Article by Denise Winterman, BBC News (2013-12-03). Excerpts follow below. They may sound familiar. They certainly sounded familiar to me; while we’ve all seen quite enough regular trolling, and trolling of all shapes and sizes and shades—including the good, virtuous, angrily sincere—this is a different, darker side that I’d never thought of. It does make me wonder, though, how far cyber self-harm extends. The BBC item below refers specifically to teenagers and teen issues.
But those of us who spend a lot of time online see these issues frequently and not only in teens. These issues continue into later life: adults, too, may be emotionally damaged, scarred, suffer low self-esteem. Especially, all too often, women. Continue reading
on censorship, netiquette, cyberbullying:
Striking Back Against Censorship (WordPress News, 2013-11-21)
The mission of WordPress.com is to democratize publishing. We’re inspired every day by the ways creators use our platform to bring their voices to the world. Unfortunately, we also see many cases of censorship aimed at WordPress.com authors and users.
One area where we’ve seen a number of problems is the censoring of criticism through abuse of copyright law. Two recent cases of abuse really caught our attention and made us think that we needed to take action to fight back on behalf of our users and everyone who believes in the Internet’s promise for free expression.
A common form of censorship by copyright stems from improper use of legal creations called DMCA takedown notices. The DMCA stands for the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act”, which is a US federal law that created a system for protecting copyrights online. The DMCA system works pretty well, but has a few overlooked flaws that have made it too easy to abuse. Under the DMCA, companies, like Automattic, who publish user content cannot be held legally responsible for copyright infringement – so long as we follow a procedure to take down materials when we receive a notice from a copyright holder that something appearing on our platform allegedly infringes their copyrights. Every company that you use to share videos, pictures, and thoughts (from Google search to Facebook to Snapchat to WordPress.com) relies on the DMCA to balance free expression with protection of copyright.
The DMCA system gives copyright holders a powerful and easy to use weapon: the unilateral right to issue a takedown notice that a website operator (like Automattic) must honor or risk legal liability. The system works so long as copyright owners use this power in good faith. But too often they don’t, and there should be clear legal consequences for those who choose to abuse the system.
[read the rest of the piece in full at WordPress News]
And a useful link from there:
- Retraction Watch: Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process
Item the third is an extraordinary story of response to cyber-bullying, with extreme harassment and threats: it shows the other, positive side of the DMCA.
The original version: “I’VE BEEN CALLED THE “ERIN BROCKOVICH” OF REVENGE PORN, AND FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, HERE IS MY ENTIRE UNCENSORED STORY OF DEATH THREATS, ANONYMOUS AND THE FBI”, xojane.com, 2013-11-21.
Also “One woman’s war against the most dangerous man on the internet”, at Jezebel, with many heartwarming offers of help from the community at large.
PART ONE (OF THREE)
No further comment, and I did not comment or otherwise contribute to the discussion below. It was clearly a lost cause, insofar as the serious material content was concerned. The non-serious teeters on an uncomfortable edge, given the limitations of the principal troll here. Screenshots aren’t linked to anything, just the images. Those who recognize the format (and perhaps, indeed, pseudonyms) will know where this came from. Others should be able to figure it out for themselves from previous posts.
From a week ago: to allow some critical distance. Main reasons for posting:
2. Observation of assorted trolling styles
3. A nice example of the limits of reasoning, that is, when confronted with human limitations / limited humans
4. Open question: what are the limits to tolerance, and to suffering fools?
5. And another one: humour’s limits?
Where do you draw the line, when dealing with someone who says things that are foolish and ignorant (who knows, the person saying them may be a troll, and not in fact an ignorant fool), but who also expresses paranoia? Convinced about conspiracy theories. Cultish. Led by blind belief (not reason, or intuition, or other forms of active thought).
Bearing in mind at the same time
(a) that these words may be by a troll, who has created an online fiction;
(b) and that this is an individual who sells her own beauty products, regularly shills, does not accept or comprehend that this is against the rules on this particular online forum, and therefore: is a troll;
Bearing these two other factors in mind: this persona’s utterances could be sincere simplicity. Genuine. Honest. And just plain stupid. Yes, a fact’s a fact: people’s brains vary, as do their levels of assorted kinds and expressions of intelligence. Some people are stupid. Some people might not be stupid, but they say stupid things from time to time. Some people say stupid things all the time. Some people say stuff when Under The Influence that they wouldn’t usually say; IQ and reactions are impeded by alcohol–on the other hand, in vino veritas. And some people, regardless of their smartness, lack emotional and / or social intelligence.
There could also be mental health and well-being issues (given the paranoia).
Whatever is going on here, or whatever combination of factors: as my granny always said, “One should not mock the afflicted.”
(All those things having been said: sometimes things are also still funny. That’s another of these things some of like to think of as and call “facts”: in this case, a fact about what makes people laugh, and why, and how, and what’s going on in and behind that reaction of laughing.)
Questions 4 and 5 and that last paragraph were basically why I didn’t comment. As my only comments would have been these, meta-comments, and thus technically “off topic” according to this discussion forum’s rules. Therefore: not to be posted there. I like rules, especially sensible ones and ones that are good for people; that help and protect and nurture and benefit them. That includes shutting people like me up when they need to be shut up: it’s good for me.
Oops, famous last words, once again, on “no comment.” Following on from that last comment on my shutting up: over and out from me.
And lo: as ever, as soon as I take screenshots, everything changes. And then I have to take screenshots all over again. The life of an archivist is not an easy one. I had a meander back, thinking to myself that this might be the sort of thread that got a bit over-excited and exciting, and might be worth following. In the squeamish surreptitious way one discreetly follows reality T.V., and hates oneself for doing so.
In this third and I hope final part: twists in the tale, blurrings of the border between fiction and reality, and then bam: the whole discussion-thread was Disappeared, some point before 11:00 a.m. Pacific Coast time. Given that I’ve been all prim and proper and discreet about not naming sources or linking to URLs, and have cropped screenshots, you may well be wondering: did she make it all up?
I wonder much the same thing myself, about much that is on the discussion forum in question. I often feel like I’ve walked into a parallel universe or a fictional world, over there.
Add to that the fact that fact is stranger than fiction. You couldn’t make this up. I couldn’t, anyway: which might answer anyone wondering if I did. Sorry, I didn’t: I’m just not that good a writer.
Life’s too short. Other better more useful stuff to do. Reconciliation to get on with and suchlike.
FFS: first world effing problems online.
On the other hand, part of truth and reconciliation is that truth part: ensuring that all stories are told, from all points of view, by all concerned. Recorded and preserved. That history be properly written, as histories: plural. Not as one single history, that is, the story of the victor. And stories may each have elements of truth, or they may all be true, even if contradictory. That’s a human fact, and very human, and marvellous. Often also a marvel.
In this case, the “true history” of the victor, the powers behind this discussion forum? Erasure. Didn’t happen.
UPDATE: famous last words again… I have censored out parts of some screenshots, further to a request to do so, as they are now the subject of moderator / administration action against the party/ies concerned. This is in deference to nice people. And I don’t mind, as the bits whited out weren’t really germane to the main argument. If anything, they were irrelevant tangents to the main points of discussion and Points To Ponder: trolling, tolerance, and the limits to them and to online discussion.
That grand finale:
There’s been a spate of recent bad news about online activity. I have a sense that online behaviour has worsened recently: one person I was talking to thinks the last few months, I think it’s been a downward trend over at least the last two years, with an acceleration after last year’s Arab Spring and its valorisation of Twitter.
Being able to read, write, comment, and discuss online is a good thing. For free and freely. Within the usual limits of social interaction, courtesy, care for others, respect, tolerance, politeness; all these virtues of humane civility that are associated with civilized humanity. This all seemed and I hope continues to seem marvellously utopian.
Ideal, yes. Idealised, over-idealistic: perhaps. In a perfect world, everyone would listen and read carefully, pay attention to others, think before they speak, only open their mouths when they had something to say, and spend more time listening (and thinking) than talking. Unfortunately that’s not the case. It’s never been the case. In two words: human nature. Continue reading
There’s been too much more nonsense recently. Examples and copy-pasting today; commentary follows tomorrow. Continue reading
Continuing on from the return of the lady of shalott, another example of a common online issue and a suggestion on what to do with it. Public service information service:
1. ANTOINETTE (neither her real name nor an online pseudonym) posts constantly on a certain issue on a certain public discussion board. “Board flooding.” Asks the same questions over and over again. JOCASTA is a regular on that same board. S/he also receives many messages off-board (this website has a “private message / mail” area too), being a knowledgeable and helpful person. She has had much correspondence in the past (usually about that same issue) with ANTOINETTE, as well as interacting with her on that board. ANTOINETTE asks the same question on that same discussion board yet again. JOCASTA calls her out on it that discussion board. ANTOINETTE then sends her many off-board private messages. Each one a paragraph long. For hours and hours and hours. All day. Meanwhile, JOCASTA is at work.
What to do next?
As JOCASTA puts it,
Can a 50 year old woman really be that dumb? I mean REALLY??
Well, it looks like BeautyBash (or, the BB board) is no more. Bloody marvellous. I found out about it when I had a look at the Praise of Folly stats, as one does from time to time. I was pleased to see that one post I quite liked was doing well, and surprised to see another one was too. Turns out this was thanks to a MUAer over on the Café board! Thanks to them, I found out the good news. Massive happiness. Especially if this ending to that kind of unpleasant bashing is a final one. Makes the world a better place.
Welcome, also, to MakeupAlley visitors who have come here ten days or so after this post first appeared, via http://www.makeupalley.com/m_160953682 on the Hair Board. Hello there!
So here’s what happened… What follows is in the form of screenshots with no blacking-out of names, because
(1) as far as I can tell, there’s nothing here that constitutes private information (had there been, I would have edited the images to black them out):
(2) it is 2013 and I’m assuming no-one is so stupid as to have used their real name as their online handle, or to have associated identifying information with their account, or otherwise included private details in a public place;
(3) if any of these people are actual trolls, and worse still if they turn out to be renegade beautybashers, the raw screenshots are potentially useful archived evidence…
… Anyway, back to caffeinated delights:
RIP educational standards in the general population (these are tech-competent people, and at least one is in the sort of job that involves having at least one intern) if that sort of rapidly-considered, -researched, and -written commentary really honestly seriously looks like “a research paper.” Kudos if it doesn’t: if that’s the case, this is one of the finest bits of tongue-in-cheek I’ve seen from an American.
But whtv, either which way, overall response is LOL. And happiness because this was what led me to The Good News!!!
What happened next: Continue reading
A quick short post, this one. Continue reading
A subtle troll-doll spammer, this one. Note the progression: we start out with neutrality:
WARNING: REST OF POST INCLUDES CONTENT AND IMAGES THAT MAY CAUSE OFFENSE OR PAIN Continue reading
Bonus updates: fuckwits of the world unite, you have nothing but your—oh wait a minute, nothing to lose. And there is the joy of trolling I guess. And its sheer despicable nihilism.