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Friday, November 21, 2014

Randi Harper: Coder, Gamer, SJW

For the sake of my own mental health and quest for personal happiness, I have been trying to lay off the "manosphere," but the other night found myself pulled back in. I'd seen a retweet on Chris Kluwe's feed from Randi Lee Harper, a coder and game enthusiast, who has been working on an app that will allow twitter users a means to block gamer-gators from accessing their feeds. I thought that was an interesting idea given that social media platforms like twitter are unable or unwilling to develop anti-harassment policies with any teeth. 

I don't fully understand how Harper's program works, but it is based on an algorithm that identifies block-list candidates primarily by their link to the gamergate hashtag, and those they follow. Undoubtedly, some innocent parties have been swept up in this -- obviously, many who follow the misogynists are doing so in order to keep a wary eye on them -- but there is an appeal process, by which people can be (and in fact are being) removed from the "blacklist".

Harper's project isn't sitting at all well with the gamer-gators misogynists, most of whom appear to live online and who have grown accustomed to unfettered access to their "enemies" -- and they've reacted in predictable ways: by attempting to use the power of SEO to smear Harper's name on Google.

I watched, transfixed by the sheer horror of it, as Mike Cernovich threw up on his twitter feed shot after shot of Ms. Harper's old personal blog (in which she candidly discusses a bad breakup, among other painful experiences) along with a mugshot from a traffic violation ten years ago and other personal pictures. This was not the first time Ms. Harper's online reputation had been violated by disgruntled, anonymous trolls -- this seems to go with the territory of being a young woman in tech or journalism -- so Cernovich dug around in the libelous cesspool that is Encyclopedia Dramatica too, to throw up a post that is a bizarre mash of innuendo, frank speculation, fact, and outright fabrication.

My mouth literally agape, I watched this online attack unfold in real time. Of course, Cernovich deleted the most outrageous tweets immediately (and moved the attack to a post on one of his blogs). I'm sure the tweets have been screen capped and saved. Cernovich appears to fully expect, and even anticipate, being banned from twitter.

As enraging (and needless to say, immensely triggering) as it was to watch this online attack take place, Randi Harper's responses, curiously, made me feel stronger.

If you've been unfairly blocked on Twitter for enforcing ethics in journalism, call the Offices of Butthurt and Whaaa. Operators standing by.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for pointing me in this lady's direction, I was really impressed with her story. Though unsurprised and saddened by all the troll comments on her blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Replies
    1. I wish I had a bigger voice so that I could do more.

      Delete
  3. bak@picklefactory.orgDecember 5, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Why am I not surprised that someone with a handle like @freebsdgirl would be so goddamned awesome?

    ReplyDelete

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