Anyone who has ever been in Times Square knows how the scam works, if they spend enough time there. Someone holding a big hotdog with mustard and ketchup slathered all over it suddenly comes up to you and bumps into you. Then, apologizing profusely, they start trying to get napkins to wipe off your jacket. While you are all busy struggling to clean your coat, somebody else in cahoots with the hotdog- bearer picks your pocket or swipes your purse.
Another variation on this theme: a person comes lunging at you holding that big old hotdog slathered with sauce, and you back up abruptly and glare at them, sensing the old scam, and then they suddenly start cursing you out, accusing you of being suspicious of them, and how dare you, and blah blah, and while they are distracting you with that, their pal picks your pocket.
So the Anonymous method is something like that. Operatives pick a fight with you deliberately, then go through fake agida over your angry reaction, then hack you to continue to find things they can "get" on and play outraged fake "gotcha" over.
Or you see them coming with some sort of strange angry reaction, and you call them out on it, and they go through theaterical gyrations to convince you how evil you are for not believing their supposed sincerity. So that's how it works in the attacks on me from Anonymous in the last week precisely: it's hard to know whether @hausofpain is a real person or a crafted concoction run even by multiple people -- Anonymous is a master at making such manipulative propaganda accounts and having them engage in drive-by attacks and simulated outrages. There are inconsistencies and also a pattern of narrative used before in some of these attacks -- they don't keep their personas straight -- which adds to the contrived feeling.
But even if the person is real, the old hotdog-in-the-lapel trick is all too real. You are smeared -- and smeared because the person is out trawling for victims even while crying bloody murder that they are victims themselves if you so much as look at them cross-eyed. Anyone who has been in online communities is familiar with these kinds of gyrations -- in Second Life there were people who had them down to a sick science as griefers.
I remember once I put up a voting panel to ask people's attitudes towards newbies with no payment information on file -- NPIOF. I myself didn't believe in banning them and had them as customers, and I also thought most people had no objection to them and that the hollering on the forums about the need to insist on payment information on file was limited to only a minority. So it was a poll seeking to learn what public opinion really was, not a billboard against newbies, as anyone could see if they looked at my actual questions on the poll, which included things like "NPIOF enables people from poor countries to be creative and start a business" -- and the land settings. But griefers tried to seize it to make it look as if I hated newbies or immigrants or some wild thing.
Another time a person with a female avatar who had long had a relationship online with another female was suddenly reported killed in a car accident after declaring she was nine months pregnant. A male who said he was the website manager for the allegedly dead female came on to report her death. But nobody could find any news clippings about this tragedy and as more and more evidence piled up that the web manager and the female avatar were the same person, people began to be suspicious it was a hoax. I examined it and decided it was a hoax, too. When I legitimately blogged my opinion about a story that seemed contrived, some people accused me of cruelty and hatred. Nonsense -- I just didn't believe an online hoax.
Not surprisingly, this is the form the current Anonymous harassment of me is taking, a faux pity party for a person who might or might not be real, who of course had the option merely not to follow me if they didn't like my criticism of their lovely movement Anonymous -- which I've rightly called out as violent -- or my criticism of Hammond, a hacker arrested for a number of violent offenses and the Stratfor hack.
A claim that this Anonymous person is "bullied" by me, and has to hide on a private account because...I criticized their movement isn't valid. Huh? By that skewed interpretation, any criticism of Anonymous is "bullying" and therefore grounds for "sanctions" -- Anonymous pretends that it doesn't attack journalists and bloggers for free speech and even criticism of them, yet it does if it decides that certain critical speech -- the kind that hits home because it's true -- is "bullying" and therefore outside the realm of free speech. See how that works?
This person endlessly engaged in externalized Internet outrage --over my few tweets pointing out cogently that Anonymous' roots in 4chan hardcore porn hardly makes it suitable to accuse others about their porn -- is a person who by their own admission pulls out their hair to hurt themselves. Disturbing. And a person who spends the day on overdrive fuming and angrily punching pillows and vandalizing my Wikipedia entry because... I said I didn't want to live in a society run by fucktards who took away other people's rights, and that Anonymous itself is the bully. This *truth* was something this Anonymous cult victim couldn't handle.
But...the entire thing is contrived. Next, I get a chorus of Anonymous accounts, possibly all run by one person or only a few, all singing the blues about what a cruel, horrible, insensitive person I am for not respecting rape victims. Of course I respect rape victims, that's not what it's about. What that means merely is that I didn't buy the story of this *anonymous* online persona -- an *anonymous* online persona who interestingly, staged two hits this week:
o an attack and smear operation on Lee Stranahan of Breitbart.com, purporting to "discover" that he had BDSM porn on some web page of years ago -- an attack that was designed to discredit him as a critical commentator on what Anonymous was doing with its vigilantism in Steubenville
o a doxing and harassment campaign against me now with smears as well, claiming that I "don't care" about rape victims and myself engage in "bullying" by challenging Anonymous regulars.
Look pretty contrived and organized, doesn't it?It might not be. It might really be that @hausofpain just "happened" to dig up "dirt" on Stranahan and then just "happened" to bump into me. And maybe that's how it really did go down. I just happened to see the tweets or retweets about him which I felt compelled to say constituted hypocrisy and then became a subject of harassment myself.
But it might have been anyone. Anyone might have stood up and say, "Hey, how dare you, look at 4chan's hardcore section and look who's talking". That was low-hanging fruit (or should have been, if people like Adrian Chen actually reported the news of Anonymous instead of alternated between adulating them and baiting them).Then that person would have suffered a harassment campaign...
Then comes the Devil Bitch above, and the smear is complete -- "how dare I call myself a human rights activist" -- the heightened and contrived indignation and outrage from a complete stranger who in fact hasn't even read anything but has only been fed stuff -- or is herself an actress staging the agitprop herself.
So that's how you get orchestrated nonsense like the "AIDS Journalist" story (see my "Tips for Google Witch-Hunters).
The "AIDS journalist" was a long-time griefer in Second Life who was a leader of a racist, homophobic, and anti-semitic group called the Patriotic Nigras, which was everything the name implied. They went around crashing servers by spewing out hideous pictures, and putting out noise and chat spam claiming to be the Lord God raining down destruction because of gays, AIDS, Jews, etc. They disrupted numerous concerts, events, etc. in SL and harried and harassed people like me in particular because we abuse-reported them and documented what they did in blogs.
Then this fellow claimed in an interview with the Alphaville Herald, the leading tabloid newspaper for Second Life, that he had reformed and was now working on other issues and began writing for a local free shopper, sometimes publishing stories of his adventures in the virtual world. His most dramatic tale concerned how he fell in love with the editor of the Herald, who had a female avatar, only to discover he was a male in real life. This plunged him into a crisis where he began to wonder if he was gay. He began frequenting gay clubs, had unprotected sex, caught AIDS and then began to beg for sympathy.
Some people had trouble believing him because of his past in a group that not only harassed and bullied people, but used the themes of "AIDS" and "gays" in outrageous ways. It seemed strange -- the guy who had been crying "Pool's Out!" due to gays, and spamming weird apocalyptic chat about raining down destruction as if they were Westboro Church regulars now said he had AIDS. So I said I didn't believe him. I said I was not required to believe him given the circumstances. That's not about being insensitive or uncaring about gays or people with AIDS; it's about not buying the Internet Histrionics stories of this one guy with a context -- and for good reason, because you cannot believe every story you hear online from every anonymous persona.
This fellow -- Joshua McCracken -- then made a video ranting about all this. I mentioned a number of times that if he really had AIDS, that was terrible, but to have crediblity, he would have to get a journalist of a real newspaper, not the Herald, and/or a doctor to provide proof or the community could not find him credible. A doctor is not going to discuss a patient in this manner. So that left a local journalist. Although he worked for the shopper, he couldn't seem to get them to confirm his story, even though he wrote a number of articles, for example, on legalizing medical marijuana for AIDS sufferers. I wrote to the editor myself asking to confirm the story. The editor wrote back to me that he simply couldn't confirm it because this was a contributor whom he didn't know.
Next, a hipster NYU journalism student who liked the idea of this griefer-turned-security-consultant and saw "transgressive" hacking groups like Anonymous as Internet freedom heroes wanted to write a story about all this, and contacted me, but I urged him to do some basic journalistic scrutiny. He then later claimed that McCracken had died -- when in fact he hadn't. The mystery of why he stopped taking medications and seemed essentially to commit suicide isn't known -- the entire time from when he first went to the gay club, got AIDS, and then died was incredibly short, like a year or less. That's just not typical.
So that's the context for a seeming "cruelty" from a blogger like me -- my insistence on just basic journalistic scrutiny of the claims made by people seeming to suffer from Internet Histrionics.
This persona above claims to be "going back to school" and to be "a future nurse" and to be "pissed off" at my seeming cold cruelty -- you know, like Anonymous' cold cruelty when they dox, hack and current people. I'd have to worry about any "future nurse" who handled Internet histrionics claims this uncritically.
But she can do her faux outrage all she wants, the context of this story is clear and no one can claim otherwise as the record states it.
Saying you don't believe somebody's story on the Internet isn't cruelty; it's common sense and prudence. And even if they are telling the truth, questioning their motives in the use of the story is in order when you see flocks of them trying to silence critics.
I don't doubt that there will be more of this -- strange, curious smears, like the bunch of people IM'ing me that I must be sad that my children live not with me, but my ex, and call another woman "mom". Hilarious. There's no such situation. My children live with me, and my ex helps to raise them. We are working on his book. There is no such situation where I'm crying and my children are calling my ex's wife of many years "mom". Please, how ridiculous. But...this is your business because...why? Because you doxed me and now you are contriving some smear?
With people operating in malice and bad faith like that, there's no telling what they will come up with. I can't spend the time to come and refute each and every exaggeration, falsehood, amplification of the trivial into the tragic -- whatever it is.
So I can only say, look, if somebody is concerned about some horrible thing they've heard or read about me and they think this is just so vital, they can get a real journalist to interview me and do research on the claims. That's all.