Yes, I had to wait for it for 10 years, but finally a headline from Silicon Valley that says:
God bless you, Caleb Garling, whoever you are -- the SF Gate is one of the many Silicon Valley regional newspapers that never question Anonymous because -- well, ultimately, Anonymous clears the way for the gadgets and Internet and your privacy and information all to be free, to their benefit (but that's a longer story).
I'm glad that there's finally a conscience growing among the tech set, but gosh, I do have to point out that this conscience began twinging not when Anonymous brought havoc to the BART transportation system; not when Anonymous hacked PayPal or Amazon or Gawker; not when Anonymous hacked Sony after the tragedy of the tsunami and caused them millions of dollars of losses; not when Anonymous hacked Stratfor and stole people's credit cards and tried to demolish their consulting business; not when Anonymous hacked the US Sentencing Commission or MIT.
It twinged only when a woman in fact used the nasty methods of Anonymous that have so migrated into real life from the Internet's social media, and got one of their own fired. Oh, then it kicked in, and how!
No sooner did the hapless dev post his comment to the start-up watering hole Y-Combinator - "She gave me no warning, she smiled while she snapped the pic and sealed my fate" like some cyber country song about somebody done somebody wrong, then the /b/tards were off and running.
Read what a "friend of Anonymous" -- really one of them? merely yet another convert to their methods? -- had to write about this:
Anonymous has reviewed the situation and rendered judgment using their collective wisdom and experience. Adria Richards engaged in malicious conduct to destroy the another individual's professional career due to what she perceived as an affront to her own extremist views from a comment that was not directed at her, not meant for her to hear, and certainly not for her to provide unwarranted input on. As such, she should have her professional career destroyed just like her victim in order for justice to be rendered and balance restored to the universe. The hivemind's judgement is final and there is no appeal. No forgiveness, no forgetting remember?
Um, reviewed the situation? What are you, the Politburo? The Supreme Court, that you hacked?
Your client list has also been obtained by Anonymous. They have already begun harassing your customers. These include obnoxious phone calls, emails, denial of service attacks, online vandalism and defamation, and even real-life harassment (we'll get to this later). From a purely logical standpoint, your customers should realize and understand that this is not Sendgrid's fault and continue doing business with you. However, in real life, the human condition remains dominant, with all the pesky emotions and instincts which defy logic at times. Some of your customers may just cut all business ties because they don't have the time or desire to deal with this nonsense. Anonymous has analyzed your business model, and based on your clientele and competitors, you are very vulnerable. They are very focused on this.
Did this have affect on poor SendGrid? Did they quiver in their boots?
Your financial backers have also been targeted for the same harassment. Normally, when a venture capitalist puts money into your organization, a bond is forged through your idea or product gaining the confidence of your financial backer for future returns. This is a strong bond that is not easily broken through petty harassment. However, if any of your backers have something embarrassing or illegal to hide (sexual misconduct, tax fraud, etc), Anonymous WILL find it (they are good at doing this) and make it public. I guarantee, given the reputation of Anonymous, this is a factor that they will be considering when deciding how to continue their dealings with Sendgrid.
And then, like the logic of the killer robot that tells warring humanity that it will reduce them to cinder if they don't get along, Anonymous pretends that "this little chat" will lead to some enlightened, conscious thought and action, instead of sheer terror:
So, in closing, I hope this information helps you make an informed choice on how to deal with the situation. I do not represent, speak for, nor am associated with Anonymous, but I have seen some of their tactics. I present this information NOT as any gesture of threat, but merely to inform. This information is being provided free of charge and I make no guarantees on the accuracy of the material. However, you do have a choice to make at this point: Do nothing, or Publicly announce that Ms. Richards will be fired. The opportunity to stop this growing mob in its tracks before it tries to tear Sendgrid apart is as simple as publicly announcing Ms. Richards' firing. Now, you also have the opportunity to be sneaky about it and just publicly announcing the firing but not actually do it. But if Anonymous ever finds out, they will bring the full fury on you and your company. To put it in perspective, not even secure government websites are safe. If you believe you can tough it out, by all means, do nothing. This attack will last no more than a month at most. Anonymous' one weakness is a short attention span. If something even more outrageous happens over the next few days, resources will be diverted elsewhere and you get off scott free. I wish you the best of luck.
The creeps who did this even wrote strangely that they had come up with "some interesting information about her dentist". Huh? WTF? Her dentist? And that's the least of it -- she's been subjected to a slew of death threats and hate letters and misogynist obscene talk for days on end. It seems that for now at least they've forced her off the Internet. Boy do I know what that's like. But you cannot back down. This isn't just about males: it's about the authoritarianism that can happen to both men and women and infected her and made her act wrongfully first.
Only if you had been schooled for years with griefing in SL, and got a message like that sent to SendGrid as I did three times in videos from Anonymous, would you say, "I'm going to call these thugs' bluff".
It doesn't matter if it "isn't Anonymous" or one of their overlords' approved "ops"; those overlords are silent and not disassociating themselves from this or condemning it. And some of them might, and it would only be a distraction. Because the methods of Anonymous are the problem, and they are metasticizing everywhere, helped by Twitter. What is Twitter doing about this culture is is creating?
Of course, one of the ways that authoritarian states -- an Anonymous -- attacks people is by not just attacking them, but attacking their loved ones or co-workers or relatives who are not in the dispute in the first place -- innocent bystanders. And they can often get people to knuckle once they go after those weaker links in the chain of normal human defense. A woman might brazen out the tough killer robot talk against herself, but not when it comes to her child. And as I keep saying -- this is not about only women, and let's not pretend it is as that feeds into the whole rewarmed Marxist identity politics of "third-wave" feminism.
When the leftist thugs who kept harassing Breitbart's Lee Stranahan for his accurate reporting of Anonymous vigilantism in Steubenville, they invoked the death of his infant in a tragic childbirth accident; they invoked his young daughters; they involed his wife. None of those people obviously were involved in his work as a reporter, but the thugs went after them to get at him. That's what they do. Fight back. And realize this is about methodology and movement tactics just as much as it is about individuals, and repudiate them everywhere.
I don't know the psychological state that SendGrid found themselves in. The CEO's message doesn't tell us. As I said, their business is not reforming geekdom and joining feminist crusades, but making and selling email systems. Go to church or your feminist book shop if you need someone to help you with morality. Sure, we want businesses to have some kind of social conscience, but this was just too crazy and outrageous and brings scandal to their reputation and no business in the universe is going to sit back while that happens and applaud your lack of impulse control.
All the usual morality police are lining up on Twitter -- are we surprised to see griefer-professor Biella Coleman, adoring office wife of the Anonymous goons, is busy trying to prove that we can't prove it's Anonymous and she can only find one pastebin and one video?
Like, that's not enough? The real point is that Anonymous' methods are used by Anonymous and by so many others, including you, you know, Biella?
And she emphasizes Adria's "right to report" -- but doesn't ever question what it means to have politically-correct conference norms based on clutchy fear and hysteria, and overkill behaviour that suppresses the free speech that these people are supposedly always fighting for on the Internet when they need, oh, net neturality or no SOPA or whatever.
Adria Richards tells us that she made three "gut checks". She checked her gut when she took the photo, and she checked her gut when she posted the photo, and she checked her gut when she tattled on the chatters behind her to the conference organizers.
Protesting sexual harassment isn't wrong, but all three of those gut checks were wrong. Her gut was wildly out of whack. Her gut was telling her that a picture of a girl on stage who had been chosen in a program to encourge girls to code was going to be betrayed if she didn't fight like an out-of-control killer robot. This is what c3 calls MIPS, media-induced psychosis syndrome. Maybe it was a "trigger" -- which is this all-powerful and nearly mystical thing that all the kids are talking about as if they can now absolve themselves of any self-control and any conscious executive-function decision making outside of their autosonomous nervous system. Thanks, Internet!
None of those things should have happened with her "gut" -- that automatic reaction based on fight or flight which Ted Castronova greedily wished for gaming companies and gamification experts to tap into and incite endlessly for fun and profit. That is, sure, they automatically happen, but some other thing we used to call "common sense" should have kicked in for balance.
She should have said "Shh, you're gross you guys, stop it" -- and only taken it to the organizers if they didn't stop harassing her, and not talking to each other. I personally find this entire conference behaviour guideline thing suspect. Seldom are they democratically developed with any liberal notions like "the right to face your accusers" and "the right to appeal". I remember how this was invoked for several Second Life fan conferences and people endlessly fretted over it but it did no good. A critic like me still found myself heckled and harassed by horrid little 4channers coming up to personally harass me and nobody did a thing.
A developer has posted a list of the sexual harassment incidents that have happened at tech conferences. Some are familiar to me. I remember the Second Life educators' conference where a Linden Lab employee sexually assaulted a woman -- and it never made the press, and the employee was reassigned but not dismissed, and everyone in the community kept it quiet. Ugh.
I could write reams and reams about the harassment I've suffered in Second Life, but let me skip to the last year, in which I began to have effigies of my real-life self, made from my real-life photographs, put around everywhere in the 3-D virtual world -- with glasses broken or arms broken, bloodied, mutiliated, burnt on spits, with head cut off -- giant, small, and put everywhere, so that not only I had to experience the vivid horror of it, but my tenants. Everywhere, the picture of me in the Wired magazine interview was used, where I spoke out against 4chan harassment of women -- and was one of the first to do what's fashionable now for the tech grrls and without any support from the likes of freaks like Shava Narad. In fact, in my constantly vandalized Wikipedia entry, there is a picture of an re-enactment of the Wired picture
The Wired picture was deliberate. The photographer literally took dozens and dozens of pictures of me. Me smiling straight into the camera; me with my son; me at my computer; me in this outfit or that outfit. At one point, curiously, the photographer asked me if I had any darker and looser blouses I could put on. I obliged, unconscious of any ulterior motive. He asked me to go into the kitchen and stand at the sink, and took a picture of my back. Right before he left, he asked if I'd be willing to take a picture of myself peering through the chain of the locked door. I said no, finding it odd.
Although this photographer could have used a picture of me smiling with my child, or working at my desk, or looking confidently straight into the camera as I used my real name and documented the harassment of me and others in Second Life -- the precursor of so much of what was to come on the Internet -- he used the one he had expertly staged of me with a broad back at the kitchen sink -- where, you know, women belong.
The effigy re-creating this awful scene which is itself a misogynous act I was walked into without realizing it isn't me -- I wouldn't make an avatar of myself from real life and dress it up like that. No, the effigy is made by my persecutors in SL. And yet the Wikipedia page says it's my avatar, as if I enjoy "punishment". Creepy, eh? The name/account of the person who took this, required on Wikipedia "does not exist". How does that happen?
Read the lovely thoughts of Julian Dibbell on how we shouldn't take online harassment seriously, we should joke, along with the b/tards about the Internet as Srs Bizness, and we should treat griefing as a growing experience
Moving, and maybe even illuminating. In the end, no matter what they say, life on the Internet really is a serious business. It matters. But the tricky thing is that it matters above all because it mostly doesn't — because it conjures bits of serious human connection from an oceanic flow of words, pictures, videoclips, and other weightless shadows of what's real. The challenge is sorting out the consequential from the not-so-much. And, if Rich Kyanka's steely equanimity is any example, the antics of the Goons and /b/tards might actually sharpen our ability to make that distinction. To those who think the griefers' handiwork is simply inexcusable: Well, being inexcusable is, after all, the griefers' job. Ours is to figure out that caring too much only gives them more of the one thing they crave: the lulz.
He casually describes the death threats to a man's female infant and praises his steely bravery in facing it down. Remember who Julian Dibbell is? He's the one who famously wrote about A Rape in Cyberspace back in his book My Tiny Life 1998. I always wonder if he did it himself. That's why I took chat logs of my interview with him, knowing in advance he'd be selective -- he was -- and denounced him afterwards. (Does Wired routinely strip out comments on archived articles? I debated him and his legion of b/tard fans there, too but it's all gone now.)
Rachel Sklar is worried about SendGrid's appeasement to the troll armies. Indeed! I wish that both SendGrid and PlayHaven could walk back the cat and undo their firings.
But why isn't Sklar worried about the Anonymous methods -- methods that in fact predate Anonymous and go back to Lenin if not before -- those methods people call "Saul Alinsky" methods -- freeze the target, exaggerate some aspect of it that appears to go against his principles, hammer, hammer, hammer -- isn't that what Adria did? Why is that okay for her to do, and not for them?