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Gamergater uses hacked Patreon data to threaten supporters of a Gamergate critic

A black hole of media ethics: Sam Smith and Milo Yiannopoulos at a #gamergate London meetup (Screenshot from Smith's blog)
A black hole of media ethics: Sam Smith and Milo Yiannopoulos at a #Gamergate London meetup (Screenshot from Smith’s blog)

Randi Harper is one of the women that Gamergaters love to hate the most. A software developer, she became Gamergate Public Enemy #4 — after the troika of Sarkeesian, Quinn, and Wu — when she developed a BlockBot that enabled Twitter users to easily shield themselves (insofar as this is possible) from possible Twitter harassment at the hands of Gamergaters and others of their ilk.

This little bit of software garnered her many months of vicious harassment herself, and ultimately a three-part smear series on Breitbart by Gamergate’s pet “journalist,” Milo Yiannopoulos.

Now one Gamergater is going after Harper’s Patreon supporters, using personal information taken from the crowdfunding site when it was hacked earlier this month. 

After finding the names and addresses of Harper’s several hundred Patreon supporters in the leaked data, British blogger Sam Smith took it upon himself to “warn” these people of Harper’s alleged crimes against decency by sending a mass email to everyone he found on the list.

But to a lot of people — myself included — his supposedly friendly warning read more like a blackmail attempt.

One of the recipients of the email shared it with me yesterday. It starts off in a decidedly unfriendly manner:

I am the author of the major blog www.matthewhopkinsnews.com. I am sending you this email because your name appears in a list of people who donate to a Patreon operated by a person called Randi Harper. The list was confidential but has been hacked and placed online by unknown third parties. As a result of the leak you may be named, so please read this email carefully.

Smith — who goes by the name “Matthew Hopkins” online, styling himself as a sort of digital reincarnation of the original “Witchfinder General” — then lays out what he sees as Harper’s ethical failings, linking to Yiannopoulos’ three-part smear job as proof. Among Smith’s complaints:

Harper has … admitted to drug abuse, including attempting to smoke meth from a broken lightbulb. She also irresponsibly dyed her dog blue and accidentally allowed it to lick up her drugs.

Dyeing a dog blue may annoy the dog, but if done properly it will not harm it. And literally billions of human beings on our blue planet have used drugs at some point in their lives.

Now we come to the blackmaily bit, which Smith insists is not blackmaily at all:

You are supporting a person who is associated with some of the vilest imaginable extremism. …

As a responsible journalist, I can assure you I shall not be publishing the list. However, some of you may work in regulated roles with responsible access to information, vulnerable adults or children. There may be a lawful public interest in my contacting the relevant authorities (including an employer).

Smith went on to ask Harper’s supporters if they, personally, “endorse her extremist views” and if they felt “aggrieved at Ms Harper’s failure to safeguard your personal data.” (Never mind that it was Patreon’s job, not Harper’s, to protect the data on its servers.)

If Smith’s email was intended to rattle its recipients, it seems to have succeeded. The person who sent the email to me reported that “[i]t left me quite shaken and furious.”

If the email was intended to scare donors into abandoning Harper, it has apparently backfired in a big way. Indeed, Motherboard reports that, according to Harper,

Smith’s efforts has had the opposite effect: her backers have responded by doubling, and sometimes tripling their donations. Her campaign has jumped more than $1,300 a month in donations after the emails went out.

For his part, Smith insists, as he did in a post yesterday, that his email wasn’t intended to be threatening. He had simply

decided the ethical thing to do would be to warn the people concerned, reassuring them I would not release the data and also what might happen, as I thought the Patreon boilerplate warning insufficient.

That bit about there being “a lawful public interest in my contacting the relevant authorities (including an employer)?” That was

actually just boilerplate legal language related to UK law. Obviously I am analysing these supporters and in some limited circumstances I might be required to report things – for example if they were a risk to a child. As a person who may wish to enter a regulated profession, I would be expected to cooperate with the authorities. Far from being a blackmail demand it is just standardised ‘cover-yourself’ legal language.

I will have to consult with the monkey lawyers flying out of my butt on that one.

Some Gamergaters have insisted that Smith isn’t really one of them, which is a bit silly, considering that he is a regular on the KotakuInAction subreddit — one of Gamergate’s main hubs of activity — who happily posted a photo of himself hobnobbing with Yianopoulos at a #Gamergate meetup in London last April.

But it is worth noting that the overwhelming majority of those posting about Smith’s email blast on KotakuInAction since word of it got out earlier this week have been strongly critical, blasting it as the sort of thing that (in their mind) only evil anti-Gamergaters would do. (Never mind that they haven’t.)

Of course, Gamergaters (and the mythic “third party trolls” they like to talk about so often) have been doing far worse to Sarkeesian, Quinn, Wu, Harper and many others among Gamergate’s favorite villains for more than a year now.

Still, the reaction to Smith’s blackmail-that’s-not-really-blackmail-honest suggests that at least some Gamergaters have a few sickly shreds of decency still living deep inside them somewhere. I can only hope they can nurse their decency back to full health before they ruin the lives of more people in their attempt to rid the game world of anyone and everyone who disagrees with them.

And I hope Patreon brings the full force of its lawyers down on Smith.

 

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Paradoxical Intention
6 years ago

So, if any of y’all in the California area heard a heart-wrenching scream of agony, that was me being stupid and accidentally closing an Illustrator file I hadn’t saved, losing all my progress.

It asked me if I wanted to save it before I closed it and my brain went “I don’t want to close it, so hit No, so I don’t close it.”

Half a second later, I nearly give myself a black eye slapping my own forehead, and I let out a howl of indignity. : I

Needless to say, I’m not a happy camper right now.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

PI — there is a remote chance that some bits of it go saved to cache for faster rendering, you’ll have to google around with your illustrater version and OS, but I have recovered enough to not want to pull my hair out. Good luck.

mockingbird
mockingbird
6 years ago

OT but tangential and perhaps of interest to some of you:

Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It) http://zite.to/1OCbjJM

I’m not sure I agree with the whole piece, but it did stir some thought.

Paradoxical Intention
6 years ago

@Argenti: I actually did try to do that, and I got nothing. I did manage to remake it though, and it’s up on the shop.

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

That’s an interesting and thought-provoking article, mockingbird. Thanks for linking.

Moggie
Moggie
6 years ago

Shouldn’t an article titled “why twitter’s dying” have some hard data to back that up? Ok, I get that his point about abuse isn’t dependent on anything as crude as number of users or number of tweets, and I agree that hate and negativity are poisoning online communities. But when he opened by describing twitter as a “deserted bar” and a “cemetery”, I expected to see some figures, and maybe quotes from prominent former twitter users. But… nothing.

NickNameNick
NickNameNick
6 years ago

“Why Twitter Needs To Die” would’ve been a more accurate title, all considering.

I’m hesitant to ever use or peruse it: I hate the limited word count for posts, which in turn leads to discussions that feel fragmented or statements lacking proper context, and how prone it is to becoming a harassment-machine.

If it did cease to exist tomorrow – it honestly wouldn’t be soon enough. It’d make discussions more tolerable when people aren’t citing one random tweet or another as some kinda “gotcha” tactic.

katz
katz
6 years ago

Shouldn’t an article titled “why twitter’s dying” have some hard data to back that up? Ok, I get that his point about abuse isn’t dependent on anything as crude as number of users or number of tweets, and I agree that hate and negativity are poisoning online communities. But when he opened by describing twitter as a “deserted bar” and a “cemetery”, I expected to see some figures, and maybe quotes from prominent former twitter users. But… nothing.

I concur; his whole proof that Twitter is dying seems to be “I go on there and it doesn’t seem as busy as it used to be.” In real life, Twitter does seem to have peaked around 2013, but it’s still big and fairly stable, and I wonder if the decrease might be attributable to the move away from everyone just posting tons of random mundane stuff about their lives.

Now, “Twitter’s got huge problems and will inevitably come to a breaking point unless it fixes them” is a valid argument to make.

Road to Servitude
6 years ago

Reblogged this on wallacerunnymede and commented:
Looks like the more MRAs try to ‘achieve’ anything, the deeper the hole they dig themselves. They should give up and quit wasting their own time and everyone else’s. I seriously doubt a single man’s life has been made better by MRAS/MGTOWs/PUAs, or indeed a single person, regardless of gender.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

PI — I’m glad you got it remade, I’d check out the shop but I’m officially Always Broke cuz circus is expensive!

On Twitter — I find that, like much of the internet, it is best used for finding cute animals, and that 99% of the rest is a headache in the making.

Also, Darwin bit me, on purpose, I am rather cranky about this, in no small part cuz I tend to use my middle fingers on my iPad and guess where he got me? If you said “the tip of your middle finger”, have a cookie!

occasional reader
occasional reader
6 years ago

Hello.

Hmm, i’m sorry, i do not know how to tag here. I am going to try HTML style tag, please forgive me if it does not work.

Bina had written :

I bet he thinks they all are black and wear hoodies.

(Item: I’m white. And I wear hoodies. Sometimes with miniskirts. Clearly, I am Asking For Trouble.)

Well, indeed, it is well known that “hood” are undoubtedly an “ask for it” feature when worn by women, and a criminal prominent feature when worn by men. It is told by tales :
– in the “Little Red Ridding Hood”, it is obvious that this red hood is some subliminal request to be eaten by the big bad wolf…
– in “Robin hood”, the one with the hood is a thief. And he also kills people. Definitely a bad guy.
Come on, is it not popular sapience ? Thus fact ?

Irony set aside, i wonder at which point tales may (have) affect the collective inconscious. Are they not a bit like the TV, but at a different era ?

Have a nice day.

Orion
6 years ago

@maistrechat,

I probably should have clarified that I saw it in 2007; maybe they’ve re-written it.

maistrechat
6 years ago
Reply to  Orion

@Orion

I actually saw it in 2004. Where did you see it? I was in Chicago and saw the more-or-less “original” production. There was an incident similar to what you’re referring to in what I saw but it they stated pretty explicitly that it was unambiguously rape regardless of what might appear to be mitigating factors. It might have been because the audience reaction was pretty gross and the actors felt a need to lay things out as explicitly as possible. I do know they rewrite the whole thing more or less constantly so who knows if what I saw in 2004 was anything like what you saw in 2007 was anything like how they do the show in 2015.

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

Following on from our discussion on mandatory reporting, some news from England

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/20/female-genital-mutilation-reporting-cases-children-mandatory

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