‘It has to be known what was done to us’
August 3, 2021 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Reading the criminal complaint in June 2020, the Steiners got a view for the first time of what had been going on inside eBay during their torment. “The vitriol towards us, where did it come from?” David asked. “We didn’t even know these people,” Ina added. “We were helping their customers sell more. That should be a good thing.” (CW: stalking, harassment)
posted by bondcliff (31 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
previously
posted by matt_od at 1:53 PM on August 3


and pre²viously
posted by away for regrooving at 2:02 PM on August 3


Sigh. Oh well. I guess this could be considered a follow-up but, mods, feel free to delete this if two previous threads is too many.
posted by bondcliff at 2:06 PM on August 3


The most interesting thing about this is how awful the ebay employees were, but also how bad a job they were doing. At no point did the Steiners think that if they just stopped writing about ebay all of this craziness would stop. Maybe the goal was just to torture them? Seems very sick.
posted by HiddenInput at 2:12 PM on August 3 [7 favorites]


archive.ph
posted by maggieb at 2:23 PM on August 3 [6 favorites]


how bad a job they were doing

The fact that the whole thing fell apart so easily adds to the malice for me. These were not professionals doing a job.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:25 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


The investigation also found that former CEO Wenig had made “inappropriate communications” but did not have advance knowledge of the harassment and stalking. Wenig, who was not charged, was allowed to resign in September 2019 with a compensation package worth $57 million;

Once again illustrating that if you're rich enough, you will never face meaningful consequences for your actions. "Allowed to leave the company with a fortune large enough that his great-grandchildren will never want for anything" does not seem like much of a punishment to me.
posted by Frowner at 2:52 PM on August 3 [47 favorites]


The investigation also found that former CEO Wenig had made “inappropriate communications”

"Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:56 PM on August 3 [19 favorites]


"Allowed to leave the company with a fortune large enough that his great-grandchildren will never want for anything" does not seem like much of a punishment to me.

Jokes on him, though. His great-grandchildren work for Fidomaster.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:58 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


It's kind of telling that the head of EBay's “Global Security and Resiliency unit” and its supervisor of security operations were using EBay's platform to stalk and harass people. Yes, the fish rots from its head – in this case the CEO – but their duty was to prevent this behaviour.

You would think that large companies would be better at selecting and assigning employees, but no. Google's head of diversity, for instance, was reassigned after people (outside Google) discovered his rant about Jews' “insatiable appetite for war and killing”. There was also some musing about how he internally detested gay people, that was at least tone deaf. In contrast, Google fired (and did not merely reassign) an AI ethicist who declined to withdraw her paper on IIUC structural racism potentially embedded within the corpuses used for natural language processing. It later fired her co-author: an act that, to me, seems related. It has now apparently reorganised the AI ethics department and I'm sure the remaining employees won't make that mistake again.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:40 PM on August 3 [23 favorites]


Honestly what terrifies me more is that a more intelligent band of villains would have gotten away with it. How many other Steiners are there who are being harassed by some random company security team.
posted by interogative mood at 4:53 PM on August 3 [16 favorites]


the one thing I keep wondering about this - just what were these jackasses hoping to accomplish? What did they think the tracker was going to give them? Blackmail material? Why would this ever have come to the point of this level of effort?
posted by drewbage1847 at 5:12 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


What did they think the tracker was going to give them? Blackmail material?

Given their focus on making sure the couple knew they were being stalked I suspect they would have had their twitter account send "You looked great at the mall yesterday!" type messages.

what were these jackasses hoping to accomplish?

I've been trying to figure that out. From the description given it seems like they were out to punish the couple. I don't think the harassers were out to get them to change, I think they just wanted to terrify them.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:05 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]




This seems incredibly like a bunch of amateurs playing at mafia tactics, but there's no doubt this kind of shit goes on all the time fueled by the rich and powerful and carried out by henchmen who know what they're doing.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:12 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


From the article linked in the first comment:

"According to prosecutors, Baugh and members of the security team devised a convoluted and improbable strategy: to secretly harass the Steiners, and then offer eBay’s assistance in stopping the attacks — winning the Steiners’ confidence and manipulating them into favorable coverage of eBay."

I ... I ... I just can't.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:15 PM on August 3 [6 favorites]


According to prosecutors, Baugh and members of the security team devised a convoluted and improbable strategy: to secretly harass the Steiners, and then offer eBay’s assistance in stopping the attacks — winning the Steiners’ confidence and manipulating them into favorable coverage of eBay.

What blows my mind about this is that they wrote a newsletter where they detailed things they would like eBay to do. Like, it does not take a team of geniuses to work out how to get favourable coverage from this newsletter: they are writing it down and sending it to all their subscribers.
posted by Merus at 7:20 PM on August 3 [12 favorites]


Two former Santa Clara police captains were involved in this harassment campaign. Back in July 2020, the Santa Clara police department said there would be an independent third-party investigation of the former SCPD captains' conduct while they were on the force, and that investigation would be released to the public. I'm curious if that investigation has been completed. I couldn't find it online.
posted by creepygirl at 8:34 PM on August 3 [8 favorites]


There are a million shameful things about the eBay team's behavior here, but there's a special hatred in my heart for them because they tried, at one point, to find a random Samoan eBay critic to pin everything on. 100% racist in addition to everything else.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:48 PM on August 3 [16 favorites]


I'm looking forward to seeing the outcome of the civil suit. They should be able to take eBay for a fair amount.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:24 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


They should sue Devin Wenig for $57 million.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 1:19 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]


archive.ph

maggieb, thank you so much for your link.
posted by bendy at 2:58 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Like, it does not take a team of geniuses to work out how to get favourable coverage from this newsletter: they are writing it down and sending it to all their subscribers.

I’m pretty sure eBay was aware of the specific issues, but I don’t think that changing the CEO’s salary so it wasn’t 152 times the salary of the lowest paid employee even occurred to them as a solution.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:05 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


I sure hope Fidomaster also sues eBay for defamation.
posted by eviemath at 5:42 AM on August 4


This is absolutely insane, feels like a barely believable horror movie plot. The ebay harassers were lucky these folks weren't the vengeful type or gun owners. I really would like to know how all this came to be, why they did the harassments, like, who gives a shit about a critical newsletter and how could more than one person be so thin-skinned and unhinged to go along with any step of the harassment?
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:43 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Former eBay employee, long before these jokers worked at the company. The other former employees I know are horrified by this thing. It's also super weird -- we all knew this newsletter, you could meet up with the authors at eBay Live and chat. They could be critical but we all knew they were trying to make the platform better. And even if you thought they were wrong about something, they weren't exactly the Wall Street Journal. I don't know when that perspective was lost.
posted by feckless at 10:26 AM on August 4 [11 favorites]


feels like a fiefdom thing - as alluded to above a "the king is angered we must correct this for him" (also was reading that one of the participants - I think the one sentenced - was blaming alcoholism that he developed at eBay trying to hang with the company culture.)
posted by drewbage1847 at 1:00 PM on August 4


I missed this story on the other two go-rounds and I’m glad I caught it this time. More fuel for my golden parachute has got to go fire.
posted by double bubble at 2:03 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm bleeping over something when I read the articles. But considering how many folks out there have criticized eBay (hell, all you have to do is look at eBay's own Discussion Boards for examples), what made said eBay employees choose this particular pair to terrorize? Was it just mentioning the salaries alone that got the couple caught in eBay's crosshairs?
posted by gtrwolf at 7:52 PM on August 4


Reads like a Cohen Bros script.
posted by suelac at 9:57 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


There were usually six analysts, but turnover was high. Zea noticed that the men were becoming scarce. By May 2018 the group was entirely female. Baugh had a video for that too: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg explaining “why we have too few women leaders.”

Sandberg did not say these women should all be young and blonde — “Charlie’s Angels” and “Jim’s Angels” were their nicknames in the executive suite — but Zea wasn’t about to point that out. Women got fired, too, and afterward the survivors would whisper about why. One departed analyst had been reprimanded for not smiling in front of executives. Another was let go because she sang to keep herself awake during the night shift. A third because she chewed on her pen.


I think this explains why a lot of people went along.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:54 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]


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