Anti-Bullying Activist Goes Gamergate
April 19, 2016 6:16 PM   Subscribe

The Strange Tale of Social Autopsy, the Anti-Harassment Start-up That Descended Into Gamergate Trutherism
The response to Social Autopsy seemed, in short, like a clear instance of the internet — that is, the market for the service itself — rearing up and issuing forth a guttural, earsplitting No thanks! But that’s not how Owens sees things. Instead, she’s convinced the current online shaming she’s experiencing — including death threats and violently racist language delivered into her company’s inbox — are the result of a conspiracy, possibly a far-reaching one, spearheaded by Quinn and Harper. She thinks they, and particularly Quinn, are the ones sending her nasty email, or that they started the hysteria which led to the inundation, at least. She also thinks they’re operating a network of sock-puppet social-media accounts trying to take down Social Autopsy — all because they're afraid of what the nascent company will reveal about them once it’s up and running.
posted by Joseph Gurl (309 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've been following this by way of Randi Harper on Twitter, and everything I hear about the whole thing makes me just shake my head.
posted by SansPoint at 6:23 PM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Candace Owens' blog post about this.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:25 PM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is somehow much more of a clusterfuck than I would expect a Kickstarted doxxing list "against bullying" to be.

I find myself wondering if this perfect gift to trolls is a real person. If she is, then she needs to stay a long, long way from trying to be helpful.
posted by Artw at 6:34 PM on April 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


The Social Autopsy people didn't know what doxing was before they got involved here, that's how far out of their depth they are. Every good intention in the world won't help somebody who's decided to take their first swimming lessons in a shark tank.

To elaborate on an idea from Quinn (who said something similar about Microsoft's "Tay" experiment) - it's not enough to have a threat model anymore; if you're not asking yourself at the earliest planning stages how something can be repurposed to hurt people, and putting design and engineering effort into preventing that from happening, you're building a weapon.
posted by mhoye at 6:35 PM on April 19, 2016 [134 favorites]


Oh dear. Good intentions, naiveté, paranoia and stubbornness combine to produce a clusterfuck of epic proportions. Candace Owens seems so defensive and clueless she's playing into exactly the wrong people's hands.
posted by dazed_one at 6:36 PM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


It was certainly an amusing enough meltdown, but I am confused about why, apart from that, anyone thought the pretty obviously incompetent/crank Kickstarter was worthy of a moment's attention. I guess I'm just not sure what public interest beyond idle curiosity is served by the point-by-point recap, once the crackpot is clearly marked as a crackpot.
posted by RogerB at 6:37 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Jesus.
posted by k8t at 6:39 PM on April 19, 2016


I expect the poor malleable idiot will be on SPJ hostedpanels about ethics in game journalism with the year.
posted by Artw at 6:40 PM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


The parents of those children in the photo that Owens posted on her blog better run for cover. Sigh.
posted by k8t at 6:42 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I always wondered what the descent into madness looked like from the outside.
posted by Archelaus at 6:43 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


This reads like a poorly plotted novel.
posted by blurker at 6:48 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I get the impression from her blog post that Candace Owen had vaguely heard that cyberbulling exists and decided that, as a super-smart Wall Street person, she was just the sort of person to solve it. It's so completely clear that she felt no particular need to research the problem, assumed that she already knew everything she needed to, and ran straight into a brick wall she had no idea was there even after Zoe Quinn, who's spent the last year and a half dodging brick walls, tried desperately to tell her about it over and over.

It's sad, and I don't wish this on anybody, but some people you really can't help.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:48 PM on April 19, 2016 [41 favorites]


Holy shit, that Kickstarter page:

[under a picture of Taylor Swift and Cara Delevigne]

Okay. That was a bit of dishonest marketing on our part. We do not know Taylor Swift, nor do we know Cara Delevigne, or for what reason exactly she is waving an English flag in this photo. In fact they will likely fire off a cease and desist letter to us for sourcing that image irresponsibly-- which we hope reinforces our earlier point about legal necessity.

Um... okey doke. *backs away slowly*
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:56 PM on April 19, 2016 [15 favorites]


my takeaway from this is that tone can matter - when a total noob is confronted with nasty rhetoric from both sides, she ends up believing that it's one side against HER - harper's statements were just plain counterproductive, especially the claim they'd shut her kickstarter down

it's just getting too chaotic and nothing good can come from it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:57 PM on April 19, 2016




To be fair, Kickstarter should in no way be allowing that campaign and should have shut it down immediately.
posted by Artw at 6:59 PM on April 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


So ... it's like archive.org, but for bullies?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:01 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've been following this through various tweeters and it's so bonkers.
posted by brundlefly at 7:26 PM on April 19, 2016


It was certainly an amusing enough meltdown, but I am confused about why, apart from that, anyone thought the pretty obviously incompetent/crank Kickstarter was worthy of a moment's attention.

"SJWS STARTING UP A GIANT GG DOXXING OPERATION!"

That's why.
posted by Talez at 7:27 PM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


This seemed like startup culture in a nutshell, in a lot of ways: We can solve this problem better than all the people who are already out there trying to solve this problem. We can make a profit while we're doing it. And if you're not backing us, for some reason, you must just not really want to help people.

But then the reality is that they threw this whole thing together in one heady caffeine-fueled weekend, assumed there weren't any existing experts on the subject, and figured they were ready to go after funding.

IMO, it shouldn't matter how abrasive people were about telling them this was stupid, because it was really, genuinely, brain-bendingly stupid. It wasn't like a borderline case where there were some problematic elements. If you aren't ready to deal with the fact that your idea might be dumb, you should probably try running it by some people who actually know about the thing you're dealing with before you start asking the public for cash.
posted by Sequence at 7:36 PM on April 19, 2016 [61 favorites]


It makes Peepl look sane.

Peepl is still apparently a thing, BTW.
posted by Artw at 7:38 PM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


I like how she repeats over and over that she'd never heard of 'doxxing' before, like that proves, what exactly?
It's like creating a pizza start up and being proud you've never heard of cheese.
posted by signal at 7:42 PM on April 19, 2016 [55 favorites]


Zoe Quinn probably shouldn't have been so surprised that Owens was unreceptive to criticism of her glorious vision. After all, the only people that would ever oppose an anti-bullying program are bullies, right?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:46 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wow, just wow.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:51 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ah, so she had a model of cyberbullying that was basically "what happened to me" and assumed that was the whole story. Not the most uncommon story.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:59 PM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


@signal - She's convinced that "doxxing" is something that Quinn -made up-, since that's where she first heard of it. So any instance of the use now, in her head, is just further proof of the Quinnspiracy.
posted by Archelaus at 8:06 PM on April 19, 2016 [24 favorites]


The more I read about GG and anti-GG, the more it confirms that both groups are filled with toxic, crazy people.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:08 PM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure "anti-GG" really exists.
posted by Artw at 8:15 PM on April 19, 2016 [46 favorites]


From Owen's report of her conversation with Zoe Quinn:
Have you ever been threatened to be killed or raped repeatedly, by an unknown harasser?

A question she asked of ZOE FUCKING QUINN. The arrogance, the ignorance.
posted by misfish at 8:18 PM on April 19, 2016 [59 favorites]


"anti-GG" is a makebelieve faction that consists of literally anybody who doesn't think GG are righteous crusaders for truth, justice, and the subjugation of all members of gender, sexual, and racial minorities The American Way. You know how Libertarians made up "statism", a make-believe ideology which holds that all good comes from the state and that all decisions down to the personal level must be made by the state, and freedom and puppies must be crushed under the boot of HitlerStalin, in order to have something to score points off, feel good about being against, and tar everybody who disagrees with them as?

That's exactly what "anti-GG" is.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:20 PM on April 19, 2016 [100 favorites]


People don't choose to be victims of cyberabuse or abuse in general. It's shit that happens to them. Sometimes the victims who want to make a difference in the world by fighting back for positive change in society...they aren't always perfect. Understatement. Sometimes they are flawed as hell.

There are a lot of well meaning people in this story who have fucked up in various ways. But orbiting it all is a cyberterrorism movement that is happy to see everybody involved here suffering. A group that promotes fear and hatred and accomplishes the goal of making people paranoid and scared.

So, all I can say is that I hope the well meaning people can eventually find a path away from coming in conflict with each other. I hope they can learn from each other, and focus their energies together in the right directions.

There is definitely active resistance to Gamergate online, I think the people who work together to speak out against GG deserve to be recognized, whether they want to call themselves AGG or not.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:23 PM on April 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


“Things don’t go viral like that, okay? It wasn’t viral. It was contained. It was contained within one community — the gaming community. That’s not how viral works. Viral’s viral.”

I kind of want to give her a big hug
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 8:37 PM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


Well, this is just a fucking mess.

What I am curious about is who this woman talked to that couldn't fill her in on doxxing or Zoe Quinn, or GG?

Who runs this Tyler Clementi Foundation, an organization named after a person who paid the ultimate price for cyber bullying, but apparently doesn't employ anyone who knows anything about cyber bullying?

Is it my bubble that's flawed because I find it so hard to believe that people who are so clueless exist?
posted by sparklemotion at 8:39 PM on April 19, 2016 [16 favorites]


Is it a coincidence? That everything Zoe feared for us happened within hours of her warning me it might? Is it also a coincidence that after 5 weeks of campaining and promotion that the fear that was suddenly being expressed was that minors would be “doxxed”?
My initial suspicion was the Zoe perhaps tipped the gaming community off and they were now coming down on us: hard.


Mother of god. I have to feel badly for her, I really do. It's not often you see someone stumble with such ignorance through something so huge and so long standing. To go after online harassment and not know who Quinn is, or what Gamergate is? It beggars belief.
posted by jokeefe at 8:40 PM on April 19, 2016 [16 favorites]


> Candace Owens' blog post about this
I had never heard her name in my entire life, and hadn’t the slightest inclination as to who, or what Gamergate was.

Call me old fashioned, but I live outside of the virtual world and have had to make a living outside of my television set.
There's some stuff in the OP and in Owen's linked twitter stream that seems just a little off -- typos and weird turns of phrase -- that I attributed to quick, casual writing of fat-fingering a phone keyboard, but referring to offline as "outside of my television set" is just weird.
To clarify, I built this database with minors in mind. They are the ones I care about most deeply as any person who knows me will confirm.

[...]

The working idea was that we could infiltrate their consciousness at a young age to understand the weight of the internet (hey kids! what you say can actually last forever). By holding their words on our database for a few (weeks? months?—we hadn’t decided anything yet)— then this sordid fact would register at a young age, and they wouldn’t make the same mistakes as an adult. Our mission was to stop the cycle, and you can only do that by affecting a young generation.

Children think about short term goals (scholarships, making sports team, etc) right? We had imagined that if organizations could sign up for SocialAutopsy and tell these young adults that they did “social background checks” on all of their students, students would think twice before hitting the enter button.
I just don't know what to make of this. I don't think she's a fiction, but it would make a lot of sense if she were, you know?
posted by postcommunism at 8:41 PM on April 19, 2016 [37 favorites]


Someone who admittedly didn't know what doxing is and claims she doesn't understand the internet because she has a life outside her TV decided to start an anti-cyber-bullying, for-profit company. Can't see how that possibly didn't work out so good.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:42 PM on April 19, 2016 [15 favorites]


I think there's a set of people who hear "cyber-bullying" and think "tweens being mean to each other on MySpace" and genuinely have no idea that actual grownups do this to other actual grownups. There's a lot of very earnest and not-tech-savvy parents who are sincerely concerned with the former and lead lives that would never cause them to come across the latter.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:47 PM on April 19, 2016 [34 favorites]


To clarify, we had received exactly 8 legitimate messages to our kickstarter account from backers before I spoke to Zoe Quinn. After I spoke to her, we had received about 52 of veiled threats, before we had even gotten up for breakfast the next day.

She complains that the project had been in the media and promoted for a number of weeks, but that she only began to be attacked shortly after she spoke with Zoe Quinn-- or, in other words, less than 24 hours after the Kickstarter launched and her plan showed up on the net, unless I am misreading. She thinks there is something sinister here, when both the harassing emails and Quinn's phone call were part of the same wave of recognition and response online. It's really unfortunate.
posted by jokeefe at 8:47 PM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Candace Owens: the Official "Useful Idiot" mascot of GG.
posted by nightrecordings at 8:49 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't think she's a fiction, but it would make a lot of sense if she were, you know?

The blog post is such a frustrating read, and gives some extra texture to the details that the NYMag piece ran with. I'm simultaneously sympathetic about what a weird, gross, frustrating day or two she must have had and also just galled that she's grappling so brashly and naively with messy inferences and being so totally out of her depth on the stuff she's decided she's got a handle on.

And that phenomenon, that being utterly out of one's depth, is so hard to set right from the outside. You can warn someone off when they're about to dip their toe in the ocean, but once they're sinking and they've decided the people on dry land are responsible, they're never gonna listen. It's not a conversation you can even hope to have. It generalizes to so many kinds of bad experiences that get out hand.

That in this case there's a bunch of angry/lulzy folks in the water pulling her under while telling her how it's all those shore-dwellers' fault makes the whole thing that much more awful.
posted by cortex at 8:53 PM on April 19, 2016 [41 favorites]


Jesse Singal (author of the linked article in the FPP) previously on MetaFilter and more recently elsewhere on the internet.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 8:59 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is a clusterfuck that could only have been dreamed up as amateur fanfiction
posted by Theta States at 9:11 PM on April 19, 2016


The more I research this the more convinced I am that Owens' ignorance extends far beyond Quinn and Gamergate and is more on a "series of tubes" level of understanding. I'm guessing she didn't even know Kickstarter was a thing prior to all this.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:24 PM on April 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


The thesis of her blog post is not stated explicitly but strongly implied- she believes her idea was so revolutionary that two troll empire kingpin, bad-guy-in-victims clothings are running scared she'll expose them. More proof that her idea was a good one!!

Also
“co-founder of Crash Override Network, one of the only online abuse helplines and victims advocacy groups. I’m also patient zero of GamerGate, which I will assume you’re familiar with given your line of work.”

Bad assumption.

I had never heard her name in my entire life, and hadn’t the slightest inclination as to who, or what Gamergate was.
*facepalm*

Are we sure this isn't fake?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:27 PM on April 19, 2016 [15 favorites]


If it -is- fake, they sure went to a lot of effort to set up the kickstarter, plant her name in previous newspapers, etc, etc, etc.

So, yeah. Reasonably sure.
posted by Archelaus at 9:30 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing she didn't even know Kickstarter was a thing prior to all this.

The night before the Kickstarter launch, she decides to read how those running kickstarter campaigns need to be familiar with the culture, so punches up some copy for laughs.

I suspect you are right.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:30 PM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm going to need a bigger picture of a dumpster fire to describe this entire situation. A dumpster fire full of smaller dumpsters, which are also on fire?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:30 PM on April 19, 2016 [34 favorites]


I keep wondering if this is an elaborate Gamergate/4Chan/8Chan operation. I mean, she can't be that clueless, can she?

Apparently, she can.
posted by dw at 9:36 PM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


There's no GG and anti-GG. There's GG and SJWs and "SJWs" means "decent people who want to treat people with respect".
posted by brundlefly at 9:37 PM on April 19, 2016 [42 favorites]


Quite the comedy of errors, here. But I think it takes a particular kind of naive closed-mindedness to carry on this way instead of stepping back and looking at the context she has stumbled into. She is tone-deaf to internet culture and it's never even occurred to her that internet culture is a thing you can be tone-deaf to.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 9:40 PM on April 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


This is fascinating enough that I might have to start reading Twitter again.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:53 PM on April 19, 2016


All I'm experiencing after reading that is that meme with the guy who is grimacing and "???" right now.
posted by liquorice at 9:57 PM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Apparently she's 26? Which boggles me, I would have guessed 46. I didn't think you could be in your twenties and that clueless about the net.
posted by tavella at 9:59 PM on April 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


But I think it takes a particular kind of naive closed-mindedness to carry on this way instead of stepping back and looking at the context she has stumbled into.

Yes, exactly! This is someone whose response to a new, confusing situation is to dig in her heels hard and refuse to listen to anyone else, even when there are experts happy to explain it. It's been going on for days now, and she's still insisting on working this all out with logic based on her own understanding, plus Googling for supporting evidence for the theory.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:03 PM on April 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


Naïve? Well, like a Nigerian Prince Email is naïve.

It's just a sincere extension of that other Important Anti-Bullying Campaign... known as Gamergate.

The Kickstarter page (which was suspended five days ago with less than $5K pledged - good for Kickstarter) has the obvious odor of the GG version of what a SJ campaign should look like.

I call totally fake and totally scam.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:04 PM on April 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


"In 2015 I had pivoted to the idea of starting my own company, to help be a part of the change that I feel our world needs to make."

The sooner the word 'pivot' dies from the business vocabulary, the happier I'll be.

More related to the topic at hand, I wondered how this person had never heard of gamergate. Have I been living in an awful bubble that tells me more than I want to know about this awfulness?

To find out I opened an incognito browser session and googled 'online harassment'. On the first page I found the HuffingtonPost's page on the subject. On that page there was more than one story that involved gamergate.

So, it turns out that I have't been living in a little bubble, but this startup was trying to tackle a problem whose magnitude was easily discoverable by reading the first page of results on google.

Personally, I wish gamergate was a tiny little awful bubble, but instead it's a large thing on the actual big internet.

Look, it's fine if she doesn't want to live her life online, and isn't immersed in online culture. But for crying out loud, please don't try to solve the problems of the internet if you have gleeful ignorance about the entire internet.

Sigh.
posted by el io at 10:04 PM on April 19, 2016 [19 favorites]


I'd be embarrassed for her complete lack of knowledge and understanding, but at this point it really looks like proud ignorance.

I mean, really, when the only venues that really support you are places like Breitbart and The Ralph Retort, which also have a hard-on for Donald Trump, alt-right bullshit, and white supremacist and neoreactionary thought, maybe it's time to reconsider what you're saying and doing.
posted by qcubed at 10:10 PM on April 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


The thing is, she's apparently so clueless that she doesn't even -get- why that's a bad thing, @gcubed. And, of course, again, any evidence to the contrary that you send her is just -more- evidence of the Quinnspiracy.
posted by Archelaus at 10:12 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Right. Dunning meets Kruger, epistemic closure, and confirmation bias.
posted by qcubed at 10:13 PM on April 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


From her blog:
"My boyfriend caught wind of a post from
The Ralph Retort, that he labeled “fair”, which was a breath of fresh air from the vermin-like journalistic endeavors that we had seen being exercised thus far."

And that, I think, says everything that needs to be said about Ms. Owens
posted by Yowser at 10:25 PM on April 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'd been kind of idly hoping that this would get posted on Metafilter. I've badly wanted to talk to someone about it for the last couple of days. It's funny how bad a forum Twitter is for this discussion, when most of it has taken place there.

My first thought about all of this this--before the NYMag article and before Owens' weird and sad blog post--was that this was a big act of trolling. It reminded me of the fake feminist conference that some idiots tried to organize, with the goal of stealing money from feminists and exposing feminism as stupid. But the description of the conference was so tone-deaf--so not even wrong--that it just exposed how little these guys understood what feminism even is.

That's exactly what I thought this was. Owens--or someone manipulating her--wanted to expose the anti-harassment movement as incompetent. So they came up with a pitch so wrongheaded--so out of touch with the way the world works--that it would result in anti-harassment activists being laughed off the internet. Even the amount of money they asked for on Kickstarter is oddly perfect. Say it out loud: "They raised 75 thousand dollars on Kickstarter." Doesn't that sound like a punchline you'd hear at the end of a long wind-up about bad business ideas? I felt like my suspicion was confirmed when I scrolled back to the beginning of the SocialCoroner Twitter feed and found this. It's still hard for me to read that as anything but an attempt at satire.

But no, I was wrong. I wanted this to be a gag--even a deeply misguided one--so that I wouldn't have to feel as bad for her as I do now. And I do feel bad for her, genuinely. She embarrassed herself in a big way. And now she's been on Twitter basically around the clock digging her heels further and further in.

This seemed like startup culture in a nutshell, in a lot of ways: We can solve this problem better than all the people who are already out there trying to solve this problem. We can make a profit while we're doing it. And if you're not backing us, for some reason, you must just not really want to help people.

But then the reality is that they threw this whole thing together in one heady caffeine-fueled weekend, assumed there weren't any existing experts on the subject, and figured they were ready to go after funding.


You're right. And I get it. It sucks to be told you're wrong before you even get started. Quinn and Harper are not people I'd relish being told I'm wrong by. In my 20s, I remember frequently rebelling against what seemed to me to be self-appointed gatekeepers. People who insisted that I spend ten years learning everything from them before doing something on my own.

But then I read tweets like this, about how Owens didn't know about things like Gamergate and doxxing because she was too busy helping Syrian children. And I think: if that's what you're actually passionate about, why isn't that what you're doing? It seems almost too obvious to have to say: people doing important harassment work are really passionate about fighting harassment. So, that's why they know some things you don't.

And then I just get sad again.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:26 PM on April 19, 2016 [32 favorites]


In her latest tweets, she's going after the reporter who wrote the NY Mag story about the situation as being part of the conspiracy.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:29 PM on April 19, 2016


"In her latest tweets, she's going after the reporter who wrote the NY Mag story about the situation as being part of the conspiracy."

I wonder how long until we're part of the conspiracy?!
posted by el io at 10:36 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]




I'm still a little skeptical that she had "never heard of gamergate" because it's such a common schtick. Pretty much every gamegate troll I've encountered in the wild has claimed to have been completely ignorant of the movement, but their arguments are just so convincing and their opponents are just so mean. You saw the same thing with the Sad/Rabid Puppy trolls.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 10:53 PM on April 19, 2016 [15 favorites]


she was too busy helping Syrian children. And I think: if that's what you're actually passionate about, why isn't that what you're doing?

In the statement
throwing events in NYC to raise awareness for the displaced Syrians.
It's not the displaced Syrians she's passionate about.
posted by fatbird at 10:56 PM on April 19, 2016 [12 favorites]


Heh, just last week someone came at me tooth and claw about how much I must love the gamergaters because I had to audacity to describe someone doxing someone where the obvious intent was to do as much damage to their life as possible as "Going all Gjoni" because obviously Gjoni was so much worse than anything this woman I was talking about might have done. It is somewhat heartening to see that Zoe Quinn feels like doxing people with a goal of fucking over their life is morally repugnant.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:19 PM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I call totally fake and totally scam.

I am increasingly of that opinion.
posted by Artw at 11:41 PM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Right. Dunning meets Kruger, epistemic closure, and confirmation bias.

Engineer's disease writ large. You've always been one of the smartest people in the room, you pride yourself on being able to understand things quickly and you are just smart enough to have the sort of idea that experts could quickly tell you won't work if you'd listen to them and stubborn enough to double down when they do tell you.

Combine that with a situation in which there's been a huge smear campaign against the very experts trying to help you and your own naivity in thinking that if so many people say something it must be true and you get this fustercluck.

Also apparantly there are still people in their mid twenties for whom the internet is something discreet that you can leave behind to go on with your real life instead of something that's interwoven throughout it.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:43 PM on April 19, 2016 [15 favorites]


I read her post and this is what I got out of it.
A person came up with a bad idea to make money by helping people, who are harassed online, in a way that could backfire horribly. People already involved with the issue tell her it is a bad idea that could backfire horribly. Shit hits the fan, the plan backfires horribly, and she gets harassed online. Her immediate assumption is that the only people that would undermine her plan to make money helping people who have been harassed online are the people who already are getting rich off helping people online (or pretending to help people who are . . . sigh). She then developed her argument and collected exhibits to prove their guilt without once thinking that maybe she should have learned some more and evaluated her evidence before coming to a conclusion about who was causing problems for her.

What really blew my mind is that this happened over the weekend while I was away from living my life inside a tv, or whatever it is people who know about ZQ & GG do.
posted by Seamus at 11:44 PM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


She's either totally incompetent or a troll. I can't decide which at the moment.
posted by dazed_one at 11:46 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


What if this is a troll, but subtler than a GG effort to discredit anti-harassment orgs? What if it's performance art that critiques efforts like PlayPump and internet.org, when those without knowledge of the landscape swoop in to help from a place of ignorance?
posted by qbject at 11:56 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, I totally believe people are just this idiotic and the human brain is really good at convincing us we are 100% RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT even when we are WRONG WRONG WRONG. Confirmation bias, motivated reasoning and the backfire effect. Can get anyone believing crap that is 180 degrees from true or in their own interest. And I would guess not being someone who spends much time on the internet just makes someone more susceptible to those traps.
posted by threeturtles at 11:58 PM on April 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


(That's my wishful thinking, that Candace Owens is cleverer than she seems.)
posted by qbject at 11:59 PM on April 19, 2016


I love that she says she's been invited to give a TEDX talk. Like, I both completely believe it to be possible, because fuck TEDX, and I simultaneously completely believe that she could have made that up from whole cloth (and possibly believe herself), because she seems that delusional/stupid. Talk about deserving each other.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:19 AM on April 20, 2016


I mean, TEDx events are organized by any random organization that feels like trading on the TED brand name, and talks under that banner have included such highlights as the guy whose talk consisted entirely of instructions to save paper when washing your hands by shaking the water off your hands before you grab the paper towels, and that if you fold the paper towel you can get better absorption. TED is odious but at least is a single organization that can have some standards for who it puts up. Bragging about a TEDx talk is a special thing.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:29 AM on April 20, 2016 [12 favorites]


“The word dox is being thrown around — [I] had never heard it, people had seen our campaign, we worked on it for two months, people gave us feedback, we had a whole article written in the Connecticut Post on the front page”

“What blogger has an interest in this all the way in the United Kingdom, talking trash about us? It makes no sense.”


Is there an online category for the Darwin Award?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:55 AM on April 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


TEDx...talks under that banner have included such highlights as the guy whose talk consisted entirely of instructions to save paper when washing your hands by shaking the water off your hands before you grab the paper towels, and that if you fold the paper towel you can get better absorption.

I saw that talk ages ago and have dried my hands that way ever since. Folded paper towels work far better than you might expect. Seriously, try it, save some trees.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:32 AM on April 20, 2016 [24 favorites]


The first time a news article said that maybe this wasn't a hot idea was March 12 (!!!!)
Stamford Advocate
posted by Yowser at 1:39 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, and one more thing..

Is anyone having a headache trying to piece together whether she's consistent about where she says she graduated from University, or where her office is? I'm not writing this stuff down, but it feels like every article is a bit different.
posted by Yowser at 1:47 AM on April 20, 2016


Well intentioned people do a number of incredibly dumb shit all the time, particularly if they live in a bubble and consider their experience universal in solving all the worlds' problems. Wondering what are the odds she has a picture of St. Bono of the Poor Helpless Africans in her wallet.

Also wouldn't rule out that she tried to reach out before starting, and got some "quality" advice from you-know-who.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:22 AM on April 20, 2016


Yeah, not to derail too much, but the Hands Drying talk is actually super good. I've done the 10x shake and folding thing ever since too.

Anyway, I bet it's not a fake. She's just pretty well off, and hasn't been asked to consider that some problems are really complex before. Probably chose cyberbullying as a cause almost by accident, and didn't do any research before throwing out an idea. That's cool. She's young. Just unfortunate to have chosen a cause where there are real assholes waiting for someone foolish enough to be swayed. I imagine she'll look at this in a few years and be horrified at herself.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 3:25 AM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


There but for the grace of (luck?) go I.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:48 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


The other thing is, the first time she actually got this going with CHILDREN, presumably through a school or sports team, parents would have flipped the fuck out. A lot of schools would have said, "Wow, this is a terrifically bad idea and probably illegal in our jurisdiction" but some dumb school would have gotten involved and reaped the whirlwind of parental rage and unnecessary liability and probably set themselves up to be prosecuted for cyberbullying (in my state). Any child USING this website to report classmates is definitely facing a cyberbullying charge and likely expulsion from school.

I mean, she dislikes cyberbullying advocates telling her it's a bad idea? Wait until the fury of parents, with the law on their side, descends in her hairbrained scheme to "teach" children to behave better online through illegal harassment.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:16 AM on April 20, 2016 [23 favorites]


I can see this person and her reactions as being real, as astounding as it is. I've had to learn to work for someone who frequently displays these sorts of patterns. Reading this made me think of her.

She knows best, no matter what it is. This includes knowing how the internet and computer systems work. When faced with being told she's wrong or that it's not quite what she thinks there is very little chance of getting through. She won't listen and even when she does appear to be listening I've learned that my words just get translated into what she is already thinking. At times I've felt like I must just be talking a different language because it's just so bizzare trying to figure out how she got from me talking about apples to her thinking I was talking about horses. For a time I thought it must be a communication problem on my end. I tried many different strategies. I asked other trusted co-workers if they thought perhaps I wasn't being clear. Drove myself bonky for a time because of it. But nope nothing worked.

She's well educated, has years of experience in her particular field and is quite good at those parts of her job related to that. She considers herself to be very smart and over the years has made it quite clear in a number of ways that she considers herself the smartest person in the room no matter what is going on and being considered.

And yeah, the pattern of doubling down on the 'wrong' about things and digging in is there as well, including coming up with all sorts scenarios of what other people must be doing or thinking so that the scenario of her being in the 'right' can stay intact. It's always other people doing things to thwart her, or are incompetent, or don't have clue how the real world works due to their inferior abilities and education etc.

It's infuriating at times but I've learned to work with it because I don't have a choice. We all have learned to work around it. Unfortunately this has led to is her working within what is really a bubble of her own making and we only enter that bubble if it is absolutely necessary. What she 'sees' going on around her at times is so different then what everyone else is seeing. It can be really weird.

We also have learn to just shrug, shake our heads and weather the inevitable storms that happen when bubble world collides with actual world.
posted by Jalliah at 4:59 AM on April 20, 2016 [27 favorites]


Also wouldn't rule out that she tried to reach out before starting, and got some "quality" advice from you-know-who.

Actually, this would explain why she's so convinced she can solve this muggle problem while simultaneously lacking basic knowledge about how non-wizards live.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:25 AM on April 20, 2016 [21 favorites]


The hand drying TEDX talk is full of useful information, I am not sure why that would be used as an example of tomfoolery. Not only do I shake my hands before drying them, I shake my entire body when I get out of the bath or shower, it really cuts down on drying time.

OT Owen is not showing herself in the best light, maybe she will find the time to step back from this and reappraise. I hope she does, because her behaviour so far has been pretty pathological.
posted by asok at 5:59 AM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


The more I read about GG and anti-GG, the more it confirms that both groups are filled with toxic, crazy people.

I really wish people would stop making these false equivalences. Whether you know it or not, you're parroting the GG line by making "anti-GG" (such as it is) an equal and opposite reaction. GG is built on and continues to encourage lying about women and minorities to make them somehow culpable for the attacks they're getting from GG itself. Their supposedly-friendly public face on Reddit is pretty much Breitbart central when they're not still making misogynist memes about Quinn, Harper, Sarkeesian, etc. They're still the stormtroopers for the Sad/Rabid Puppy movement and other excuses for bigots to complain about being oppressed by eeeeevil "SJWs." There is nothing even remotely close to how extensive and most importantly hateful the efforts of GG are. The only thing that I can come up with that matches the level of effort of GG's constant campaigns is the actual anti-harassment and bullying campaigns of orgs like Crash Override, which seem to be effective and objectively awesome improvements on the situation. Unless, of course, you believe that Twitter block lists and trying to work with law enforcement to improve recognition of threats and cut down on stuff like SWATting are out-of-proportion PC madness.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:04 AM on April 20, 2016 [68 favorites]


(Can someone link to the hand-drying talk already? I need to know!)
posted by leahwrenn at 6:28 AM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]




If shake-and-fold guy turns out to be a GG sympathizer, I'm going to lose hope for humanity. Notch was already enough of a disappointment there.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:50 AM on April 20, 2016 [14 favorites]


Wow. That'll teach me to read the articles. I assumed she suffered some research failure, perhaps not looking it up on Wikipedia. Because the Wiki article was perfected. To cherry-pick the first two paragraphs: GamerGate concerned a sexist harassment campaign, starting on Zoe Quinn, involving doxing, threats of rape, death threats, and social media.

Then Candace Owens blog says she thought it meant "the national press" bore responsibility. Sigh.

I don't think the information is hard to establish. Certainly not with that level of education. (While I remain puzzled as to how one would run a certain lesson plan from Google, which asked school students to determine the truth about tree octopuses and Golf Cross). It's not particularly obscure; media reporting is pretty aligned and unaffected by extremist opinions.

It's just that the spirit of GG still lives on, continuing with tactics and recruiting. We can't assume it away. The movement always gathered "useful idiots"; that's practically how it was founded. Clearly the tactics must still work on some people. If you're susceptible, somewhat oblivious to history... Irony strikes.
posted by sourcejedi at 6:51 AM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


What I think Candice Owens and the entire Social Autopsy debacle is revealing is just how divorced most people who don't live in this space are from the reality of online harassment. Others have brought up in the thread about how the "cyber-bullying" narrative is often about tweens being mean to each other on Facebook. This is a real thing---but it's a digital extension of playground and schoolyard bullying.

Cyber-bullying is a subset of the bigger issue of online harassment. And for most people, the idea of online harassment gets caught up in the idea of "online" being a space apart from the real world. The attitude is: "Oh, someone's sending you nasty-grams? Just turn off the computer and go get some fresh air, you silly. Why are you so caught up in this computer stuff anyway?"

Let's assume that Candice Owens went into this with good intentions and a lot of ignorance*. If she has not been living in public online, instead focusing on "helping Syrian children" or whatever, it makes complete sense that she wouldn't know what the hell is going on outside of the media narrative From this angle, Social Autopsy... is still a really stupid idea, but it makes slightly more sense. And, I'll go out on a limb here, and say that it's clear she hasn't been doing much living in public online, because as a woman of color, she would have had a giant target on her back for every racist, sexist douchebag with a Twitter account and a grudge.

*And I'm not entirely sure this is the case. She might not have known what GamerGate is, but I can't know if her intentions are good. Something's not adding up, but I'm hard-pressed to solve for x here.
posted by SansPoint at 7:02 AM on April 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


Every term I ask my university students if they've heard of GamerGate. Only a quarter have. Every term. Since it began. And these are technology and society courses.
posted by k8t at 7:11 AM on April 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Right, but are those three-quarters of your students in the society/tech courses who've never heard about GamerGate trying to stop online bullying and harassment?

Most people I speak with have never heard of ansible, but then again, I'm not expecting them to start working on server deploy scripts. It seems to me if you're going to try to solve a problem with technology you should at least do some research.
posted by qcubed at 7:14 AM on April 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


Something's not adding up, but I'm hard-pressed to solve for x here.

It may be as simple as Owen deciding that combating cyberbullying was going to be her brand, and that when she was contacted by Quinn and Harper, she slotted them into the role of competitors, somehow. I think that there's an important clue in her identifying John Mackey as her "idol" (in her blog post); that would be the same Mackey who was against the Affordable Care Act and vigorously employed sock puppets against a competitor/eventual acquisition.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:31 AM on April 20, 2016 [16 favorites]


Halloween Jack: That makes sense to me.
posted by SansPoint at 7:33 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is ripping the shit out of Owen here — she's an actual living, breathing, feeling PoC, y'know? — not a form of bullying itself? Some of the things said in this thread are really horrible, and I really hope Owen doesn't read it. This thread does not make MeFi look good at all.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:34 AM on April 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


I completely disagree fff, this thread has been more than polite, given the sheer bullheaded insanity displayed by Ms Owens.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:47 AM on April 20, 2016 [18 favorites]



Is ripping the shit out of Owen here — she's an actual living, breathing, feeling PoC, y'know? — not a form of bullying itself


Unless ignorance, conspiratorial swivel-eyed ranting and more ignorance are immutable traits, then no.

Let's not define bigotry and bullying down to "people didn't suffer a fool patiently."
posted by turntraitor at 7:49 AM on April 20, 2016 [27 favorites]


Yeah what are you talking about, specifically, fff?
posted by defenestration at 7:51 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Being PoC does not protect you from criticism when you do really shitty things.

Or, in other words, the race card isn't a get out of jail free card, and it's silly to try and use that here.

I'd argue her behavior, which includes buying into conspiracy nonsense, doubling down instead of recognizing error, and denying reality doesn't make her look good at all.
posted by qcubed at 7:51 AM on April 20, 2016 [23 favorites]


Is ripping the shit out of Owen here — she's an actual living, breathing, feeling PoC, y'know? — not a form of bullying itself? . . . I really hope Owen doesn't read [this thread]

I don't think it could count as bullying if she's not even aware of it.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 7:56 AM on April 20, 2016


She's been attacking two women, and accusing them of nonsensical conspiracies that come only from her own self-chosen ignorance. Two women who have had more than enough shit thrown at them the last couple of years, to the point I am astonished that they have the strength to continue to engage with the world. And you think this gentle, tolerant thread is *bullying her*? Screw that.
posted by tavella at 8:00 AM on April 20, 2016 [29 favorites]


I mean, I don't think it'd count as bullying if she were, either -- no one here is harassing, threatening, or intimidating her.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:00 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't think it could count as bullying if she's not even aware of it.

I disagree on this point. If the behavior were bullying, which I don't think this thread is, the awareness of the victim doesn't seem to negate it or turn it into something it's not.

Is Encyclopedia Dr*matic* not bullying simply because not everyone targeted for abuse by those folks are necessarily aware of it? I think that abusively shit-talking in public, where anyone googling themselves could discover it, probably amounts to bullying in this day and age.
posted by turntraitor at 8:00 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


So it's like a Schroedinger's Bully kind of thing, where we're all simultaneously being bullied and not-bullied until we self-google and the wavefunction collapses?
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:06 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


There are lots of kinds of harassment that aren't intended to be seen by their victims--for example, excessive letters and phone calls to the victims' employers.

In fact, that's one of the big things that Owens misunderstood about online harassment. That was part of Harper's point--that well-meaning individuals can be manipulated into being harassers in the aggregate, and that Social Autopsy would be a great tool for those manipulators.

And yes, Owens knows about this thread because of course Owens knows about this thread.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:15 AM on April 20, 2016 [12 favorites]


I dunno, I feel a lot of sympathy for her experience of bullying but I also think that you can be a woman of color, a victim of bullying and a typical bright/arrogant/brand-focused start-up type at the same time. As I know from having been both kind of annoying and severely, devastatingly bullied, being victimized by terrible people can coexist with having some genuine character flaws.

On a personal level, I have to wonder how much of her "we're going to document what kids say and maybe that will make them think twice before pushing enter" thing is about unprocessed anger. It's a lot easier for me to understand how she'd miss the fairly obvious flaws in the idea if I assume that she's sort of cathected onto it out of her own pain, and that certainly makes her response to Quinn, etc, much more comprehensible. I know I have certainly struggled with anger at the people who bullied me and the system that allowed it to happen, and that has driven some bad decisions on my part. If Owens has a lot of emotional tangle around this whole thing ("I will protect kids as I was not protected, and I will punish abusers to make up for the fact that my abusers weren't punished") that makes everything make more sense.

But that doesn't mean "let's set up a doxxing project" is a good idea, or that the pushback is wrong.
posted by Frowner at 8:17 AM on April 20, 2016 [19 favorites]


I didn't really need to go to the washroom but you people got me all fired up to try shake and fold.

Trip report: It works.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:18 AM on April 20, 2016 [20 favorites]


Also, the whole thing feels like it's about a person who is very alone. Like, it would be difficult for me to mobilize this type of terrible idea effectively because my social network would be all "OMG that's a bad plan" - even people who don't know about GamerGate. And her immediate "Quinn et al are bad actors and/or competitors" thing feels like it could easily be the thought process of someone who is basically alone, and who doesn't have a lot of experience of having people around who have her back.

This whole thing makes me wonder about her teens - obviously, she had that horrible phone threat incident, but it would astonish me if that came out of the blue, and I would much more expect it to follow on years of minor but pervasive harassment. You could easily see a high-achieving, driven girl who was in a miserable school situation and as a result didn't have a lot of close friends, or had an equivocal social position despite her achievements.
posted by Frowner at 8:28 AM on April 20, 2016 [22 favorites]


Frowner: You're on to something. As a bullying victim, myself, I can see the logic behind "Let's show the world what these horrible people are doing!" And I've also learned from experience that it's often about as effective as pissing into the ocean.

(Seriously, I remember being bullied right in front of teachers and summer camp councilors and then being blamed for it.)

The only two things that worked for me were leaving the school where all this was happening, and punching the lead summer camp bully in the nose. Neither are valid options in the case of online abuse, of course.

So, in a sense, "LET'S SHOW THE WORLD!" is a rational idea when you have no sense of other options. It's clear with Owens's non-technical background, she doesn't know of anything else. And her reaction to people who know more telling her about the flaws is, well, about what you'd expect from someone committed to an idea in the way she is.
posted by SansPoint at 8:38 AM on April 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


"My boyfriend caught wind of a post from
The Ralph Retort, that he labeled “fair”, which was a breath of fresh air from the vermin-like journalistic endeavors that we had seen being exercised thus far."


The boyfriend angle is weird. Maybe I should go read the whole post, but it sounds like maybe she's a well-intentioned person whose peer-group fell down the GG rathole and intentionally or unintentionally gave her bad advice when she was getting this thing started?

If it was a deliberate op, we'd know about it, because GG plans all their ops in the open and just counts on people not to notice or remember.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:39 AM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think it might be a little gross to be chalking up this woman's poor decisions on her inability to deal with her emotions, but yeah, I can totally see a narrative where everything that happened surrounding the bullying that she experienced in high school informed if not the pre-kickstarter bad decisions, then the bad decisions post phone conversation with Zoe.

I mean, by reporting what was happening to her, Owens made the mayor of the damn town look bad. There's no way that she didn't experience a ton of blowback locally from that. And the thing is, she did the right thing in reporting back then. So now, she comes up with this idea, and starts to get blowback from it. She's learned that she's going to get blowback, even when she's right about things. So she doesn't back down, and crafts a narrative wherein the people who are against her vision are just as bad as the people who harassed her way back when.

Combine that with jumping into GG midstream and seeing the smear campaign against the Zoe et al. (without necessarily having enough knowledge of the right places on the internet to look for primary sources that explain the origin and motivations behind the smear campaign*), and yeah, it's not a huge step to see Zoe and Randi as evil.

*Wikipedia, or other major news sources wouldn't be trusted sources here, because part of the smear campaign involves discrediting those sources right out of the gate -- it's not dissimilar to the alt-right/dark cathedral stuff that's also getting discussed around here.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:50 AM on April 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


I think it might be a little gross to be chalking up this woman's poor decisions on her inability to deal with her emotions

I mean, yeah, normally I would not go there - but the whole thing is so baffling, and the other explanations are kind of unattractive. Whereas "person has painful experience, makes mistakes while trying to deal with helping others with painful experience, explosions ensue" is relatively sympathetic.
posted by Frowner at 8:57 AM on April 20, 2016 [14 favorites]


The boyfriend angle is weird.

Her boyfriend definitely seems like a piece of work. I found this while ill-advisedly reading her opinions about #freekesha:
He said;

“It’s difficult not to be sexist toward women when 9 times out of 10, when situations like this arise, they ‘PMS’. – I’m kidding with that term, but what I mean to say is that they simply fulfill the notion that they aren’t capable of thinking rationally, which is exactly what top-level management, at high corporations are supposed to do. For some reason, women struggle with it”

I want every women who felt angry as they read those words to take a second, and think rationally. Lay down your pitchforks, and really think about the implications of that statement, upon which I could quite possibly pen a novel.

Because he’s right.
This is on top of the stuff in her blog post alluding to Zoe Quinn's "hysteria." I'm starting to feel like this isn't just the case of someone feeling very strongly about her anti-bullying project.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:30 AM on April 20, 2016 [36 favorites]


It's getting clearer why the support from Ralph Retort and Breitbart doesn't seem to bother her.

If this is what she thinks of women, she's part of the problem and will really just help multiply the harassment problem with her project.
posted by qcubed at 9:33 AM on April 20, 2016 [12 favorites]


sparklemotion: Jeezis. I officially want to climb way the hell out of this rabbit hole and run screaming for the hills.
posted by SansPoint at 9:35 AM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


There's also this lovely piece about how women who care about abortion rights are just whiners who should be grateful they aren't being raped by ISIS.

She's a real treasure, this one.
posted by tavella at 9:39 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just so we are clear, the reproductive rights piece was not written by Owens, but by Sam Mire. Who appears to be the only male presenting person on the Degree180 writing team.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:59 AM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


She's owner of the site and presumably has some approval of the site content.
posted by qcubed at 10:10 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, absolutely. It's just that it's a common tactic amongst the GG types to nitpick anything that anyone says that disapproves of them and harp on every last inaccuracy. So, I tend to be a stickler, even for the forces of good.

I think that the entire Degree 180 team is worthy of some serious side-eye, regardless of their role on the site, if they are letting their words be associated with this kind of nonsense.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:20 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I was also poking around on the blog and found this about how she "fucking hates feminism for the sake of feminism."

Her attitude makes her misuse of the English language (English major, really?) harder to forgive. From the Kesha story: "Because the court case that Kesha was going through for the last year and a half did not disturb or illicit the support of any person in the entire world until this picture hit the mainstreams."

It's a long sentence fragment rather than a sentence, she uses "illicit" for "elicit," and "mainstreams" instead of "mainstream." As an adjunct, I had students like this. They had been told all their lives they were great and given good grades, and when they found themselves in my English 101 class I had to work around their very hurt feelings in order to teach them how to write in their native language. They showed the same hubris and lack of humility that Candace does, whether about their writing or any other aspect of their lives. They seemed to feel entitled to an A because they were paying tuition.

It sucks that she was bullied. I was bullied, so I understand the trauma and the desire to make something good out of that trauma so it won't seem like all your pain was a waste of time and a meaningless depletion of your spirit.

But there is a thread running through her writings that equates emotions with weakness and caters to sexist beliefs like her boyfriend's. I have always understood such attitudes to be a survival facade people put on to make it in the kyriarchy. That's probably why she doesn't mind the support of The Ralph Retort and Breitbart. So much financial and social capital is tied up in these libertarian-steeped circles that you can believe that if they support you, it legitimizes your position, makes you edgy (see Camille Paglia), and means you are "the cool girl."
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 10:26 AM on April 20, 2016 [28 favorites]


I'm not sure that doing a bunch of background research on someone while discussing the evils of docung makes a lot of sense, but all of this is really adding to my feeling that there's some kind of fakery going on.
posted by Artw at 10:43 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


She's positioning herself to be the alt-right token successful black woman.
posted by Yowser at 10:45 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Feels like it. I certainly no longer believe she casually wandered into this with good intent.
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've suspected that she is politically right-leaning based on her seeming thought processes and her willingness to take really doubtful sources seriously. These bits about her attitudes towards women and feminism line up with my gut on that.
posted by threeturtles at 11:03 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's a degree of internet soothsaying that comes into all this that I'm kinda inclined to avoid digging in on; all else aside, Hanlon's Razor is reason enough to not get overly invested in theories and speculation about someone whose defining action right now is basically over-investment in theories and speculation. It's enough to just look at the larger situation and say, man, this is all kinda fucked and she's not navigating it well.
posted by cortex at 11:08 AM on April 20, 2016 [20 favorites]


I just finished reading the Randi Lee Harper open letter on Medium, having read the main article and Owen's blog post and am torn and somewhat amused over Owen's own statements of her writing ability. Yeah, the Medium post is course in places- that was obviously the intent. But that's how you write. The little flourishes to try and build imagery in Owen's post are so "trying to damn hard" and "creative writing 101" that scream amateur hour. I know this is really nit-picky, but Owen goes on to talk about how poorly written Ms. Harper's post is (while simultaneously suggesting she may have only read the contextless quotes from the Ralph Retort.)

There is part of me at really wants to reach out to her Owen in some way and try to explain how completely out of her depths she is and how sh has no idea what is going on. Her blog post still doesn't seem to be able to seperate out Quinn and Harper as being opposite sides from GamerGate. And her willingness to believe the absurdist parts of GG lore - that Quinn and Harper are somehow making money by being professional, self harassing victims. The mind boggles. And so I'm left feeling that if I could just explain it... But she's already dismissed every narrative she does not like. I got the impression from some tweets that Jesse Singal tried to clarify this all already. Still the urge to try and explain one more time in one more way is a strong one.

I am vacillating between believing she is earnest and really confused, she's maybe not quite so niave but this it makes her sound more more sympathetic, and that this is down right a GG attempt at something. Maybe just griefing?

The twirling hair commentary in Owen's post spunds like shitty antiwoman writing that comes from a mysogynistic place. Maybe internalized misogyny, or maybe not?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:13 AM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


The twirling hair commentary in Owen's post spunds like shitty antiwoman writing that comes from a mysogynistic place. Maybe internalized misogyny, or maybe not?
Toxic masculinity?
posted by stannate at 11:21 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'd call a lot of her postings "toxic femininity." Randi Harper called that out in a way that needs no improvement:

Stop with the women in tech bullshit.

Do you have a technical background at all? Can you please not. Being a woman founder of a tech company isn’t easy. In fact, trying to find funding and being taken seriously as a founder in the boys club that is the tech industry is awful. Your whole “gee, I hope we don’t spend all of our KS funding on makeup, teehee, aren’t we adorable” bullshit has to go. It’s hurting the rest of us — those that are actually engineers. It’s perpetuating a stereotype. It makes you look like a fucking moron. It’s okay to be feminine and technical. It is not OK to be “girl power! just joking about misappropriating funds that I might get for my startup to get my nails done. what’s robots.txt?” Your Kickstarter made you come off like a fucking airhead. Why would anyone want to trust you with sensitive data?


I'll just leave that here.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 11:29 AM on April 20, 2016 [33 favorites]


Who runs this Tyler Clementi Foundation, an organization named after a person who paid the ultimate price for cyber bullying, but apparently doesn't employ anyone who knows anything about cyber bullying?

I was wondering what the connection was. She is not listed on the Clementi Foundation's site as working for them at all. In her blog post she says "We were networked with other anti-bullying organizations beforehand and were happy to see that the Tyler Clementi Foundation was among the first to re-tweet our Kickstarter effort that morning. I had been emailing back and forth with them, as we wanted to make sure our campaign would simultaneously provide support to their Day1 organization— myself, a huge fan of their mission."

It sounds to me like she basically just emailed them, presented herself as a fellow anti-bullying org, and got them to reTweet her campaign. So she was just using their credibility to boost herself. I'm gonna wager the Foundation didn't really know quite what the nature of her project actually was. (Or at least I'm going to hope that was the case.)
posted by dnash at 12:57 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


The hand drying TEDX talk is full of useful information, I am not sure why that would be used as an example of tomfoolery. Not only do I shake my hands before drying them, I shake my entire body when I get out of the bath or shower, it really cuts down on drying time.

Shaking is for chumps and labradors. Use the edge of your hand and squeegee the water off everywhere you can before you dry yourself. I learned about this from, of all places, a Johnny Carson routine when I was a kid. He implied it was a Navy thing (presumably to maximize recycled water but perhaps just for dealing with humid environments) and I found it very helpful in South Florida. Even now that I live where it's marginally dryer, it means a less soggy towel.

I know this is a derail but the actual situation/topic is so depressing I can't deal with it.
posted by phearlez at 1:49 PM on April 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure that doing a bunch of background research on someone while discussing the evils of docung makes a lot of sense,

The second comment in this thread is a link to her blog response to all of this. The articles that people have been linking to about; What if Kesha is lying, I'm all for feminism/I don't refer to myself as a feminist, and U.S Women Who Complain About Reproductive Freedom Could Be ISIS Sex Slaves So What Are They Complaining About, are on the front page of that same blog. I don't think that people are doing a bunch of background research, they are just looking at what she is putting out there.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:03 PM on April 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


I think Artw was suggesting that while this seems to have the whiff of fakery, searching for more details of her personal life would be engaging in behavior that is associated with bullies.

(Correct me if I'm wrong, please!)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:22 PM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think I'd be unhappy right now if I was these folks, who have an unrelated thing also called social autopsy that seems decent (building social skills for people with autism).
posted by eviemath at 3:00 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Right, if we were to dig up her personal info, that would be doxxing and bullying. But her blog is meant to be read and it provides insight into her thinking.

I don't think she's faking. After all, there are news articles about her episode of being bullied. It really happened. But it might be that she has made friends with some right-wingers who are encouraging her to be the public face of this new twist in the GG saga and may have helped orchestrate it. Conservatives chose Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate for that reason--to prove the right wing isn't sexist and that we don't need feminism at the same time.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 3:01 PM on April 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


The more apt comparison is probably to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
posted by eviemath at 3:03 PM on April 20, 2016


I can understand wanting to be cautious about that temptation of, "Now that this person is on our radar, let's all see what are the worst garbage opinions she has," because do I need to know this or is it just prurient interest? How do we ensure we're not contributing to some kind of piling-on?
posted by RobotHero at 3:26 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


[Yeah, couple comments removed, let's skip the roundup of links to gross sites.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:40 PM on April 20, 2016


I should have just described it; apologies. For a second and hopefully better attempt: it appears that GG already had Owens' idea, except their definition of the bad guys is their list of SJWs, rather than Owens' definition of bullies (and it appears to be purely a, uh, to be polite, let's say passion project, on their end, rather than a money-making venture). The parallels include: an anonymous submission form, similar information intended to be collected, review and oversight only by the site owner with little description of criteria (though we can probably make informed guesses in this case), doxing. Owens is on their list. It really aptly illustrates some of the central problems with her idea; though most of you already figured those problems out for yourselves and don't need the illustration.
posted by eviemath at 3:49 PM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]








"I do not yet have the facts to make that hypothesis a thesis. But I am 100 percent working on it."

Ugh, which sounds a lot like her giving into the same temptation that Artw and I were advising to be cautious about. She's going to try to dig up dirt on them.

I guess the consolation to Quinn and Harper is this is another thing she'll do under the assumption that nobody has ever tried before.
posted by RobotHero at 5:57 PM on April 20, 2016


That kind of digging can absolutely stray into the territory of shitty harassment, not that I'm suggesting anyone here is going to those lengths.
posted by Artw at 6:08 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


@socialcoroner: "I am having a lawyer look into whether or not my private email was intentionally leaked."

Seriously? Lady, you are trying to start a doxxing website.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:19 PM on April 20, 2016 [21 favorites]


The industrial rock outfit Social Autopsy seems to be having a bit of a hard time.

I dunno, they seem to be handling the publicity well enough. I'm currently listening to their teaser on Bandcamp. Admittedly, it's a work in progress, and it has a few decent moments but the song writing seems weak to me.
posted by suetanvil at 6:38 PM on April 20, 2016


I dunno, they seem to be handling the publicity well enough.

Sure, but their mentions are terrible. It'll blow over, but still...
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:41 PM on April 20, 2016


I'm presuming Mike Cernovich has already offered his services as garbage pretend lawyer?
posted by Artw at 6:41 PM on April 20, 2016


I'm presuming Mike Cernovich has already offered his services as garbage pretend lawyer?

Well, she's shopping her story to Breitbart now, so it won't be long.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:48 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Kind of surprised at her needing to ask.
posted by Artw at 6:55 PM on April 20, 2016


I could have been nicer, but I was pissed. (Also, I just want to point out , the conversation everywhere wouldn't be quite so much about tone if we were all dudes. Not that it's not a valid point, just an observation.) It's not the first time I had talked to her, and it was just after she'd talked to Zoe and then leaked the contents of that call online.

I chatter on Twitter a lot, but there's not really any content about the stuff that I'm working on with other people. This is deliberate. Our sector is so privacy-conscious. No one can even know who we are talking to, because those people then get hit by email campaigns and harassment, and the best way to get things done is for no one to see you coming. The need for privacy of communications is just kind of known and accepted. I was bewildered when she started posting to Twitter with the GamerGate hashtag, talking about how Zoe cried on the phone with her. We contacted her as a courtesy after seeing the post on GamerGate's subreddit, KotakuInAction, hoping to get her to understand how her product would be misused. Vengeance doesn't stop online harassment; it fuels it.

Whelp. This is where we are now. We apparently run GamerGate. So, now that I've got a few thousand minions, I'm just going to lease them out on mechanical turk. Seems the reasonable thing to do.
posted by freebsdgirl at 7:10 PM on April 20, 2016 [75 favorites]


I could have been nicer, but I was pissed.

Hey freebsdgirl! Welcome back.

I don't know, I think your letter was fine. She really is a clueless oblivious idiot, and I don't think calling her out as such - even bluntly - was unjustified. She seems determined to take every little thing as evidence of her claimed conspiracy. Even if you had been exceedingly polite, I don't think it would have changed anything.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:17 PM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not directly on topic, but:

I haven't read Kotaku in a long, long time, but when I did read it I was seeing a big uptick in socially conscious, SJW-type posts. At the same time, it wasn't totally SJW by any means, so you still had "hot cosplay chick" galleries. In other words, it was in the state where a GamerGater could look at it and say "what is this politically-correct shit" and an anti-GGer could look at it and say "what is this misogynist shit".

Okay, so because of that, I've never really been able to parse "KotakuInAction". I can think of two completely opposite ways to interpret it: "We are the people of Kotaku, and we are taking action!" (i.e. pride in Kotaku) and "Look at the dumb shit Kotaku says!" (i.e. ridicule of Kotaku). Which (generally) is it, or is it neither of the above?
posted by Bugbread at 7:28 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Which (generally) is it, or is it neither of the above?

It's ridicule of Kotaku, because they perceive it as 'SJW' friendly and they are bad at naming things and also at life in general.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:32 PM on April 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


Bugbread: "Okay, so because of that, I've never really been able to parse "KotakuInAction"."

A bit more Reddit context: KotauInAction adopted the "InAction" suffix from a pre-existing subreddit, "TumblrInAction", which was (and probably still is, I haven't checked for myself recently) primarily focused on mocking/hating "SJW" stuff from Tumblr. Which, of course, lays bare the lie that GG was ever about ethics in games journalism.
posted by mhum at 7:55 PM on April 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


Tangential but timely - some interesting thoughts from Zoe Quinn: Be A Better Bystander: How Third Parties Can Help Targets Of Online Abuse.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:44 PM on April 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


I get the impression from her blog post that Candace Owen had vaguely heard that cyberbulling exists and decided that, as a super-smart Wall Street person, she was just the sort of person to solve it.

Owen’s Wall-Street creds seem to be rather ambiguous. Going by this friendly article on the founding of Social Autopsy, she was very happy to name-drop an internship at Vogue and founding her current website, but only describes her time in NYC as a “high-paying finance job”; she similarly doesn’t mention any particular firm in her blog post on the Kickstarter, which would be a fine place to establish her bonafides. Something smells off.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:23 AM on April 21, 2016


Going by this friendly article on the founding of Social Autopsy, she was very happy to name-drop an internship at Vogue and founding her current website, but only describes her time in NYC as a “high-paying finance job”; she similarly doesn’t mention any particular firm in her blog post on the Kickstarter, which would be a fine place to establish her bonafides. Something smells off.

She's on LinkedIn. I won't link it here. She worked in what seems to be a small boutique outfit doing 'capital and advisory services', with the job title 'VP Admin', which from the job description I think translates to 'office manager/sole HR person'.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:38 AM on April 21, 2016


That sounds about right; I feel weird coming to the defense of big business, but darn it, I expect people from that world to have the ability to distinguish the Ralph Retort from an authoritative new source - or to at least have the common sense to know they shouldn’t talk about the Ralph Retort like it has any sort of authority.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:58 AM on April 21, 2016


Also, this sentence in the blog post made me lose my dang mind:

Ever the perfectionist, doubt had begun to rear it’s ugly head.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:59 AM on April 21, 2016 [25 favorites]


I expect people from that world to have the ability to distinguish the Ralph Retort from an authoritative new source - or to at least have the common sense to know they shouldn’t talk about the Ralph Retort like it has any sort of authority.

I don't think she's interested in authority. I think she's looking for validation, and if she can't get it from New York Magazine, she's happy to go to the other side of the spectrum where they're less picky about things like 'facts' and 'evidence' and 'defamation'.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:04 AM on April 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


It's not the displaced Syrians she's passionate about.

I really should not have looked at her Twitter feed first thing this morning, but apparently she's now made that completely clear. When asked, "Think a VC would care about your Syrian story?", she responded with:
Again, come out from the box sweethearts. There is a tight-knit group of wealthy Syrian Jews in Manhattan. They care
posted by Sequence at 5:08 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the implication. Is it that she's only worried about Jewish Syrians? Is that code for being pro-Assad? I really don't know, but it seems like I'm missing something.
posted by OmieWise at 5:12 AM on April 21, 2016


Is that some kind of Stormfront dogwhistling? Sounds like some kind of dogwhistle. I don't even fucking know any more.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:43 AM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


She's implying the wealthy Syrians are going to fund her, making her statement about volunteering for Syrian refugees sound as hollow as a Sorority Or Fraternity member's volunteerism.
posted by Yowser at 5:51 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Her recent tweets are about how nobody who ever gets off the internet knows what Gamergate is, which is pretty pathetic.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:55 AM on April 21, 2016


She's implying the wealthy Syrians are going to fund her, making her statement about volunteering for Syrian refugees sound as hollow as a Sorority Or Fraternity member's volunteerism.

Well, I guess that's one reading. I still feel like I'm missing something. Sequence's comment seemed more outraged/disgusted then just a response to her claim to have a funding source.
posted by OmieWise at 5:57 AM on April 21, 2016


She's implying the wealthy Syrians are going to fund her, making her statement about volunteering for Syrian refugees sound as hollow as a Sorority Or Fraternity member's volunteerism.

No, she was responding to a specific claim that rich people don't care about refugees. This one.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:03 AM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Stormfront parts of GG love to claim that Quinn/Sarkeesian/SJWs in general are all funded by Jewish bankers, which is why it sounds like a dogwhistle to me.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:04 AM on April 21, 2016


I think the discussion chain goes:

Twitter user: People can be rude in real life, too. VCs wouldn't care about your Syrian work, and would probably be rude about it.

Social Autopsy: You know nothing about the real world, unlike me. I wouldn't even care what VCs care, there are wealthy Syrian Jews right now that care about my work.

Basically, it's a Canadian boyfriend / my uncle works for Nintendo comment.
posted by Bugbread at 6:14 AM on April 21, 2016


I'm just basing that on this tweet, which I guess wasn't posted?
posted by Yowser at 6:14 AM on April 21, 2016



The Stormfront parts of GG love to claim that Quinn/Sarkeesian/SJWs in general are all funded by Jewish bankers, which is why it sounds like a dogwhistle to me.

What's a dogwhistle? I don't have time to know what dogs are, I was saving kidnapped orphans for the entirety of the past two years and research is for dweebs. Whistles are so small in comparison to the rest of the world. Have you ever left your bedroom? I met a Syrian once.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:15 AM on April 21, 2016 [23 favorites]


Sometimes a Syrian Jew is just a Syrian Jew.
posted by Bugbread at 6:18 AM on April 21, 2016


Her recent tweets are about how nobody who ever gets off the internet knows what Gamergate is, which is pretty pathetic.

After it's been pointed out that you've publicly embarrassed yourself by spouting off from a position of total ignorance while believing you're well informed, pretty much the last retort you'll have in your arsenal is "I didn't know about this because I have a life and am not a loser, unlike SOME PEOPLE."

It's the Hail Mary of trying to save face, right? I'm not dumb for not knowing about this thing I got caught pretending to be an expert about, YOU'RE dumb because you know more about it than me. Get a life, nerd!

It's such a part of the public self-humiliation pantomime playbook that it was the single least surprising thing to me about this whole story, and one that I have a ton of sympathy with, because hoo boy have I been that guy on a way less public scale.

However, it's pretty weird to proudly declare that you don't know much about online abuse when you are trying to set up a nonprofit to fight online abuse and want people to give you money to do so. It's like if I were trying to crowdfund a new car and was all like "I didn't know the wheels weren't supposed to be hexagonal, I HAVE A LIFE OTHER THAN CARS, YOU LOSERS, LIKE PARTYING WITH SYRIAN JEWS TO RAISE...AWARENESS, I GUESS." That would look like total amateur-hour bullshit to anyone with a middle school education.

And that's the part where she burns up all that sympathy I started out having for her. Between that and the Breitbart stuff and the awareness-raising party for rich Syrian Jews or whatever, this smells like a woman who's trying to punch above her weight class. She wants to be wealthy and important in a way that makes her look like a hero who's changing the world. Not because she wants to make it better, but because she wants to leave a mark that says "I was here and I was important." Which is a kind of emotional vandalism.

So I'm left with one last shred of sympathy for her, and it's this: She's not gonna learn a goddamn thing from this. She's going to double down and live the life of a resentful victim of an imagined mean-jerk conspiracy, and odds are good she'll die that way. I really really hope I'm wrong there.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:27 AM on April 21, 2016 [17 favorites]


Ugh, which sounds a lot like her giving into the same temptation that Artw and I were advising to be cautious about. She's going to try to dig up dirt on them.

Well lucky for her, some enterprising young gamers have assembled a handy dossier on them!
Yessir, no need to look elsewhere, all of their most scathing words strung together to show how, truly, these are the two folk demons out to destroy gaming, feminism, truth, everything.
posted by Theta States at 6:50 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Her recent tweets are about how nobody who ever gets off the internet knows what Gamergate is, which is pretty pathetic.

Meh, I think maybe the MeFi audience here could overestimate the general public's knowledge of GG. I would wager that if I polled my friends, "what is GamerGate?" I would probably get a couple vague "oh that's that thing where..," a lot of "I don't knows," and very few sure, clear answers. Because a lot of my real life friends don't do Twitter, they don't do MeFi, they don't do Reddit. They mostly share with each other on Facebook and follow a couple prominent gay bloggers to keep up on LGBT issues. It just strikes me as very easy to not know what GG is. (Pretty sure I wouldn't know it myself without MeFi, and that I started following Chris Kluwe on Twitter after he got fired for supporting gay rights.)

That said, of course, trying to do what she claims to be trying to do, and not somehow doing research into the subject matter and therefore discovering GG and learning all about it - that is pathetic, and that's what undermines her entire position.

She wants to be wealthy and important in a way that makes her look like a hero who's changing the world. Not because she wants to make it better, but because she wants to leave a mark that says "I was here and I was important." Which is a kind of emotional vandalism.

I find myself linking this to the recent posts about "Helena", Theranos, and the "Peeple" thing from back in the fall. As a culture we seem to have fallen in love with a narrative of "scrappy young person barely out of college uses the Internet to change the world!" Because the tools to make the appearance of a flashy thing are so easy - making a website is easy, making it slick looking gets easier every day, gaining social media "followers" is easy ... I'm going to sound like the old man for a second and say that when I was just out of college, just over 20 years ago - there was no thought that a 26 year old could be the head of a truly important company/enterprise. Like, maybe there were some rare ones but the general life path expected by the culture was that your 20s were for paying your dues and getting life/job experience before you got to doing something actually big and great. But now the media just loves to push stories of "hey look what this kid/college dropout did just with a website!" There's this idea now that "hey, your experience level doesn't matter anymore! Got a big idea? Just build a blog, gather some Instagram followers and promote yourself and your idea into fame and fortune!"

I mean, I guess it's good that the Internet seems able to smack a lot of these bad ideas down, but it's sad in a case like this to see someone who's heart seems probably in a decent place turn into a tool of evil through her own stupidity. How about less rush for the next killer app, and a little less "tech will fix society."
posted by dnash at 7:59 AM on April 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


That said, of course, trying to do what she claims to be trying to do, and not somehow doing research into the subject matter and therefore discovering GG and learning all about it - that is pathetic, and that's what undermines her entire position.

I think that there's a vocabulary problem going on. People who know what Gamergate is know that "Gamergate" isn't a very good term for what we're talking about. It's shorthand for a whole mess of stuff about how online harassment works in the modern world. But she keeps seeing that word "gamergate" and thinking it's just some insular thing on some videogame website.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:08 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Call me old fashioned, but I live outside of the virtual world and have had to make a living outside of my television set.

This sounds more like a line from Emily Gilmore than any actual 26 year old. My "television set"?
posted by theorique at 9:29 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure what I think about her pointing out specifically that they're Jewish. My intent was only to point out that the moment someone said "VCs won't care about your volunteer work", she came back with what read to me as, "Hah, shows what you know, I was doing it to get the attention of a bunch of rich Syrians." When she's talking about whether she knows anything about the public service side of this, she's running awareness campaigns and how can you be so selfish as to think she should have been doing anything else with her time. When someone implies she doesn't have the business sense to manage all this, suddenly the whole thing is about her ability to network with rich people.
posted by Sequence at 9:44 AM on April 21, 2016


That said, of course, trying to do what she claims to be trying to do, and not somehow doing research into the subject matter and therefore discovering GG and learning all about it - that is pathetic, and that's what undermines her entire position.

This is well said; she’s playing at being an expert, so she should have expertise. That said, I do find it unfortunately plausible that many people people who are legitimate experts on bullying and cyberbullying would easily be silo'd from the events of GG. It was a small news event, as all of these things are in many ways small news events. Heck, I couldn’t remember who Tyler Clementi was -or if I had ever known- while GG has at points taken up a large chunk of my headspace.

I dunno, I feel a lot of sympathy for her experience of bullying but I also think that you can be a woman of color, a victim of bullying and a typical bright/arrogant/brand-focused start-up type at the same time. As I know from having been both kind of annoying and severely, devastatingly bullied, being victimized by terrible people can coexist with having some genuine character flaws.

I find myself linking this to the recent posts about “Helena”, Theranos, and the “Peeple” thing from back in the fall. As a culture we seem to have fallen in love with a narrative of “scrappy young person barely out of college uses the Internet to change the world!”

The notion of “listen & believe” has been a boon for pushing conversations forward, but this is at least partly the other edge of its sword: simply because you’ve been traumatized by something, that doesn’t make you an expert on it. It makes you an expert on one particular version of that experience, and it gives you the credibility to rebut people who argue that that experience doesn’t exist, but the world is wide. (We could generalize this: just because you’ve been working at Job X for years doesn’t make you an expert on job X everywhere. It makes you an expert at your version of it.)

The parallels are striking: Harper & Quinn are essentially women whose career plans took dramatic right turns post-GG, and not exactly willingly on Quinn’s part (given her statements about how she’d rather just make video games). They’ve leaned into it, going beyond listening & believing to also learning & documenting, and we are better for it. They have been abrasive and imperfect spokeswomen because they were essentially chosen by lottery, but their genuine talents have shown them well.

Owen was also damaged by her harassment, and it made her take a right turn in her own career. But this right turn is coming some eight years after the fact, not the maybe one year buffer that happened for Quinn -and shorter for Harper- and Quinn had already been concerned about trolling in gaming communities. And that eight year gap makes sense - Owen was in high school, for goodness sake. It was really a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, while H & Q were in the right place at the right time (as unfortunate as that framing is). So I also have some sympathy for her: her heart was in the right place, and I can't really step on someone for wanting to make a positive difference, even if the idea is not very good, and they aren't aware that they are a few years behind the curve. But that lack of getting up to speed! That's on her, regardless of the difficulties of connecting silos of knowledge. It's work, and she didn't do it.

That “patient zero” email from Zoe Quinn was pretty dang snarky, tho’. Again, imperfect spokespeople.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:29 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]




This is well said; she’s playing at being an expert, so she should have expertise. That said, I do find it unfortunately plausible that many people people who are legitimate experts on bullying and cyberbullying would easily be silo'd from the events of GG. It was a small news event, as all of these things are in many ways small news events. Heck, I couldn’t remember who Tyler Clementi was -or if I had ever known- while GG has at points taken up a large chunk of my headspace.

I meant what I said in that post about how we're a relatively small industry. In the past year, we've had a few meetups. Some of them happen at conferences, and some are sponsored by institutions like Berkman. The largest of these meetings probably stood at about 200 people and had a good representation of different organizations and activist groups worldwide. These meetups are invaluable, because each of us is very much present in our area, but you have to know all the moving parts to make good judgement calls. For example, I'm really tech oriented, and my focus has generally been very American. I couldn't tell you how to start a hotline for targets of harassment or really even how to give emotional support to people, but I can tell you how to make better design decisions and how your product or terms of service will be exploited. However, my recommendations weren't as inclusive of international politics before being a part of those meetings and learning about what's happening elsewhere. We all try to keep a general knowledge of major happenings, because that knowledge can influence the way we work inside our own specialties. There's a lot of ways that we keep in contact, and we've built a good support network for each other. I would be shocked if anyone playing even just a small part in the online harassment community didn't know what GamerGate was.
posted by freebsdgirl at 4:46 PM on April 21, 2016 [17 favorites]


dnash: "Meh, I think maybe the MeFi audience here could overestimate the general public's knowledge of GG."

I agree. I play video games and yet I've only heard of GG at MeFi. If you're not a forum-reader (i.e. if you don't read the comments on sites, don't read gaming threads in Reddit, etc.) it can be very, very easy to be unaware of GG.
posted by Bugbread at 6:12 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's probably also fairly easy to have briefly heard of Gamergate on news sites when it was a big thing early on, and assume it's all blown over by now. This is where a lot of my folks I know are on the subject.
posted by Archelaus at 6:15 PM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Meh, I think maybe the MeFi audience here could overestimate the general public's knowledge of GG."

Sure, absolutely. That being said, this person created a company designed to fight internet harassment. I think it's pretty reasonable that she should be familiar with the first page of google results of the term 'internet harassment'.
posted by el io at 6:22 PM on April 21, 2016 [14 favorites]


dnash: "That said, of course, trying to do what she claims to be trying to do, and not somehow doing research into the subject matter and therefore discovering GG and learning all about it - that is pathetic, and that's what undermines her entire position."

el io: " That being said, this person created a company designed to fight internet harassment. I think it's pretty reasonable that she should be familiar with the first page of google results of the term 'internet harassment'."

That said, I think if one is going to provide an app or a service intended to fight internet harassment, I think you need to familiarize yourself with what it is.
posted by Bugbread at 6:28 PM on April 21, 2016


The twitter account has slowly been following more and more prominent gators.

I am pretty much at the the point where I think this was all intentional. Let's create a project that will either be used for nefarious deeds or will be shut down. When it's shut down let's play "look who the real bullies are... don't believe the liberal media... etc.."

The tweets where she "pleads" with the washington post reporter to contact her because the information is "incorrect" reads as a blatant setup for "the media all lies."
posted by M Edward at 6:50 PM on April 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


Izzy Galvez: An Autopsy of Social Autopsy

As a general point of interest, this Storify mentions a troll site that I’d never heard of and some GG figure who was new to me. (Or perhaps is old and lost in the blizzard of others.) This world moves fast.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:39 PM on April 21, 2016


Owens is tweeting up a storm now, flatly accusing Jesse Singal of 'journalistic fraud', and Zoe Quinn and Randi Harper of harassing her. She specifically cites Harper's Medium post as evidence for the harassment claim, presumably referring to the following statement:
You blamed your Kickstarter getting shut down on trolls. You’re wrong. That was us. As long as you’re willfully harming other people by creating shitty uninformed products while kicking the shit out of anyone that tries to help you, we’re going to keep getting you shut down.
In my view, Harper is clearly referring to the fact that there is a good argument that Social Autopsy was in violation of Kickstarter's terms of use.
Section 3.
...
Don’t victimize anyone. Don’t do anything threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, libelous, tortious, obscene, profane, or invasive of another person’s privacy
. [emphasis mine].
Kickstarter's prohibited items list also clearly states that "Offensive material (e.g., hate speech, encouraging violence against others, etc)." is prohibited. Social Autopsy's business concept could certainly be (and would likely be, IMO) turned to this.

As I understand it, Harper et al reported this violation to Kickstarter, and Kickstarter shut Social Autopsy down.

But Owens seems to be glossing over or completely ignoring the ToS violations, and classing the mere fact of the report as 'harassment'. I assume she also is obliquely referring to the claims that Harper and Quinn are leading a brigading campaign against her, for which she has no evidence whatsoever.

All in all, she's laying the groundwork for a pretty solid defamation case.

Freebsdgirl, if you are still reading, I would suggest that you add a note to your medium post clarifying that when you said 'we got you shut down', you meant 'we alerted Kickstarter to the violation of their terms, and Kickstarter made the decision to close the project' (but that is just my $0.02).
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:46 PM on April 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Freebsdgirl, if you are still reading, I would suggest that you add a note to your medium post clarifying that when you said 'we got you shut down', you meant 'we alerted Kickstarter to the violation of their terms, and Kickstarter made the decision to close the project' (but that is just my $0.02).

If there's one thing I've learned in the past year and a half, it's that giving clarifications doesn't help, not if people are inclined to believe the worst. She's outright lied to the press and on her Twitter about things that were said, so I'm not concerned about her reading things that aren't there into my Medium post. It just doesn't matter. Yes, this is a trainwreck. And in reality, if she was a little bit smarter, as someone said earlier, she could easily maneuver herself into being the token black woman of the alt right. The more public attention I give her and this whole mess, the more it boosts her profile. It was worth talking about to help prevent future startups from making similar mistakes. But correcting her assumptions is just beating a dead horse at this point.
posted by freebsdgirl at 10:16 PM on April 21, 2016 [22 favorites]


But correcting her assumptions is just beating a dead horse at this point.

Fair enough.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:28 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Given that the initial evidence of the conspiracy was the word “doxxing”, anything would have rung conspiracy alarm bells. That might not have been great wording, but this was how it was going down.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:32 PM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Meh, I think maybe the MeFi audience here could overestimate the general public's knowledge of GG.

I just asked my husband, who really only goes on facebook and music blogs these days if he knows what Gamergate is. He said "Sure." So I asked him to explain it, and he did a reasonable job, "female game journalist is attacked and hounded by assholes" essentially. He didn't know much detail, but he knew the shape of the thing. He had no idea what "doxxing" was though, which I would have assumed he DID.

I was actually turned onto this story by a thread on a knitting forum where a lot of people said they rarely venture off said knitting forum, but "even they know what Gamergate and doxxing are."

So yeah. I don't think this is as select knowledge as some people may assume.
posted by threeturtles at 10:35 PM on April 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


What we need is a good way to capture the demographics of those who know about it.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:39 PM on April 21, 2016




My genuine advice to @UnburntWitch is that anybody can change their life around at any moment with honesty. Lies only grow more complicated
Owens is full-on delusional.
posted by fatbird at 10:53 PM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Owens is full-on delusional.

Ignorance, arrogance, and overblown self-importance is a hell of a drug cocktail.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:54 PM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's time to stop focussing on Owens' every tweet. Yes, Schadenfreude and all that, but at this point, it's not like they're going to tell us anything new.
posted by daniel_charms at 11:12 PM on April 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


You're right, daniel_charms. I'll step away.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:17 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, Ms Owens is an actress, listed with Explore Talent. She was also arrested for harassing someone. Methinks this whole thing is nothing but a big old false flag ops.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:43 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm leaning more and more toward the theory that SocialAutopsy is a GamerGate setup. What baffles me is how a woman who was bullied nine years ago with racism and sexism, and also happens to be Black, has been convinced to cast her lot with racist, sexist bullies.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 11:45 AM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's making me wonder who is paying her. Someone has to be.
posted by dw at 12:53 PM on April 22, 2016


Wealthy Syrian Jews™, presumably.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:11 PM on April 22, 2016


To what extent does it matter? In either case, my action will be to give no money to a Social Autopsy Kickstarter or any similarly bad ideas. I'm not going to hire her for a P.R. or community relations position and wouldn't recommend anyone else do so.

If we could prove GamerGate is really behind this, what's the value in that? Finally, a flaw in GamerGate's immaculate reputation? Surely this will convince GamerGate supporters they are in the wrong?

If there is a strategic purpose to this as a fake*, it's an attempt to provoke someone into going too far digging into Ms. Owens' background, so Gators can go, "See, both sides!" Even looking up her prior arrest or what talent agency she's with, I'm kind of uncomfortable with that, it's getting too close to what I want to avoid.

* As opposed to if its sole purpose is to annoy the right people.
posted by RobotHero at 1:13 PM on April 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yeah, the latest turn this thread has taken is kind of weird.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:24 PM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's making me wonder who is paying her. Someone has to be.

Sort of a derail, but one of the most interesting things about GG to me has been that it's a reminder about the amount of time that people will spend working out of passion (or, uh, hate) for quite little. The Ralph Retort is getting ~ $1.2K per year from his supporters. Peanuts. On the other end of the spectrum we have Quinn & Harper. They’re kind of a broken measure, given that they can provide expert consulting and the former has a memoir coming out that’s been optioned for a film, but at least in pure Patreon terms neither is breaking the bank. The amount of money in this area is piddling.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:28 PM on April 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


The amount of money in this area is piddling.

Sayre's Law in action!
posted by jackbishop at 4:04 PM on April 22, 2016


Sayre's Law in action!

But a bit more, I think, because the other consistent thing about GG seems to be the language of “shilling”. Everyone on the GG side accuses everyone of going through all of this because they want money. I read at least a few columns back in the day about GG supporters have a vested interest in keeping the conflict going so that they can get more money for their own videos. (These were primarily looking at MRA guys who were very invested in taking down Anita Sarkeesian.) And it knocks me on my butt that Davis Aurini can get ~ $3.6K per year from people for ranting about women & GG, but that sum is, again, a pile of poop. (Especially if you consider how much they burned through for The Sarkeesian Effect.) I imagine this all goes back to the Tropes v. Women Kickstarter, which is where the notion of how all of this money was a scam, but man. On the one hand, I suspect that I have a really bad sense of how much a dollar is actually worth in this world. But it seems like these people have a much worse grasp of it.

In that same light, I think Owen’s rage makes more sense. She was convinced that her Kickstarter was going to be a success, and that it would bring her a significant chunk of change. Now that it’s been cancelled, she can just take those hypothetical profits as a given, and be angry at what she’s ostensibly been denied.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:51 PM on April 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Going to Maine, that's part of what's interesting about Owens' apparent distaste for nonprofits. She definitely uses financial success as a legitimizer.

Anyway, she just posted a blog post about Singal, complete with her entire Twitter DM history with him.

Remember when Bush released those aerial photos to prove that there were WMDs? And people kept showing the photos and saying "See?" but no one ever explained to us what we were supposed to be looking at? That's what I feel like.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:02 PM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I am (if you haven’t gathered by now) a writer.

Nope.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:24 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


She does "possess a special relationship with the craft" of writing. That much I'll grant.
posted by phantom powered at 5:42 PM on April 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


I'm still baffled that she talks about Zoe and Randi taking down her KS like they hacked into KS's servers and deleted her campaign. It was in clear violation of the KS TOS and KS took it down because several people (including, if I understand correctly, Zoe and Randi) reported it as violating the TOS. That's what a TOS is FOR.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:48 PM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also that postscript is particularly unhinged. She is definitely not in her best mind right now.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:52 PM on April 22, 2016


Does she actually think that she has Jesse's consent for releasing a camera recording? Am I being a moon lawyer or is she basically admitting that she broke federal wiretqpping laws?
posted by Yowser at 6:03 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Update: I'm a moon lawyer.

Still a dick move. He gave consent for the audio, and she's like "gotcha! I didn't tell you I was recording video too, sucker!"

What purpose does the video serve, other than providing content to a TV show?
posted by Yowser at 6:13 PM on April 22, 2016


In consideration of all of this, I do appreciate you publicly signing your release.

What does this mean? Did she make him sign something letting her record?
posted by roll truck roll at 6:17 PM on April 22, 2016


Jesse gave her consent (long after the interview) to release the audio, because he was sick of her tweeting him.

She didn't release the audio. Guess we know why now.
posted by Yowser at 6:24 PM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


To what extent does it matter?

As mentioned elsewhere, GamerGate isn't exactly cash-rich. To pull off an op like this would require someone fronting at least some money.

I really don't know, tho. I mean, Occam's Razor is saying the simplest answer is she's paranoid and crazy. But at the same time, that makes no sense -- she's not acting rationally irrational.

Something is very, very off about this story. And yet... I've run into people like her online, people who think there's a conspiracy centered around them, and anyone who tries to dissuade them is part of the conspiracy. And woe be to you if you actually are friends with the "chief conspirators."
posted by dw at 7:00 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Anyway, she just posted a blog post about Singal, complete with her entire Twitter DM history with him.

I can't even bring myself to read it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:51 AM on April 23, 2016


I imagine this all goes back to the Tropes v. Women Kickstarter, which is where the notion of how all of this money was a scam, but man. On the one hand, I suspect that I have a really bad sense of how much a dollar is actually worth in this world. But it seems like these people have a much worse grasp of it.

Huh, maybe I gave them too much credit. Maybe it's more like newly impoverished white people who grew up in the 80s, who only have their resentment sharpened by the fact that going on welfare is in fact awfully meager support not sufficient to buy the Cadillacs and t-bone steaks the noise machine back then said everyone was buying with their enormous welfare checks. So clearly the game's rigged against them, and it's a conspiracy to enrich only a specific group of recipients of public funds (y'know, them).

Likewise, looks maybe the "professional victims" of the right are out looking for a cut of that sweet, sweet cash that Zoe and Anita and Randi are raking in for their, uh, whatever the 2010s equivalent of t-bones and Cadillacs is. The money doesn't exist, the money never existed, but that won't keep them from resenting the fact that they don't get a cut of it.
posted by jackbishop at 10:56 AM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


dw: "But at the same time, that makes no sense -- she's not acting rationally irrational."

confusedJackieChan.jpeg
posted by RobotHero at 11:36 AM on April 23, 2016


At some point we need new terms for a Twitter account doubling down on being an asshole. I'd say she's up to about hexa something.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:10 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't even bring myself to read it.

Nobody emerges very well from it, is the short version.

Oh, and there's a change.org petition because of course there is. It really would be refreshing not to have a change.org petition for something once in a while, but that may be a forlorn hope.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:45 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


You should create a change.org petition to petition for that.
posted by Bugbread at 5:06 PM on April 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


Working on getting the change.org petition taken down. They've been really proactive about abuse in the past. Without context, this is really borderline when it comes to most harassment policies, but few companies do a good job of looking at the bigger picture.

Her post also wasn't entirely truthful (of course). And I'm the one that told Jesse about the people going to her pretending to be VC. Information I received through the troll grapevine. She'd done a pretty poor job of listening to anything I had to say so far, so I had hoped if she received the info from Jesse, she'd take it to heart. I hope she's being careful. There's a lot of eyes on this, and not all of them are people looking to do good in the world.
posted by freebsdgirl at 7:51 PM on April 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


This Candace Owens and Social Autopsy is just an awful train wreck of just the right kind that I can't help but keep looking.

Yesterday I saw her posting about "victimbux". I'm thinking sure. She's totally got to be a gamer gate plant if she's that far down the rabbit hole already. But just a few hours ago, she posted how a completely normal malware warning was evidence someone was trying to hack her. No, that's just the Internet. And more facinating was that she continues to be supported by her gamer gate followers even though she repeatedly shows her general ignorance of everything related to online. Specifically that she can somehow expose Quinn and Harper in a convoluted technology heavy conspiracy- again, while not understanding the first thing about basic Internet tech. Mind blowing.

If she is a part of a false flag action hired by gamergate, that makes this even stranger.

Meh, I think maybe the MeFi audience here could overestimate the general public's knowledge of GG

I'd say my Facebook friends and aquaintances have at least a passing knowledge of it. IRL, it's probably a 60-40 split to know and don't know. Remember, a few years back it was making at least some headlines when celebrities were denouncing it.

freebsdgirl, is there any reason to bother with the change.org petition? Even if it somehow gains momentum, I can't imagine it having any re repurcussions, and it shows just how crazy she's gotten. I mean, I would think the more off the deep end she goes will leave her anti-bullying efforts no where when people vetting her find things like the petition.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 3:55 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


[insert clever name here]: "And more facinating was that she continues to be supported by her gamer gate followers even though she repeatedly shows her general ignorance of everything related to online."

I think that's just contrarianism. As long as she's annoying people they don't like, she must be doing something right.
posted by RobotHero at 9:06 AM on April 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


She'd done a pretty poor job of listening to anything I had to say so far, so I had hoped if she received the info from Jesse, she'd take it to heart. I hope she's being careful.

I don't think she hears anything she doesn't want to.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:37 AM on April 24, 2016


freebsdgirl, is there any reason to bother with the change.org petition?

It's a growing trend of using change.org to threaten people's livelihoods (and in some cases, instigate mob harassment). My stance has always been that people can have all the crappy opinions they want until they start taking those crappy opinions and trying to harm other people. Candace has already tried to contact Zoe's book publisher, Jesse's bosses, and anyone else she thinks we're all associated with. It's just an another platform for her to try to cause financial and/or career harm on someone, and that style of petition goes against the spirit upon which change.org was built.

This entire thing is like watching a trainwreck in slow motion. It's horrible and fascinating at the same time. It's probably going to make her convinced that there's an even bigger conspiracy. Maybe she'll start a change.org petition against change.org. Being silent wasn't causing the situation to de-escalate, so might as well act like normal and do my job.
posted by freebsdgirl at 10:43 AM on April 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


That certainly is a thing with these people - if there is anything out there that can possibly be gamed and used as a tool to harass people they will absolutely go out of their way to do so, and if you run a site or service that might be misused like that you are absolutely under an obligation to prevent it happening. That's why things that are obviously an abuse vector right off the bat like social autopsy and Peeple get so much attention, with the compounding factor that the people running them don't seem to care or see it as a plus.
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on April 24, 2016


So, she's ... bullying people online in order to protect her idea about how to stop people from being bullied online?

Okay, then.
posted by suelac at 1:07 PM on April 24, 2016


So, she's ... bullying people online in order to protect her idea about how to stop people from being bullied online?

The initial idea involved holding people accountable for their actions, or (more favorably interpreted) making people aware that someone could have the power to hold them accountable. So it's not much of a stretch, really.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:10 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Makes good sense, freebsdgirl. Just seems like such a waste of your time. But I guess that's pretty much what a lot of this is.

:(

I hopped on Twitter a couple days ago and dipped my toe into this. I couldn't resist the urge I mentioned upthread to try and reach out and offer another perspective. And ended up in a few argument threads. Unsurprisingly, so many of the insults were gendered. I'm old* enough and exposed to a lifetime of gendered insults that this kind of thing doesn't bother me anymore. But I could see how completely horrible this could be. Also, the irony of how if this is really not about harassment and sexism, that somehow it turns into harassing, gendered insults.

There is also the mental gymnastics. Both on Twitter and on degree180, she's being warned that the rest of the media will now be out for her. How far into denialism do you have to be to start believing the media is lying about everything? And that the media has an agenda to crush you? It's literally a deranged mindset. Yet there are scores of gamer gators who believe it. I know we're seeing the problem with filter bubbles and self reinforcing communities. But it is weird to see in action.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:35 PM on April 24, 2016


*I was conveniently told I was too old to understand gamergate, and one gg-et was amusingly obsessed with it (I'm in my late 30s). I'm going to go out on a limb and say that generally, this isn't a standard for the men involved.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:45 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Here's the newest post.

I don't think I'm going to comment in this thread anymore. This is all just sad. I am so thankful that I have people in my life who I trust to tell me when I'm wrong. If there's anyone reading this that Owens trusts at all, then I hope you can help her let go of all this.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:48 PM on April 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


My favorite part was where she sicced her gamer gate Twitter followers on the reporter, then got super angry that the reporter want responding because she was at a family function and not checking her phone, and Candace is incensed at the idea that there's something more important in the reporter's life than her.

The while thing is just a huge string of mental illness and I hope she gets help soon.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:01 PM on April 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


When Caitlin Dewey e-mailed my editor,

my editor

my editor

ಠ_ಠ
posted by Going To Maine at 10:23 PM on April 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


(Paraphrase): "They accuse me of being a conspiracy theorist, which is ridiculous, because if I were a conspiracy theorist I would believe X, Y, and Z (editors note: she clearly believes X, Y, and Z). That's what I would do if I were a conspiracy theorist, which clearly I'm not."

But, man, she's really aiming for the stars, here. It's not just Quinn and Harper and Singal in this conspiracy. It's not even just the Washington Post. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is apparently the grand daddy here. It's a shame Bezos will never interact with her in any way, since her pattern seems to be "If person A doesn't do what I want them to do, there must be someone a level above them pulling the strings", so if she got even a "Sorry, I'm busy right now" email from Bezos she'd be positing that Obama or the U.N. are behind all of this.
posted by Bugbread at 10:38 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I still can't decide if this whole thing was planned or if she's just pivoting into another kind of fame here. Her blog posts read like the sort of person you meet at a party and then pretend to get a text after talking to them for five minutes.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:25 AM on April 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure if this is past the 'point and laugh' phase or into the 'call 911 / some other emergency hotline' yet.
If we're still in phase 1: the Bezos rant is genius.
posted by signal at 6:38 AM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Beware the Total Perspective Vortex.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:33 AM on April 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think at the very least she was primed for this and a terrible person long before anyone got in touch with her taking her at face value.
posted by Artw at 8:53 AM on April 25, 2016


We Hunted the Mammoth on that post.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:01 AM on April 25, 2016


Wow, it's crazy people and assholes all the way down.
posted by Artw at 9:59 AM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I still keep thinking that surely, she can't be for real. That it must be some sort of an experiment in how far you can push things before people start calling shenanigans. Some of the things she writes sound as if they've been lifted verbatim from someone else's writings, only changing the context and names. There just doesn't seem to be a coherent narrative there -- other than the constant snowballing of accusations and claims being made. But none of the phrases I've googled have returned anything, so I I guess it's really just my brain looking for a way to make sense of this mess.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:30 AM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have dealt, in a professional capacity, with someone who believed (and, AFAICT still believes) similar "they are all out to get me" fantasies. And Owens is kind of playing from the same script. The rage that she expresses about being told that she is not "newsworthy" clinches it.

We are all the heroes of our own stories, but some people believe that their stories are much more epic than others. So, WaPo deciding to drop it because it's obviously not worth the drama is a HUGE affront. Just like that person I dealt with who couldn't understand why the heads of government agencies wouldn't respond to their emails (the reason, obviously, is that the agency heads are also in on the plot -- which can be "proven" if you take a walk with me through this list of connections that I have detailed on my internet crazy-person-red-string-wall).

Kudos to David Malitz for having Caitlin Dewey's back though. He's probably had to field all kinds of nonsense tossed at her by goober-grommers over the past couple of years and could probably choose to pull a Nintendo and find a way to throw her under the bus, (just to get rid of the drama, not because she'd done anything wrong). Instead, he talks to the complainer directly, then sends an email backing his employee up in no uncertain terms. Regardless of what goes on behind the scenes at WaPo between them, that's how a boss who respects his employees acts publicly.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:41 AM on April 25, 2016 [18 favorites]


I was poking around her degree180 page yesterday. it occurred to me that if I was one of her writers who put time and energy into whatever that site is trying to be, I can't help wonder how they feel about their vaguely lifestyle blog turning into an all conspiracy theory-gamer gate blog.

I suppose it depends if they were paid, or participating for equity. The latter being saidly common.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:02 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


an all conspiracy theory-gamer gate blog.

It is a gamergate blog as far as I can tell. The 7th article down calls women who "cry out for reproductive freedom" ignorant, gullible, and woefully self-absorbed. Another one is titled "I Don’t Hate Men, So I’m Not A Feminist.. Right?"

It's not as out in the open as most MRA sites but just about every article has a hint of misogyny.
posted by M Edward at 3:32 PM on April 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


There's even an article on why creeps are not actually creeps.
posted by Artw at 3:39 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Besides the general wrongness of the 180 site from a political and social point of view, the writing IS. JUST. SO. BAD. It offends me as a thinking feeling person, regardless of my politics.
posted by signal at 4:50 PM on April 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Just checking back in on this, and hoo boy. The whole slew of accusations against WashPo are beyond bizarre. You really have to question whether Owens is having a mental health crisis of some sort. It's very hard to comprehend otherwise.

And, wow, freebsdgirl was so right when she said there was no point trying to clarify Owens' various wrongheaded misinterpretations of events. Literally any action - or even the total absence of action, in the case of WashPo - gets folded into the conspiracy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:00 PM on April 25, 2016 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I just dropped in to see how the train wreck was going, and now, I'm starting to feel really sorry for her. Like at first, I was just kind of astonished, then I was sure it was an act, but now I think she might actually be having some sort of serious break, and the gaters cheering her on are just drawing her into this vortex that seems bottomless. I find myself actually concerned about her, both currently, and how she will be dealing with the fallout of this for the rest of her life. The internet is ubiquitous, and drama like this lives on forever in the mythos. I think she is unwell, and I hope if that's true, that people close to her are willing to get her to help, and not just toasting marshmallows over the meltdown like the gators are doing.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:48 PM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think she is unwell, and I hope if that's true, that people close to her are willing to get her to help, and not just toasting marshmallows over the meltdown like the gators are doing.

It's not clear to me what Degree180 even do (they're a "creative agency in step with the shifting consciousness of today’s world"?), but their twitter feed has posted on this issue. The same claims about libel and journalism conspiracy. So, unless Owens is posting from both (which she may be), I guess her staff are behind her?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:54 PM on April 25, 2016


Pff. The whole thing is probably just smoke and mirrors.
posted by Artw at 6:56 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pff. The whole thing is probably just smoke and mirrors.

Yeah, taking a closer a look it looks like Owens is responding to comments on the blog in her personal voice but using the generic mod account, so she's probably running the twitter account also.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:21 PM on April 25, 2016


Another one is titled “I Don’t Hate Men, So I’m Not A Feminist.. Right?”

This piece is actually about how the author learned that being a feminist doesn’t entail hating men, as she had one believed, and now she identifies as one. Pretty meh, but kind of the opposite of MRA fodder.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:52 PM on April 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah, this doesn't really come across as MRA to me:

"I rejected feminism because I didn’t know what it was....As a matter of fact, at the end of my search, I realized I was a feminist. Obviously I want equality for men and women. It pisses me the fuck off that men get paid more, hold higher positions of power, and are viewed as more intelligent and competent than women and I want that to change...Honestly, the majority of women who think they “hate” feminism are probably misinformed about the meaning of feminism, just like I was not too long ago. So yeah, I’m a feminist. I’m not scared of the word anymore; no one should be."
posted by Bugbread at 9:48 PM on April 25, 2016


In the latest post, as far as I can tell, the "lie" the journalist supposedly told was she took what Candace told her (paraphrasing) "I can't tell you what organizations I work with because they've already been harassed because of this." Plus the previously self-reported names of at least one organization, contacted said organization and asked about the harassment. As best I can figure from the long, winding post is the reporter took what Owens said and applied what Owens had previously said via the Kickstarter about the specific organization(s), and said or asked if they were being harassed. But she chose to use hate mail as opposed to harassed (which for all we know, may have been accurate, we are only privy to the email).

I want to scream "Oh my god, this is exactly what journalists do! They piece things together! They don't need your permission to do so! And previously public information doesn't become private because you don't want to share!"

I sort of wonder if Owens didn't go into the WaPo interview in hopes of a train wreck to further her new found fandom. From her own description, she was hostile about sharing information from the very beginning. Why take the interview?

I guess it doesn't matter. But it's just amazing to me when it's so glaringly obvious where she went wrong; and she built a whole conspiracy theory-not conspiracy theory off of it. Oooof.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:59 PM on April 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm presuming Mike Cernovich has already offered his services as garbage pretend lawyer?

Aaaaaand heeeere's Cernovich!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:59 PM on April 25, 2016


[insert clever name here]: "I want to scream "Oh my god, this is exactly what journalists do! They piece things together! They don't need your permission to do so! And previously public information doesn't become private because you don't want to share!""

I especially enjoyed this line from her post:

"You have to remember that I was a journalism major in college."
posted by Bugbread at 10:21 PM on April 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


The way she has jumped so quickly to Ralph, Breitbart, Cernovich. I mean, it's scripted right? Because if not.. I just can't.

I admit I haven't read any of the 180 stuff except the 2 journalgate posts so was going off the clickbaity titles. I regret nothing.
posted by M Edward at 10:30 PM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yes, Bugabread, that irony was not lost on me either. *facepalm*
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:33 PM on April 25, 2016


I admit I haven't read any of the 180 stuff except the 2 journalgate posts so was going off the clickbaity titles. I regret nothing.

The We Hunted the Mammoth summaries are probably the best way to get across their content whilst retaining some semblance of sanity.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:38 PM on April 25, 2016


The way she has jumped so quickly to Ralph, Breitbart, Cernovich. I mean, it's scripted right? Because if not.. I just can't.

I think she's just looking for confirmation for what she already believes -- that Zoe, Randi etc. are out to get her -- and she keeps going for the lowest-hanging fruit.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:49 PM on April 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I think it's simple "the enemy of my enemy must be my friend," and not a lot more than that.
posted by Bugbread at 5:52 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


In both "journalist" posts she implies that she expects a cable documentary to vindicate her. What happens when it doesn't?
posted by RobotHero at 6:13 AM on April 26, 2016


Then the cable company is part of the conspiracy.
posted by Bugbread at 6:14 AM on April 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


seems to be glossing over or completely ignoring the ToS violations

Much of the noise from gamergate/altright folks fall in to this kind of willful ignorance.
See also: Milo being sad about his checkmark revocation
posted by Theta States at 8:50 AM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


and/or believing that TOSes themselves infringe freedom of speech.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:54 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also that postscript is particularly unhinged. She is definitely not in her best mind right now.


Agreed, the hole thing is a giant mess. But then, scroll down to the comments and it is a chorus of gamergaters basically saying the same thing:
Your ideas were terrible but thanks for continuing to attack our favourite targets! Keep at it! We believe in you because we had terrible ideas that got reported on, too!

She's too far gone, her life is a now chorus of trolls Yes-maaming her onward.
posted by Theta States at 9:04 AM on April 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Twitter account just disappeared.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:55 PM on April 26, 2016


Oh wait, no, it was just renamed.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:57 PM on April 26, 2016


Now somebody else is tweeting as socialcoroner and commenting on the situation. Owens didn't lock down that username? Of course she didn't.
posted by phantom powered at 2:19 PM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not if it creates an opportunity for more drama.
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on April 26, 2016


Well, that’s some garbage. “I will hijack this Twitter account, thus piling onto someone who’s feeling persecuted by giving them some legitimate grievances and solving nothing for anyone. But hey, now no one else can’t hijack this account. Go me.” Dick move, person.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:58 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


They should have just used it for puppies and kittens.
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on April 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


It wasn't "hijacked", the name was abandoned by the previous owner.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:45 PM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I dunno, the new @socialcoroner seems to at least understand how fucked up everything is and does seem to want to give what they feel is a fair account. They saw an opportunity to get eyeballs they might not otherwise, and share their side. I don't agree with everything they wrote, but found it overall a pretty even handed retelling.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:38 PM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also, existing links to @socialcoroner now go to an explanation of what happened and why it was fucked up.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:41 PM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I got sucked into digging deep on this dismal saga the other night and the best I could conclude was that Owens is/was having a major mental health crisis. At one point, she posted screencaps on her twitter of a pretty generic pop-up ad, in the YOU HAVE 800 VIRUSES CLICK HERE TO FIX type, and was convinced that this was a failed hacking attempt on her of some sort because the ad showed her IP. That, plus well, everything else, is just an extraordinary level of paranoia, and a level that didn't seem evident in her prior writing on her site.

The whole thing reminds me painfully of the Pictures for Sad Children business in '14, with someone very isolated having a very public breakdown online.
posted by demons in the base at 9:12 PM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I dunno, the new @socialcoroner seems to at least understand how fucked up everything is and does seem to want to give what they feel is a fair account.

I found the claim that Randi Harper and Jesse Singal are TERFs to be rather odd, but otherwise I agree.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:28 PM on April 26, 2016


[insert clever name here]: "I dunno, the new @socialcoroner seems to at least understand how fucked up everything is and does seem to want to give what they feel is a fair account. They saw an opportunity to get eyeballs they might not otherwise, and share their side. I don't agree with everything they wrote, but found it overall a pretty even handed retelling."

Personally, as far as the rightness/wrongness of using a lapsed account, I don't think the amount I agree or disagree with the new user affects the rightness/wrongness of its use. But in this case, 1) the account was given up, it wasn't one of those "I forgot to renew my domain and someone swooped up and took it" things, and 2) the person who now uses the account is really explicit that they are not Social Autopsy, so there's no impersonation going on.

Given those two facts, I don't see any problem with using the account, and I don't think it's "hijacking". I'd think the same if a prominent SJW voluntarily gave up an account, a GGer took it over, and they were explicit that they were not Sarkeesian or Harper or the like.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd be annoyed by what they posted, and annoyed that they were getting new eyeballs, etc. I just wouldn't have a problem with the fact of their using the account.
posted by Bugbread at 9:46 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I found the claim that Randi Harper and Jesse Singal are TERFs to be rather odd, but otherwise I agree.

Presumably this is because Jesse Singal liked Alice Draeger’s book on how science has been attacked from the left. At least one chunk of the book is about the persecution of a scientist who pushed heterodox (or perhaps transphobic, depending on where you get off) views on trans issues. Singal also tweeted his disagreement with Lambda Legal’s decision to drop it for consideration for a literary award as the conference reared its ugly head. Lord knows why Randi Harper is in the bad camp. In the present, we are all terrible for everything.

My objection to grabbing the account -& I am rightly corrected that it was abandoned, not taken over- is that it creates more drama and more derails (the context-free TERF references). But objecting feels kind of dumb. At the macro, big-news level, very few people involved in this thing are actually “people”. They’re part of the general mass of folks incensed for- or against- Gamergate*. Owen has rapidly being converted to just another voice in a whirling maelstrom, since -as accurately observed by Malitz- her company is dead and staying that way. Everything since has been ambient noise and drama. The account being converted over is just another aspect of that. The added drama it’ll create isn’t discernible unless you’ve been paying way too much attention to this event, and in a few weeks it won’t matter.

On a macro-level, I’m interested in if/when these bad actors can finally only be considered as noise. Looking at Izzy Galvez’s account made me aware that Slade Villena is still around, trying to show his game at conventions. Is this worth fighting? Mike Cernovich is going to release a garbage movie at some point. Should we care? These all seem like very drama-heavy, specific individuals, but in the end they’re small time hucksters who occasionally pop out of the wood-work. The story here isn’t even Owen: it’s how you can go from having a (bad) idea, research it (poorly), and then get sucked into a world of fear and paranoia. Or perhaps I’m just feeling guilty for still following this.

*This next song is “What is this thing called Gamergate?”
posted by Going To Maine at 10:17 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: we are all terrible for everything
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:01 PM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: can finally only be considered as noise
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:11 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Presumably this is because Jesse Singal liked Alice Draeger’s book on how science has been attacked from the left. At least one chunk of the book is about the persecution of a scientist who pushed heterodox (or perhaps transphobic, depending on where you get off) views on trans issues. Singal also tweeted his disagreement with Lambda Legal’s decision to drop it for consideration for a literary award as the conference reared its ugly head. Lord knows why Randi Harper is in the bad camp. In the present, we are all terrible for everything.


He wrote an article that angered a lot of trans people. I don't really understand the politics or the issue, and I didn't read the article. If a crapton of trans people say that it's a bad article about trans kids, I'm inclined to believe them. They know a lot more about trans issues than I do. But I did see a lot of hateful comments being thrown his way, and it turned into a mob. I said something along the lines of "mobs are bad, plz stop," and, well, it went from there.

The rumors aren't new. The original "randi == TERF" theory came out when I saw people promoting a transwoman who was threatening another transwoman that was part of GamerGate. She threatened to come to her house and harm her. I said that hey, we probably shouldn't do that, without calling out the person that was actually doing this thing. It's way too easy to use the patterns of our abusers when responding, and throwing more abuse out into the world doesn't help. A small but vocal minority strongly disagreed with me. ;) This was also hours before I got SWATed.

The signal-to-noise ratio is unfortunate. It really sucks for everyone involved, and the smartest thing anyone can do is back slowly away.
posted by freebsdgirl at 12:14 AM on April 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


the smartest thing anyone can do is back slowly away.

This is sage advice.

Thanks for fighting the good fight, freebsdgirl. I know it's cost you. Hell, it's cost Owens, even if it's largely self-inflicted and she's too far down the rabbit hole to realise it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:32 AM on April 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


On the plus side, Jon Ronson should have enough material for "So you've been publicly shamed 2: the Shamening" basically just from this one clusterfudge.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:47 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


If anything truly demonstrates that Gamergate is basically an open source distributed cult, it's this sorry affair. It's the same dynamic as the whole sovereign citizens debacle - shibboleths are created by various uncleared and uncredited sources and picked up and repeated ad naseum by the hive mind as truth, no matter how irrational. It was truly bizarre to watch someone induct themselves into it, in real time.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:15 PM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


[Nixed a couple of comments. It's not super clear to us who's being referred to in re: the Twitter account but we definitely do not want a) people naming names, especially if speculative/unsourced and b) to be sucked into multi-site drama vortices. Thanks all.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:36 PM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Aw, don't call them "vortices", that makes them sound kind of cool. "Quagmires" or "cesspits", sure, but not "vortices".

(Also, avoid words like "laser" and "skateboard" and "hyperdimensional")
posted by Bugbread at 4:40 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


So I can't call it a hyperdimensional laser skateboarding vortex?

... actually, I'm going to have to find a way to use that phrase, now.
posted by Archelaus at 5:19 PM on April 27, 2016


Metafilter: A hyperdimensional laser skateboarding vortex.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 7:46 PM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


hyperdimensional laser skateboarding vortex

Would Kickstart this indie game.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:42 AM on April 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


I may be a bit late to the party, but looking at the wiki page that sourcejedi mentioned, I noticed a strange blue lock symbol. Turns out Wikipedia made a new lock level just for Gamergate and calm topics, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict and caste. Wow! The level of online campaigning they do is terrifying.
posted by halifix at 2:58 AM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Wikipedia Talk page for "Gamergate Controversy" is something of a guilty pleasure for fans of the editorial code duello, certainly.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:08 AM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Wikipedia Talk page for "Gamergate Controversy" is something of a guilty pleasure for fans of the editorial code duello, certainly.

Ha glad I'm not the only one that checks that clusterfuck on occasion.
posted by Theta States at 6:55 AM on April 29, 2016


[A few comments removed; the idea of avoiding the weirdness that comes with digging in on individuals has been a recurring one with this thread and I think worth sticking to.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:07 AM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Jeff Atwood's most recent post is only semi-related to the Social Autopsy fiasco, but always good to hear a prominent tech figure talking seriously about harassment:
I've only had a little taste of this treatment, once. The sense of being "under siege" – a constant barrage of vitriol and judgment pouring your way every day, every hour – was palpable. It was not pleasant. It absolutely affected my state of mind. Someone remarked in the comments that ultimately it did not matter, because as a white man I could walk away from the whole situation any time. And they were right. I began to appreciate what it would feel like when you can't walk away, when this harassment follows you around everywhere you go online, and you never really know when the next incident will occur, or exactly what shape it will take.
(Bonus angry commenter trying to refer him to Yiannopoulos)
posted by postcommunism at 4:55 PM on May 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


I wrote this post in Wordpad before I saw that this discussion had died. I had some doubts about resurrecting it, but I finally decided to post what I had written. It might still be of interest to someone.

One way I see that this conversation could live up to the reputation of Metafilter as a place for mature, responsible discussions, is if we're trying to find ways that we might help Ms Owens have a better life, and put her capacities and interests to better use. Another way might be if we're trying to find ways to help reduce and counteract whatever damage she might be doing, or might do in the future. Another way might be to see what we might learn from it, that we could use in improving ourselves or in helping to improve the world.

I've seen a few posts here going in one or another of those directions. For example:

If there's anyone reading this that Owens trusts at all, then I hope you can help her let go of all this.

I think she is unwell, and I hope if that's true, that people close to her are willing to get her to help.

All I could think of to do was to write to her about the good that she's done for me, and the good that I see in her, and hope that would help turn her attention to that.

She might really see herself in what she quotes from Kanye West on her Twitter profile picture:

I have millions of ideas and I represent a new generation just trying to express themselves in a broken world.

I certainly agree that it's a broken world, and I certainly see Ms Owens and her fellow bloggers trying to express themselves.

I imagine that what she needs is what we all need: healthy friendships, and a healthy family and community life. The only way I see for any of us to help with any of that, is by somehow becoming a part of one of her friendship or community circles, and offering the kind of encouragement and support that really helps, in pursuing her best interests. I've posted some friendly things to her and about her on Twitter, and got some likes from her, so maybe that will give some credibility with her to the advice I sent her on Facebook. Or not.

As for reducing and counteracting the damage, as annoying as her behavior is, and as hard as she is trying to damage people's lives, is she actually doing enough real damage, or likely to do enough damage, to even be worth the trouble of trying to do something about it? If so, let's identify the damage and potential damage, and what, if anything, any of us can do to help reduce and counteract it.

I'm surprised that no one has brought up the point that there's a market for social media monitoring services, for schools and employers to track the online activities of students and employees. It looks to me like the Social Autopsy team is aiming to carve out some new territory in that market, by inviting people's friends to feed the data base. I see a possibility that they don't really care how unworkable or harmful their idea is, as long as they can attract enough contributions, venture capital and/or blog hits, to get more more money out of it than they put into it.

Everything that Ms Owens has been doing on Twitter and on degree180 since this started, looks to me like publicity, PR and fundraising for Social Autopsy and/or degree180. I do see a lot of vindictiveness in it, but that might be incidental to her business interests. It's an open question for me, whether it's "I can get revenge, and be rich and famous at the same time," or "I can be rich and famous, and get revenge at the same time."

As for what we might learn from all this, that we could use in improving ourselves or in helping to improve the world, as I said in my PM to the Social Autopsy Facebook account for Ms. Owens, it has given me some new insights about what's happening in the world, and what people are thinking and feeling, and trying to do. It's also helped me see more possibilities in people.

It also introduced me to KotakuInAction and a part of Gamergate, where I've learned some valuable lessons, but those would be off topic here.

This has also incited me to try to get to know ZQ, RH and BW better, because my view of them has always been that they were just milking harassment issues for fame and fortune, and all this has called my attention to how untrue and unfair that might be. Too simplistic in any case.
posted by jimhabegger at 6:31 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I imagine that what she needs is what we all need: healthy friendships, and a healthy family and community life. The only way I see for any of us to help with any of that, is by somehow becoming a part of one of her friendship or community circles, and offering the kind of encouragement and support that really helps, in pursuing her best interests. I've posted some friendly things to her and about her on Twitter, and got some likes from her, so maybe that will give some credibility with her to the advice I sent her on Facebook. Or not.

this seems like a very intrusive approach to a noble goal, much like doxxing people in the name of ending harassment
posted by Krom Tatman at 6:50 PM on May 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


There's also mentoring. Anyone who wants to help her could try building a friendship with her, and show her some better ways of pursuing her best interests.
posted by jimhabegger at 1:08 AM on May 6, 2016


It seems presumptuous and, as Krom Tatman said, intrusive for any of us random strangers to decide "I should reach out to this person I've never met and know nothing about beyond what they've been tweeting and help them get their life back on track." You don't know her; none of us do.

I dislike the idea that because she's been tweeting about it publicly, that makes her life and her mental health public, and that it's appropriate for onlookers to decide they need to intervene for her own good.
posted by Lexica at 9:59 AM on May 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


There's also mentoring. Anyone who wants to help her could try building a friendship with her, and show her some better ways of pursuing her best interests.

There's something pretty gross about befriending someone just so that you can change their ways.

Mentoring works because the mentee knows what the mentor's goal is in the relationship. To "build friendship" with her, you'd need to go about it in a kind of dishonest way, which is no way to, you know, build a friendship.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:02 AM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Sorry, jimhabegger, your whole proposal comes off as super creepy, to me.
posted by signal at 10:11 AM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yeah, insinuating yourself into a stranger's life because you think you know better how they should be living is pretty fucking creepy indeed.

Not to mention: a couple of people with directly applicable personal experience already tried to offer help and were rejected. So I'm not sure why total randos butting in are expected to achieve better results?
posted by tobascodagama at 12:15 PM on May 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I have actually done this when I was much much younger (but still an adult). It was indeed creepy, very poorly received, and is still a burning shameful memory. Good intentions don't mean shit.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:21 PM on May 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


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