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How Anita Sarkeesian’s Haters Used Fake Tweets to Unleash a Wave of Harassment

Fake Tweets, real harassment
Fake Tweets, real harassment

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Anita Sarkeesian’s assorted haters frequently demand “proof” that she’s really been harassed. Sarkeesian regularly provides proof, in sickening detail; her haters resolutely ignore the evidence.

In a blog post yesterday that everyone concerned about online harassment should read, Sarkeesian documented yet another example of what she’s had to endure ever since she started expressing her opinions about video games on YouTube, looking in detail at the wave of harassment and threats she received this past July after 4chan trolls and other haters spread around “screenshots” of phony Tweets deliberately designed to whip up hatred against her.

The phony Tweets — so obviously fake that one of them contained more characters than Twitter even allows — made it appear that Sarkeesian had responded to the death of  Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata by declaring him a “male supremacist” and saying she was “glad he’s gone” from the game company.

Sarkeesian’s haters are hardly the only ones who’ve used fake Tweets and fake quotes in order to unleash hatred upon their enemies online. As I’ve documented here, A Voice for Men’s social media director “Janet Bloomfield” used fake quotes attributed to feminist writers Jessica Valenti in an attempt to smear her; on at least one occasion she’s posted fake Sarkeesian Tweets as well. (“Bloomfield” was banned from Twitter for this sort of targeted abuse; she’s now attempting to get around the ban by posting under her real name Andrea Hardie.)

In the case of the fake Iwata Tweets, Sarkeesian made clear that she hadn’t posted them  — saying it was “disheartening” that people were using the “sad event” of Iwata’s death to whip up phony outrage against her.

But it didn’t matter. Because, as Sarkeesian points out, many of those attacking her knew all along that the Tweets were fake.

They just didn’t care, because their goal was simply to discredit me and to generate so much animosity against me that I would stop speaking critically about video games.

A Twitter user who tracks GamerGate found the origin of the attack on 4chan and shared proof that the harassers knew they were spreading misinformation. They were the ones doing exactly what many of the harassers they spurred on accused me of doing: callously using a man’s tragic death as an opportunity.

They seized it and turned it into a weapon to use against me.

Some harassers knew, others were tricked, but the end result was a cybermob of hate that lasted most of the week.

Sarkeesian ended her post with several dozen examples of the harassing and threatening Tweets that were sent to her that week. Here are a handful of the more striking ones.

ff2

ff3

ff4

ff6

ff7

 

I left out a number referring to Sarkeesian with the c-word because, as I write this, it’s 9 AM, and way too early for that sort of crap. Unfortunately, Sarkeesian has to face this kind of harassment every single day.

 

 

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myriad
myriad
4 years ago

Yeah, it’s funny how ethics are always thrown in the garbage dump every single time these guys do something. Sigh.

Wetherby
Wetherby
4 years ago

It’s never ceased to amaze me that people who bang on endlessly about “ethics” don’t think that this should apply to themselves. If I saw a controversial comment along those lines, my reaction wouldn’t be “KILL THE AUTHOR!”, it would be “Did the author actually write this, since it seems wildly out of character?” And most of the time, my suspicions turn out to be correct.

bluecat
bluecat
4 years ago

It’s interesting (by which I mean horrific) that the gaters continued to share this stuff when it was not just factually, but also quite obviously, fake.

Since when did Twitter allow for more than 140 characters per tweet?

Either someone is claiming Sarkeesian had extra feminist-only character allowances, or they can’t count, or they actually don’t care whether something is true or not so long as it can be used to hurt.

I’m not going to speculate as to how those three approaches would be represented among those who shared this.

It’s pretty scary that someone would do this and that a whole lot of others would encourage it.

But faking things on the internet to score points or discredit opponents is not confined to the GamerGators (I think this is the spelling I’m going to go with).

Here for your delectation is an elected representative with a teeny majority… who seems determined to alienate her constituents.

The difference is she’s being called out over it, is widely derided and may be in trouble for wasting police time.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tory-mp-defends-faking-death-threat-over-syria-air-strikes-vote-a6764766.html

Latte Cat
Latte Cat
4 years ago

Disgusting. I find whenever I ask people what Anita’s ever done or I defend her, it’s always met with, “you just defended Anita, you have nothing credible to say, argument over.”
I literally cannot find a single situation where Anita has said something bad or untrue, without it turning out to be a fake tweet. I can’t believe so many people fall for this shit and go out of their way to make someone else’s life so miserable. It’s just sickening how some people can be so full of hate and disregard for people they’ve never even met at all. All this because she points out that women really aren’t represented the way they should be.
The internet can be a cesspool.

hedin
hedin
4 years ago

It’s revolting, but ingenious how the right constantly drums up hatred to portray people with moderate left wing beliefs as radical extremists. It harms certain popular, temperate voices, obviously, but it also closes off the possibility of a more radical critique.

I’ve never read or heard anything remotely radical from Sarkeesian or Valenti, but GG have successfully solidified them as the cutting edge of feminist thought. Frankly, I usually find Valenti kind of uninteresting as a writer, and most of what Sarkeesian says has been explored with more depth and nuance in TV Tropes or in the writings of other feminists — although in framing a debate about video games in particular and in mainstreaming pop culture critique, she’s definitely been a huge positive force (sort of similar to the role Michael Moore played about class oppression, IMO.) But their opponents are so odious, that we’re all forced to unify behind them. It’s pretty similar to what happened with our “Kenyan socialist” president, who is actually a center-right authoritarian.

Cerulean (Miss A)
Cerulean (Miss A)
4 years ago

I read this on the FemFreq FB page last night, and I felt like it gave me a headache. Also, there were at least two chuckleheads who still spouted off the ‘Anita is a liar/Anita is a con artist/Hitman!!!11’ crap again.

On a side-tangent, Dr. Nerdlove posted up an article about Jessica Jones that referenced an article by Arthur Chu. It was posted to KiA, and in came the trolls. Blargh. http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2015/12/what-can-we-learn-from-jessica-jones/

magnesium
magnesium
4 years ago

Fooling gaters and anti-feminists is like shooting fish in a barrel. I genuinely don’t know how people that dumb can figure out how to access the internet in the first place.

sunnysombrera
sunnysombrera
4 years ago

All this reminds me very much of the type of high school bullying I’d be subject to. The chief bully would fabricate something about me, tell her minions, and the three of them would then try to tell everyone in the class and all my friends in order to smear me and incite others to harass me too. Fortunately I had enough cred with the other kids that they didn’t believe the bully, but since I had a weird complicated relationship with my friends where they were also friends with the bullies AND me and tended to swap between sides, sometimes I’d engage in exactly what Anita is doing with the same results. I’d deny the lie, with proof, but they’d always rebut it with…the lie. They just wanted to believe what they wanted to believe and that was it. The only difference is that they didn’t keep believing the lie for eighteen fucking months (what is wrong with you GG?!) and had dropped it by the next week, or the next day if I was lucky.

tl;dr: Gamergoobers are identical to the high school bullies they whine about when they talk about geek culture.

Cerulean (Miss A)
Cerulean (Miss A)
4 years ago

@Latte Cat:

Not sure this actually answers what you were talking about, but the harassment Ms. Sarkeesian has dealt with is interesting to observe. I find it interesting how little her trolls seem to understand the Streisand Effect…or how tenacious people can be. From the get-go, it has seemed like they have wanted to chase her off the internet, get her to stop her videos and go away (which would also fulfill the ‘Anita is a con artist! She took peoples’ money and ran!’ claim rather well, wouldn’t it?). But they failed, they made her more visible, and she has refused to go away despite whatever they’ve thrown at her. So that really sticks in their craw.

I also find it interesting how they try and make her validate them. When I read (mostly skim, because who wants to read bile?) tweets like the responding ones up there, I see sad little people who are trying to get validation for their bile. The fact that she only acknowledges them in an aggregate, she doesn’t show fear or any signs of backing down, and what she shows only paints them as bigger buffoons just angers them that much more. The problem is they don’t have any more evolved ways of trying to get attention besides throwing the equivalent of a tantrum. So they keep doing the same things they’ve always done, with the remote hope that one of those times they’ll get whatever validation they seek from her.

Chaltab
Chaltab
4 years ago

@magnesium

I genuinely don’t know how people that dumb can figure out how to access the internet in the first place.

Gaters are stupid because they choose to be. Regular ignorance is corrected with information and facts, but willful ignorance can only be reinforced by a pattern of daring to be as dense as possible.

Falconer
Falconer
4 years ago

@Wetherby:

It’s never ceased to amaze me that people who bang on endlessly about “ethics” don’t think that this should apply to themselves.

No act is too extreme in the defense of effics.

And I think it’s been conclusively proven many times now that they don’t actually give a shit about effics, it’s just a fig leaf for getting their hate on.

brian
brian
4 years ago

My “favorite” thing here is the extra fake tweet that I only saw in the selection of tweets at the end (including on this post)… the one that starts with “LOOOOOL” and ends with “FUCKWAD!” Seriously? I hope the person who “quoted” that fake tweet was the one who created it, because if ANYONE actually believed that one was real, I just… don’t know anymore.

One of the worst things, in my opinion, from her post on it, were the posts from 4chan of people saying stuff to the effect of “Well, this is what she’d say ANYWAY, so it’s not like we’re really doing anything wrong.”

weirwoodtreehugger
weirwoodtreehugger
4 years ago

Anyone who was actually fooled by these fake tweets has obviously never read or listened to anything Sarkeesian has actually said. Those fake tweets sound nothing whatsoever like her writing style.

So much of gamergate has never actually watched her videos. They just don’t like feminism and heard from other anti-feminists that she wants to censor video games. Every time I’ve ever asked a gater to back up the claim that she thinks games should be censored or thinks gamers are all terrible people with an actual quote, it’s crickets.

Binjabreel
Binjabreel
4 years ago

I legit read some schmuckburger, who noticed that some of the fake tweets had too many characters, get angry and say it was evidence of the matriarchy, and of how much society bends over backwards for feminists, because look! She got extra characters just for being a feminist!

I fucking kid you not. There’s a level of being so deep in a conspiracy theory that all evidence against it is just more evidence for it.

Moocow
Moocow
4 years ago

@sunnysombrera

They just wanted to believe what they wanted to believe and that was it.

Quoted for depressingly true statement on how bullies (and I’m guessing abusers) work.

I offer you all of the hugs if you’d like, as I’ve had to go through very much the same, and my reaction was very much the same as yours, flabbergasted to hear of the blatant lies people told about me.

I’ve noticed, after going through college at an engineering school, that various nerds (just like GGers) tend to believe that, because they themselves have had trouble socializing or because they themselves have been bullied, they can’t possibly be a bully. In their mind, they have been a victim of bullying, so they can’t possibly be one. Furthermore, as far as bullies go, the ones who have poor social skills and have been victims of bullying are often among the most vile. At least when the so-called ‘popular kids’ are bullying or ostracizing other, they have a certain level of tact. But take someone with a clusterfuck of insecurities over having been bullied in the past, poor social skills and anti-social behavior (i.e. All of 4chan) and an elitist belief that “Well I’ve been bullied so clearly I could never be one” and you’ve got a recipe for some of the most vicious and hurtful behavior.

I’ve seen this exact same pattern of thought among gamergaters. They actually see themselves as the victims. The harassment and bullying they partake in is, in their mind, ‘standing up to the bully’. It’s so gross and backwards.

@Cerulean (Miss A)

What in the world is their problem with Dr. Nerdlove? Like seriously, “Oh, we gotta stop this guy from running a blog that gives dating advice geared at nerdy guys, this is a serious break of video game journalism ethics”

I just can’t even fathom.

Cerulean (Miss A)
Cerulean (Miss A)
4 years ago

@Moocow:

From past articles, I do know that Dr. Nerdlove is anti-GG. Examples: http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2014/08/the-extinction-burst-of-gaming-culture/

http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2014/10/when-we-talk-about-gamergate/

I also know with that Jessica Jones piece someone linked to it on the KiA subreddit. Likely due to the linking of Arthur Chu’s article, it just brought out the hateful hordes. Poor DNL, he had to play so much Whack-A-Troll on that article.

Simon
Simon
4 years ago

Gamergate dorks are straight-up emotional abusers. They fixate on some perceived slight (usually imaginary, or a gross exaggeration of the truth), get REALLY DISPROPORTIONATELY MAD AND VINDICTIVE ABOUT IT, then feign ignorance of their bad behavior and gaslight the shit out of/blame their victim.

Good on Sarkeesian and others for standing up to them.

mockingbird
mockingbird
4 years ago

I find it interesting how little her trolls seem to understand the Streisand Effect…or how tenacious people can be.

Right?

I, for one, would probably have no idea who she is if not for GG’s harassment of her (*cue those who do somewhat understand the Streisand Effect leaping in to say that she’s making up most of the harassment against her for the sake of publicity*).

She’d be just another person doing just another media critique*, one with a pretty solid thesis but that does (in my opinion) get some things wrong.

There’d be discussion regarding her points.
There’d be supporting arguments and dissenting arguments.
There might even be somewhat bitter rivalries and factions – as is wont to happen in literally any academic (or academic-ish) field of criticism.

As much as GGs and their ilk like to caterwaul about their foes claiming “special snowflake status”, you’d think that they wouldn’t insist on treating gaming like a special little snowflake among media. Rather than treating it as unable to handle the harsh light of actual critical review and analysis, you’d think they’d (a) realize that this means that games and gaming are actually being taken seiously by the world at large and (b) muster the strength to produce non-invective-filled, non-personally-threatening rebuttals, especially given that they claim that truth and logic are on their side.

But instead we have this shit show.

Dodom
Dodom
4 years ago

@magnesium; chaltab:

When I’m at work, the thought sometimes comes up: my job involves being responsible for many people’s well-being, and doing any less of a good job for someone I don’t like is unthinkable. Could a Gater handle this? Can they handle responsabilities in general? How does one live like that, letting hate and “lulz” take precedence on common sense and decency? How do they even function???

Moggie
Moggie
4 years ago

Gamers, of all people, ought to understand this:
if you have to cheat to “win”, you’re no good.

Viv Ward
Viv Ward
4 years ago

FYI some of the screenshots of tweets were impossible to read

loquora
loquora
4 years ago

This just sort of blows me away. How do you even fight it? The truth means nothing to these people, and you can’t give them what they want. You can report the harassment, but some of those are actually relatively benign as far as harassment goes, so it probably won’t do anything. It’s just that when you’re getting thousands of comments like that it becomes overwhelming. It terrifies me that I can’t see an end to it. But then, I’ve been fighting the guy who doxxed me for more than a year now and it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to get better so many I’m just not in a position to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

GenJones
GenJones
4 years ago

@ Wetherby- One common trait I’ve noticed amongst these guys is an inability to distinguish between credible information and obvious satire or fakeouts, if not a conscious decision to do so.

Falconer
Falconer
4 years ago

Oh God, Google Deep Dream Donald Trump is in the sidebar, staring into my very soul with all of his unblinking eyes.

zoon echon logon
zoon echon logon
4 years ago

Being unable to understand what feminists’ (even individuals and not feminists in the aggregate) actual positions are is the most striking feature of anti-feminists. It’s not surprising that they’d fall for fake tweets that are 180º from the sorts of things someone would actually say.

Seriously, it’s fucking weird. There’s a two step process to arguing with someone:

1: Here’s what my opponent said.
2: Here’s why what they said was wrong.

I’ve never encountered an anti-feminist/MRA/GGer/TRP/whatever that could even get step 1 down, let alone step 2.

Paradoxical Intention
4 years ago

Wetherby | December 11, 2015 at 9:56 am
It’s never ceased to amaze me that people who bang on endlessly about “ethics” don’t think that this should apply to themselves.

Kind of like how they are always going on about frozen peaches, but whenever someone has some of their own and uses them, it’s some egregious moral failing of the government or “effics” as Falconer so wonderfully put it?

Kat
Kat
4 years ago

Like Mockingbird, I wouldn’t know who Anita Sarkeesian was if it weren’t for GamerGaters. She seems like a really, really strong, kickass woman.

Thanks, GamerGaters, for letting the world know about an extremely courageous woman, Anita Sarkeesian!

dlouwe
dlouwe
4 years ago

Sometimes when I get caught up in the emotion of a cause that I believe strongly in, I worry that I could succumb to some of the same cognitive biases that I see in the people I disagree with – I start to wonder if maybe I’m the baddies and just don’t know it?

But then I remember that I’m not a garbage person that hurls slurs and threats and tells people to kill themselves for disagreeing with me, and I’m pretty comforted.

History Nerd
History Nerd
4 years ago

The “ethics” argument was thought up by people on /pol/ as a way to have an “honest/legitimate political concern” cover so sites wouldn’t automatically ban GGers for harassment.

Sort of like how many far right groups use denial and conspiracy theories to try to look moderate and keep people from figuring out how radical they are.

Nentuaby
Nentuaby
4 years ago

So, I *always* count characters when I see a controversial tweet that people claim has been “deleted but we saved a screenshot.” Literally EVERY TIME that happens with Sarkeesian*, I come up above 140. EVERY TIME. I think the channers targeting her make their forgeries extra transparent on purpose for the extra “lulz” of having motivated marks fall for it anyway.

*I’ve seen at least four, and I think there are more I’m not remembering individually.

Moocow
Moocow
4 years ago

@Cerulean (Miss A)

Ah, I had almost forgotten about those. And upon inspection, it’s hilarious to see the asshats in the comments try to defend things like “Oh wait, it’s actually about Zoe harming the Fine Young Capitalists project”…. which 4channers blatantly admitted to donating money to just so they could shield themselves from criticism about their movmenet. Or as they put it “provide the chemo AND the cancer” while they cackled like the cartoonish villains they believe themselves to be.

@zoon echon logon

I had an argument with a ridiculous gator who tried to claim “look, Anita is saying that there shouldn’t be any more anti-hero male protagonists!!!!!!!!” followed by a link to a tweet.

Her tweet actually said “can we stop with the brooding sexist dark anti-hero male protagonists?”

When I pointed how adjectives work to this guy, he went on a huge tirade about colored pencils in a pencil box… I think he was trying to accuse me of splitting hairs? it was as hilarious as it was ridiculous.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his pronouns)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his pronouns)
4 years ago

I actually knew of Anita before she started the Tropes Versus Women thing. I like her vids alright. I thought it was a nice idea to have a video series concentrate on video games, and I wish I had money to donate to her during that time, especially when the assholes came out of the woodwork to insult her and shit.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 years ago

When I pointed how adjectives work to this guy, he went on a huge tirade about colored pencils in a pencil box

Adjectives are super-hard for trolls to understand.

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard
4 years ago

I feel so bad for the bullshit she has to put up with. The people who genuinely fell for that ploy… wow.

It’s kind of ironic how these “vigilant for Iwata” folks try to make themselves look good by saying she needs a bullet in her head for something she didn’t even say. My parrot has more sense and empathy than these shitheads ever hope to have.

TotallyAlphaDudeBro
TotallyAlphaDudeBro
4 years ago

Speaking of Gamergater shit stains: http://www.theestablishment.co/2015/11/18/gamergate-alison-prime-trolling/

The story is about a month old, but I don’t know if anyone has mentioned it yet. Basically it turns out one of GG’s biggest female supporters- one frequently held up as a shining example of an ideal gamer girl- is really a massive sock puppet hoax.

Color me shocked.

Tessa
Tessa
4 years ago

Pandapool

I actually knew of Anita before she started the Tropes Versus Women thing. I like her vids alright. I thought it was a nice idea to have a video series concentrate on video games, and I wish I had money to donate to her during that time, especially when the assholes came out of the woodwork to insult her and shit.

Yeah, same here, I’d watched a few of her smaller Tropes vs women that weren’t about video games, and usually liked them. I was glad she was doing an expanded one on video games specifically. But then everything changed when the fire nation at… I mean internet harassers attacked.

What always amazes me is how much status they give her. They assume she is some supreme general of feminism, when she simply had a cool youtube channel about how media in general treats women. Even now, she’s well known because of the abuse, but she’s hardly the leader of feminism they believe she is.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his pronouns)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his pronouns)
4 years ago

@Tessa

Like, the Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor and/or the Buffy versus Edward Cullen was the first one for me I think. And then the Lego vid came out and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll subscribe.”

And she is a face of feminism now. One of them. It’s sort of a 1989 Batman sort of situation, you made me, I made you, because without GamerGate, Anita wouldn’t be a face, and without her being so vocal about her abuse, GamerGate wouldn’t be as visible.

Well, there’s still Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn but you get what I mean.

Matthew Field
Matthew Field
4 years ago

but remember: it’s all about ethics



Nope, couldn’t keep a straight face

richardbillericay
richardbillericay
4 years ago

I hate that anyone can even calls it “gamer *gate*” as if the evils of (cough!) unethical video game journalism can some how be compared with the evils of corruption at the highest level of government. Since it seems to be mainly about victimising a handful of scapegoats, personally I prefer “gamergoat”. While the harassment is a serious matter, it’s the only thing about the goatees that I can take seriously.

Sarah Noble
Sarah Noble
4 years ago

The use of very obviously faked content reminds me of the smear-job they’ve been doing on Bahar Mustafa recently.

Kootiepatra
4 years ago

I vote that Falconer’s “effics” join the ranks of “freeze peach” as excellent internet shorthand.

EJ (The Other One)
EJ (The Other One)
4 years ago

I second Kootiepatra’s suggestion.

Joel
Joel
4 years ago

Does anyone else wish the tells would just vanish into the “deep Web” and be gone from the regular Internet for good? I know I’m not the only one.

QHS
QHS
4 years ago

Anita talks about harassment, MRAs demand proof.

Anita shows the harassment, MRAs tell her to toughen up, everyone gets harassed.

MRAs get called on their bullshit, they cry about all the harassment they receive.