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Inside #GamerGate's super seekrit plan to take over Tumblr with cute cat pics and Vivian James

Actually, it's about ethics in cynical Tumblr takeover plots
Actually, it’s about ethics in cynical Tumblr takeover plots

GamerGaters claim they’re on the side of truth and righteousness, but they sure do love monologuing like cartoon villains.

They claim to be shocked by alleged evidence of journalistic collusion, yet they happily plot strategies and “operations” together both in secret and in broad daylight. They claim to be about ethics, but regularly employ not-so-subtle subterfuge to try to disguise their carefully coordinated propaganda campaigns as spontaneous uprisings.

This week, GamerGaters on 8chan launched a new “operation” to win over the hearts and minds of the masses on Tumblr. And it’s as ethically bankrupt as anything they’ve ever done.

Operation Firefly, as it’s officially known, is an attempt to take the GamerGate “fight” to a “new frontier.” Tumblr.  As the originator of the initiative explains it in a somewhat less-than-stirring manifesto:

In recent weeks the revolt has been getting bogged down in a stalemate. Useless drama and e-celebrity happenings are sidetracking us and sapping our strength. We’ve become demoralized and are losing momentum. …

Time for a new frontier, a new fight, a new chance to spread the truth.

Apparently, the GamerGaters are beginning to realize that their current strategy of being dicks to people on Twitter isn’t paying off quite as well as they had hoped.

While Twitter can be considered an important part of the movement, it is one of the worst places to focus our efforts. Too much time, energy, and attention is currently being wasted there. … The only things twitter is good for are out-of-context quips and angry outbursts.

Twitter is wearing us down, and it’s becoming a red herring/albatross around our neck. It’s time to use our limited resources where they will be more effective.

So they’re Tumblr-bound.

As a group we’ve done a horrible job at reaching out to others and spreading our message. That’s a problem. Instead of waiting for people to come to us, we need to go to them. That’s why we need to go to Tumblr. Going forward, only 25% of the people who are currently on Twitter should continue to post and debate there. 25% should redeploy to fight on Youtube and defend our home turf while the other 50% should go to Tumblr.

But isn’t Tumblr full of, you know, girls? Well, yes, but even this obstacle can be surmounted with some calculated pandering.

Most users on Tumblr are teenagers between 12 and 20, and most of them are girls. They are very interested in fandoms, anime, and other memes. … A good idea would be to use popular anime characters and pokemon to get the #Gamergate message out. Another idea would be to create crossover fanart with Vivian James in it.

That’s right: use an imaginary girl to win over the real girls. Just try to avoid being too logical, because, as everyone knows, girls don’t logic.

Tumblr enjoys appeals to emotion. While rational debate is important, make sure you are making it personal.

And remember to use GamerGate’s “female and minority” members as your shield! Oh, sorry, as your totally not a shield.

A major effort will be spent on pushing our female and minority voices to the forefront via #notyourshield. the goal is to discredit and debunk the narrative and shut it off at the source.

Operation Firefly doesn’t have to limit itself to the GamerGate hashtag on Tumblr. Go ahead and flood all discussions of vidya games with your propaganda. Just don’t make it too obvious, guys!

In order to be effective, you must also talk about Gamergate in other relevant hashtags, such as popular video game titles like “Mario”.

And make a bit point of pretending to be a victim. Sorry, not pretending. Authentically being a victim.

Tumblr is a different place than what you’re used to, so take time to lurk if you must. You are the victim in order to gain sympathy and support.

Remember to support your comrades!

Any time you see a pro-gg post, you need to follow the poster and reblog it in order to signal boost. This increases solidarity and cohesion. Build numbers and stay in contact with each other.

Just don’t lay it on too thick with your propagandizing, lest the Tumblrites catch on to the fact that you’re part of an invading propaganda army. Maybe reblog some kitten pics too.

It’s important to be a real person and not some faceless nobody. This means you should round out your blog by reblogging interesting content you like from other, non gamer-gate related things.

And try to lay off the scary skull imagery.

[T]umblr enjoys relatable and homely things. Consider when conveying your opinions to produce approachable and likeable art pieces. Look at the “art motivation” comics, high reblogged and non sexual fan art, cute stories and the like. …

Don’t be afraid to turn Vivian James into Hello Kitty or a pony.

When cynically setting up a throwaway blog to spread GamerGate propaganda, try to avoid looking too much like a GamerGater cynically setting up a throwaway blog to spread GamerGate propaganda.

[H]aving a profile say why you love video games, why you’re a decent person and concluding with “I am a person and I support gamergate” will show you’re human. … If you are making a new account, don’t choose a name that has anything to do with video games or gg.

Yeah, the “Tumblrinas” will never be able to figure out what’s going on.

Oh, and do your best to not make it too obvious what a hateful dickweasel you really are.

[T]alking like a cunt can be really fucking hostile even if it sharply nails the point. I get some of you guys enjoy the shitslinging language and the fuckyouisms of the prominent youtuber, but it’s not inviting. That’s not to say you have to read like a Disney script, but the language you use will be one of the deciding factors in who you appeal to.

Sounds like a foolproof plan!

On 8chan, some of the regulars put forth suggestions of their own.

off1 off2 off3

CUTE KITTENS ASSEMBLE!

off4censored

Meanwhile, another 8chan anon tried to convince the GamerGate invaders to ix-nay the ane-Bay memes, at least on Tumblr.

So, y’know how Bane is basically the mascot of GamerGate in the chan community? He’s a good fit: A brutal revolutionary and since he’s a Christopher Nolan character, he’s automatically a man’s man, which for some reason appeals to a community defined by their love of a sedentary hobby. …

Bane will not work on tumblr. He’s a bad guy. He’s all big and beefy and while some subset of tumblr’s mostly female audience will like him, most prefer dexterous pretty boys (hence the neverending love for Benedict Cumberpatch and David Tennant).

So what can GamerGaters do to get around the Bane ban?

[O]ur tumblr mascot needs to be Katniss. She’s in an upcoming movie which means even tumblrites with extremely short attention spans know about her. She’s a revolutionary fighting against a corrupt government. She’s a teenage girl which makes her easier for the average tumblrite to associate with her. On tumblr, GG is Katniss.

Uh oh, nobody tell Vivian James she’s got some competition.

So how is the invasion going? Well, if you go to the GamerGate tag on Tumblr, you will indeed see a bunch of GamerGate spam in it.

So by GameGate standards, I guess they are WINNING.

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evewc18
6 years ago

are MRA’s waging online propaganda wars like this, too?

A Wolverine
A Wolverine
6 years ago

Other problems they’ll have: no one really looks at the big tags as they are ABSOLUTELY clogged with unrelated crap, you can’t actually put a mess of tags on a post to make it visible (only the first sixish get seen by search), it is SIGNIFICANTLY harder to pull the dogpile anyone that is critical of them strategy they use on twitter off, and tumblr staff is far better than twitters at nuking abusive shits

C.S.Strowbridge
C.S.Strowbridge
6 years ago

Do these people not realize we can see what they post publicly? Or do they think this makes them look good in the eyes of the public?

Bibulb
Bibulb
6 years ago

Saw an early incursion (that someone linked to, since Tumblr’s good about only showing stuff from your own echo chamber (which I kinda like)), and the dude’s slinging ANTI-SJWRARGH rhetoric. His account was SNORLAXKIN.

NOPE, not an obvious troll at all. NOPE.

HCK
HCK
6 years ago

Actually, President Snow, the Mockingjay Rebellion is about ethics in gaming journalism

katz
6 years ago

The only things twitter is good for are out-of-context quips and angry outbursts.

So…twitter is exactly the perfect place for them.

anemonerosie
6 years ago

TIL that I’m a mythical unicorn for a whole new reason (never mind this lady business): I can chan and tumblr!

M. the Social Justice Ranger
M. the Social Justice Ranger
6 years ago

… he’s automatically a man’s man, which for some reason appeals to a community defined by their love of a sedentary hobby.

Was that… A hint of almost-self-awareness? Holy shit, I never thought I’d see the day.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Good post David, but you might want to put a NSFW warning on that green monster picture or remove it all together. I’m guessing you just didn’t notice he’s fellating himself because it’s a cartoon and not that well drawn?

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

So the avatar of “The Leader of Gamergate” is a troll licking its erect penis.

Charming. But truth in advertising.

I wish that avatar hadn’t been so large, I’d missed the image up to this point. Ask katz what I thought her original(?) avatar was… LOL

Faint Praise
Faint Praise
6 years ago

tumblr won’t appeal to their bullying inclination. New eggs on twitter can force themselves onto your timeline, but tumblr users won’t see GG angry rants unless they purposely Follow them.

A perfect echo chamber for their movement to go die in.

Catalpa
Catalpa
6 years ago

I know that tumblr is a vast and varied place, but there have been a number of GG-mocking posts filtering over my dash in the last couple months, and they seem to be pretty widely dispersed already. Do the Gators really think that tumblrites don’t already know their misogynistic asshat ways?

A Wolverine
A Wolverine
6 years ago

They are also assuming tumblr isnt already completely aware of their bullshit, I’ve seen multiple posts with over 10K notes mentioning GG being affiliated with antifeminists/racists/PUAs/other scum

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Wait, wasn’t Bane played by Tom Hardy? Lots of women on the internet love him. He seems like a good guy in interviews and also, there’s this
http://photos.laineygossip.com/articles/tom-hard-puppy-27dec13-03.JPG

Axissillian
Axissillian
6 years ago

Man, I know this has been mentioned before, but nothing makes the clear lack of perspective these people have more obvious than the language they use. “Limited Resources”, “Redeploy”, “Defend our home turf”, etc. Even if GamerGate WAS completely legitimate, that language would still be outrageous. Its a bunch of people arguing about video games on the internet. It’s not a conflict, its not a battle, its not a war. Its video game websites. You can see why some of these idiots feel like death threats and terrorism are justified.

Macha
Macha
6 years ago

Gamergaters really have the planning capabilities of a generic saturday morning cartoon villain.

ronanwills
6 years ago

Something tells me this isn’t going to go very well for them.

“In order to be effective, you must also talk about Gamergate in other relevant hashtags, such as popular video game titles like “Mario”.”

I get the feeling this was written by someone who doesn’t actually know that much about videogames

thebewilderness
thebewilderness
6 years ago

It does explain a cluster of sock followers that showed up this morning. Fortunately Tumblr has an iggy button.

lkeke35
6 years ago

They’re going to try the strategy of being nice and posting kittens? Really? How long do you think they can keep that up before the urge to start screaming randome epithets takes hold over them (like Regan, in The Exorcist) and they just start uncontrollably spewing bile?

Also I’ve been on Tumblr, it’s a lot harder to start a hate movement on there and most of the time the only options a person is given, to respond to posts, is to like or reblog. A person has to very deliberately find and go to their blog, in most cases.

Catalpa
Catalpa
6 years ago

I can hope that maybe some of the people who attempt to jump into tumblr and then have to think about and avoid the slurs and bigotry that they usually indulge in might actually realize that ‘Hey screaming slurs and doing other awful things is kind of shitty!’

These are Gators, so I don’t have much faith in them having a lick of self awareness, but I can hope.

lkeke35
6 years ago

And c’mon! How popular is Pokemon among the demographic they’re aiming for? They don’t even know who Katniss is, they just heard of her through hearsay.

“yeah, cuz all the young whippersnappers on Tumblr are into the animae and the twilight!”

Bernardo Soares
Bernardo Soares
6 years ago

This is getting beyond ridiculous.

@WWTH: I think one important characteristic of these guys is that they are really unable to distinguish between fantasy (or creative products) and reality. They only know Bane, they don’t think about the Batman movies (or anything else they consume) as creative products involving actual people who have a different character in the real world. That’s why they can only see the world as a giant conspiracy (all the really dumb AAA-games they hold dear have stories revolving around conspiracy, it’s one of the most overused tropes in lazy storytelling), that’s why they talk like cartoon villains (because they see those guys as powerful, not as overblown characters in a deliberately overblown story), and that’s also the source of their pathos, lack of self -awareness and use of old propaganda.

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

And getting worked up into a frothy rage with other people in a frothy rage on 8chan is totes more proper internet use than girls looking at cute kittens on Tumblr.

Those Tumblr users aren’t real internet users.

The LOLs:

“In recent weeks the revolt has been getting bogged down in a stalemate.” Actually, it’s not a stalemate, the GG side is losing.

“Useless drama and e-celebrity happenings are sidetracking us and sapping our strength.” With GGers being the ones creating the drama and using e-celebrities.

“We’ve become demoralized and are losing momentum.” Good job too, couldn’t have happened to a more deserving pack of arseholes.

Lids
6 years ago

That troll is a frog lmao. There are TONS of frog meme memes on tumblr, at least where I blog. Anyways who do they think they are fooling? A lot of tumblr already knows who they are and what they are and that they are deluded turds. Also 3/4 of tumblr hates the Hunger Games series because of the white-washing of Katniss, so good luck with that (also… not a video game character or a video game playing character so it completely lacks relevance to their message but whatever).

tinyorc
6 years ago

Lol. Gators don’t understand how online spaces work. Do they think Tumblr is sealed off from the rest of the Internet and teenage girls never venture beyond their own dashboards? It’s so hilarious that they think this is some sort of virgin territory ready to be conquered, full of gullible children who will agree with anything as long as there’s a picture of Katniss Everdeen attached. It’s patronizing, but it’s also incredibly naive and shows exactly how incapable they are of understanding the culture outside their own echo chamber.

Like, if GG supporters literally need to be told that using homophobic slurs and ableist language is going to tank their credibility anywhere except their own cesspit of a messageboard, the future of the “movement” does not look so bright.

Jay Elmore
6 years ago

These guys are rather facepalm-worthy with their over-the-top rhetoric. “25% of us should redeploy to YouTube! 50% to Tumblr! WE WILL FIGHT THEM IN THE HASHTAGS! WE WILL FIGHT THEM ON THE REBLOGS!”

I can see “The GamerGator” as a 4th-tier supervillian fighting The Tick and Arthur alongside Chairface Chippendale: “You don’t undertand, you big blue doofus, it’s about ETHICS IN GAMING JOURNALISM!” *snap*

Jay Elmore
6 years ago

tinyorc: Many of the hardcore GGers are awash in MRA/PUA stupidity so of course they think women and girls are stupid, shallow, vapid, and emotional.

Until Elliot Rodger’s manifesto and the ensuing discussion I didn’t really get how much they HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE women. They want relationships SO BAD but they’ve internalized these horrifically misogynist ideas. So it frustrates them when they are rejected, which fuels their loathing of women, which means they are more likely to be rejected, which further fuels their loathing…

M. the Social Justice Ranger
M. the Social Justice Ranger
6 years ago

“25% of us should redeploy to YouTube! 50% to Tumblr! WE WILL FIGHT THEM IN THE HASHTAGS! WE WILL FIGHT THEM ON THE REBLOGS!”

You joke, bu they’ve already favourably compared their “Movement” to WWI, so WWII can’t be far behind.

M. the Social Justice Ranger
M. the Social Justice Ranger
6 years ago

*But.

Amnesia
Amnesia
6 years ago

Gotta hand it to them, coming up with a plan that almost rivals ‘trapping earthbenders in a quarry’ for its guaranteed failure.

But not quite. ‘The Last Airbender’ still sucks slightly more.

tinyorc
6 years ago

Bernardo Soares:

@WWTH: I think one important characteristic of these guys is that they are really unable to distinguish between fantasy (or creative products) and reality.

The more I read from Gators, the more this rings true for me.

A long time ago at this point, Anita Sarkeesian gave a TED talk about online harassment and cybermobs. Her key point was that the harassment against her was being conducted like a campaign in MMORPG. Because I wasn’t following the whole shitshow particularly closely at the time, I didn’t quite understand what she meant. But two years later, it makes perfect sense. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZAxwsg9J9Q#t=38

The whole rhetoric of GG seems to have some sort of fundamental disconnect with reality. They’re not out to win to raise awareness or start conversations or delve deeper into difficult concepts: they’re out to “win”, where the definition of “win” doesn’t really matter, as long as there is a “mission” or an “operation” to get involved with. When it becomes clear they’re not “winning”, they try a different map (Twitter is too hard, let’s move on to Tumblr!) or change the game altogether (ethics! no wait, bullying! no wait, cultural marxism!) It’s the most bizarre mindset, but I’m not feeling very coherent right now and can’t quite articulate what I’m trying to say. But Sarkeesian’s video makes so much sense to me. Which is not really surprising, since there’s a huge overlap between Gators and people who’ve been harassing her since her Kickstarter launched. It’s all the same clowns, the only difference is they’ve got a hashtag now.

Rabukurafuto
Rabukurafuto
6 years ago

Also 3/4 of tumblr hates the Hunger Games series because of the white-washing of Katniss, so good luck with that (also… not a video game character or a video game playing character so it completely lacks relevance to their message but whatever).

I have not read nor seen any of that series but I’m interested in knowing what was whitewashed exactly.

Redcap
Redcap
6 years ago

I’m not going to say that tumblr is immune to groupthink (because that would be a bald-faced lie), but this is exactly the wrong sort of thing to push on tumblr. Tumblr is far more prone to extreme acceptance than extreme rejection, and Gators are way too fond of being obnoxiously offensive to mask themselves properly.

They might gain some traction with the anti-SJs, but even that group is turning on people who advertise their bigotry too strongly. I predict even more echo chambers and a feeding frenzy of call-outs.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
6 years ago

I have not read nor seen any of that series but I’m interested in knowing what was whitewashed exactly.

In the original novels, Katniss was described as having ‘olive’ skin, grey eyes, and dark hair. She was from a coal-miner’s family; the only fair-haired people where she lived were the merchants.. But the casting call for the movie explicitly requested ‘Caucasian’, despite the fact that the book described someone with more of a Mediterranean look.

There was a really big stink about this even before the first movie came out.

Johanna Roberts
6 years ago

“redeploy” That’s rich. They think they’re an army instead of a loose group of sexist, misogynistic, racist asshats. I also love how the author has to plead with them not to post porn drawings of Vivian James.

And Bane… a man’s man. Fuck them. Bane isn’t Christopher Nolan’s, he’s a Mexican Luchador, with a drug problem and more amazing than that white washed hack writing job that was in the movie.

Oh, and a very long post going over this entire plan has been on tumblr for a few days, so we, uh, kinda knew they were coming and have our ignore buttons ready. :3

isidore13
6 years ago

I love the not-very-subtle implication that teenage girls are stupid and shallow and oblivious in there, too. Way to not be misogynists, GGers.

Catalpa
Catalpa
6 years ago

@Rabukurafuto

It’s been a while since I read the books, but I’m pretty sure Katniss is described to have dark/olive skin and dark hair and is supposed to be a POC, but the movies cast a white actress.

Additionally, I believe, the movies removed Katniss’ hearing loss, Peeta’s lost/prosthetic leg, and the Avoxes, and is looked poorly upon for thus erasing handicapped people’s contributions and struggles. Though that doesn’t fall under whitewashing so much as erasure, really.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
6 years ago

Granted, at least Rue, who was described as black in the books, was actually cast with a black actress, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

tinyorc
6 years ago

Redcap:

but this is exactly the wrong sort of thing to push on tumblr.

Also, Tumblr is a difficult platform to “push” things on in general. You can’t really force visibility on Tumblr in the way you can on Twitter, by flooding the mentions of prominent users, etc. I’d say GG would get eaten alive by Tumblr, but it seems like they’re largely being ignored.

Rabukurafuto
Rabukurafuto
6 years ago

In the original novels, Katniss was described as having ‘olive’ skin, grey eyes, and dark hair. She was from a coal-miner’s family; the only fair-haired people where she lived were the merchants.. But the casting call for the movie explicitly requested ‘Caucasian’, despite the fact that the book described someone with more of a Mediterranean look.

There was a really big stink about this even before the first movie came out.

Thank you. I thought at first the whitewashing referred to Anita Sarkeesian’s supposed complaints about the last book (I don’t know for sure if she actually complained or not; I only heard she disliked it). I can certainly see why people would complain about casting a lighter performer. Now it annoys me that friends of mine get into the story from the films and ignore this issue after reading the novels.

tinyorc
6 years ago

Johanna Roberts:

“redeploy” That’s rich. They think they’re an army instead of a loose group of sexist, misogynistic, racist asshats. I also love how the author has to plead with them not to post porn drawings of Vivian James.

Operation Firefly: “Guys, we really need to cool it with all the porn and hate speech if this is going work!”

Truly, a movement defined and driven by ethics.

Johanna Roberts
6 years ago

@Tinyorc I know, I feel so ethically infused after reading that. Or is the word ‘disgusted’? Yeah, that’s the word.

M. the Social Justice Ranger
M. the Social Justice Ranger
6 years ago

Yeah, Katniss’ racial background was deliberately left up for debate (probably Middle Eastern or Mediterranean), but she sure as hell wasn’t white until Hollywood got to her.

pallygirl
pallygirl
6 years ago

Operation Firefly: let’s coopt the name of a show made by a feminist for our campaign (http://www.salon.com/2014/11/06/joss_whedon_every_time_im_confronted_with_true_misogyny_im_stunned_partner/)

Kootiepatra
Kootiepatra
6 years ago

Tumblr has a strong geeky fandom population — and geeky fandoms tend to already know about, and mostly loathe, GamerGate. Tumblr people tend to spend an awful lot of time on the internet, and so they already know what GG is about and have already formed opinions on it.

The only thing I can figure is that the gators have heard each other mock Tumblr users as brainless sheeple often enough that they’ve actually begun to believe it. Otherwise, I cannot fathom what they hope to accomplish. Seriously, if their usual assumption about Tumblr is that it’s one enormous SJW echo chamber, why does it seem like a viable idea join up expressly to fling misogynistic doodie everywhere?

marinerachel
6 years ago

That anthropomorphised frog appears to be blowing it’s self. That happened. Hmm.

becausescience
becausescience
6 years ago

Why does every. single. one. of gamergate’s “operations” involve them trying to trick people into supporting them?

Alex Murphy
Alex Murphy
6 years ago

Just wanted to give David a heads up that it looks like gamergate doxxed another person. Comedian by the name of Brock Wilbur. http://digg.com/2014/when-gamergate-hits-the-wrong-target

Integral
Integral
6 years ago

I’ve seen a Gamergate meme using a character from one of my favorite fandoms being posted on tumblr long before now – with notes that the Gamergaters probably aren’t the least bit familiar with the fandom (I suspect they only used a particular character because he’s purple and green). I suspect all of their efforts will end up having a similar reception.

Kakanian
Kakanian
6 years ago

@Johanna Roberts

Bane’s very background story in the comic is breaking more laws of physics and human psychology and physiology than Batman’s. He is a pretty goddamn ridiculous character, even for a cape comic.

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