homogenized in their supposed individualism. Most do not have any problems achieving Maslov's heirarchy of basic needs (food, shelter, entertainment). They all have no real threats to their well being, their ability to access technology, or their amount of "free time" to devote to their 'hobby' of trolling. Some of them even have relationships and families. But every one of them still desires more, because they believe they (most likely wrongly) deserve something more than what they already have. And they (wrongly) believe that in order to get what they want, that they have to take it from others. They have been told all their lives that they are exceptional and wonderful and good and that whatever they want is theirs for the taking. And this is utterly false.

And here's where I go all preachy. It used to be, if you were going to troll someone, you had a damn good reason to do so. Trolling Michelle Bachmann or other politicians by pointing out the massive flaws in the policies or politics they supported was seen as a noble crusade. You used logic and rational arguments against dumb ideas, to point out the flaws and engage in serious discourse about how stupid an idea was. But something changed, and I think a lot of people have picked up on it. What is now called trolling is just simply ignorant bullying. I wouldn't even go so far as to call it trolling 'for the LULZ', because it is completely lacking in humor. It is Daniel Tosh and his 'rape joke'. It's Mike from PAX just not understanding that he is no longer the one being bullied, he is the bully. If your only tools to troll someone is doxxing and rape/death threats, you are a witless creature, barely above the level of pond scum. You aren't crusading to right the wrongs of others, you are actively pushing for the destruction of society. So many trolls claim they are trying to defend their position in society, or trying to fight against some boogeyman of political correctness or feminism or whatever their buggaboo is. And they are just wrong. It's not that they don't get it. They will never get it, because they are too myopic and self-centered to understand that they are the brown shirts. They are the ones that are being controlled and used as the oppressors. They are the evil in humanity.

I have this crazy theory that the compiled unintended consequences of most of the 20th century are all coming to a head to destroy the fabric of our society. Between the forced isolation of suburban culture, the forced failure of social institutions (education, healthcare, etc), the active and deliberate lying to the individual ego through marketing and entertainment media (see the rise of 'unscripted' scripted reality television), and the eradication of public gathering spaces, we are in the midst of a complete and utter failure of society to structure itself to the creature that is the human being that is forced to live within the constraints of that society. The troll is a symptom of a greater problem. But just like cancer, it should be removed. And just like cancer, there is no cure, only treatment, and each treatment has to be catered to the individual instance, or the cancer will just come back.

And now, please tear apart me reasoning. I sorely need it, as I know that there has got to be some flaw here I am missing. There also has to be something more that can be done to stop this kind of bullshit. Every time a bully does this kind of thing, more and more people are going to think that Network Neutrality is a bad idea. And as much as I like the idea of Network Neutrality, I think allowing this kind of thing is more harmful than good.
posted by daq at 1:51 PM on September 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


observe the aggressive moderation here (even in this thread)

It's funny, we only deleted two comments (and two that were orphaned as a result) and left a note. I've been really really lucky in that the "I hope you get raped" type of comments I've gotten have been 1) few 2) far between 3) always ended there. This is different from the routine gendered harassment that happens a little more frequently here and our policy is always to ban the user, send future emails to /dev/null and refer any follow-up directly to mathowie.

This article does what a lot of other articles don't do as much, explain how the dish-out-out brigade is really not so great when it's their turn to be the take-it brigade. Weev is gross. Weev is in jail. Weev is not in jail for being gross.

Conflating the two I think obscures the major message which is the packs of harassers that can descend on people which is a lot different than us getting occasionally hassled via the contact form or me having to deal with some shitty email. People who can get in the way of you being able to do your job if your job has an online component, or feeling safe in your own home. And since they're often viewed as a decentralized mob, it's hard to figure out how to stop it once it's happening, and punish anyone once it's run its course.
posted by jessamyn at 1:52 PM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


News flash! Watch out, it's a bright one. The cops don't give two shits. They read the emails and listen to recordings of the calls, and tell me to give them a call back if any of these people show up in person, which doesn't exactly help me to prevent my possible promised chainsaw rape from happening.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 1:53 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


So much about how people communicate online is strange and disturbing. It's given people an avenue to project their ugliest, most vile traits in ways I suspect they would never do in a face-to-face scenario or where they could be more easily identified.

just yesterday I was in an argument with someone in an internet forum. Someone I have encountered before in the same forum in similar circumstances. I was a bit alarmed by how quickly he escalated. I looked into his posting history. This person is very quick to call people stupid, idiots, morons, etc. and insult them over a disagreement or difference of opinion, and jumps to unflattering conclusions about people based on way, way too little information. And it has to be said he is not behaving in a way that is unusual on the internet.

I have to think this is something they would only do behind closed doors for the most part. Before internet access was widespread, I do not recall a huge number of people screaming at each other calling each other idiots in public, outside of maybe traffic jams. I can honestly say that in my entire life I could count on my hands how many people have ever expressed internet-level anger and abuse to my face, and this would include bullies in school. I know I'm not immune to getting angry in a discussion on the internet, but personally I can't recall ever typing anything out that I wouldn't have spoken in anger in person in a one-on-one (I guess that makes me every bit as much of an asshole in person as on the internet?).

Who are these people? Why do they think it is OK to hurl abuse at random strangers "anonymously" when they wouldn't do it in person? Where is this desire coming from? Have people always been walking around the streets ready to spout off at with this level of vitriol, and just never had the opportunity?
posted by Hoopo at 1:55 PM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


But you didn't qualify it as carefully as possible. You phrased it in a relatively patronizing way - the phrase "delicate sensibilities" was a poor choice, since it's a catch phrase used to suggest that people are being pearl-clutching and too sensitive.

Are you kidding? I actually said, right after that, "i don't mean that to patronize anyone. You can either take what I said at face value or not, even if you don't like what I have to say, disagree with it, or are made uncomfortable by it. But saying I didn't qualify it is completely disingenuous.

What do you think the police will do with a call like that?

Then what do you propose? Retaliating against the troll? If you think that will work better, do so. All I've done is recommend a course of action based on my experience. I have zero control over whether the cops or the courts will take action on your behalf.
posted by echocollate at 1:56 PM on September 12, 2013


echocollate: "If you're a woman and someone threatens you with rape—ironically or otherwise—report it to the police. You don't have to "just take it." In fact, you don't have to like anything a troll says or does."

You may want to educate yourself, hoss, on the actual experiences of women who report sexual harassment or assault to the police, or even just the organizers of a convention.

You know, before you go and say something really stupid.
posted by scrump at 1:57 PM on September 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think talk of minimizing your reaction to trolls falls flat because of this: "trolls" of this poisonous nature aim for only one reaction from their targets, and that's their complete vanishing from online space. It's not really outrage, that's frosting on the cake. The goal for the sort of bullying discussed in the article seems to be to beat someone so severely, that they never show their presence in online spheres again. How can you minimize your reaction to that? If you simply continue going about your normal business, clearly the trolls need to work harder because you are still here. You still exist.

There is no path to victory by ignoring these people, unless you really give in and disappear.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 1:57 PM on September 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


arcticseal: "Yet to see them trolling the Koch brothers."

Very powerful people are probably hard to troll, that is, it's easier for them to just ignore you.

On the other hand, it's not exactly trolling, and not exactly the Koch brothers, but in his role as a gray hat hacker, weev has seriously fucked with both Amazon and AT&T (the latter is why he's in jail), and those companies are large, powerful, and founded and run by rich straight white men, generally speaking.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:57 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna practice some of the recommendations here and bow out of this discussion. Hope it goes well for everyone else.
posted by echocollate at 2:00 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not so sure the anti-Semitic stuff is trolling for lulz. There's an LJ attributed to him which if it's real pretty clearly shows this dude believes a lot of psychotic things.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:01 PM on September 12, 2013


in my experience, minimizing oneself as a target by denying the troll what it's after (namely, your reaction) is the most effective course of action

If you're okay discussing it, I'm curious about your experience here. Because from what I've observed, what trolls are after is not so much a pearl-clutching, waahmbulance, PC-gone-mad reaction from the target, as it is the target's silence or absence. Any continued interaction from the target--directed troll-ward or not--tends to lead to escalation.

Have you been targeted by troll(s)? If so, did ignoring them allow you to continue participating at the same level and in the same way as before?
posted by dogrose at 2:03 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


>

Anonymous generally means asshole.

just another day on assholefilter, then, i guess


but you're not truly anonymous here. Or many aren't. The mods can figure out who you are in real life. You paid to be here. Pretty much the solution I was describing.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:06 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why this happens at all. Is it really as simple as the fact that society as a whole is pushing an anti-women message?
I don't know if it's as simple as that, but, yes, I think that's at the very core of it.

Well, this is basically the whole problem in a nutshell. Trolls are "against society" in the sense that they subvert various taboos. But the troll fighters also want to be "against society", so they claim that trolling is really an expression of the dominant culture so that they can position themselves as subversives.

This is what's behind the idea that "the police can't solve it" - a lot of vigorous moral feelings, but when push comes to shove, there's a reluctance to institutionalize it. Trolls exploit that. Because today we have the spirit of the law (it's undeniable that the anti-bigotry side holds the moral high ground) but without the letter (no law that reflects these values), they can transgress without consequence and get off on exposing our impotence.

Our institutions are no help, but maybe we secretly like it that way. We don't really want to give up our treasured identities as subversives and institutionalize these values, so we're left fighting with trolls over who gets to be the rebel.

And this "police can't solve it" idea is very important - it says we need to address the problem at the level of culture and education first, as if legal consequences aren't an extremely effective way of transmitting culture and educating the public. And then I guess maybe, once everyone is cured of misogynistic harassment and onboard with the idea, we'll write it into law, but at that point it won't matter because there's no need to prohibit something that never happens.

That's the problem with all of these cultural interventions, they endlessly delay the moment of victory so that they can continue fighting the good fight instead of doing the work of birthing a genuinely new moral order that actually has teeth.
posted by AlsoMike at 2:06 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think anyone anticipated it turning out like this when the protocols that drive the Internet were created. In the before-time, the long-long-ago, there were filters in place that kept the dregs of humanity off the Internet, viz. you had to be in college, work for a big tech company, or know somebody, have the right equipment, and have a connection. Hell, we used to have our real mailing addresses in our signatures we were so confident that most of the people we'd meet online were nerds just like us.

Now just about anybody can have the Internet in their pocket at all times. It's like Eternal September cubed. I wish I had a good idea about what to do about it.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:13 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Interesting new research in this context: Behavioral Confirmation of Everyday Sadism
...these results suggest that sadists possess an intrinsic motivation to inflict suffering on innocent others, even at a personal cost — a motivation that is absent from the other dark personality traits.

The researchers hope that these new findings will help to broaden people’s view of sadism as an aspect of personality that manifests in everyday life, helping to dispel the notion that sadism is limited to sexual deviants and criminals.

Buckels and colleagues are continuing to investigate everyday sadism, including its role in online trolling behavior.

“Trolling culture is unique in that it explicitly celebrates sadistic pleasure, or ‘lulz,’” says Buckels. “It is, perhaps, not surprising then that sadists gravitate toward those activities.”
Paper.
Buckles home page, with links to related conference materials.
Lab homepage
posted by bonehead at 2:14 PM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is what's behind the idea that "the police can't solve it" - a lot of vigorous moral feelings, but when push comes to shove, there's a reluctance to institutionalize it. Trolls exploit that. Because today we have the spirit of the law (it's undeniable that the anti-bigotry side holds the moral high ground) but without the letter (no law that reflects these values), they can transgress without consequence and get off on exposing our impotence.

Our institutions are no help, but maybe we secretly like it that way. We don't really want to give up our treasured identities as subversives and institutionalize these values, so we're left fighting with trolls over who gets to be the rebel.


I can't think of any facts that support this. In the US, the recent Violence Against Women Act reauthorization was blocked for two years because half of the federal-level conservatives thought it was cool to be misogynist (and homophobic and racist) shitlords, not because victims secretly wanted to be harassed.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:18 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


It seems to me that all this debate over ignoring trolls engaging in online harassment or taking them on is basically a false dichotomy, presuming that the burden of addressing trolling/harassment inevitably falls on the people being harassed, rather than on the community at large or those who control the forums or sites on which it occurs.

The problem is not that victims of harassment are responding to it incorrectly, and the social milieus that occur online are not unchangeable due to laws of nature. I think that we need to demand more from companies like Twitter, from of our fellow internet users who allow victims rather than trolls to be driven away from their communities, from the people setting and enforcing the rules (or creating spaces with no rules) for online communities, and from law enforcement and lawmakers in terms of protecting users from harassment. Bullying and misogyny don't occur in a cultural vacuum, they occur in a culture that tolerates and accepts them as "inevitable."
posted by unsub at 2:20 PM on September 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


i'm a fan of this response - dude tweets awful shit at a mary beard, then the she receives a tweet offering to send the tweet to the dude's mom, dude apologizes swiftly and tries to take it all back.
posted by nadawi at 2:21 PM on September 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


> Well, this is basically the whole problem in a nutshell. Trolls are "against society" in the sense that they subvert various taboos. But the troll fighters also want to be "against society", so they claim that trolling is really an expression of the dominant culture so that they can position themselves as subversives.

But the harassment being described in the article is not against society. It enforces online, in an ugly, ham-handed way, the rules of offline life. The revenge porn discussed - that was not a clever subversion of any sort of taboo, it was harassment that got its teeth from widely accepted, smack in the middle of the road convention.
posted by postcommunism at 2:21 PM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


pyramid termite: "i don't understand how this has grown to be such a major problem - are there more psychotics out there or are they just getting braver?"

If you compare this especially malignant misogyny to a communicable disease, you can see its increased incidence and viciousness as a direct consequence of the speed and connectedness of the internet.

If a disease is really virulent, it has to pass itself on quickly before the person it's infecting is incapacitated, and can only spread through a population when people have a lot of contact with each other. Really bad beliefs and ideas are much the same.
posted by jamjam at 2:23 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


What would be really helpful is if the moderators and administrators of websites with large userbases actually moderated content instead of sitting around twiddling their thumbs all day and bloviating about free speech ideals when ever their website's failures show up in the media.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 2:23 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anyone who admires (or is or defends) a "troll" is damaged beyond belief.

I'm so angry reading this thread, and the article. Ugh.
posted by maxwelton at 2:26 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Somebody arguing in bad faith for something they don't believe in is "trolling", but so is attempting to have somebody raped?

This seems like too big a word. And obviously if all of this insane/criminal behavior is "trolling" then, "ignore the person who puts you and your family in danger" seems like a pretty fucking dumb line.
posted by lattiboy at 2:29 PM on September 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


The article mainly depressed me, with a side of useless rage.

I do hope it represents spreading recognition of these practices, and so, potentially, a beginning of their decline.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:31 PM on September 12, 2013


Look, Auernheimer is a pure sociopath. He's *never* going to be sorry for anything he does - i.e. truly sorry - because that's not the way his brain works. He will only be sorry if he is caught, and punished for something he did - i.e. because he is suffering a consequence and feeling the pain of that consequence...his sense of "sorriness" will be all about what happened to him as a result of being apprehended and jailed. He will never be sorry about the fallout of what he did to that women, or anyone else. Why? Because his brain does not have the ability to empathize with the plight of anyone but himself. Auernheimer is a defect; a stain. People like him are not fully human in the way that most of us understand the term. Empathy is an *essential* human trait; Auernheimer is missing that trait. In that sense, he's not even a human being.

There are ways to "cure" pure sociopathy, but those cures involve convincing the sociopath that doing things that s/he recognize as sociopathic (after some training to identify those things) should be countered with behaviors that will truly "work" in an empathic way and reward the sociopath with good feelings about himself/herself. It's never about trying to train the sociopath to experience empathy, because that's not possible with people like Auernheimer; their brains are not capable of that; their brains are not structured to mirror discomfort or pain in others; they are wired only to get what *they* want, and damn the consequences to others. It's hard to understand this for most people, because we all project our empathic selves onto others. We find it hard to believe that some people are simply not wired to empathize.

It's hard for most of us to understand what motivates the pure sociopath - that being anything that brings them power, glory, etc. etc. within the context of how they measure those things. People, institutions, entire cultures, etc. are of no consequence to Auernheimer. No argument he makes for the hacking he did - no matter who it impacted, or how - is made for any other reason that to make Auernheimer look good to others and in his own mind. This is the tragedy and hell (for others) of living with sociopaths. They are all around us, and we are their victims.

All that said, I hope he is in jail for a long time - as long as possible - because he appears to be very smart and manipulative. He will never be truly sorry, ever.
posted by Vibrissae at 2:31 PM on September 12, 2013 [21 favorites]


2nd Vibrissae. This guy is a sociopath, not a "troll" in the way it's commonly understood (as vague as that is)

"networked sociopath" might be a more fitting title.

EDIT

"networked assisted sociopath" a NAS-hole.
posted by lattiboy at 2:35 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


> They read the emails and listen to recordings of the calls, and tell me to give them a call back if any of
> these people show up in person, which doesn't exactly help me to prevent my possible promised chainsaw rape
> from happening.

Oh Ghod, I have sat on my hands through this whole dreadful thread up 'til now, but this goes beyond my handsitting ability.

If the authorities of the State will not protect you from a real-life, real-world threat, that's when you need a gun. And need to have prepared by learning how to use it, and when you should use it. If you live where you may not legally have one, then move. If you absolutely cannot move, then disobey. You may risk arrest; that's better than chainsaw rape. Where the State offers no effective alternative to private violence, private violence has to remain part of the solution.
posted by jfuller at 2:38 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


(For maximum creepiness, it also seems like he's a sociopath who thinks the world has been irredeemably corrupted by secular humanism and whose heroes apparently include David Koresh...)
posted by en forme de poire at 2:40 PM on September 12, 2013


Sadist, technically, more likely. From earlier work from the same group linked above:
...true sadistic disposition, they argue, is one that craves cruelty. Sadists find the act of hurting innocent people -- including killing -- pleasurable and exciting, and what's more, they seek out opportunities to satisfy this appetite for brutality.

...

Psychopaths have no qualms about hurting others, but their aggression usually has a purpose. Narcissists are usually hurtful only when threatened. And Machiavellians are too calculating to risk retaliation unless there is a lot on the line. Sadists may be unique in engaging in unprovoked cruelty -- cruelty that takes effort and has no discernible benefits.
Do the exact names matter? I think so, because responding to these attacks is aided by understanding what drives them. If we miss the mark, the solutions we look for many not be the best ones.
posted by bonehead at 2:41 PM on September 12, 2013


In re: the article

This guy is a turd with legs. Defending him makes one an apologist of the worst stripe, especially in light of his aggressively nasty, virtual-rape-by-mob campaigns. I pluralize this because assuredly while one person came forward, I can guarantee she wasn't the first or only one.

If the government isn't going to do something about this crap, eventually people are going get all Unforgiven on these shitpiles.

in re: the discussion

There is a line where "Don't Feed the Trolls" becomes victim-blaming.
posted by Fuka at 2:45 PM on September 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


If it sieg heils like a duck, it is a duck

Don't you mean "if it goose-steps, it might as well be a goose?"
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:00 PM on September 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think a lot of the stuff about not feeding trolls comes from when the internet was smaller and the interactions less personal. Specifically actually from 2003-2009 on forums. It makes sense to ignore an isolated crazy rant or rude remark (but never a rape threat wtf) in a thread on a forum. But every teenager and lonely isolated douchebag is online and they all can use every social network, and distribute the call to attack someone on different anonymous networks, there has to be some kind of recourse to stop or punish abusers even for run of the mill organized dickishness, much less targeted racism and sexism.

Which recourse I mean: a squad of private eyes wearing elaborate costumes. Someone do a kickstartr.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:03 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some of these posts about police reaction are both eye-opening, and getting at the heart of the problem. What weev is doing isn't some unique sort of online identity play---it's old-fashioned harassment and threats, it's as illegal as threats delivered by any other medium, and while there are always going to be horrible sociopaths in this world, the point of having a police force is to keep them from making law-abiding citizens from being threatened.

So if the police are not going to take it seriously, forcing them take it seriously has to be top priority. If police "lose" evidence of threatening tweets, the detective in charge and the precinct captain need to be named and shamed everywhere possible. If police who ignore this get publicly outed as the cops who allow women to be threatened with chainsaw rape, politicians will be pressured to make their police treat crimes like crimes. And as soon as there's a better-than-zero chance that you will go to fucking jail for this crap, it's likely to trail off fast.

There's some obvious jurisdictional worries, but I would think a lot of this is at least within the same country, given language issues. So hey, maybe threatening someone outside your state can be treated as a federal crime, which gets you federal time! Further enhancing the deterrent effect.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:03 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


en forme de poire: "I am not so sure the anti-Semitic stuff is trolling for lulz. There's an LJ attributed to him which if it's real pretty clearly shows this dude believes a lot of psychotic things."

He's non-antisemitic enough to at least hint that he himself is Jewish, at least, according to a quote on his Wikipedia page. So who the hell knows. I read that video as over the top in all kinds of ways, but I might be wrong.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:03 PM on September 12, 2013


ThatFuzzyBastard: "So if the police are not going to take it seriously, forcing them take it seriously has to be top priority. If police "lose" evidence of threatening tweets, the detective in charge and the precinct captain need to be named and shamed everywhere possible. If police who ignore this get publicly outed as the cops who allow women to be threatened with chainsaw rape, politicians will be pressured to make their police treat crimes like crimes. And as soon as there's a better-than-zero chance that you will go to fucking jail for this crap, it's likely to trail off fast."

This. Exactly this. This stuff is criminal, it's illegal, the laws are there, we need to make the police enforce the laws, since that's their damn jobs. The "get a gun" comments are a distraction.

After that, we'll need to figure out how to deal with the stuff that's bad, but doesn't rise to the level of criminal, but I think we can all agree that that's not as bad, and not as high a priority. (I would also not be surprised if the less than criminal crap was reduced by stricter enforcement against the criminal threats.)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:20 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who the hell defends trolls? I find it really weird that, in light of so many women reporting how badly they have been treated, some people want to say "it's no big deal," or "he's not a real racist." Who the hell does that?

I guess the answer would be "collaborators."
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:25 PM on September 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Feeding the trolls is becoming clearly overwraught and losing control over your emotions. That is such fun for them, to know they've caused you pain!

That has little to say about responding to them in general, clarifying their idiocy to others, reporting them to moderators, banning them from your site, or otherwise expressing your disagreement.

Really important distinction.

Keeping quiet is rarely if ever an appropriate way to change minds or behaviors. It seems to me to be a silly idea to think otherwise, and a great tactic to maintain the status quo.

"Keep a stiff upper lip, hip-hip! That'll show 'em!" Yeah, right.

I agree with the idea, mentioned previously in the thread, that "the standard you walk past is the standard you accept."
posted by jsturgill at 3:28 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


United States free speech exceptions

Brandenburg v. Ohio

Fighting Words

I'll leave these here in case anyone else was curious as to what the US Supreme Court thinks of these things.
posted by dudemanlives at 3:33 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always thought "don't feed the trolls" meant don't let irrelevant content derail your online conversations. That doesn't mean simply letting racist, sexist or threatening content go unchallenged— it means challenging it (or removing if possible in moderated settings) and then refusing to engage further. This does work because if the conversation isn't about the trolls, they get bored and leave— posting around someone works quite well to let them know no one is listening.

AKA flag it and move on.

The rest of this nonsense is pure harassment and illegal behavior and yeah, if the police aren't willing to act on it, something needs to be done.
posted by Maias at 3:45 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


GenjiandProust: "Who the hell defends trolls? I find it really weird that, in light of so many women reporting how badly they have been treated, some people want to say "it's no big deal," or "he's not a real racist." Who the hell does that?

I guess the answer would be "collaborators."
"

Since I'm one of the people who have been, if not defending, then at least advocating a nuanced view of trolls in this discussion, I thought I'd mention first that I don't appreciate being called a "collaborator".

I'd also like to point out that at least when I talk about "trolling", I'm talking about stuff like weev's antisemitic remarks in his video, or his activities with the GNAA. I'm specifically not talking about rape threats and doxing. Those are criminal acts.

So, I think you're conflating two things, I've never said the rape and death threats were no big deal. I have said that I don't think he actually means the wide variety of outrageous racist and otherwise offensive stuff he spews in general that's not addressed to specific individuals, though, but I've not actually said it's that's not a big deal either, I'm just unconvinced he actually means it.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:56 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler, in some countries, disparaging comments about "the Jews" is considered hate speech under the criminal code.
posted by No Robots at 3:59 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Doxing is a criminal act?
posted by jsturgill at 4:01 PM on September 12, 2013


If one is a racist troll, don't be surprised if everyone else believes you are in fact racist. And don't complain about it, either.

jsturgill, arguably, depending on exactly what information is posted publicly.
posted by wierdo at 4:03 PM on September 12, 2013


if you feel bad, Joakim, just make yourself believe that GenjiandProust didn't really mean it - because that apparently removes the harm from the statement.
posted by nadawi at 4:03 PM on September 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


jsturgill, arguably, depending on exactly what information is posted publicly.

Doxing is linking a pseudonymous identity with a real world name, right? Did I miss something?

Where is it illegal? What laws are broken? Who has been prosecuted ever for it?
posted by jsturgill at 4:05 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doxing is not a criminal act, and probably not the best term to use. Posting someone's address and phone number for the purposes of abusing that information is a lot more serious than linking an identity. Even so, I don't think you can take action against someone revealing that information, only someone who uses it for harassment.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 4:11 PM on September 12, 2013


jsturgill - afaik, Doxing is digging up someone's personal info and posting it. It goes way beyond the minimizing that you're doing.

Joakim Ziegler - I won't beat around the bush - i feel that you're an apologist for a bigot. I feel like you somehow feel that 'if he's wrong, i'm wrong, so i can't let him be wrong.' I may be wrong. I will happily accept that, however, if i am not, maybe instead of defending this human-shaped excrement, you do some soul searching about why you want what he does to be ok.

Concurrently, i will do some soul searching about why i feel that killing him would be acceptable. Intellectually, i know it is wrong, but i'm having trouble making myself feel badly about it.

Edit: That's a hell of a comma splice.
posted by Fuka at 4:12 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doxing is linking a pseudonymous identity with a real world name, right? Did I miss something?

Yes. And even if it is not illegal, it is dangerous. It leads to identity theft and sometimes to acts of violence, and to lots of harassment of victims and of their loved ones.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 4:14 PM on September 12, 2013


Aside from that, nobody's going to prosecute a troll for being mean or offending your delicate sensibilities—and don't say that to patronize anyone but as a sincere statement of fact.

But you say that as if it were a law of physics or something, when it's a a choice people make, and precisely the topic of the discussion. "Nobody" takes these things seriously? We're saying that can and should change.
posted by straight at 4:17 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Antisemitic or racist comments or other examples of hate speech are illegal in the UK at least, regardless of intent. That's a rather good thing.
posted by walrus at 4:17 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think saying that trolls are broken human beings is mis-classifying the problem. It suffers from the Fundamental attribution error and ignores that the environment and situational factors that give rise to the behavior. If there was no reward for the behavior, or the environment was such that there was a higher likelihood of repercussions from engaging in the behavior, the individual would be less prone to seeing it as an option. Simply writing it off as "that person is irredeemably bad" leaves us in the no-solution situation again. This is too much a reductionist view, in my opinion. It also immediately creates a class of people who are untouchable by either the laws or societal pressures, and does not offer any good solutions to dealing with the problem that don't go into a completely isolationist worldview. Again, it makes the 'best' option to either not engage or to hide in 'safe' places on the internet, ceding control of many online forums to those who will use bad behavior to push out other participants. I am against this, vehemently.

As for the whole "I don't care what people think of me" thing. Yeah, actually, they really do, otherwise they would not engage in this behavior. The opposite of caring is apathy, not engagement. People who engage in trolling are rewarded not just by engagement, but also by the adulation of other people who find their actions at all worthy of praise or recognition. The entire fight with the Penny Arcade crap was fueled not just by Mike's inability to recognize that he was bullying others, but by the peanut gallery that saw his remarks and cheered him on. His audience is not just his target, but anyone who got a kick out of watching the scuffle. And that is a major problem in human society. We enjoy conflict, more than we will readily admit. It kicks off neurotransmitters in our little monkey brains that get excited to watch any kind of power struggle. We watch sports because of this. We enjoy choosing sides and rooting for "our guys" even if our guys are a piece of shit. It's not a lack of mirror neurons, it's just a different use of them. We wish to feel powerful, so we enjoy it when a powerful person exercises that power. Even if it is wrong. Even if, were that power to be exercised against us, we would feel betrayed or hurt by those very same attacks. And sometimes, we side with the aggressor not because we agree with what they are doing, but to try and protect ourselves from them doing it to us. We hate our bosses (well, some of us. I love my boss, she is awesome) or anyone who is higher on the totem pole than us, because they have power over us, and could exercise that power for whatever purpose they want. We suck up to them, smile and nod when they say stupid things, because they could hurt us, just as much as they might be hurting someone else.

It takes a huge amount of bravery and courage and conviction and a whole ton of mental and physical resources to stand up to this kind of thing. And not everyone can do it. In my opinion, no one should have to. But we do not live in a just world. We have to create our justice, through the institutions we create as a society. And sadly, right now, those institutions have been infiltrated and are under constant attack by those very same bullies who feel that they can get away with attacking anyone they want. And this is why anyone who identifies as a "troll" and doing things "for the lulz" really does need to suffer the very real consequences for those actions. Otherwise the behavior will continue, and escalate, and more and more of our shared society will be forever tainted by inequality, injustice, and even the "good people" who do nothing will have the blood of innocents on their hands.
posted by daq at 4:18 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here is some more information about the legality of doxing.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 4:22 PM on September 12, 2013


I have said that I don't think he actually means the wide variety of outrageous racist and otherwise offensive stuff he spews

I guess what I haven't seen in this discussion yet -- unless I've missed it -- is why you think that matters at all? It comes across exactly the same to the target whether it's done to troll or whatever. It's the same terrible words and ideas.

Poe's Law is one of those new internet adages, and it says "it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing." Instead of us having to guess at weev's true inner motivation, he should understand that trolling with racism will make people think that he is a racist.
posted by jess at 4:23 PM on September 12, 2013


I would think if you are willing to "troll" with racism, sexism or violence, that makes you racist, sexist and violent. Plus you're a coward.
posted by maxwelton at 4:27 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


nadawi: "if you feel bad, Joakim, just make yourself believe that GenjiandProust didn't really mean it - because that apparently removes the harm from the statement."

Actually, that's not necessary, since I'm in no way hurt by his statement. When I said I don't appreciate it, I meant exactly that, nothing more.

And yes, when I said doxing is criminal, I didn't mean the simplest form, just linking an online identity to a real name, I was referring to the posting of much more wide-reaching personal information with an (implicit or explicit) encouragement to use it for harm. That may not be the exact minimum definition of doxing, but it's what seems to be the norm in most cases I've seen.

Fuka: "Joakim Ziegler - I won't beat around the bush - i feel that you're an apologist for a bigot. I feel like you somehow feel that 'if he's wrong, i'm wrong, so i can't let him be wrong.' I may be wrong. I will happily accept that, however, if i am not, maybe instead of defending this human-shaped excrement, you do some soul searching about why you want what he does to be ok."

You might want to read what I wrote again. I'm not saying it's ok, in fact, I've repeatedly called him an asshole. Originally, I took exception to calling him an anti-semite, because I feel like it using that label for something that to me looks like trolling instead of sincere bigotry (speaking here of his video where he blames pornography on the Jews) diminishes it.

I live in a country (Mexico) where real, hardcore anti-Semitism, as well as other forms of racism are quite common and close to socially acceptable (at least in many circles), and where it has real consequences. I'm lucky enough to not suffer those consequences myself, but they're readily visible.

To the extent that I did activism in my youth, it was antifascist and antiracist activism. When I grew up in Norway, neo-nazi groups were a Thing, and they went out hunting for immigrants to beat up or occasionally stab, even murder.

This guy is not that, and I don't think it's appropriate to place him in the same group. When I consider only his trolling (including the video), I consider him an asshole who tries to offend and rile up people as much as he can. When I consider his other actions, he's a criminal. But I remain unconvinced that he's an actual, sincere anti-Semite.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:32 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd also like to point out that at least when I talk about "trolling", I'm talking about stuff like weev's antisemitic remarks in his video, or his activities with the GNAA.

it's confession time, although a few of you may remember this

i was a member of the loosely affiliated troll group on usenet known as the meowers - we were silly pranksters for the most part, more into posting cascades and other nonsense, although net.cops and racists were targeted by us - we actually invaded alt.flame.n*****s in an attempt to clean it up - in the short run, it was successful, but they got wise to our tricks and we got tired

i can actually see some mefites going along with us - in fact, i'm pretty sure a couple did

i'm not saying we were complete angels, but we weren't sociopathic shitheads

i remember encountering the GNAA on slashdot and thinking they were bottom feeders of the worst kind, an utter travesty of what trolldom is really supposed to be, people that we would have flamed mercilessly and relentlessly had they dared show up on our part of usenet

they're not funny, they're clumsy, they're stupid and they have no sense of decency

and now things have come to this

yes, we trolled, but we didn't use racist talk to do it with - some shit is just wrong and we knew that

so i don't buy the "well, they're just trolling, they don't really mean all that stuff" thing - one can troll without resorting to the kind of shit weev and his friends and supporters do - that they choose to do so says a lot about them
posted by pyramid termite at 4:32 PM on September 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


i feel that you're an apologist for a bigot. I feel like you somehow feel that 'if he's wrong, i'm wrong, so i can't let him be wrong.' I may be wrong. I will happily accept that, however, if i am not, maybe instead of defending this human-shaped excrement, you do some soul searching about why you want what he does to be ok.

Joakim Ziegler said that it's possible that weev might pretend to say bigoted things to provoke a reaction while not actually holding bigoted views. that's it. he didn't defend the statements as acceptable. he didn't defend weev as a person. he simply observed that trolls often pretend to be something they're not or say things they don't believe for the sole purpose of antagonizing others (technically, that's what makes them a troll).

to suggest Joakim is complicit in weev's actions is, in my mind, intellectually and morally dishonest. you have a less nuanced view of the matter, which is fine. but to insinuate from there that a fellow poster isn't as scorched-earth in his assessment because he secretly condones weev's behavior is pretty weak.
posted by echocollate at 4:35 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


"This guy is not that, and I don't think it's appropriate to place him in the same group. When I consider only his trolling (including the video), I consider him an asshole who tries to offend and rile up people as much as he can. When I consider his other actions, he's a criminal. But I remain unconvinced that he's an actual, sincere anti-Semite."

It doesn't make any difference. If you tolerate anti-semitic statements because of perceived intent, you are still tolerating anti-semitism. I use "you" in the wider sense here, because it's clear to me that you personally don't approve of anti-semitism.
posted by walrus at 4:41 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would think if you are willing to "troll" with racism, sexism or violence, that makes you racist, sexist and violent. Plus you're a coward.

Joakim Ziegler said that it's possible that weev might pretend to say bigoted things to provoke a reaction while not actually holding bigoted views.

If you say and do racist, sexist, violent things, then there is no meaningful distinction between you and a racist, sexist, violent person. To the victims, your 'motivation' is utterly irrelevant. From their perspective, there's no difference at all.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:41 PM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Then it's weak. I'll accept that and move on. I'm not as forgiving or embracing as you - it's possibly a failing.

Additionally, I didn't say complicit (that wasn't me) - I said apologist. I also conflated being an apologist for bigots with feeling that something you think or feel is wrong. I added that I might be wrong. I'm not going to apologize or back down from calling him an apologist.
posted by Fuka at 4:43 PM on September 12, 2013


Ok, another strange story, because this made me think of it.

One time, years ago, I somehow drunkenly got into an argument/discussion with a full blown Nazi Skinhead. Now, mostly, he was not a fan of Hitler or the 3rd Reich at all. In fact, for the most part, he had no real opinion on it. However, what he did care about was power. Specifically his power over others. He was a huge guy, 6' plus. And he loved getting in fights. He loved to inflict pain on other people. It made him "happy", he said. And he recognized that no matter what, he could get into fights with whatever minority he wanted to, and because of where he lived, where 99% of the cops were white as well, the cops would side with him when they filed the police report. He was also certain, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the Republicans in power would continue to maintain this status quo, and that no matter what anyone did, he would always be able to "win" any fight, because he was a white male in America.

This scared the living shit out of me. This goes against everything I ever thought I was taught in school, everything I thought our society stood for. But the older I get, and the more I meet people who are not white males, the more true I see this as being. So I don't care if anyone thinks that they can ironically say racist or homophobic or sexist things. When you do that, all you are doing is standing next to that guy, the Nazi Skinhead who believed that he can do whatever he wants just because he is a white male in America. If you joke about raping or murdering or beating someone, you are standing next to that man, and saying "I'm with this guy, the sadist who WILL beat you, rape you, and murder you, and KNOWS he can get away with it." You aren't being tough. You are not being witty. You aren't showing how smart or intelligent you are. You are simply wielding your power against someone else (and it doesn't matter if they are stronger or weaker than you). You are the aggressor. You are the one the law will come down on. And this is why most of anon is being actively hunted by the FBI. Most of the exploits of hackers are not like wikileaks, or Edward Snowden. They are death threats and doxxing, and online defacement of website with stupid and offensive crap. They aren't "sticking it to the man", they are re-enforcing the stereotype that they are criminal delinquents.



On preview, what a lot of people have repeatedly said, but the best quote is the Vonnegut. We are what we pretend to be. There is no difference. Your intent may be "innocent" but it is your outward actions that matter. They are all that matters.
posted by daq at 4:45 PM on September 12, 2013 [17 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler said that it's possible that weev might pretend to say bigoted things to provoke a reaction while not actually holding bigoted views. that's it. he didn't defend the statements as acceptable. he didn't defend weev as a person. he simply observed that trolls often pretend to be something they're not or say things they don't believe for the sole purpose of antagonizing others (technically, that's what makes them a troll).

Yes, and it's a weird and really off-putting defense. The internet is pretty much all "face" -- you project the person you want to be. If a person is projecting bigotry, the difference between that person and "an actual bigot" is so thing as to be non-existent. It's like claiming that a political candidate "only appealed to bigoted voters" rather than holding those views. If you profit from bigotry, how are you not a bigot?

And, while I appreciate that being described as a collaborator might be really uncomfortable, Joakim Ziegler, I do think that you are perilously close to making excuses for these people's actions? Which means that you are giving them support. What else would you call that? I can't see what fine distinction you are making that really matters -- harassing people online is serious, and claiming it isn't leads to the kind of disinterest that the police were described showing upthread.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:50 PM on September 12, 2013


The difference between "supports racism/sexism" and "promotes racism/sexism with speech" is thin enough that I don't care whether the assholes doing it really feel it in their hearts anyway.
posted by anifinder at 4:51 PM on September 12, 2013


SkylitDrawl, from your link:

I CAN FIND THOSE PIECES OF INFORMATION USING GOOGLE SEARCH. IS THAT STILL RESTRICTED?
YES. It is illegal to announce or disseminate or post those listed pieces of information for the purposes listed in the law. Those are purposes such as threatening or intimidating or making it so others can harass or harm the person. This law is about acts that endanger the safety of or encourage attacks against a federal employee or an employee's family. It is not about where you found the information.


Not trying to No True Scottsman doxing, but doxing--linking a pseudonymous account to an individual, without the other person's consent--is not illegal. Posting personal information online to incite harassment or harm can be illegal, but that's not the definition of doxing.

Mailing a letter is not an illegal act. Mailing a letter containing a death threat is, very likely, an illegal act.
posted by jsturgill at 4:57 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


But the harassment being described in the article is not against society. It enforces online, in an ugly, ham-handed way, the rules of offline life. The revenge porn discussed - that was not a clever subversion of any sort of taboo, it was harassment that got its teeth from widely accepted, smack in the middle of the road convention.

Not all of it falls under what I'm calling trolling, but sure, that's a plausible, valid framing of the situation. The revenge porn thing is especially problematic. Because they violate the conventional stigma against women being openly sexual, if you respond to those events by playing up the horror of this kind of victimization, you end up reinforcing it! At the same time, lots of people fall into another trap. They critique the dominant culture by representing it in overly dramatic, totalizing terms, making it seem like dominant values are completely uncontested and society is completely homogenous.

This is motivating for activists types because it plays up their bravery, and makes them feel like a ragtag band of outsiders standing up to the behemoth. But to the rest of society, who are—let's face it—a bit more conformist, this framing plays rather differently. For them, presenting a vision of a homogenous, uncontested social order, even when meant as a critique, is going to reinforce those very norms. It is much better for activists to represent society as contested, split between "them", the old, corrupt, immoral order; and "us", who aren't edgy, marginalized subversives out on the fringes, but the holders of a new vision of a society that is still to come.

I don't see this kind of thinking on metafilter. What's especially problematic for me is the way everyone likes to empathize with the victims, but conceiving of the problem in individualistic (which is to say depoliticized) terms so that these things are distant and happening to other people. That is simply not enough. If we are thinking in terms of a future society where such things are unthinkable, then these guys are also assaulting that society and everyone now who upholds those ideals. Speaking as and for a collective translates into a demand for collective action and that politicizes the issue.
posted by AlsoMike at 4:58 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


While this may be a fundamental philosophical/ethical difference of opinion, I would disagree strongly that intent doesn't matter at all. Effects certainly matter much more, but intent definitely also matters. To me, at least.

And, yeah, it was GenjiandProust who called me a "collaborator", and that's what I disagreed with, since to me, that implies active participation. I don't think it's technically incorrect to call me an apologist, although my "apology" is more of a possible explanation, an extremely qualified one, and for a narrow part of this guy's behaviour.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:58 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


GenjiandProust: "I can't see what fine distinction you are making that really matters -- harassing people online is serious, and claiming it isn't leads to the kind of disinterest that the police were described showing upthread."

I have repeatedly said that I wasn't even talking about the online harassment, I was talking about the antisemitic trolling in the video. If you watch the video, you can see that he's spouting bible verses and blaming pornography on "the Jews" in general. It's not harassing any individual.

I think the harassment, doxing, rape and death threats are asshole and criminal behaviour that's totally reprehensible. I think the trolling is asshole behaviour that's also reprehensible, but I still think it's possible, even likely, for a guy who made his fame as an internet troll, to say racist things he doesn't actually mean, and I think that's what he's doing in that video.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:02 PM on September 12, 2013


Doxing normally includes posting the person's full name, address, phone number, social networking profiles, birth date, and/or social security number. It's not nearly as benign as you're acting like it is, jsturgill. I am really confused by your intention here - why are you trying to minimize doxing?
posted by SkylitDrawl at 5:03 PM on September 12, 2013


pyramid termite: "it's confession time, although a few of you may remember this"

I was going to post something like this, although with different details obviously, but thought better of it. Since you remarked, though, I'll run with it.

I think that the majority of commenters in this thread who have taken exception with the merging of doxxing and stalkerish/threatening behavior with the generic term "troll" are doing so because of the term troll being used to describe the people who are doing those things. To us, a troll is simply someone who attempts to be disruptive (sometimes for a greater good, sometimes just for the lulz as they say nowadays) by derailing discussions, being provocative, flooding a group with posts, or something along those lines.

Antisemitism, racism, and threatening statements aren't part of the kit.

Unfortunately, I think the word troll is pretty much in the same place hacker is: contributing to confusion rather than clarity.

jsturgill: Very rarely is a doxxing incident merely the association between a pseudonym and a name. It almost always involves posting personally identifying information that puts their victim at risk of identity theft, if nothing else. That is in fact a crime in many states. So name and address only: you're probably OK legally, although I'm still going to call you an asshole or worse. Post that along with an incitement to harass someone, now you're talking jail time.
posted by wierdo at 5:03 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the effect is to harm then I would say that subtle distinctions about whether the perpetrator actually hates the subject of the harm are irrelevant, and if that leaves us with an ethical difference of opinion then so be it.
posted by walrus at 5:04 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the before-time, the long-long-ago, there were filters in place that kept the dregs of humanity off the Internet, viz. you had to be in college, work for a big tech company, or know somebody, have the right equipment, and have a connection.

There are and were tons of people that are in college or work for big tech companies that could easily be classified "the dregs of humanity". I don't think the exclusivity was what made the net back in the 60-70s civilized.

I think it was more that the internet was your job, and most people tend to act more professional in their job capacity.
posted by ymgve at 5:06 PM on September 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you say and do racist, sexist, violent things, then there is no meaningful distinction between you and a racist, sexist, violent person. To the victims, your 'motivation' is utterly irrelevant. From their perspective, there's no difference at all.

a couple of points.

first, cruelty or meanness, be it sincere or not, can have the same effect. that, to me, is self evident, and i don't see anyone in this thread who has suggested otherwise, has condoned or excused such behavior or done anything other than condemn it in pretty strong terms. on this, i think everyone is in agreement.

second, i love vonnegut, and Mother Night is my favorite of his novels, so i'm familiar with his famous quote and have thought a lot about the implications. what i took from it is precisely what we all agree on, that belief has little to do with the effect of one's actions on others. nobody, even the trolls, would contest that. but i disagree that pretending to be something is the same as being that thing. i can think of a number of examples where that simply isn't true. perhaps it's a trivial distinction to make. i'm open to that. but just because a hair gets split doesn't make the hairsplitter a "collaborator" or complicit. i expect that kind of with-us-or-agin'-us sophistry from the RedState crowd but it still surprises me when i run across it on the blue.

for the sake of the discussion, let's focus on the fact that we all agree on point one above. i believe that's what's important.
posted by echocollate at 5:17 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


The article's title is absurd. These douchbags can't "end kindness" anymore than scum in drain can effect the sun.
posted by chance at 5:21 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Trivial or not, I don't see any value in the distinction when the intent is cruelty in both cases and the outcome in both cases is harm.
posted by walrus at 5:30 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the trolling is asshole behaviour that's also reprehensible, but I still think it's possible, even likely, for a guy who made his fame as an internet troll, to say racist things he doesn't actually mean, and I think that's what he's doing in that video.

I think this is a meaningless distinction. He's profiting from bigotry, which makes his as close to a bigot as matters. It's a bit like George Bush -- as far as I can tell, the man is not racist against Arabs and Latinos. He seems genuinely fond of people from those groups. On the other hand, he benefited politically from his party's constant racist attacks on those groups during his presidency. That makes him a racist, as far as it matters, in my book.

But that's my take. What is the benefit to your approach? What necessary division is made between a real racist and someone who hypocritically pretends to be racist on the Internet? I get than you can make that division, but what is the benefit in doing so, other than letting a man whose repellent behavior extends well beyond racist slogans off the "bigot hook?"
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:35 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, what an asshole. It's pretty satisfying to see him with a federal inmate number. Aurnheimer, number 10378-010. May his stay be a time for reflection. You never know.
posted by bepe at 5:51 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


GenjiandProust: "What is the benefit to your approach? What necessary division is made between a real racist and someone who hypocritically pretends to be racist on the Internet? I get than you can make that division, but what is the benefit in doing so, other than letting a man whose repellent behavior extends well beyond racist slogans off the "bigot hook?""

Well, as I said before, I think intent matters, in general, as question of ethics. I think what this guy is doing (in case of the racist statements in the video, not the rape and death threats, etc.), if I'm right about him not being sincere, is ethically not quite as bad as full-on, actual, heartfelt racism. So from an ethical point of view, there's that.

In practical terms, I think it's probably useful to make that distinction because it might be easier to make people who aren't racists but pretend to be to provoke a reaction, stop doing that than to make actual racists stop being racists.

So, since racist statements in general, from whatever source and intent, cause harm, contribute to a racist discourse, etc., and is something we want to work to reduce, and reducing them means convincing the people who make them to stop doing that, then the people who are not actually racists, but make racist statements (be it to provoke, from ignorance, from a misguided sense of humor, etc.) might be easier targets for convincing.

(I doubt that applies to weev specifically, though, since he's proved himself to be a tremendous asshole in so many other ways as well, so I think he'd probably resist any change, just because of his assholeness. But still.)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:54 PM on September 12, 2013


On the other hand, he benefited politically from his party's constant racist attacks on those groups during his presidency. That makes him a racist, as far as it matters, in my book.

if benefiting from morally iffy actions makes one as bad as those who committed the acts, then everyone in this country is a bigot mass murderer, so that leap of logic seems less than useful to me. isn't it enough that we agree the guy's a shithead and the behavior inexcusable? we're all as guilty as he if we don't condemn him in the prescribed terms? i'm sorry, i just don't get that. but this is definitely treading in MeTa territory, and i've already posted more times than is constructive (sorry, folks).
posted by echocollate at 5:56 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


>> "don't feed the trolls" is good advice to deal with trolls
> these harassers ARE NOT TROLLS

Amen.
Literal trolling is lazily boating about with a baited hook in the water, not throwing in dynamite. Old school USENET trolls would enter a calm discussion and say something mildly outrageous to get a rise out of someone, demonstrating Sayre's law: "intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake". The troller would continue non-nuclear prodding as the respondents went nuts until YHBT HAND. It was possible to get classic-trolls™ to move on by not engaging.
posted by morganw at 5:56 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Aurnheimer, number 10378-010.

Huh, he's Native American? Apparently so.
posted by jessamyn at 5:57 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


> belief has little to do with the effect of one's actions on others. nobody, even the trolls, would contest that.

I think that's actually very contested; think about how common it is for someone to place the burden of offense, or really any harassment (up to and including physical violence), on the wronged party. "I'm sorry you were offended"; "It's not my fault if you can't take a joke"; "I'm just trolling - it's your fault you took the bait."

In that vein, though, I do think it's legit to point out that weev probably doesn't even believe what he's saying when he goes on an antisemitic rant. Doesn't reduce any of the harm there, or give him some kind of get-out-of-bigotry-free card, but it informs my opinion of him in the same way it informs my opinion of Glenn Beck to know that he doesn't seem to believe everything he says either.
posted by postcommunism at 6:08 PM on September 12, 2013


Echococollate: But Bush didn't just innocently benefit from other's racism. By using dog whistles and consciously exploiting racism for political advantage, he encouraged it and to a lesser extent, legitimized it.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:11 PM on September 12, 2013


Saying hateful things designed to hurt and incite others when you don't even believe those things is even worse than honest bigotry, as it encompasses all the hate and contempt of conventional bigotry without even the most misguided of good intentions. (In other words, at least honest racists think there are good reasons for making the arguments they make. Isn't it just pure cynicism and nihilism to take joy in hurting people with no convictions at all behind what you're doing?)
posted by saulgoodman at 6:19 PM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I guess this might be becoming one of those words change things like hacker/cracker, but I was raised up to believe that trolling is a art, centering performance and engagement. One could troll with racism or sexism, etc., but just being racist or sexist wasn't sufficient or neccessary to be trolling. This whole mob someone, bully them off the Internet, threaten them, fuck up their life, make them lose their job is some new shit that's come up in the past few years. In the oldschool trolling, you sure as hell didn't want to scare people away, you wanted them arguing with you.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:25 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get pretty dispirited by the impression that if I am the recipient of bigoted and/or harassing comments online, my options are limited to (1) ignore/accept, (2) prosecute or (3) arm myself.

It is zero comfort to me that that an individual who is creating or perpetuating toxic online environments might not really be bigoted or menacing or hateful, that it's probably just a game to them.

Just because someone gets their kicks pissing in the wells our whole town drinks from, I don't see why it follows that the onus is on me to (1) deaden my tastebuds, (2) wait until the ppm concentration of urine is in danger of killing someone, or (3) shoot the perpetrator the next time he/she approaches the well with another full bladder. It's demoralizing as hell to know that my neighbors who get the cleanest water of us all would rather spend their time exploring the intellectual "challenge" of how to defend each well-pisser -- and maybe even secretly buying them a few extra beers because it's kind of hilarious -- instead of agreeing that we, as a town, DON'T WANT ANYONE PISSING IN OUR WATER. And that, even if you don't particularly mind the taste, you want to live in a town where well-pissers have few incentives to keep pissing, and you don't consider it a huge imposition to tell them to stop when you catch them in the act.
posted by argonauta at 7:25 PM on September 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


Saying hateful things designed to hurt and incite others when you don't even believe those things is even worse than honest bigotry, as it encompasses all the hate and contempt of conventional bigotry without even the most misguided of good intentions. (In other words, at least honest racists think there are good reasons for making the arguments they make. Isn't it just pure cynicism and nihilism to take joy in hurting people with no convictions at all behind what you're doing?)

"Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos."
posted by jason_steakums at 7:40 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, though: I thought I had read that Weev was mentally ill, and in reading that it sort of explained/exused a little of why he did some of the things he did.

But does that mean I just got trolled again, and my sympathy was evoked and exploited? Ugh, it's trolls all the way down sometimes. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 8:05 PM on September 12, 2013


Although I'd be a bit more careful with words of such optimism, I'll still strongly second cjorgensen's comment above:

This would be ridiculously easy to solve for Twitter.

Make an optional pay real identity authentication service that gives you a little verified style badge. You can still be @FelixTheHung, but twitter says, "We know how this is in real life." I'd pay money to have such a badge. I'd also think twice about following those who didn't. A simple preference that says, Don't show me @replies of people that aren't real, and I bet the problem would go away fairly quickly.


I'd extend that with an option to whitelist people or groups of people, so that people who have some degree of reputation and trust in one another can talk to each other without payment being needed for communication that goes through such a route, while paid authentication would facilitate 'cold' contacts.

I believe this could be designed in such a way that it would even really not be much of an inconvenience. And it would definitely be useful for pretty much any other social site in addition to Twitter.

This is something I'd be very happy to write code for as soon as I get through this quite busy period in my studies.
posted by Anything at 8:30 PM on September 12, 2013


Twitter just rolled out that feature, although I think it's more to let celebs talk with one another and less to control abuse. I don't know if they allow pseudonyms either.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:06 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, that's interesting -- though I wonder why they seem to have made the 'verified' filter only available to people who themselves have a verified account. I don't see what the obstacle would be to enabling it for everyone.
posted by Anything at 9:14 PM on September 12, 2013


Right now Twitter limits the number of verified accounts by some opaque process. You'd only be talking to celebrities and celebrities' social media coordinators.

I'm not sure how well this would work if widely rolled out though. Some people won't sign up on general principle, and some want that extra anonymous follower even if they are an asshole sometimes. Also this approach may not fly in places like Germany where the right to anonymity is codified in law. So you'd risk having a class-stratified Twitter, which may not be what they are going for.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:35 PM on September 12, 2013


I came in to say essentially what saulgoodman says above. I think in many ways that "assholes" who echo racist or hateful things for the attack value or for the "fun" of it are in most ways worse people and worse for society then honest racists.

"honest racists" feels like an odd thing to say, but the reality is that at least some of that comes from upbringing or a lack of exposure to the other. And those people can learn and change and eventually become people that are ok.... I'm not trying to defend racism based on ignorance here it's still horrible and does an amazing amount of damage. But it's something that has a chance of being fixed.

But the people who have examined their racisim and found it to be good. Or someone who doesn't really share those views but is happy to use them to cause pain and misery? That type of person is not going to change their ways soon. These people aren't hurting people out of ignorance or disregard. These people want the pain. And that is exactly the type of people that need to be punished and made to face consequences for their actions.

But I don't see all of this as a problem of anonymity. Lots of people say hateful and stupid and racist things on their facebooks and twitters that are already pretty closely linked to their real life. And no matter what you do some people are going to figure a way around these half-way measures to remove anonymity. And sadly those "some people" are the weev's of the world.

Part of the solution is an education that that screen name on the other side of a careless remark is a real person. But really somehow there needs to be some consequences to acting like an asshole on the internet. Cause there sure aren't any now.
posted by cirhosis at 10:12 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think they understand just fine that there are real people on the other side of that screen. The problem is that they enjoy causing people pain.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:25 PM on September 12, 2013


Joakim Ziegler, at the risk of contributing to the pile-on, you have made three separate defenses of Aurenheimer in this thread:

1) As far as I know, he's been called an anti-Semite for saying that Israel is perpetrating a genocide against the Palestinians. He denies he has anything against Jews, his criticism has been of Israel only [...]
2) He's non-antisemitic enough to at least hint that he himself is Jewish [...]
3) watching two minutes of the video made it absolutely clear to me that he's trolling.

I don't know why you're so invested in this, but surely you can see that these defenses aren't compatible with each other? I.e., you can't simultaneously say that the accusations are malicious lies; that speech from a Jew can't possibly be antisemitic; and his actions would be antisemitic if he hadn't done it for dramatic effect.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:09 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


When Jacobs went to the police, they found many reasons not to help her. They said she gave the pictures to her ex so they were his property; he could do what he wanted with them. Other law enforcement agencies said it was out of their jurisdiction and that she should go try the feds. According to Jacobs, FBI agents told her that this was probably a violation of some kind, but since it didn’t involve national security they wouldn’t pursue it.

Uggggh. Has anyone started "stoptheseassholes.com" where people can post "my awful ex [real name and address] posted private photos and hateful things about me online in public. please never trust or date or be friends with or give a job or coffee or the time of day to him/her/it?", because if not ... maybe sometimes it's necessary to fight fire with fire?
posted by crayz at 12:11 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler: "Don't feed the troll" is a tried and true internet adage. It works. There are trolls, they want attention, they want people to disagree with them. It's been proven time and time again that if you don't engage with them, they go away.

Don't Feed the Troll Doesn't Work

"The problems with applying that to trolls are at least three-fold. The first two problems come from the fact that we are not trolls’ parents, and these trolls are not small children.

This means we don’t have control over their environments. These trolls have buddies egging them on. If they’re on a Twitter hashtag, they see other people doing the same thing (reward). If they’re on a forum, they’ve driven away everyone who isn’t going to tell them how hilarious their ability to swear at someone is (reward). If they’re on 4chan or some sub-Reddits or other sites that self-selects for proud anarchy, well… (reward).

Nor is this limited to the internet. People aren’t stupid. They notice when someone is an “acceptable” target of vitriol in the real world. We’re a social species with a long adolescence devoted to figuring this sort of thing out, and despite knee-jerk denialist commenters on every post and article dealing with the topic, this stuff isn’t terribly subtle. Even offline, this sort of behavior–if perhaps not always this degree of behavior–is rewarded.

When trolls see no reaction from the rest of the world, there is literally nothing in this equation but reward. Who’s going to go away under those circumstances? Who will extinguish bad behavior when that behavior means they’re winning?"

Ill Doctrine: Why I Will Feed The Trolls If I Damn Well Want To

Don't Feed the Trolls II

"What you think it means: Just don’t reply to people or publicize their insults and they’ll go away! All they want is attention.

What it actually means: Suffer in silence. Read those emails about what a fucking cunt you are and then quietly delete them. Go lay in bed and cry until you don’t necessarily feel better but can at least pretend like you feel better so that we can all continue our lives blissfully ignorant of anything bad ever happening. The abuse will continue to come, because they don’t want attention – they are bullies. They want power over you. They want your silence, and they got it."

How women’s voices are silenced online through trolling

"I say that I think silencing is something that is usually directed against women by men in order to shut them up. John replies with, ‘okay, but you don’t have to be so angry about it all the time/you’re cute when you’re political! / did someone get out of bed on the wrong side this morning? / you don’t have to make it about gender all the time/you’re just saying that because you’re a woman / ok…come here and kiss me / yeah but you’re fat and ugly and therefore irrelevant’, and so on. "

Misogynist Trolls Have An Agenda, And It’s Not Lulz

"Trolls are real people and they have an agenda outside of some vague “need for attention”."

"Of course, Mason interviews the guys who claim they’re just in it for the “lulz” and discovers to no one’s great surprise that actually, these trolls have deep hatred and resentment of women and actually do take the mission to silence women very, very seriously. They just can’t quite admit that to themselves, because part of the identity of the misogynist is to deny that he is a misogynist—he loves women as long as they know they are subhuman sex/reproduction appliances put here to serve, so how can he hate women?!—so the amount of rationalization that goes on is astounding."

Here's a good example of the secondary gains online trolls can gain through solidarity over hating groups of people: Racist pickup guru Roosh Valizadeh announces plan to “destroy” Pax Dickinson critic with charges of racism Manboobz in general is a good place to discover the wide ranging and mutually supportive communities of men who hate women, and their various online and offline activities to troll women and drive us off of the internet.

Dear Trolls, Thank You

"Some folks will tell you that ignoring trolls is the best policy. Those folks have apparently never dealt with bullies, or they beat the odds somehow, because as Rocket J. Squirrell famously stated, “That trick never works.” For one thing, more trolls will come, and some will teeter on the dividing line between troll and just rude fucking asshole (i.e., making an argument, not just spewing bile). You won’t be able to ignore them all (trust me, I’ve tried) and dealing with them decisively shows other trolls what they can expect when they visit your blog."

He's Just a Troll

"Emphasis on intent. The idea that identical behaviour should be viewed differently when it's "trolling" rather than "what he really believes" means that the intent of the behaviour, rather than its effect, is viewed as the meaningful way to evaluate it. But the effect is often identical. Trolling can make women and others feel just as unsafe in geek communities (if not more so, since trolling often uses extreme rhetoric or positions) as genuinely meant threats. This emphasis on intent privileges the person doing harm, rather than the target. "

Will There Be More Surly Grants?

Note: this was posted over a year after TAM, when the harassment began.

"So far, every single day since TAM, I have woken up to hate-filled messages on the internet. I have been called every nasty name in the book. I have been lied about, I have been threatened. I have been the punch-line to jokes where I don’t understand the part that is supposed to be funny. I have been called ‘poison’ dripping into the heart of this movement. I have been written about, repeatedly, on websites that actively encourage people to hate me specifically and women like me. I have been mocked, parodied and relentlessly hassled, by people who are claiming to be part of a movement that I had vowed to support.

This harassment happens to me online. Every. Single. Day. I rarely talk about it because talking about it draws more attention to me from the haters, as will this blog post. I realize that.

I do not retaliate, I rarely respond. I simply soldier onward, because I understand that if I give up, other good people will want to give up too. I deflect some of the hate."
posted by Deoridhe at 12:11 AM on September 13, 2013 [25 favorites]


For those of you saying that you're glad that weev is in jail for the AT&T thing:

http://blog.ussjoin.com/2013/07/amicus-brief-for-weev.html

posted by I-baLL at 12:13 AM on September 13, 2013


For those of you saying that you're glad that weev is in jail for the AT&T thing ...

I agree with Kathy Sierra - he should be freed for the AT&T thing and then prosecuted and convicted and put back in prison for harassing and threatening people and wrecking their lives.
posted by crayz at 12:17 AM on September 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Joe in Australia: "I don't know why you're so invested in this, but surely you can see that these defenses aren't compatible with each other? I.e., you can't simultaneously say that the accusations are malicious lies; that speech from a Jew can't possibly be antisemitic; and his actions would be antisemitic if he hadn't done it for dramatic effect."

I don't think they're incompatible. The first one was something I posted before I watched the video linked in the article, and was based on what I found when googling him and antisemitism, according to Wikipedia, he'd been accused of antisemitism because of his opinions about Israel/Palestine, which is so common that I found it entirely believable that that was all of it.

Then I watched the video, and in it he said many offensive, antisemitic, and generally crazy things, so crazy and over the top that I was convinced he was trolling.

And, I later mentioned that he doesn't honestly hate Jews enough to prevent him from hinting that he might be one himself when it's convenient.

All in all, this points to a person who says whatever's likely to work (work in the sense of getting the reaction he wants) at any given time, that is, not a sincere anti-semite, very much a troll.

I don't think I'm that invested in this, really. I just think that some people, especially people known for trolling on the internet, can say things they don't mean to get a reaction. Some people apparently found this unthinkable, others asked me directly why I thought that was a useful distinction to make, which I've tried to explain, some people thought I was talking about the rape threats and mob behaviour, when I was specifically talking about his general trolling, and some again thought making this distinction makes me a "collaborator", which I disagree with.

I'm having a conversation. I don't feel it's a pile-on, I don't think it's aggressive or discourteous, and apart from maybe repeating myself a bit more than I like, I think it's a completely pleasant conversation to have.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:57 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and just adding: I, too, would much rather like to see him in prison for the harassment and threats than the weak, bogus "hacker" charges. 90% of those are bullshit or massively inflated, generally speaking, and making an example out of him for threats and criminally abusive behaviour online would be much more useful, both for the signal effect, and, I think, ethically.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:00 AM on September 13, 2013


weev is in jail for "the AT&T thing" like Al Capone went to jail for Tax Evasion. The system fails us frequently and sometimes works the wrong way.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:15 AM on September 13, 2013


No, weev is in jail because his actions were criminal. It bothers me how security researchers want to ignore the parts of his actions that illustrate this. Once again, intent matters.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:34 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


NoxAeternum: "No, weev is in jail because his actions were criminal. It bothers me how security researchers want to ignore the parts of his actions that illustrate this. Once again, intent matters."

The at&t thing is one of those cases where intent cannot matter, lest an unreasonable result arise. It doesn't matter what my intent is when I pick up my phone and dial a number, unless perhaps I'm communicating a message in furtherance of a conspiracy. Similarly, it should not matter what my intent is when I type a URL into the address bar.

If I go beyond that and actually attempt to bypass something that could reasonably be perceived as an access control, that's a different story.

As much as a flaming asshole weev is, this particular issue is more important than him. But yes, please throw his ass in jail for something that won't fuck us all over by setting a terrible legal precedent. It is not OK for normal every day behavior to be criminalized like that. It leaves everyone open to criminal charges at the government's whim. There are already enough laws that were actually intended and written to do that to add another one to the list that wasn't just because it saves a bit of face with the general public for at&t.
posted by wierdo at 3:01 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


The at&t thing is one of those cases where intent cannot matter, lest an unreasonable result arise. It doesn't matter what my intent is when I pick up my phone and dial a number, unless perhaps I'm communicating a message in furtherance of a conspiracy. Similarly, it should not matter what my intent is when I type a URL into the address bar.

Oh really?
posted by ymgve at 4:02 AM on September 13, 2013


Once again, intent matters.

I still don't understand what you mean by this. The express requirement for intent in the offence Auernheimer was convicted of only seems to relate to exceeding authorised access (or gaining unauthorised access) and obtaining information. There's no requirement for dishonesty, fraud or malice.

It bothers me how security researchers want to ignore the parts of his actions that illustrate this.

What parts were these? He helped Spitzler write a program that accessed a series of publically available websites by changing a number in a URL, and used it to obtain a list of email addresses. Why should that be a felony?
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:08 AM on September 13, 2013


I think they understand just fine that there are real people on the other side of that screen. The problem is that they enjoy causing people pain.
posted by en forme de poire


I probably need to clairify what I said... Putting aside the the tremendous assholes like weev or the others who do this straight up to cause pain. I think there are a large number of people who do to some extent disassociate usernames on a screen from real people. Doesn't that follow from the fact that so many people seem to have no problem saying horrifying things online that they wouldn't dream of doing in person? I'll agree that the anonymity and no fear of consequences helps make matters worse...
posted by cirhosis at 6:02 AM on September 13, 2013


Joakim Ziegler - i don't think you're doing it purposefully, but i'm sort of in the same spot as Joe In Australia - i know you're just responding to comments made to you, but when considering how tiny an issue "is weev actually an anti-semite or does he just play one one the internet" is compared to all the real harm he's done, it just seems like you are picking at the tiniest of nit. your repeated brushing away of the important stuff to keep polishing that one inconsequential nickle does make it seem like it really matters to you...but then to learn that all of these opinions that you're holding on to really strongly in here are just based upon a couple minutes of googling. i dunno - it just all seems weird from where i'm sitting - maybe i'm just sensitive because the topic is trolling.

i don't think many were disbelieving that people could say things they didn't mean (although, i think the point upthread about how misogynists create their identity with a huge helping of "i'm not a misogynist" is something that happens in a lot of bigotry and is hard to ferret out by statements made by the troll about how he's not xyz), i think a lot of people were saying that to them it didn't matter. that you read this as "Some people apparently found this unthinkable" i think is on you.
posted by nadawi at 6:37 AM on September 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm just so tired of woman-hating harassing fuckwits. And I don't really have the opportunity to ignore them, because I really do end up considering where and what I post because I don't want to turn into the next woman getting harassed. And all I can think is that it's so much worse for women of color.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:08 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


You need an Anonymous focused on these clowns.

And Christopher Locke's Pontius Pilate attempt at blame deflection over what was done to Kathy is deserving of innovating some kind of Bitch Slap Transfer Protocol (of course I would add a back door to block incoming messages).

I liked Kathy Sierra's contributions to the net. They were fun and interesting and multidisciplinary and for some mook wanna-be crypto-libertarian hack to facilitate her terrorization makes me angry in ways I can't adequately put in words.

All I'd say about weev is that he talked a pretty hard-core game and I wonder how well that aggressive inner monologue and weak exterior is working for him in prison.
posted by lon_star at 9:40 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's in low security prison and from what I can tell from this piece his lawyer wrote, he's doing okay-not-great, still testing limits and pushing the envelope. I don't know whether that article is meant to be a little braggy-sounding or not (the one before it sounded less like that) but it does sort of show the limits of internet whuffie to ameliorate the "We don't give a shit about your whuffie" experience of even low security prison.
posted by jessamyn at 9:50 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


nadawi: "i think a lot of people were saying that to them it didn't matter. that you read this as "Some people apparently found this unthinkable" i think is on you."

I said several times that this is a distinction I make personally, and I have no problem with others not making it. People asked me why I thought it was a useful distinction, and I explained that.

There has been, however, a lot of questioning of my motives, both the "collaborator" line and stuff like "I can't believe otherwise intelligent people give such importance to the difference", which I find a little annoying.

I've also said several times that I think people are using the term "trolling" incorrectly here, including, I suspect, you just now. The rape threats, doxing, and other harassment is not "trolling" by most commonly accepted definitions. weev made his name and fame as a troll, previously, not with rape threats, but with stuff that falls inside the commonly accepted definition of trolling, which is to argue spuriously online for whatever viewpoint is the most likely to create a huge stir, usually without actually holding that viewpoint. I think the video where he spouts Bible verses and blames pornography on the Jews is probably an example of that.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:29 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Something in that first link Jessamyn posted seems somehow familiar:
A pattern seems to be emerging where the prison takes punitive measures against him, we threaten action, the prison corrects its behavior, but then finds new and creative ways to mess with weev.
So... Sort of like how harassers keep finding new and creative ways to mess with people?

I think how the US treats its prison population is atrocious and nobody should be subject to some of what happens there. But I can't help but feeling a bit of 'live by the sword die by the sword' about this particular instance.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:30 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


lon_star: "You need an Anonymous focused on these clowns. "

Sadly, these clowns are not that far from Anonymous, or rather, Anonymous is not too far from them. The methods used are largely the same, Anonymous just (usually, at least) goes after targets we find more acceptable.

I used to like Anonymous a lot, but I've soured on them, exactly because I've come to realize that what they do is so similar to what asshole online in general, like weev, do. They're bullies, they harass people, they try to utterly destroy their lives. They do it for reasons that we find at least more justifiable, but it's still mob justice, and it's still very ugly.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:33 AM on September 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Actually, now that I think about it, Encyclopedia Dramatica, which has or at least had a strong connection with Anonymous, is chock-full of racism, sexism and homophobia, and I think it's a good example of what I've been talking about.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:45 AM on September 13, 2013


Joakim - you're right. Vigilantism is sexy when you're on the same page re: the bad guy.

But those orgs start attracting Knights Templar, and then they start picking their own bad guys, and pretty soon...well...
posted by lon_star at 11:16 AM on September 13, 2013


Well, as I said before, I think intent matters, in general, as question of ethics. I think what this guy is doing (in case of the racist statements in the video, not the rape and death threats, etc.), if I'm right about him not being sincere, is ethically not quite as bad as full-on, actual, heartfelt racism. So from an ethical point of view, there's that.

In practical terms, I think it's probably useful to make that distinction because it might be easier to make people who aren't racists but pretend to be to provoke a reaction, stop doing that than to make actual racists stop being racists.


I think we will have to disagree on intent in this case. I just don't see it as making a significant real world difference. Of course, if we were better at shunning racists, it might deter people "pretending" to be racist for effect. Because they would get shunned, too. Perhaps just "pretend" shunned, but, still....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:20 AM on September 13, 2013


I think the video where he spouts Bible verses and blames pornography on the Jews is probably an example of that.

The problem with trolling though, is that, definitionaly, it's impossible to determine intent from the original communication. Ironic race baiting still looks a lot like race baiting.

The original intent is absolutely irrelevant if the result is similarly damaging. Denying the harm of trolling is a form of gaslighting, in my view.
posted by bonehead at 11:25 AM on September 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


But those orgs start attracting Knights Templar, and then they start picking their own bad guys, and pretty soon...well...

Also, jumping on things without a clear understanding of facts. See the case of Sunil Tripathi being misidentified as one of the Boston Marathon bombers online:
The Tripathi family's ordeal collided with the Boston bombings shortly after the FBI released images of the two suspects late Thursday. Reddit and other popular social-media platforms, already abuzz with theories of suspicious characters caught on camera near the bomb sites, embarked on a mission to ID the two young men. One of the young women who went to high school with Sunil thought she recognized him from one of the photos released by the FBI. Redditors also picked up on the supposed likeness, and by the evening Reddit and Twitter (on which "Sunil Tripathi" would soon trend worldwide) had exploded with the theory. By about 7:30 p.m. EDT, the Tripathi family began to be flooded with calls, Facebook posts, and harassing emails raising the allegation.
That's bad enough, imagine if something more organized like Anonymous jumped the gun and mobilized harassment.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:29 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sadly, these clowns are not that far from Anonymous, or rather, Anonymous is not too far from them.

I agree with you on this -- I think there is something about anonymous harassment... it seems like it ought to be some sort of bold resistance, but more and more it comes across as an excuse for bad behavior.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:29 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


it does sort of show the limits of internet whuffie to ameliorate the "We don't give a shit about your whuffie" experience of even low security prison

Ha ha yeah, I can't imagine an institution less impressed by internet "whuffie" than the federal bureau of prisons! They are like the greyest, most rigid, opaque bureaucracy ever. Having read the articles from his lawyer on prison conditions, I think for an asshole like weev, being confronted by rules that have reliable consequences could be instructive. The rules are stupid and the consequences excessive, but still. It's like, we told you not to use the phone to post online messages. You did because you think you are special. You are not. Now you sit in the SHU. Every single time, without fail, punishment follows rule breaking, until the end of time, BOP doesn't care.

Hmm that actually sounds horrible and dystopian, somehow my extreme distaste for people like weev overcomes my horror at 1984-ish bureaucracies, quite an accomplishment.
posted by bepe at 11:52 AM on September 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I said several times

this gets to the core of my point - again, while i realize you're just responding to what you feel are unfair attacks - the repeated stating of something you've said a bunch of times all ready is starting to read to me (and apparently others) like this is a point you really care about even though you're saying you don't - because you just keep explaining it. i think that people either get where you're coming from and disagree or aren't going to get it. either way, repeating it again isn't going to do much for you or the thread.

also, i don't think i misused trolling - i wasn't talking about weev, i was talking about you - that i'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt that you aren't trolling the thread by trying to derail it with a tiny point you strongly disagree with after a minute of googling and reading a quote on wikipedia.
posted by nadawi at 12:54 PM on September 13, 2013


[Folks, please take accusations of trolling to MetaTalk when you're aiming them at actual participants here. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 12:58 PM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


ymgve: "Oh really?"

Yes. If you leave your possessions on your front lawn with a sign saying "FREE" attached, you should not have recourse to the law when your stuff is gone.
posted by wierdo at 2:52 PM on September 13, 2013


nadawi: "also, i don't think i misused trolling - i wasn't talking about weev, i was talking about you - that i'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt that you aren't trolling the thread by trying to derail it with a tiny point you strongly disagree with after a minute of googling and reading a quote on wikipedia."

Then you're definitely misusing the term, I'm doing no such thing. My history on MeFi makes it abundantly clear that I'm not a troll. Disagreeing with you doesn't make me one either. Feel free to take it to meta, though, if you want.

And no, I'm not responding to "what I feel are unfair attacks". I'm having a conversation. I'm quite calm, and I don't feel attacked. I do feel some people may not be understanding quite what I mean, but that's no me, which is why I try to restate and reformulate, to clarify.

And, to clarify, my "googling and reading a quote on Wikipedia" was specifically about the anti-semitism. I was already familiar with weev as a troll in general.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:01 PM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"A pattern seems to be emerging where the prison takes punitive measures against him, we threaten action, the prison corrects its behavior, but then finds new and creative ways to mess with weev."

u mad bro?
posted by klangklangston at 3:21 PM on September 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


(Which has worked for me when I was trolled, though obviously I've got the armor of a lot of privilege — I never sincerely feared rape or death threats — so just copy pasta "you mad bro?" or some similar shit over and over to every comment I got was enough to get folks to stop. It takes, like, zero effort, though I realize it can egg them on more, but it pretty rapidly exhausts any lulz they might be getting. At one point, I had even set up an email that I used for a column in college to auto-reply with "GREAT JOB" every time I got a message, since I was getting a couple hundred a day for a couple weeks.

It's also part of why I try to stand up for people online and off, because I can brush off a lot of that stuff more quickly — it's not really personal the same way when people call me "fag" for doing LGBT work. It can piss me off, but it's not as threatening, so I feel pretty free to challenge assholes on it.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:26 PM on September 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Then you're definitely misusing the term

no - you disagree with me. disagreeing with you doesn't make me wrong. i never said you weren't civil - you keep responding to things i'm not saying so it's probably best we drop it.
posted by nadawi at 8:54 PM on September 13, 2013


You May Not Like Weev, But Your Online Freedom Depends on His Appeal
posted by homunculus at 5:22 PM on September 14, 2013


I hope he wins his appeal because he shouldn't be in jail for this. Then I hope he's prosecuted for what he did to Kathy Sierra. I agree with her: "I think he does belong in prison for crimes he has committed, but what he’s in for now is not one of those crimes. I hate supporting the Free Weev movement, but I do."
posted by homunculus at 5:33 PM on September 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why isn't weev being simultaneously prosecuted right now for the crimes he committed against Kathy Sierra? I'm pretty sure you can be prosecuted for a crime even though you are serving a sentence for something else. Or is it because there's no one in a position to do anything about this who really cares, and if he wins this appeal he will be free to harass again?

That article was absolutely horrifying. The examples in the article were despicable crimes that absolutely were caused by online harassment. It is really frustrating to think that no one has any good ideas about what to do to stop it.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:51 PM on September 14, 2013


Probably because nobody wants to deal with the headache of putting together a case and bringing it.

I am speaking from a position of some ignorance, here, but I think online harassment is still a huge grey area, particularly with regards to jurisdiction. And I *think* most of the cases that have actually been brought related to online harassment have had victim and perpetrator in the same jurisdiction, haven't they?

Which is all unfortunate. Because I'd love to see weev put away for things he should be punished for, not for things he shouldn't be punished for.

OTOH - could Sierra bring a civil suit? I'm guessing the answer to that one is maybe, but then there's having to dive back into that cesspool and presumably the resurgence of harassment against her. I don't blame her for not wanting to dive back into that river of shit if that's the case.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:57 PM on September 14, 2013


A few years ago I came to the conclusion that there are no good people or bad people. Only good or bad actions.
posted by bq at 8:57 AM on September 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


My question upthread was a serious one, and I'm dismayed that so many people took it to be some kind of conservative provocation. Because it wasn't.

Over the last few years I've had the opportunity to get to know more than a few women who are self-described anarcho-feminists. I didn't understand it before, but I get it now. From my talk with them it seems like their stance is that government and current social institutions won't (or can't) protect women from various forms of misogyny, whether internet trolling to the rape culture. Therefore, they self-organize to bash back, whether that be on the street or the internet. I still don't agree with my anarcho-feminist friends that we should end the state. But I do agree that the work they're doing to take a hardline against misogyny is necessary and important, because they are right, that the state cannot or will not protect women in far too many cases.

Reading about weev's behavior (for the first time, I admit; all I knew of him previously was that he was unfairly targeted by the government for "hacking"), I'm appalled at his actions toward Kathy Sierra, how he essentially led an online lynch mob against her.

I agree with AlsoMike re: the importance of collective solutions; that's what the state is supposed to be, a collective solution for security, and obviously, we should press for the legal and governmental institutional changes to stop this kind of behavior. But in the interim, women who are targetted shouldn't just be expected to have to flee the internet or silently acquiesce to their attackers, for fear of "feeding the trolls."
posted by wuwei at 9:25 AM on September 15, 2013


Why don't we force everyone to be anonymous, make using a name of any kind on the internet a federal offense, and tax any pay2post stuff at about 500%?

That would solve a number of problems.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:33 PM on September 15, 2013


Think about it. Weev is only weev because he can use the name. No "weev", no weev. Plus, he got his start from that whole SA culture, a site owned by a known libertarian. If we'd just taxed any site where you have to pay to authenticate yourself at 500%, that kind of thing would never even have got off the ground.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:36 PM on September 15, 2013


And a bonus is that if tying your real name to the internet becomes illegal, the NSA won't be able to abuse people as easily!
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:40 PM on September 15, 2013


a name of any kind

Well, you could start by explaining exactly how you intend to continue using email or online banking (etc etc etc) under this plan.
posted by jacalata at 11:36 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, we might be giving up a little functionality but it's worth it to curb abuses.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:00 AM on September 16, 2013


Well, we might be giving up a little functionality but it's worth it to curb abuses.

Please consider that what you are doing now appears to be offering stupid-simple solutions to large intractable problems that have been being discussed for literally days at this point. Your "suggestion" is completely non-practical and does not appear to be made in good faith.
posted by jessamyn at 10:06 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tocaty, setting aside the problem that banning pseudonyms and names would be completely unenforceable and impractical, there's also zero evidence that it would be effective in curbing abuse. I mean, largely-anonymous communities like 4chan don't seem to suffer from a dearth of trolls.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:24 AM on September 16, 2013


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