Storify, Stalkers and Terms of Service

Posting (with permission) an e-mail I got from an occasional Whatever commenter, because this seems something worth pointing people’s attention to. For reasons that will become clear, I’m trimming out the person’s name, although I know who it is and I find them to be credible.

At the time of the posting here, the character in question has his Twitter account suspended, but his Storify account is still up and running. And, yup, it’s exactly as it’s described.

For my part, it seems pretty clear that Storify can deal with this dude, based on its own Terms of Service. The question is whether it will, and if not, why not.

What follows is this person’s e-mail and interpretation of events. I have added in relevant links.

—–

A Twitter and Storify user who goes by the handle “@elevatorGATE” is a well-known cyberstalker of women via social media. His latest method of doing this is to compile thousands of pieces on Storify, often including every single tweet sent by his chosen targets, and then publish them, which notifies the women in question that he had published yet another piece archiving their every word. After repeated complaints and requests for help, Storify temporarily deactivated the notification feature on his account, which doesn’t actually solve the problem.

In a conversation yesterday with Xavier Damman, the Storify CEO suggested that the women @elevatorGATE is targeting turn off all notifications from Storify, which essentially suggests that they withdraw from the medium if they don’t like being stalked, and which also wouldn’t solve the problem of this user archiving everything these women say. One of the users pointed out that this is very much like telling a woman who is being harassed via telephone to never answer the phone. It was at this point in the conversation that Damman went from passively enabling a stalker to actively assisting one. He tweeted, in response to the women, that they “…can’t do anything about that. It’s @elevatorgate’s right to quote public statements…”

Prior to this point in the conversation, the women had named their stalker, but not used the @ symbol in front of his username. You know enough about Twitter to know why that’s a big deal. Damman either carelessly or deliberately notified a man stalking multiple women that they were seeking some way to prevent him from continuing to harass them, and then claimed it was no big deal because anyone searching for the information would have been able to find it. But there’s a very big difference between information existing and that same information being directly brought to a person’s attention.

If you know much about stalking, you’ll know what happens next. @elevatorGATE has substantially stepped up his harassment of the women who had asked Damman for help. Men who follow him on both Storify and Twitter have been bombarding these women via Storify notifications and Tweets with additional harassment. He has also increased his harassment of known online associates of the women in question, making it difficult for them to seek out help or support from fear of his beginning to stalk their friends as well. It’s the reason I’m contacting you privately, via email, rather than via social media: I’m afraid. I don’t want to be added to his list of targets.

Despite Damman’s claims that they can’t do anything, @elevatorGATE is violating Storify’s Terms of Service, which forbids users to:

Post, upload, publish, submit or transmit any Content that: (ii): violates, or encourages any conduct that would violate, any applicable law or regulation… (v) promotes discrimination, bigotry, racism, hatred, harassment or harm against any individual or group…

Violate any applicable law or regulation…

Encourage or enable any other individual to do any of the foregoing.

@elevatorGATE’s conduct is encouraging his followers to stalk and harass several women. Since cyberstalking is against US law under 47 USC § 223 and the Violence Against Women Act, he is violating other Terms of Service as well.

Please help us put pressure on Storify to follow their posted Terms of Service, post a clear harassment policy, and ban this known stalker and delete his thousands of posts.

308 thoughts on “Storify, Stalkers and Terms of Service

  1. I don’t think I need to remind people that the Mallet is in play for this comment thread.

    Also, if your response to this e-mail runs along the line of something you would find here, be aware a) you need to try harder and b) the Mallet is likely to find you.

    With regard to the identity of the person who sent the e-mail: Again, I know who it is, and I feel they are credible, and that’s what you need to know.

    Discuss politely, please, both the topic and with each other.

  2. Interesting. The stalker in question appears to have been suspended from Twitter already. I am not familiar with Storify, but I will be watching what happens with great interest as a type-case for the social media community addressing similar problems AS a community.

  3. I am appalled, depressed, and angry at the surge in the past few years of men aggressively harassing and threatening women. Online and off, in academia, the skeptic and atheist communities, gaming community, and beyond. It is wrong, offensive, pathetic, and disgusting. These men should be named and shamed and shown that such behavior is unacceptable in a civilised society, that their words and actions are not free of consequence. I fantasize of winning powerball so that I might fund efforts to counter this behavior though in the meantime I simply speak out against it whenever I see it.

  4. Have done so. I may have to unsubscribe from their service & put them in the “do not recommend” category. I just don’t understand CEOs not knowing or willing to follow through on their own TOS when it comes to booting men. Arghh

  5. I admit to being lost here. The behavior is odd and creepy, but how does the reposting of public information constitute abuse? I know you well enough to believe it does, but I don’t understand it.

  6. As a proponent of the concept of “name and shame,” any way to doxx this guy? And given his treatment of his targets, I’m not exactly wringing my hands over the “ethics” of it.

  7. Charles:

    As I understand it, it’s not just about the reposting of public information. It’s about using the mechanisms of the Storify service purposefully in a way to make the people whose information he’s reposting feel less safe. The intent as far as I can see does seem to make these folks uncomfortable and to drive them off the service (and, probably not conicidentally, off of Twitter as well).

    Thomas Wagner:

    I suspect the more fruitful course at the moment would be to address Storify.

  8. @Charles: Because there is a difference between information being available in the vast sea of data that is Twitter, and that information being compiled and stored in once place.

    An analogy: It is like the difference between having your windowshades open to let in sunlight, and having them open to let in sunlight while a creepy dude stands on the sidewalk pointing a video camera at your window.

  9. I watched the exchange on Twitter, catching it from a RT. Being a complete stranger, I did plenty of digging to get the story beyond the exchange that was happening (which was concering right off but missing so much info for clarity). Needless to say I’ll be steering far, far away from Storify.

    One aspect that does not seem to be included in the email above that was cited during the conversation is that the CEO’s own employees had already issued a warning to the stalker, and then the CEO basically went over and above his people by getting involved directly and then drawing the guy ito the conversation via tweeting at him. Damman kept citing “public domain” a his defense against not doing anything to the stalker and why he bothered including the guy directly. “He’s going to find out anyway so *shrug*” kind of attitude. His actions though, tell a different story, one that makes me a whooole lot more concerned about using his service or anything he might be potentially linked to.

  10. @Rev Matt: Your comment reminds me of NK Jemisin’s excellent recent piece, “Time to Pick a Side.” This kind of horrific harassing behavior seems like it’s part and parcel with a bunch of scared, powerful people who feel like they’re going to lose their power. Stalking, harassing, and threatening all seem like methods to control others as a way to cope with their fear. And scared dogs bite.

  11. Charles: I would imagine (and someone please correct me if I’m missing the mark) that this is serious harassment, despite being based on public information, in the same way that receiving an envelope in the mail full of photographs of you going about your day over the course of a month is serious harassment.

    Yes, it makes use of public, legally-collected material (photographing someone in public tends to be legal more often than not). But that’s not the point. The point is that the envelope was sent to you in order to let you know that someone has been following you, keeping tabs on you, and watching you. He is fixated on you. And he is there, always, lurking. You can never be sure of your privacy or safety.

    The photographs/tweet collecting may not be illegal per se, but what is subsequently done with them almost certainly is; and even if it somehow isn’t illegal (I’m neither a lawyer nor versed in US law, so I can’t say) it remains both profoundly fucked up and profoundly immoral. And, not insignificantly, it’s also almost certainly a violation of Storify’s ToS.

    Again, if I’m not understanding some nuance here, or if I’m entirely off-base, someone please let me know. But that’s my current understanding of the situation.

    Does that help clear things up a little?

  12. From all I’ve ready of Storify – it seems designed to serve the needs of Stalkers and other abusers. I’m not saying there aren’t other things that can be done with the service, but if one was to sit down and say “how will we serve the online stalker community”, you’d come up with something a lot like Storify.

  13. One of the women involved in this posted elsewhere, and said that before this, she would’ve said Storify was a great resource for activists trying to get their message heard. This incident, however, was frightening, triggering, and completely destroyed her confidence in Storify. What this guy is doing is basically telling these women (and apparently many others over time), “I know everything you say, and am keeping track of all of your personal information, and sharing it with anyone who wants it.” This is pretty much the equivalent of someone taking pictures of you every time you leave your house, and posting them up around town.

  14. Charles, that’s a fascinating question. As is so often the case, “what’s wrong with that” can be a hard question. (For fun: Try to come up with a coherent explanation of why it is fairly often regarded as moral to report wrongdoing, and also often regarded as moral to choose not to, but you can’t decide whether to report it or not based on whether the wrongdoer is paying you to keep quiet, because that’s blackmail.)

    First off, I’d argue that the bulk copying is probably not protected as fair use; it feels to me like infringey behavior, and as we all know, a vague emotional response is the basis of most modern copyright law. But let’s assume that there’s no problems there. Is simply making a news item out of everything someone says on Twitter, even if they ask you to stop, abusive behavior?

    Hell yeah. It’s stalking. Look, you’re allowed to take pictures in public places, right? And you’re allowed to modify pictures to add things like balloons, or confetti, or stars, or whatever, right? But somehow, if you take pictures specifically of someone’s kids, and you photoshop crosshairs onto the pictures, and you send them pictures like that every day, suddenly people freak out. Why’s that? Well, because it’s a threat, that’s why. Sure, it’s an implicit threat, but it is nonetheless a threat.

    When someone who has no particular welcome connection to you follows you around recording everything you say, and reposting all of it, and making sure you know they’re reposting everything you say, that is some sort of implicit threat. It might be a little less obvious what exactly the threat is, but I would note that, among people I know, women are pretty much always going to be a bit nervous when a hostile stranger is making it very clear that he is obsessively interested in them, because women in whom hostile strangers are obsessively interested are far, far, too likely to end up dead later.

    To some extent, context matters. For instance: Do you recognize the name “elevatorgate” as a name with some relevance to instances of harassment? Because that might be a major factor in how people are interpreting these events.

    To put it another way: Can you think of a reason for this behavior which is *not* primarily focused on making people afraid or uncomfortable? I can’t. And if someone is doing something primarily to make people afraid or uncomfortable, that is usually harassment.

  15. I can see where they’re coming from, but they’re still, y’know, wrong.

    I can understand, from Storify’s perspective, not wanting to run afoul of the safe harbor provision – as long as they’re a third-party content aggregator, they’re not responsible for what’s posted on their service. The minute you wade in and start Malleting, you don’t necessarily lose your protection, but it becomes shaky.

    On the other hand, there’s been a very clear, singular problem brought to their attention. From both a customer service AND basic decency perspective, I would think this is something they’d want to address with more tact than “FIRST AMENDMENT HURR.”

    Were I King of Storify, I would use this opportunity to order my developers to whip up a quick solution to abusive users – a “notify” or “alert” button that, after some number of presses automatically puts the user on a 24-hour ban. Should they persist, the matter could be escalated to a level of moderation, wherein the ban could be extended out to and including permanence.

    No, this isn’t perfect (signing up with multiple different emails, etc.), but it’s a) a start, and b) allows you something to build off. Plus, it shows that you’re actively concerned about and engaged with your community and policing its worst aspects. And, as a third-party content aggregator, the users are pretty much your entire product.

  16. I admit to being lost here. The behavior is odd and creepy, but how does the reposting of public information constitute abuse? I know you well enough to believe it does, but I don’t understand it.

    The funny thing about stalking and harassment, they usually involve a whole lot of legal and quite often “harmless” stuff that only become stalking or harassment when you add them together. Which seems to be one of the main problems with internet “dudes” comprehension of why the things they are doing indeed are harassment and stalking.

    What happens in many of these cases is a person does something someone does not like, like oh..suggesting women are just as good as men, you know something crazy like that.(this is sarcasm, just to be safe) Then they post it on their favorite “dudebro” forum. Now you have 300+ guys each “only” doing “one little thing”. And surely that “one little thing” they did should not be against the law, so whats the problem? Its not their fault 299 other dudes decided to also email the woman pictures of her head photoshoped onto porn stars.

    Then of course you have the small % of “superdudebros” who take it upon themselves to educate the woman on her place in society no matter how many times they are asked to stop. It is their moral duty to make sure the women pay for their uppityness (is that even a word?) I think this guy is one of this type a true superhero MRA.

  17. “I can understand, from Storify’s perspective, not wanting to run afoul of the safe harbor provision – as long as they’re a third-party content aggregator, they’re not responsible for what’s posted on their service.”

    Well, they have terms of service and to enforce those they are going to have to take action based on how their service is used in a given case else the terms mean nothing.

    @donaldbrown From all I’ve ready of Storify – it seems designed to serve the needs of Stalkers and other abusers.

    Eh. It’s designed to capture a series of tweets around a topic. Often that can be interesting and not at all stalkery. CAN it be stalkery? Yes, but only when used that way. Without doing any deep thinking about this I’d say that limiting the time span that storify posts can cover might be a first good step since most of the Twitter conversations that make good Storify posts take place over a day or two.

    A quick example – someone lost their macbook (not Scalzi this time… :) ) and tweeted the saga of finding it. Was an interesting storify post.

  18. Delighted to see you (Scalzi) weigh in on this and throw your not inconsiderable reputation behind us. I’m by no means a primary target of said stalker, but I’ve had tweets of mine picked up by him because I’ve RTed or engaged in conversations online with his primary targets. As a woman in the atheist community, I can say that feminist-aligned atheists have been dealing with this creep for most of the last two years. His behaviour hasn’t ceased (even though many of us TRIED ignoring him) but it seems to be ramping up in some respects.

    One of the negative aspects of this is: I’ve used Storify for my photo runs and whatnot, so I’m loath to discontinue the service but as it stands THERE IS NO WAY TO BLOCK NOTIFICATIONS FROM THIS DUDE without completely disabling notifications altogether. There is no way to block him, like there is on Twitter. Basically, I was seeing his name pop up every day in my mail, even if I hadn’t said anything, because he was targetting people on my friend’s list. (He will also mischaracterise people willfully, or associate tweets that weren’t otherwise associated in order to create particular impressions, but that’s such small beer compared to the relentless annoyance of his Tweet collection and the fact that he delights in making sure we know he’s collecting our tweets.)

  19. I’m hoping your bully pulpit has some effect. I’ve been following this sense yesterday, and Storify’s response has been sucktastic.

  20. @ Dan Herman: They lost Safe Harbor protection the moment they were notified by the harassed people.

    Even if the harasser isn’t doing anything against the law, the Storify CEO should want to be known to run a ‘decent’ service. Just because the law may allow something (or may just be unclear) doesn’t mean you have to permit it on your site.

  21. @froborr – “An analogy: It is like the difference between having your windowshades open to let in sunlight, and having them open to let in sunlight while a creepy dude stands on the sidewalk pointing a video camera at your window.”

    Excellent analogy.

  22. so, I really do not see where the “stalking” comes into play? Bouncing back public postings that others make in public and calling that stalking seems like a stretch to me. If I walk up to someone and simply repeat every word they say after they say it (like that annoying kid we all knew) is that really something to be threatened by? Do we know that it is meant to be threatening? Isn’t it free speech? What am I missing here?

  23. Unfortunately, social media makes it really easy for anonymous (and even named) stalkers. We love the ability to share our thoughts and lives with our friends, but it leaves us vulnerable. The answer is for social media outlets to stick to and enforce their ToS. If not, it is important for the rest of us to stop using their service and make it clear why we are doing so. If Storify or another similar “service” starts to lose members, other social media may take note and modify their behavior accordingly. One can hope.

    In this case, Damman’s behavior tells me he is at best an enabler and possibly a perpetrator himself. There is no excuse, once the violation of the ToS has been pointed out, to allow the stalking behavior to continue.

  24. ForeverWhat:

    What you seem to be missing is the whole chunk of discussion offered upthread. Try reading those before bouncing to the bottom and asking the same question others asked above, and which many have already weighed in on.

  25. It’s entirely unclear how it could be “free speech”, or what “free speech” has to do with use of a privately-run service.

    It is not obvious that it matters whether it is meant to be threatening, but in practice, if people tell you they find something threatening and you don’t stop, people can reasonably infer that you intend to be threatening those people. And I think the “threatening” part comes in somewhere around “follow them around repeating everything they say”, because really, the emphasis is on “follow them around”, and the repeating everything they say is only present as a means to cause them to be notified that you are following them around listening to everything they say. Which is usually regarded as stalking.

  26. It’s frustrating being outside the community, and not knowing if there are simple steps that might make a bit of a positive difference. Suggestions? Since I’m not a Storify user and now have no desire to become one, what can I do? Are there places that one can post negative reviews? Is there a reason Cory Doctorow and others haven’t picked this one up yet?

  27. It’s about using the mechanisms of the Storify service purposefully in a way to make the people whose information he’s reposting feel less safe.

    Does “making someone feel less safe” meet the test of “promoting [...] harassment”?

    I see the bare definition of the term implies it does – “intentional behaviour which is found threatening or disturbing”, but is there precedent for holding someone guilty of harassment for publicising someone else’s own public statements? “Making someone feel less safe” would be a pretty big ask.

    Has he been doxing anyone? Combining information to yield traffic patterns or compile off-line links?

  28. Stalking is in the eyes of the victim (it’s a form of assault.) It is not so much what the stalker does as how their victim feels about what the stalker does. Yes, this can be tricky to deal with, both legally and morally.

    They don’t have to be boiling your bunnies in your kitchen to be a stalker.

    Some people really don’t “get it”; I’d almost wish that they were stalked, themselves, but having been stalked myself … no. Don’t do that.

  29. @Mark Fletcher You don’t lose safe harbor when you’re notified of offensive use. That would defeat the point of safe harbor. This was YouTube’s argument, if you’ll recall – with no automated system in place to detect infringement, it was completely impossible for them to moderate the thousands of hours uploaded per second. Once they implemented the automatic system, though, a notification meant that they had to take it down under DMCA guidelines and provide a response.

  30. If I walk up to someone and simply repeat every word they say after they say it (like that annoying kid we all knew) is that really something to be threatened by?

    Umm yeah that would be stalkerish and creepy as all hell.

    Do we know that it is meant to be threatening?

    Hey, you know who gets to decide if it is? The people on the receiving end.

    Isn’t it free speech? What am I missing here?

    No its not, its not related to “free speech” even tangentially. Pretty much everything.

  31. Another thing to add: This isn’t just a content aggregation thing. He storifies prominent and less-prominent atheist women and feminists in a context that leaves pointers for trolls and other harrassers to follow suit. He’s not presenting these free from context, but making sure that people know that these wimminz (and some men like Sasha Pixlee) are too uppity for their own good. And he’s using the loophole in the notification system to make sure THEY know HE knows and is following them. Like I’ve said, we’ve tried ignoring him in the past, and that hasn’t really helped much. And lots of people have called him out on the behaviour and all that happens is they get added to the Stalk Soup.

  32. @Seebs:

    It’s entirely unclear how it could be “free speech”, or what “free speech” has to do with use of a privately-run service.

    Sadly, a lot of seemingly-intelligent people seem to have extreme difficulty parsing the First Amendment, especially the word “Congress” at the start of it; and seem to believe that the fact that they have a right to say X obliges Twitter / Storify / whoever to provide them with a platform to say X.

  33. This kind of stalking (making sure the victim knows you are watching them at all times) is often a prelude to much more serious and violent actions. First, the stalker follows, then starts to take pictures, then sends the pictures to the victim. Next, breaking in so the victim knows the stalker can get to her. Final step, assault. This is a classic progression. And it has reached the danger phase.

    I do not use Storify or know the principals involved, but I don’t need to to recognize the danger.

  34. Tricky one, but the core of the issue is they’re basically ignoring their own T&Cs, not to mention walking into the beartrap that Twitter are in over similar stuff.

    They do fill a useful purpose and if you conduct your life on Twitter etc… or want to track marketing/news activity it’s useful.

    I just don’t think the CEO has really thought this one out.

  35. And in the case of SA–a prominent atheist feminist—this dude encouraged his followers to harrass her at a convention, mimick her products, and try to undermine her online business. People who bought her products and then tweeted her were followed and RTed by this dude. (It’s how I think I ended up on his radar.)

    This isn’t just a mere case of “I know you are but what am I” taunting from a kid. This is an adult who for nealry two years has sustained vitriolic attacks on women in the online community.

  36. @frobarr An analogy: It is like the difference between having your windowshades open to let in sunlight, and having them open to let in sunlight while a creepy dude stands on the sidewalk pointing a video camera at your window.

    No, I think the analogy fails in that public tweets, by definition, fail to have a right of privacy attached to them. See this – http://photorights.org/faq/is-it-legal-to-take-photos-of-people-without-asking

    I suspect the Storify people might be sympathetic to an argument to remove the posts if it could be shown clearly that they violated ToS. I don’t see such a clear argument though, unless there’s reference to editorial comments he himself made.

  37. Scalzi, I would like to thank you sincerely for using your voice to bring attention to this issue.

    I was one of the activists speaking to Xavier Damman when he alerted ElevatorGate to the conversation. I was added to the list of EG’s stalking victims literally within minutes of that tweet. Mr. Damman has not only refused to apologize for being directly responsible for alerting a known stalker to my existence, he has also apparently blocked me on Twitter, which is somewhat… ironic, especially when people are now using his Storify service to harass me by email.

    I was very fond of Storify prior to this incident, but it should be noted that it’s currently setup in ways which facilitate stalkers. I’ve circulated on Twitter a picture of their “Add them all” button which is a one-click way to add the last ~800 tweets someone has tweeted on their account. It’s absurdly easy to stalk dozens of women a day with their tool, for a very small amount of time investment. That Mr. Damman and his company don’t see this as something worth addressing (for example, with a “block” function that keeps someone from Storifying more than 5 of your tweets per day or something, as a compromise to Voltaire and Free Speech) is very distressing.

    I thank you again, Scalzi for so often being a good ally to the people who need it the most. It means the world to me, and (I know) others.

  38. I suspect the Storify people might be sympathetic to an argument to remove the posts if it could be shown clearly that they violated ToS. I don’t see such a clear argument though, unless there’s reference to editorial comments he himself made.

    They have been informed of someone who is actively stalking women and has been for over two years. Someone who can spend years at a time doing things like this is obviously dangerous.

    Btw you are conflating two separate things, a guy who takes a photo of you once is not breaking the law, a guy who follows you around for a year doing so IS breaking the law. See how its two different things?

  39. relayed this to my Facebook wall. One can’t help but home this person eventually meets up with Karma and a cactus in a dark alley…

  40. Answering some of the commentary above, he also has a wordpress account where he disects/ridicules/discusses (and in other ways gets his crowd up to date about) these people he’s compiling and in otherways stalks. I read his wordpress which seemed active and also referenced a previous wordpress-type (or some other page)… He seems to have been at this sort of behaviour for a long time. I’m not linking to it for obvious reasons but its easy to find if you look him up.

  41. Ditto to Heretomeles: What can I do?

    “It’s frustrating being outside the community, and not knowing if there are simple steps that might make a bit of a positive difference. Suggestions? Since I’m not a Storify user and now have no desire to become one, what can I do?”

    I see the twitter link above to one of their funders, but what other actions can a person take? How about for people who don’t have twitter accounts?

  42. @notsent: Btw you are conflating two separate things, a guy who takes a photo of you once is not breaking the law, a guy who follows you around for a year doing so IS breaking the law. See how its two different things?

    So has Scalzi broken the law by referring to a certain four letter acronym idiot and his posts for well over a year? Am I breaking a law in following people on Twitter if I’ve been doing so for over a year? Remember, we’re talking about someone aggregating public statements.

    Here’s the law on stalking – http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2261A

    I think there’s a good case there provided it is demonstrated that it is HIS intent to “cause substantial emotional distress” (cf 2(A)). Note, that this is separate from the victim stating “I feel frightened”.

    Or, of course, you can just lean on Storify to remove his access because he’s creepy and there’s a lot of you making a noise. Which may or may not work, depending on how uppity Storify gets about mob justice.

  43. Answering some of the commentary above, he also has a wordpress account where he disects/ridicules/discusses (and in other ways gets his crowd up to date about) these people he’s compiling and in otherways stalks.

    Does he put links between the two, because if so I think you’ve got your argument to Storify right there.

  44. I’ve attracted elevatorgate’s peripheral attention mainly because of the company I keep, though not even within two or perhaps three orders of magnitude of some folks. Getting a handful of notifications from the guy in a bad week is creepy. I can only imagine what getting hundreds in a typical day might be like.

    Damman’s suggestion that people turn off notifications means he is actively choosing one abuser’s business over hundreds of victims.

    Thank you, John, for (as usual) lending your efforts to the side of decent human behavior.

  45. It has also been pointed out that this massive archiving of a person’s every Twitter post could lead to a doxing. Twitter limited the number of posts you can view at any given time, but if someone’s using Storify to keep an archive, that can be used to get around Twitter’s limit. With such a massive record, someone could comb through everything a person has ever posted on Twitter, from photos of their pet to their occasional comment on a local political issue, and discern their real identity and other personal information. It’s rather frightening.

  46. The guy in question (EG) Storify’s topics within this specific community (Social Justice, Feminism, MRA, etc), and he does it to everybody who happens to be talking about these topics. This tends to be more women than men, but a lot men (including myself) are Storified. The intention being to foster discussion.

    The people claiming harassment are people who rarely manage any kind of discussion, and generally block anyone who doesn’t agree with them, but, lately, they figured out that they can dogpile on the Twitter “report” button (hence him being suspended from Twitter) and now on Storify.

    Backstory aside, no Terms of Service have been broken. No information that was not already made public has been shared, and the “harassed” need only know about the Storify’s if they choose to. This situation boils down to these people not liking the guy, and being annoyed at Twitter and Storify because the way they are run allow him to do what he’s doing. Honestly, if you call it stalking, you’re insulting anybody who has actually being stalked.

    Storifying is glorified retweeting. Nobody’s saying these people have no right to not want to be quoted, but they can try different services, and they can protect their account. This aspect of Twitter has not changed since the service was formed, why should it change for this loud minority?

  47. notsont @5:35
    I think this guy is one of this type a true superhero MRA.

    The irony being, this is anything but superhero behavior.

    I suppose they could justify it, as trying to be Le Resistance against the rising estrogen tide of feminism, which brings to mind hilarious thread about the Last Survivors of the Manosphere versus the Feminarchy’s gamma males… except it’s not at all so easy to laugh off this time.

    Storify: Please stop enabling this guy.

  48. John Bullock:

    Your opinion would be more rather more compelling if the comment thread above you was not filled with examples of how this dude goes out of his way to use Storify and other online services to harass people. But it is, so, yeah. But nice try.

    Also, in my opinion, the dude is going out of his way to be a harassing fuckhead, and I say Storify’s TOS is clear that his actions are not to be tolerated. You are free to have your own opinion; I think it’s wrong. Having been the head of an organization that’s had to deal with harassing fuckheads in its time, I feel pretty confident in my own opinion on the matter.

  49. Bullock’s comment demonstrates why I feel it is necessary to establish a good argument for Storify.

  50. Yeah, if you think that suggesting it may be a nice change of pace if a fictional character who’s been played exclusively by white males for half a century could probably be played by a woman or a POC makes you a “screechy feminist privilege peddler,” you might be a reactionary misogynist douchecanoe. And also, possibly, a redneck.

  51. Reblogged this on Meeka's Mind and commented:
    ‘Whatever’ is the blog of famous science fiction writer John Scalzi, and he usually posts about books, and writing related topics. Today, however, he’s talking about online stalking and social media.

    Apparently certain people are using the Storify platform to collect everything a victim [female] writes online in order to make that victim feel ‘watched’ and threatened.

    I’ve never used Storify so I cannot comment on whether its CEO is justified in his lack of action or not. I’m not even sure what I think of the problem as a whole. Nonetheless, I do know that if you google your own name, you will be amazed, and maybe a little shocked to learn that every single thing you post, or write in a comment, is there for the taking.

    I know I would hate to feel that I was the target of a cyberstalker. Please read the article, and in particular the comments, because I think this is the new frontier we all have to come to terms with.

    cheers
    Meeks

  52. Your article is factually inaccurate in saying @elevatorgate stepped up his activities after @xdamman used his twitter handle to address the situation brought since @elevatorgate was already banned from twitter. Also if you look at the full account of the issue @xdamman also turned off his notifications and informed the people complaining that there were plans to add an abuse button in their programming. This was disclosed long before the 48 hour long rant that has been heaped on @xdamman who has been tweeted nonstop by those claiming to be harassed .. a bit ironic.

    The real issue is some people don’t like who is storifying them. It has nothing to with what he is doing with it but who is doing it. If i start storifying their tweets with notifications off they would never know. See storify isnt stalking or harassment since its not directed at the person being storified but directed to the public about the person.

    If i read a blog and then go to another forum and paste quotes of what i read i am not harassing the blogger.Hes not adding to their quotes hes not even commenting most of the time. Can it be consider tactless or mean, sure. If i do it all the time every day is it obsessive, sure. Is it harassing no. Is it stalking. No. Because you chose to agree to http://twitter.com/tos. Which states that all tweets are public and can be shared to any other application twitter allows.

    Bottom line its a group of people who don’t like @elevatogate because they have been told hes evil and a stalker terrible person by their friends.

    So no its not about free speech its about overreaction. Its about people that lack the convictions of their own public statements since they are terrified of them being seen by everyone else.And its about a public who fails to read TOS or understand the technology they are using.

  53. @Phoenician in a time of Romans
    I did not see an immediate and obvious linkage between stories. His WP account is listed publicly on his Storify account (hence my finding it easily and quickly). From there it’s just a matter of reading. It is fairly obvious even if it’s ot blatant and direct. He’s clearly played the game a little while.

  54. Stephen Walski:

    “Your article is factually inaccurate in saying @elevatorgate stepped up his activities after @xdamman used his twitter handle to address the situation brought since @elevatorgate was already banned from twitter.”

    Well, no. You’re aware of things like search functions, correct? You are aware that one may search for terms using Twitter-specific search engines? Here’s one, if you were not aware such things existed. But you don’t even need one of those; a google search will do just fine. not to mention if the fellow had a different Twitter acount, he could just set up a search query for the name using that. So, yeah, I’m not seeing how the logic behind your “factually inaccurate” assertion holds water.

    “It has nothing to with what he is doing with it but who is doing it.”

    Well, no. It would seem that it is about who is doing it and what he is doing with it. So that’s wrong, too.

    “Bottom line its a group of people who don’t like @elevatogate because they have been told hes evil and a stalker terrible person by their friends.”

    Well, no. It’s a group of people who seem to have a reasonable belief that he’s acting in stalking, harassing manner and are asking the service through which he operates to honor their own terms of service.

    Guys: Coming in and making blanket assertions as if simply you saying so will settle all dispute is not going to work. One, so far you don’t seem to be making very good arguments. Two, trying to traffic on your own personal credibility isn’t going to work, because a) see point one and b) how strange a bunch of dudes apparently sympathetic to a guy who’s an obnoxious harasser would wish to suggest he’s not doing anything wrong. That’s unpossible!

  55. @Row : I did not see an immediate and obvious linkage between stories. His WP account is listed publicly on his Storify account (hence my finding it easily and quickly). From there it’s just a matter of reading. It is fairly obvious even if it’s ot blatant and direct.

    That would probably do it. Show that the WP account is linked from his Storify account, give quotes from the WP account demonstrating his state of mind (not just the victims), and you’d be able to show cyber-stalking to a level Storify can use to justify taking him down.

    IMAAWO.

  56. @scalzi Okay show the increase in his usage then. I assume since you can google it so easy you can back up this assertion of yours? Right?

    Its not a blanket statement its right in the TOS for twitter.

    I gave you an analogy you ignored because its too close to the truth so its not just assertions your failing to look at the logic we have shown in this.

    I agreed its weaselly and mean. But harassment and stalking it is not.

    Put away the us v them for five seconds and actually consider what i said

  57. @Phoenician in a time of Romans Bit of an internet Lawyer eh?

    One event is not stalkerish doing things multiple times every single day even after you were asked to stop IS harassment. Does not matter what it is. I could send you dollar bills in the mail everyday and it could be harassment under the right circumstances.

  58. how strange a bunch of dudes apparently sympathetic to a guy who’s an obnoxious harasser would wish to suggest he’s not doing anything wrong. That’s unpossible!

    Damn, now my keyboard has diet pepsi spewed all over it.

  59. @donald brown Inferring that i objectify women is an unsubstantiated, unrelated, rude, and inflammatory comment . But go ahead Hang onto your assertions that people that disagree with you are MRA, Douches, Rednecks. Don’t look at it with an open mind and see that we are Humanists painted by a small group of politically motivated bloggers are evil for daring to question the party line that you continue to bash.

  60. Without addressing this particular situation, this is a story we’ve all heard too many times before. It cannot be a surprise to anyone at this point that there are stalkers on social media networks, and that “First Amendment free speech derp derp derp” is not an adequate response to those problems.

    All creators of social media ought to be on notice that they ought to give some thought about how their product might be used for creepy stalking behavior and how they are going to interdict that, both prospectively (e.g., by designing your media to avoid facilitating stalkers) and retrospectively (i.e., by thinking about how to investigate complaints and deal with offenders).

    As for the rest of us, I think we owe creators of social media who are acting in good faith a little patience when dealing with legitimately unexpected situations and a little realism about what they can accomplish and how quickly. (For example, one occasionally hears it suggested that social media network operators should be reviewing all network activity in real time for ToS compliance, which is obviously not workable.)

  61. @PiatoR and Stephen Walski
    Okay, sure. Let’s play the pretend game where obsessively following, archiving, collating and sharing a targeted group of women’s online comments, and notifying them that you are doing so, is anything but a silencing or intimidation tactic. Let’s pretend that this isn’t hallmark stalker behaviour. Let’s pretend that such instances aren’t harassment and aren’t commonplace towards women.

    EVEN THEN – it would still be the moral, rational, logical thing to do, when presented with a number of people telling you that this person is using your service to make them feel unsafe, to prevent that person from using your service. If one person is driving many away from your service by their behaviour, would you not make that choice? At the very worst, an “innocent” person is unable to use one of many social media platforms.

    However, since this isn’t a game, online harassment of women (particular women of colour and transwomen) is well-known and well-documented, and this behaviour is TEXTBOOK stalker behaviour – it is the ONLY moral, rational, logical thing to do. Damman’s response is heinous, irrational and, unfortunately, all too common online.

  62. Inferring that i objectify women is an unsubstantiated, unrelated, rude, and inflammatory comment . But go ahead Hang onto your assertions that people that disagree with you are MRA, Douches, Rednecks. Don’t look at it with an open mind and see that we are Humanists painted by a small group of politically motivated bloggers are evil for daring to question the party line that you continue to bash.

    I always find it amazing when people parody themselves in their own little rants and don’t even know it.

  63. Stephen Walski:

    The assertion under discussion was yours, actually — namely that the elevatorgate person could not have stepped up his activities because he could not have been aware of the complaints. It was nicely discarded. What you’re doing here is attempting to shift the argument. However, as you were the one who brought the general argument to the table, i.e., there was no stepping up of activity, I am not sure why I have to be the one to prove or disprove it. It’s not my job to do your work for you.

    “Its not a blanket statement its right in the TOS for twitter.”

    Which would be on point if we were discussing Twitter, but we’re not. We’re discussing Storify.

    “I gave you an analogy you ignored because its too close to the truth”

    Actually, I ignored it because I was busy blowing holes in your bad arguing elsewhere and didn’t feel the need to rebut them all when rebutting a couple would suffice to make the point you were not making good arguments. Beyond this, you’ve now also discovered I am not obliged to give you the reply you expect to get.

    You’re not doing very well for yourself in this thread, Mr. Walski.

  64. @notsent : @Phoenician in a time of Romans Bit of an internet Lawyer eh?

    I try not to be, but I’ve seen corporate behaviour of this sort before as a union delegate.

    IMHO, Storify would want to get ridda this bozo, but they also want to be procedurally fair – if said bozo hasn’t clearly violated their ToS, then they’re not going to boot him just because people are screaming about how mean he is.

    It’s just this failure to account for procedural fairness in the face of mob pressure that has soured my opinion of a few prominent figures recently. I’m sure they’ll live despite the sting of my contempt, though.

    The key to resolving situations like this, in my less-than-expert experience, is to provide a good argument the management (Storify here) can use to justify the resolution you both want. Jumping up and down, or self-righteously bleating about your own rectitude isn’t enough.

  65. There’s something called the continuum fallacy that seems to come up a lot in discussions of online stalking and the like. Read the linked wikipedia article for more details, but here’s the short version: even if you argue that there’s not a sharp delineation between stalking behaviour and non-stalking, it’s still a fallacy to say that you can’t meaningfully define stalking.

    With regard to the “well nothing he did was illegal”: just about every single crime is an event composed of actions that, in another context, would be legal. So the fact that this person’s actions would, in a different context, be legal is of absolutely no relevance.

  66. @StephenWalski: if you’ll read Ana Mardoll’s comment, you’ll see that she wasn’t a target until after the incident with Damman. I’d call that an increase.

  67. @Phoenician in a time of Romans not for nothing but storify could, in a 15 minute investigation by one person, confirm this guy is stalking people. It took me all of 5 minutes to follow the story back two years.

    They are not required to be fair to stalkers, if after he was banned he came forward with some kind of super beilevable explanation for his multi-year campaign.they could always re-instate his account and apologize, but to disregard clear evidence of stalking in this day and age where women are harmed practically daily by this type of behavior is stupid, especially for a startup company that needs good will from the community.

  68. Isn’t this why Storify was created in the first place? To document conversations? Does the mere act of documenting — essentially keeping a history log — now constitute as harassment? And how does it enter into constituting as harassment again? This is very confusing.

    Also, isn’t cyberstalking a crime? Don’t you have to have sufficient evidence to accuse someone of cyberstalking? If all he does is Storify their conversations but never actually takes part in the actual conversation, including tagging them, then he isn’t just keeping a log? For instance, if I were to Freezepage (or save) every single blog post you make, John, to hold and keep as evidence for something or other, but never actually posting a single comment on your blog, would that count as cyberstalking? Doesn’t that mean that pinging an article would serve as cyberstalking as well?

    Finally, I can’t see where @elevatorgate is encouraging his followers to stalk and/or harass women. On his blog?

    http://elevatorgate.wordpress.com/

    Nope. Seems the last submission there was back in 2012. On his Storify account?

    http://storify.com/ElevatorGATE/

    Seems not. Can’t see a single reference to the encouraging of stalking and/or harassing women online.

    Again, isn’t accusing someone of being a stalker (even a cyberstalker) a crime worthy of libel?

    And again, why is documenting conversations on Twitter considered cyberstalking?

  69. Pitchguest:

    “And again, why is documenting conversations on Twitter considered cyberstalking?”

    And again, why aren’t people who come to gripe about this very topic not bothering to read the actual thread as it already exists, in which this is discussed, rather in detail?

    Folks, if you’re not actually keeping up with the conversation you don’t merit being part of it.

    Go do some reading, Pitchguest.

  70. Thank you for using your internet presence to call attention to issues that normally get swept under the rug or ignored.

  71. What’s sad about this sort of thing is that Storify doesn’t want to be the sort of place online where behavior like this isn’t tolerated. These jerks may have a legal right to gather and post public information like this, but our communities can and should hold members to a higher standard than the law does.

  72. ““And again, why is documenting conversations on Twitter considered cyberstalking?”

    What John said.

    But thinking about the different analogies I think this might be a better one:

    Consider a fan collecting newspaper clippings of an author – this is fine, a little creepy but fine.The fan then emails or posts letters to the author every time they add a new clipping to their journal to let them know they had done that. That is stepping over the edge to stalking.

  73. Writing carefully:

    The alleged stalker is taking content from one social network service, and republishing it through another, Service A, Twitter, has a contract with the copyright holder. Service B, Storify, does not.

    Time for a DMCA notice? It would be slow, snail-mail speed, but Storify can’t afford to ignore it.

    Downside, the alleged stalker gets a real-world name and address. It suddenly doesn’t sound useful.

  74. Walski: Inferring that i objectify women is an unsubstantiated, unrelated, rude, and inflammatory comment . But go ahead Hang onto your assertions that people that disagree with you are MRA, Douches, Rednecks. Don’t look at it with an open mind and see that we are Humanists painted by a small group of politically motivated bloggers are evil for daring to question the party line that you continue to bash.

    “We are”. I see. You’re saying thave every single person that Donald Brown disagrees with and calls an MRA, a Douche, or a Redneck, is a Humanist. Including, no doubt, actual MRAs, Douches, and Rednecks. And that you’re one of them.

    Is that really what you meant to say? Because that’s the plain meaning of what you wrote.

  75. Part of the stalking/harassment is that whenever anyone anywhere on the Internet talks about the activities of ElevatorGATE or other obsessive misogynists, the same bunch of hangers-on show up to spew the same dishonest rationalizations that have been corrected at least a few dozen times. It isn’t just one person, it is an entire pack of rather horrible people making the world a worse place wherever they show up.

    Hint: I’m long familiar with most of the folks getting the “hints in green” here.

  76. Antonia T. Tiger:

    If the Twitter terms of service say that the information one posts there may be shared with third parties, I’m not entirely sure a DMCA notice would be on point. One for the lawyers to discuss.

    Re: real world name and address: If one has a lawyer, the lawyer may be empowered to send a DMCA notice.

  77. The thing of it is the harassment id a combined effort of more than one page and more than one service. Its a group of people who gather on certain forums and use twitter, storify, facebook, wordpress and other sites in a combined manner to stalk and harass certain women. The storify page serves mainly as an information clearinghouse where they can collect information to use against a group of people they disagree with.

    The added benefit of using the automatic notification to send dozens of emails a day to those people is just icing on the cake.

  78. Okay, I’ve done some rereading as suggested. Is it because of the notification thing? Is that why it’s considered cyberstalking?

    I don’t have Storify nor Twitter, so apologies if I seem ignorant. Do you receive a notification everytime someone Storifies a Twitter conversation you had? If so, I suppose if someone you didn’t like were to Storify a conversation you had would be annoying, but I can’t seem how it would be anymore stalking than pinging.

    And it seems, at least according to one Twitter user here in this conversation (which I’m linking to, despite not being a stalker) that the notification ISN’T the problem, but rather the “collation” (the collecting of information – in other words, keeping a log):

    https://twitter.com/xdamman/status/367723100667777024

    Another in that conversation (whom I shall not name here on this blog) also said “Storifying every tweet should be against the TOS” – now that sounds particularly egregious if you ask me. Is that because Storifying a Twitter conversation is cyberstalking, or something else? There are hundreds of people who use Storify to document Twitter conversations today – maybe even thousands, tens of thousands? Are they cyberstalkers, too?

    I also noticed that the person who said that “Storifying every tweet should be against the TOS” also peruse Storify themselves. Hypocrite?

  79. It’s very handy when commenters attach their Twitter names to their posts. It lets me give a quick scan and decide how to weight their comments. Douchcanoes identify themselves.

  80. I’m a longtime fan of one of the women that @elevatorGATE (EG) targets – and his behavior is beyond appalling. I’ve sporadically paid attention to his twitter account and it’s not hyperbolic to say that his constant attention towards his targets is violent, demeaning, threatening, and disgusting.

    These women have other harassers, as Steampunc pointed out there’s a loose ‘network’ of atheists/skeptics who aggressively resist the inclusive of feminism within their community. But even these harassers have time and time again distanced themselves from EG. He is pathological and perverse – not your ‘typical’ trolling/harassment (which is already alarming enough).

    As a member of this community, who cares a great deal about advocacy for critical thinking and science communication among other skeptical projects, I’ve tried to understand time and time again why some people choose to spend countless hours (years in this case) spewing meanness, negativity, and anger. How can it be enjoyable? Is is necessarily a signal of some sort of illness – can you be fueled hatred and ill will and be a healthy person?

    In any case, I hope Damman was merely negligent and not maliciously trivializing the years of abuse these women have endured while enabling that abuse to continue. If he hadn’t initially realized the severity of the situation I hope he’s done some research and decides to do the right thing and shut this down. EG’s Storify account *is* independently in violation of the site’s terms of service – but EG is a stalker across platforms, and Damman needs to contextualize the Storify account with the rest of the evidence.

  81. @ Thomas M. Wagner (& rick gregory) “Yeah, if you think that suggesting it may be a nice change of pace if a fictional character who’s been played exclusively by white males for half a century could probably be played by a woman or a POC makes you a “screechy feminist privilege peddler,” you might be a reactionary misogynist douchecanoe. And also, possibly, a redneck.”

    Context is a wonderful thing, is it not. One thing ElevatorGate didn’t do, whatever you think of him, is only present the tweets he wanted you to see.

    https://twitter.com/beagrie/status/364128855461609472

  82. Michael J. Parry

    “Consider a fan collecting newspaper clippings of an author – this is fine, a little creepy but fine.The fan then emails or posts letters to the author every time they add a new clipping to their journal to let them know they had done that. That is stepping over the edge to stalking.”

    First of all, why is it “a little creepy” to collect newspaper clippings? Second of all, @elevatorgate doesn’t collect from a single author but several. Thirdly, if his purpose is to stalk and harass women, why is he defending this one woman here?

    http://storify.com/elevatorgate/conversation-with-samambreen-renatus84-sabineyeuxb

    And certainly, why did he defend and log the bullying of women like Sara Mayhew, Miranda Celeste Hale and Harriet Hall to name a few? That doesn’t sound like something a person who’s dedicated to the stalking and harassment of women. Was his account hacked?

    Fourth, if Storify is the one doing the notification and not EG himself going out of his way to make sure that the people whose conversation he’s documented gets the notification, then shouldn’t it be Storify who should get the brunt of the criticism and not EG? And as I pointed out in my previous comment, the people who have criticised Storify in this use Storify themselves to document conversations. Shouldn’t they, too, then be dubbed cyberstalkers? It’s very confusing how this label is being thrown around, seemingly at random. It would be nice if we could find a common ground. Preferably a ground that doesn’t begin with, “Just because.”

  83. fräulein bürstner

    “I’m a longtime fan of one of the women that @elevatorGATE (EG) targets – and his behavior is beyond appalling. I’ve sporadically paid attention to his twitter account and it’s not hyperbolic to say that his constant attention towards his targets is violent, demeaning, threatening, and disgusting.”

    Citation. Needed.

  84. First of all, why is it “a little creepy” to collect newspaper clippings?

    Er… you don’t find that even remotely creepy? Ok. I must admit it leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable, as does routinely archiving the entire Twitter activity of individuals _everything_ not just stuff related to a specific topic or event, and then notifying the people involved? Sorry, makes me shudder.

    The core issue here isn’t that he’s picking topics, like the Helen Lewis thread, but that he’s documenting everything they do online and then letting them know. That’s crossing a line.

    The thing is, and I’m going to assume you’re just unfamiliar with the technology and how it’s used(*) – he’s not defending anybody or anything, he’s taking names for people who are interested to look for people to muck with and harass on Twitter.

    (*) – I might be wrong, but anybody who comes into a discussion like this to defend somebody they don’t actual know about the use of services they don’t understand sounds to me like a sock puppet.

  85. Yeah Pitchguest, you’re starting to look less than credible to me with that last one.

    Not least of which you can’t because Twitter suspended his account for infringing their Terms and Conditions.

  86. pitchguest, I can see you comment a lot in skeptic fora. I am truly curious why you have chosen to take this up here. What about Whatever particularly grabbed your attention?

  87. This is just appalling. I’d just barely heard of Storify before this, and now I have an extremely negative impression of it. They’re not covering themselves in glory here. Can’t be good for their business.

    @rickg, thanks for that. I already thought he was probably a privilege-defending MRA, but your find of that tweet clinched it.

    Thomas, I agree, and I’d love to have a more in-depth conversation when John has a thread about the internet firestorm surrounding the choice of the 12th Doctor. Here, however, we’d be adrift.

    Steampunch, I’m not surprised, but it’s good to have it confirmed. These are the equivalent of RSHD’s gang of trolls, then. The ones who go to justify unjustifiable behavior wherever and whenever it’s called out, so it will look like it’s controversial. Like climate deniers or creationists, except that they’re actually trying to make antisocial behavior sound OK.

  88. (*) – I might be wrong, but anybody who comes into a discussion like this to defend somebody they don’t actual know about the use of services they don’t understand sounds to me like a sock puppet.

    Oh he knows him just fine.

  89. @Phoenician in a time of Romans not for nothing but storify could, in a 15 minute investigation by one person, confirm this guy is stalking people.

    They could – but why not take the opportunity to provide the narrative for them?

  90. acflory 6:58 pm
    >I do know that if you Google your own name, you will be….
    Names vary for that. When I Google just my name I don’t get me:
    Severely not so at Google but fun at Google images – Wow, Amber
    Marshal is cute, and
    http://musingsofavetstudent.blogspot.com/2012_04_01_archive.html ?
    I’d feed that horse a carrot, and ask the girl whether I’m her mother’s
    type.
    -
    -
    “Factually Accurate.” I’ve been watching some little NSA scandal.
    Some NSA guy said something that was factually accurate.
    I haven’t seen anyone go all “That’s so LOL” on his ass, but have seen
    remarks about the accuracy of it.
    To me, a lie is “acting to decieve.” <—needs work, that does.
    Two examples: 1) "What color is the sky?" A: "Blue." It's raining, the
    sky is actually a dark and dismal dank and dreary grey. Not a lie.
    (The following is a paraphrase of subject matter)
    2) "Do you collect email bodies from American citizens who are not a
    part of a specific investigation?" A: "We have no interest in reading
    useless and boring emails."
    Factually accurate, an attempt to be heard as saying "No" and translates
    as "Yes, we do, and wish we didn't, except for the interesting ones."
    Note that intelligence types have no professional interest in kittens in a
    teacup, this guy was speaking in his professional capacity, and so his
    answer did not address what they do as people.

  91. Pitchguest

    “And certainly, why did he defend and log the bullying of women like Sara Mayhew, Miranda Celeste Hale and Harriet Hall to name a few? That doesn’t sound like something a person who’s dedicated to the stalking and harassment of women. Was his account hacked?”

    You must admit that it’s possible for someone to target and harass one group of women while coming to the defense of another. EG came to the the defense of the women you mention because it served the narrative he cultivates – demonizing a certain group of skeptics that he seems to have ideologically driven hostility towards.

    This isn’t an academic article, citations are not essential to this discussion. I am discussing this matter in good faith, I wanted to share a bit of my experience as a woman in the skeptic/atheist community. I have no ax to grind, I am genuinely interested in an inclusive and positive skepticism.

  92. Here is another link to corroborate how, apparently, the notification isn’t the process, but rather the Storifying itself.

    http://www.shakesville.com/2013/08/when-social-media-ceos-abet-stalking.html

    If the option to receive notification from EG has been removed, then shouldn’t that be the end of it? Why should his ability to Storify conversations be stymied as well? If receiving a notification is what’s considered stalking in this pursuit, then why should they, as one person notes*, “limit him further”? (“Him” referring to EG.)

    *a person whom I’ve mentioned in all but name in two of my comments now, whom herself use Storify on a fairly regular basis – her latest “story” on Storify was last month.

    In fact, perusing @elevatorgate’s Storify account, I can’t see anywhere where he’s actively used the Storify tool to harass and/or stalk anyone, man or woman. Isn’t it irresponsible to throw around these accusations of harassment and stalking (which is still a crime as far as I’m concerned) without evidence to support it? And if he really is a stalker and you are right in your concerns, then shouldn’t this be turned into the proper authorities (the police)?

  93. Phoenician in a time of Romans: Storify should do their own investigation as part of reasonable due diligence. They need to verify the stalkery and it would be irresponsible for them to rely on someone else’s report. In a case like this, I’d assume any report from the outside would be biased.

  94. Shawn, I don’t know what’s causing these formatting problems (in case you don’t see them on your device, there are lots of extra LFs, making your post longer vertically and giving it a really jagged edge), but they’re sufficient that I’m only getting to part of your content. I give up after not very long because my eyes just can’t take the strain. Given what I see at the top, this is a shame. Don’t know if you can do anything to fix it.

    And where I grew up, if I’d been asked “what color is the sky” before I got my first box of crayons, I’d’ve said “gray” and been right 354 days a year.

  95. Pichguest – it seems that you have different definitions of harass and stalk and creepy to me and many other people.

    So you’re ok if I take everything you wrote here, and everything you write on other forums, put it on a Tumblr and let you know every day that I’ve done that and when I update it? And then get a bunch of my friends to come along to the places you hang out online and make fun of you?

    You have NO issues with that and don’t think it would be a problem at all?

    Because that’s what’s being done whether you see it or not. Your problems with the technology involved are not the issue.

  96. Pitchguest:

    “Thirdly, if his purpose is to stalk and harass women, why is he defending this one woman here?”

    It’s bad logic to suggest if this someone defends one woman, he won’t engage in harassing action against others. So I would toss this out as a credible line of argument.

    “shouldn’t it be Storify who should get the brunt of the criticism and not EG?”

    Oddly enough, there appears to be more than enough criticism for both.

    “It’s very confusing how this label is being thrown around, seemingly at random.”

    That’s because I suspect you’re choosing not to see a particular pattern of active intent. When you acknowledge the pattern of intent — of how ElevatorGate is using the service for harassing ends where others are not, the label is neither random nor thrown around.

    Pitchguest, allow me to suggest there’s a difference between not seeing the difference in how ElevatorGuest and others are using the service, and choosing not to acknowledge there’s a difference. I think you are claiming one and practicing the other, for reasons of your own.

    Which is to say I suspect you are being somewhat disingenuous, both in your presentation and in your argumentation. This does not bode well for you.

  97. Phoenician in a time of Romans: Storify should do their own investigation as part of reasonable due diligence.

    Very true – but note I said “provide the narrative” rather than “provide all the facts”.

    Enough of this, I have to get on with actual life.

  98. Daveon, Pitchguest isn’t paying attention to that part (where the Storified posts are used to call the hounds on the victim). I daresay that pointing it out yet again won’t help.

  99. Yeah, what Manny said, also I’m pretty sure some of the people complaing tried to lay it all out for him. Me I’m an un-involved third party, I have sent all of 3 tweets in the past 4 years.

  100. My experience is that he usually storifies conversations where someone says something nasty about someone else. Not exactly triggering my sympathy for the “victims” on that account.

  101. esssbeee

    “You must admit that it’s possible for someone to target and harass one group of women while coming to the defense of another. EG came to the the defense of the women you mention because it served the narrative he cultivates – demonizing a certain group of skeptics that he seems to have ideologically driven hostility towards.”

    I see. And you know this, how? Did you read his mind? I still don’t see how Storifying conversations from a set of women he happens to dislike and labels the stories accordingly counts as stalking and harassment. In fact, it would seem that all @elevatorgate is guilty of is having a dislike for *some* women. That does not, however, translate into having a hatred for all women, nor does it translate into @elevatorgate being dedicated to stalking and harassing women or anything of the sort.

    It kind of throws a spoke in the wheels in John’s rhetoric. Why on Earth would he defend a woman if his purpose is to stalk and harass them? Moreover, why would he express respect and call the women he defends “brave” if he’s supposed to hate women collectively? It doesn’t make sense. The Shakesville article paints him as a villain, as does the Pharyngula article on FtB, and as does this one. Why?

  102. Pitchguest:

    The Shakesville article paints him as a villain, as does the Pharyngula article on FtB, and as does this one. Why?

    Because he’s a villain.

    Sheesh, the things you have to explain these days.

  103. Moreover, why would he express respect and call the women he defends “brave” if he’s supposed to hate women collectively?

    Yeah, they are all “brave heroes”. Have you applied for a trademark on that yet?

  104. Xopher Halftongue

    “Daveon, Pitchguest isn’t paying attention to that part (where the Storified posts are used to call the hounds on the victim). I daresay that pointing it out yet again won’t help.”

    I’m sorry. I’ve looked through @elevatorgate’s history on Storify and I’ve either missed it or it doesn’t show up on my screen. Could you perhaps be kind enough to point out where he does this? (Call the hounds, as you say.) Thanks.

  105. Pichguest:

    “It kind of throws a spoke in the wheels in John’s rhetoric.”

    Actually, no. It does show that you are attempting an unsophisticated argument, i.e., that this fellow is unable to choose to favor some women and harass others. It’s obvious he is capable of doing both. If you read the thread you’ll also see he has some men on his list of people to bother. This also does not invalidate the idea that he is harassing women. It simply adds to the reasons why Storify should act to deal with him.

    In any event, this argument of yours is poor. Move on to a hopefully better one.


  106. I’m sorry. I’ve looked through @elevatorgate’s history on Storify and I’ve either missed it or it doesn’t show up on my screen. Could you perhaps be kind enough to point out where he does this? (Call the hounds, as you say.) Thanks.

    All isolated incidents here folks, nothing is related to anything else. @elevatorgate just likes elevators and his moniker should not in anyway imply that hes just another MRA troll.

  107. The notification may not be the issue for SOME people discussing this, but for me, it certainly is. I was a participant in a discussion to request more granular controls for blocking and notification.

    Fact remains: EG has persistantly followed, storified, and tweeted folks who have requested he buzz off for nearly 2 years. In his blog and other places frequented by himself and his followers, he relinked harrassing images of prominent women atheists and called them by insulting diminutives. He is not an unbiased journalist merely reporting. He absolutely has an axe to grind.

    The defense of the women you cite fails to note that Harriet Hall and Sara Mayhew were at least involved or tangential to some of the harrassment. Harriet Hall wore an insulting shirt multiple days running to a con specifically to poke at one of EG’s targets, and when called upon it, said that criticism of said shirt was equal to bullying. EG reinforced this false equivilancy.

    As Notsont and others note, Pitchguest and Walski are old hands in the fray surrounding EG. Their arguments are fairly standard fare from all the ElevatorGate-ensuing arguments–minimization and strawmanning are the order of the day. Of course, EG couldn’t possibly have engaged in X behaviour because ALL the individual components are totally legal. Of course, EG isn’t misogynist/out to get women–look, he defended THESE women, while totally dismissing other women, calling them horrible names, and gleefully linking to photoshops designed to humiliate those women. And of course, EG is a brave champion of free speech and people who are tired of being dragged through this are just wimps who are afraid of the consequences of their opinions. It’s tiresome.

  108. Pitchguest – sign up for Twitter. Follow the women involved. Observe the behaviour.

    I’ll wait. Off you go.

    You’re being extremely or deliberately obtuse on the issue that this is an issue across Social Media and not merely a Storify issue. The problem at hand is that Twitter dealt with him, at least as Elevatorgate, and Storify have not.

    There’s a separate problem that dealing with these tools is like playing whack-a-mole. But again, your lack of understanding of the tools and technologies here is becoming the issue and this passive aggressive stance of yours is looking more and more like trolling from where I’m sitting.

    Because he’s a villain.

    Indeed.

  109. No, Pitchguest, I’ve read enough of your comments here to know that engaging you seriously is a complete waste of my time. The women he’s victimized said it. The fact that you dismissed their statements without even acknowledging them speaks volumes about your attitude.

  110. Pitchguest – you’re strawmanning. No one in this thread, particularly myself since it’s my comment you are responding to, claimed that EG hates *all* women or harasses women indiscriminately.

    As I stated above, there is reason to believe that EG is ideologically motivated. The skeptic/atheist community is rather cliquey and EG has honed in on one group of people.

    “Moreover, why would he express respect and call the women he defends “brave” if he’s supposed to hate women collectively? It doesn’t make sense.”

    You made that up – so if it doesn’t make sense you only have yourself to blame. Engage with the actual discussion otherwise it is difficult to believe you have honest intentions in this conversation.

    (also, no I don’t have to read EG’s mind…I’ve been reading his tweets, comments in certain places, etc for years. the inference I made was based on the evidence I have had at my disposal, you’re not obligated to believe me. I’m sharing my thoughts because I care about this topic and believe we can move towards a positive solution.)

  111. Please don’t encourage Pitchguest to follow us. Thanks. Seriously, we already know of him of old. (Google Pitchguest and Elevatorgate lest you think this is all really new to him. It isn’t.)

  112. So he’s not just obtuse, PixelFish, but actually lying? Why am I not surprised?

    You know, the name Pitchguest is really suggestive at this point, but of course he’s John’s guest, not mine, so I can’t pitch him.

  113. PixelFish – I’m going to blame you for me going and Googling… I am you know. It’s your fault.

    Charming stuff. I’ll go now I think.

  114. Had to go and check out Storify–Spotify-whatever the hell it is. After scrolling through various mish-mashes all I can think is that I’ll never bother with getting on Twitter as apparently everyone there is way too likely to be triggerhappy and tweet before they think about what they’re saying.
    Also, everyone seems to be just aching to be offended by something

  115. I always find it fascinating how some of these social network sites hide behind their policies, but often seem not to read them.

    I’ve never been to nor heard of Storify. But, whenever a number of people have pointed out these trolls given good evidence of their actions, why don’t they simply suspend them, investigate for themselves, and, if called for, eliminate them.

    I know the jackass can join again under a different name, but it shouldn’t take long to re-identify him.

  116. you’re strawmanning. No one in this thread, particularly myself since it’s my comment you are responding to, claimed that EG hates *all* women or harasses women indiscriminately.

    Allow me to be the first, all of these guys hate women. Anyone who spends hundreds and hundreds of hours dedicated to convincing people that someone is an evil “feminazi” because they said “guys don’t do that” in a video, hates women.

    Pitchguest seriously get a new hobby none of these women are interested in you, not even the “brave hero” ones.

  117. ElevatorGATE has been doing this to me (and friends of mine) for…I don’t even remember how long now. Well over a year. He must have hundreds of “stories” via my tweets.

  118. “. . . which essentially suggests that they withdraw from the medium if they don’t like being stalked, and which also wouldn’t solve the problem of this user archiving everything these women say. . . .”

    Perhaps they should withdraw if they don’t want everything they say archived. This is the world now and wasting energy railing against that seem silly to me. From practically the first days of the internet I scoffed at the idea that any of us have any privacy whatsoever. This doesn’t strike me as particularly different. Harassed? Maybe. Boo hoo. Wake the fuck up. This is our world.

  119. Xopher Halftongue 9:04 pm
    I do know what is causing the formatting problems: ME.
    I use the -enter- key because I grew up on a typewriter and expect to get what I typed, ink in the ribbon permitting.
    If you didn’t have problems half a year ago it is word press because they changed things recently.
    But really, me. I’m in Windows with two screens, When I’m reading thru comments I say and unsay things in notepad on the second screen, depending on if I’ve seen it said and I copy from notepad, past, into the comments field.
    OK, I just just checked on my other device and in a few other browsers.
    Looks like crap on the tablet, but readable.

  120. Perhaps they should withdraw if they don’t want everything they say archived. This is the world now and wasting energy railing against that seem silly to me. From practically the first days of the internet I scoffed at the idea that any of us have any privacy whatsoever. This doesn’t strike me as particularly different. Harassed? Maybe. Boo hoo. Wake the fuck up. This is our world.

    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept….

    Thanks for sharing your standard.

  121. (Second try to post this… I hope it’s not a double post. WP and I sometimes don’t get along..)

    “Nonetheless, I do know that if you google your own name, you will be amazed, and maybe a little shocked to learn that every single thing you post, or write in a comment, is there for the taking. ”

    That’s disturbing. Not that google does this — but that people will be amazed/shocked by it.

    Ever since USENET, probably earlier (my personal experience only goes back to ~94 or so the Internet, ~89 or so on CI$), it’s been very, very, trivial to archive, parse, and analyze public data. (Kibo, for example, became famous for reverse-stalking; he would find any conversation he was mentioned in, and drop in. This was back when the Internet was small enough you could do that.)

    I’ve had people contact me (recently) about Transformers fanfic I wrote in 1995. I’ve seen some of my REALLY old Compuserve posts burble up on occasion. I’ve got something like 10K posts on RPG.net that go back to about 2000, that contain all sorts of drips and drabs about my personal life and other non-RPG things, and I don’t want to think of how many gigabytes of other text out there anyone could locate with virtually no effort. There’s my Xanga posts, also going back to 2000 or 2001 (not too many lately), and anyone who wants to read my entire FB history (warning: Boring) only needs to send me a friend invite, and if you have at least one or two friends already in common with me, I’ll probably accept it without thinking.

    I tend to archive all of my email — so any mailing list I’m on, I’ve got every post of since I joined, somewhere. I know that even the lists I don’t have archived, someone else has, and if they’re not public right now, they could be made public in minutes by whoever has them on disk.

    Some (most) of it’s embarrassing. Some of it’s stuff I’d rather not deal with any more. Some (little) of it’s stuff I’m still happy with. I’d rather people *didn’t* dig it up, but there’s nothing I can do to stop anyone, and when I posted it, I knew that it would never, ever, vanish. (I also assumed I’d never, ever, regret anything. Guess which assumption turned out to be wrong?)

    Do people not understand this, today? There’s a loss of emotion and tone in online posts, so I want to be clear: I’m not asking rhetorically or sarcastically. To whatever extent it’s possible for me to be honest and sincere, I’m genuinely interested in getting a finger-in-the-wind sense of things. Is there no longer a common understanding that every single thing you post in a public forum — or, hell, to any *private* forum with a large enough membership that you can’t know/trust everyone on a personal level — is de facto publicly accessible, now and forever (or until the zombie apocalypse)?

    (Consider: Most of Geocities has been archived. There’s the Wayback machine. There’s probably a hundred other such tools I haven’t heard of.)

    The comment in the original email reading “…which also wouldn’t solve the problem of this user archiving everything these women say” is troubling, because it implies the writer didn’t/doesn’t realize that while it is likely possible to stop someone contacting them/harassing them through the service, they really can’t stop anyone from reading any posts they make publicly available, or from using thousands of different programs to crawl forums (such as this one) looking for keywords or user names (all public and in plain text — no hacking/cracking, malware, or anything else required, no breaking of any laws), and aggregate, filter, and sort any of it? Google is only one of hundreds, thousands, of search engines doing that. Others belong to marketers, government snoops, political researchers, social scientists, and anyone with an interest and the ability to double-click an icon and type in an URL. (I use WinHTTrack, personally, but I haven’t really evaluated a lot of the other programs since it does everything I need.)

    Banning the user from Storify could stop direct use of the service for harassment — but I greatly doubt there’s any way any social network can stop someone from using a throwaway email account to make a new ID, then use that solely to read, archive, and share with their allies. IP Blocking? Often ineffective (most users get rotating addresses from their service provider, and even if you don’t, just take your laptop to the nearest Starbucks or McDonalds, if you actually care that much, which a stalker by definition does.

    If this is not a default assumption most people keep in mind when doing *anything* on the Internet (I suspect 95% of this forum’s users know this, but, for the first time, I’m considering that it might not be as widely known as I assumed — what can I say? I’ve been active online for a very long time, and I forget that what’s “everyone knows” to me can be “Wait, what?” to someone else — and vice-versa, naturally.), then, there’s a real education gap, and some kind of PSA might be in order. (“Posting on the Internet is like getting a tattoo on your forehead — everyone will be able to read it for the rest of your life.”)

    Note, I’m not discussing the issue of how this information is used to harass or target people, because that’s pretty settled in the thread already. I’m much more interested in seeing if the “Public, now and forever” nature of posting on the Internet is not something people keep in the back of their minds anymore. If it’s not, that’s bad, and maybe those businesses which provide the various social networks we use should be a lot more direct about reminding people of this.

  122. Sorry to say, I don’t know anything about either Storify, or Twitter, since I refuse to “expand” my social network horizons. I’m slowly losing my liking for Facebook, too, which I’ve been using for about 6 or 7 years and only because a friend wanted to send me some stuff that we had been working on together. (E mail wouldn’t have done it then). Regardless of which social media, the absolutely reprehensible behavior of anyone, not only elevatorglerp, but also Storify’s CEO, who for all we know MIGHT be the stalker himself, makes me wonder about society. Of course, in the “old days”, we just had the obscene phone callers, now it’s online stalkers. For me, I know a few effective ways in how to deal with people who stalk, but that recourse is not always available to other people. Too bad Storify is being cowardly – I suppose that if someone gets seriously hurt, or worse, Storify will claim it had nothing to do with it, even though they could have done better than they have, so far.
    Needless to say, I won’t be getting a Storify account, and probably not a Twitter account, either. If people want to know about me, they can use a telephone or a letter or an email, and for now, they can read my Facebook rants.

  123. BTW, here’s a sample of EG’s storification featuring me: http://storify.com/ElevatorGATE/conversation-with-sophiaphotos-improbablejoe-xanth You will note that he makes fun of my discomfort with being storified in the title of the Storify. Because that’s TOTALLY the act of a disinterested journalist.

    Yeah, can’t imaginewhy he’s being painted as a villain.

    Cindy Lou Who, but you’re no more than two! Why on Earth should we listen to you?

  124. Cindy Lou Who:

    “Harassed? Maybe. Boo hoo. Wake the fuck up. This is our world.”

    Yeah, this is a stupid sentiment. One may simultaneously be aware of the lack of privacy on the Internet and recognize that people can use the specific attributes of services on the Internet to act in a harassing manner, which is not to be tolerated, particularly when the services in question make it part of their service agreement that such actions are not to be tolerated.

    If one is waking the fuck up, perhaps it should be to recognize that expecting people to take a massive load of shit from harassing fuckbags simply because THE INTERNET is both an utterly unsophisticated way of understanding the Internet, and encouraging people not to take advantage of the avenues they do have to defend themselves, thus encouraging their harassers to continue to act like assholes without penalty. That’s dumb. Punish the harassing fuckbags, not the people they harass.

  125. [Aaaaand we're done with Pitchguest, because either he is too stupid to understand that the argument which he's already been told is bad is, in fact, bad, or he's simply being a mendacious troll. Either way, he didn't take the hint that we were done with that argument. So now it's time to thank him for playing, show him his parting gifts, and walk him to the door. So long, Pitchguest! You take care now -- JS]

  126. Cindy Lou Who

    “From practically the first days of the internet I scoffed at the idea that any of us have any privacy whatsoever. This doesn’t strike me as particularly different. Harassed? Maybe. Boo hoo. Wake the fuck up. This is our world.”

    No. You are more than welcome to tolerate abuse, viciousness, and exploitation in the world because those things exist – but other people are welcome to fight against these things and create a kinder, respectful, and inclusive community.

    As Martin Luther King said so eloquently,

    “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

    Just because things “are” a certain way doesn’t mean they “should” be that way…descriptive facts do not entail normative facts.

  127. @Lizard Everyone knows what you put on the internet is usually there forever and that people can and will find it and use it against you. But Twitter, Facebook, Storify and any other place that provides a service to the public and relies on the public using the service should do everything they can to limit the damage that can be done. Of course there will always be people who can get around any protections they may offer. Just like there will always be car thieves who can get past the best alarm systems it does not mean you should make it easy for them.

  128. Pitchguest has been one of elevatorGATE’s fellow travelers for at least a year, and disingenuousness is his standard approach when he steps outside his usual foul lair. He’s playing dishonest games here, as he always does.

  129. Shawn, I bet it would fix it to take out all the undoubled CRLFs. I do the same thing with Notepad (but on a single screen), but I only hit Enter at the end of a paragraph. Check Word Wrap (under Format) on Notepad (I have XP, your menus may differ) and you won’t have to worry about the “big long line of text” problem.

    rick, he did make it clear a POC would be fine with him, and that he doesn’t like the C word. Doesn’t go that far, but better than he looked from here.

    Annnd Pitchguest fulfills his name! Thanks, John! *does an extremely undignified little happy dance*

  130. This isn’t about privacy. It’s about harassment.

    A speaker on a stage doesn’t have (or perhaps even want) a lot of privacy regarding what they’re saying on that stage, but that doesn’t make it okay to harass or threaten them while they’re up there.

    And yes, this is the world we live in. But that doesn’t make it naive to expect more.

  131. PZ, for those of us who are more plain-spoken, you mean he’s a lying sack of shit, right?

  132. @notsont: How do you make it easy for people who like and support you to easily find/share what you’ve written, and make it hard for people who hate and disdain you to also easily find/share what you’ve written?

    Again, not rhetorical, not sarcastic. (I hope this doesn’t become a habit for me.) Does anyone have a concept of a workable way someone can put ideas out to an as-yet-unknown audience, and have those who respond positively to those ideas be able to share them with like-minded friends, find others, etc., while those who would use those tools negatively or hostilely be blocked/limited? Anyone who can make such an algorithm workable and sufficiently hard to exploit that it would be beyond the interest of most trolls could probably get very rich (or, if they’re not interested in money, know they’ve performed a valuable public service).

    (Post counts, reputation, and so on are probably the start of a system, but they’re still very crude. There must be a better way.)

  133. Not to continue talking about the man where he can no longer defend himself, but it bears mentioning that Pitchguest is a regular poster at the Slymepit, a dedicated home to MRA’s and anti-feminists that sprung up in the wake — surprise, surprise — of the real-life Elevatorgate. He does tend to turn up in comment threads about sexism, harassment, rape culture and the like, JAQing off until people catch on to his routine and ban him.

    I can answer one question of his, though: “And certainly, why did he defend and log the bullying of women like Sara Mayhew, Miranda Celeste Hale and Harriet Hall to name a few?” Simple: the women he names are known for being vociferous anti-feminists who are simpatico with MRA’s and other online harassers of feminist women. (Yes, women like this exist, and seem eager to help misogynists feel validated. I can only wonder why. It’s a sad world out there.)

  134. How do you make it easy for people who like and support you to easily find/share what you’ve written, and make it hard for people who hate and disdain you to also easily find/share what you’ve written

    you don’t, but when someone points out a user who is harassing or stalking someone using your service or not, you ban them and you do it every single time they come back and if you are affiliated with another service you ban them there as well.

    What you don’t do is shrug and say “free speech” or just not investigate.

  135. Scalzi, just so you know, you’ve kicked a hornets’ nest a little bit here. I remember this “elevatorgate” dude from, like, last year, when I used to spend way too much time on the internet. I’m not an expert on the situation, but he’s apparently got a clutch of fellow travelers who hate the people he hates and like to see those people in distress. For reasons of self-preservation, they wouldn’t do what he does- because they know that he’s stalking and harassing people- but they’re happy to use him as sort of a useful idiot. So they’ll enable him every step of the way, as I guess we’ve already seen in this thread.

    I think it’s glaringly obvious that “elevatorgate” is mentally ill in some way, and he needs help. Almost worse are the people who get off on encouraging him.

  136. MRAL:

    Well, the pals of his who have shown up here argue as well as a hedgehog handles a tractor. They’re like Dunning-Kruger’s own debate team.

    Not that I’m intending to encourage them to try to get better. I’m pretty sure they’ve plateaued.

  137. @notsont: How do you make it easy for people who like and support you to easily find/share what you’ve written, and make it hard for people who hate and disdain you to also easily find/share what you’ve written?

    I’d recommend reading “The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser first.

  138. As a note to folks, I’m going to turn off comments here when I hit the hay for the night. That’ll likely be sometime in the next hour. I’ll reopen them in the morning.

  139. I’ve read this entire comment chain, and while I get that this creep is creepy, I’m not seeing anyone articulate anything I’d think of as actual harassment. The whole chunk of discussion near the top of the thread didn’t actually articulate any elements of harassment.

    The behavior here is essentially taking someone’s public speech, repeating it, being unpleasant about it, and occasionally commenting on it (and getting a bunch of other nuts to do the same). Right? Even if that makes someone uncomfortable when done so pervasively (which I totally get), I don’t think it’s the sort of thing that’s regarded as illegal under the First Amendment. While states are different, generally behavior has to be considerably more severe and unavoidable than described here. “Feeling watched” when publishing things, in public online, is not an element of harassment I’ve ever heard.

    FYI, previously courts have regarded telephone calls (which you may have to pick up to know who it is, which wake you up in the middle of the night and so forth) to be much different than emails and similar (which you can simply delete). I’m not sure where this would fall.

    I swear I’m not any sort of militant anti-feminist and have no idea what the broader context of this conflict are. I’m not sure what the elements of ‘cyberstalking’ might be or if this might be that.

  140. I’d recommend reading “The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser first.

    Read it, Thanks though. That quote is something I quoted though not originally from me. I also disagree with that book. I myself seek out people i disagree with, I even consider their arguments as long as they aren’t arguing that other humans aren’t actually people.

  141. I don’t think it’s the sort of thing that’s regarded as illegal under the First Amendment.

    There’s your problem. Read the thread again for comprehension this time I’m sure someone mentioned once or twice why this has nothing to do with it.

  142. I don’t think it’s “glaringly obvious” that EG is mentally ill at all. Stalking is hardly exclusive to the mentally ill. Considering that the real identity of this person (or identities- the fact that this person has been known to be active at all hours of the day suggests that there may be more than one person behind the account) is unknown, and most people here are probably not doctors (and even those who are are not dealing with EG in a doctor-patient setting), I really don’t think people should be assuming that EG must be mentally ill. As someone who is mentally ill, I find it insulting and ablist.

  143. ZK:

    “I don’t think it’s the sort of thing that’s regarded as illegal under the First Amendment.”

    And if Storify were a branch of the US government, perhaps that would matter. But they’re not, and it doesn’t. Which is why this statement:

    “I’m not seeing anyone articulate anything I’d think of as actual harassment”

    Probably isn’t relevant, considering that you appear to think it is tied into the First Amendment in some way, as regards what’s going on here. What’s significant in this case is Storify’s terms of service, and whether they are honoring them.

    (Edited to remove snippiness that was not warranted. Sorry, been dealing with assholes today.)

  144. @notsont, I’ve read the whole thread and didn’t say anything to contradict the point that the First Amendment doesn’t bind a private company. If anyone wants to not allow jerks on their site or into their living room, that’s great. I have no problem with that, and I comprehend just fine, thanks.

    It does, however, matter very much if you’re throwing around ‘harassment’, which is a federal and state crime. The Amendment binds congress and the states through incorporation. If I missed someone saying otherwise, they’re wrong.

  145. @Scalzi,

    I posted that last before I read your response. I have no problem with Storyfy. Twitter, et al throwing anyone off their site for any reason or no reason. But you brought up 47 USC § 223 and you assert the behavior violates laws and regulations in your original post. Both the First Amendment and how harassment laws have been applied matter very much to that. No?

    Jerks should be tossed because they’re jerks, not because of crimes they probably didn’t actually commit.

    I, personally, don’t think terms of service are worth the ink they aren’t printed with. When’s the last time you actually read and agreed to some site’s terms?

  146. ZK:

    “It does, however, matter very much if you’re throwing around ‘harassment’, which is a federal and state crime.”

    Not necessarily; the private entity may also decide for itself what constitutes harassment on its own service. It’s possible that the actions here also rise to the level of harassment as an actual crime (the writer of my e-mail believes so, for example; please note the writer of the e-mail is not me), but Storify may set a different standard, if it so chooses.

    “I, personally, don’t think terms of service are worth the ink they aren’t printed with. When’s the last time you actually read and agreed to some site’s terms?”

    That is neither here nor there as to whether they are binding to you as an agreement in how you use the service, however. The service is not responsible for you not reading the terms before you agree to them. They can, however, still hold you to them. Ignorance is not a good defense, especially when you’ve affirmatively agreed to abide by the terms of service.

  147. I grew up in the sixties and came of age in the seventies, think Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Nazis v. Skokie, and so I’ve always been a pretty strong advocate for free speech and later when the Internet came around, for fair-use.

    I see elevatorgate is
    1 compiling sets of public tweets via storify
    2 publishing those collections via storify

    And then I see that elevatorgate is claimed to be
    3 harassing people by via storify’s notification mechanism.

    I must admit at first glance I see 1 & 2 as fair-use, free speech sorts of activities that do not at first glance seem to me to be stalkerish.

    I can see if elevatorgate is copying down every tweet their might be fair use issues, OR
    if he is selling ads or otherwise making money off those collections of tweets their might be fair use issues, BUT

    if he is telling a story with limited sets of tweets then is activities would appear to me to be fair-use.

    I certainly understand that the notifications would be annoying, AND I don’t think users should have to opt out of notifications generally.

    If Storify were to implement a per user block on email notifications, thus eliminating 3 above and the harassment via notification, that is, everyone would have the power to block notifications from any other user,

    Would you still feel that compiling and publishing (ie storifying) limited sets of public tweets constitutes either stalking, or harassment?

    And can I ask you to explain if so how is it stalking, or how is it harassment?

  148. It is a rather boring yet common idea around harassment apologists to set up a false dichotomy between “prosecutable in a court of law” and “harassing, abusive, shitty human being behavior”. It isn’t one or the other. You can skirt right up to the edge of legality and still be a horrible human being causing real harm to other people. Just because you can’t be thrown in jail doesn’t mean your behavior should be tolerated by other people in spaces that you don’t personally own.

    Crying babies aren’t illegal either, but that doesn’t mean you and your screaming child shouldn’t be booted from a movie theater.

  149. Replying to John Bullock’s

    “Honestly, if you call it stalking, you’re insulting anybody who has actually being stalked.

    “Nobody’s saying these people have no right to not want to be quoted, but they can try different services, and they can protect their account. This aspect of Twitter has not changed since the service was formed, why should it change for this loud minority?”

    –It seems John is an apologist and an enabler for @ElevatorGate. What’s with all of these free speech advocates who don’t get that you don’t get to use your speech to advance hate. Stalking isn’t legal, and Storify wasn’t created to shelter stalkers and to broadcast their hate.

    Storify: please follow your Terms of Service. Don’t try to justify or minimize the bahavior of toxic customers.

  150. Ron:

    “If Storify were to implement a per user block on email notifications”

    However, they don’t currently. If and when they do, this would be a fine subject for discussion. For the moment, however, let’s not sidetrack into theory, and instead deal with what’s going on in the real world.

    Also, people: This is not a constitutional issue regarding free speech. Storify ain’t the US Government. Stop thinking it is; you’re just confusing yourself and exasperating the rest of us. Storify is a private entity with a Terms of Service that disallows harassment. Several people have suggested persuasively that they are being harassed and that Storify is the avenue and mechanism of their harassment, and that the service should enforce its own TOS.

  151. The recent general trend toward an increased willingness to call people out on their shit seems to inspire in some people a redoubling of shit production. (E.g., some people responding to discussion of rape culture by making rape threats.).

    I think the overall level of shit is slowly dropping, but there’s no shortage of geysers.

  152. @Scalzi, If terms of service are at all binding is a really big open question. If you’ve ever read any of the popular blogs about internet law, you’ve probably ‘agreed’ to terms banning people with red hair or ‘agreed’ to send the authors your firstborn. A contract nobody reads isn’t a contract, IMHO. This is probably another discussion, though.

    My point is similar to @SteamPunchImprobable’s, I think. People who are incapable of behaving in civil society should be shown the door because they are insufferable. We shouldn’t, however, stretch criminal statutes to places they probably weren’t intended to go. We do that at our own peril.

  153. How are people doing this any different than bullies? Am I to understand people offering justification (in the above comments) would also argue for the rights of bullies?

    . . . somedays are really depressing. No honor, no integrity, and cowardice under the guise of “having a right”, or “not doing anything illegal”.

  154. ZK: “If terms of service are at all binding is a really big open question. If you’ve ever read any of the popular blogs about internet law, you’ve probably ‘agreed’ to terms banning people with red hair or ‘agreed’ to send the authors your firstborn.”

    The terms don’t have to be binding in a legal sense. The point at issue here is that virtual space can be regulated by using terms of service to demarcate acceptable use of the space from unacceptable use. Every blog, social media platform, message board, etc has their own rules – enforceable by those in charge. Storify’s terms of service make it appropriate for elevatorGATE to be sanctioned in some manner.

  155. People who are incapable of behaving in civil society should be shown the door because they are insufferable. We shouldn’t, however, stretch criminal statutes to places they probably weren’t intended to go. We do that at our own peril.

    Where have people done this?

    What do you call someone who follows you around the internet for years on end in order to make you uncomfortable and to silence you? Stalker perhaps?

  156. BTW when you get banned from someones site and you come back under a new nym..Its creepy stalkerish behavior. Just sayin.

  157. ZK:

    “We shouldn’t, however, stretch criminal statutes to places they probably weren’t intended to go. We do that at our own peril.”

    I don’t have any opinion on whether ElevatorGate’s actions constitute legal harassment; I haven’t looked at the law closely enough. My correspondent seems to believe it does, and I suspect they do not have that belief lightly. If he is, however, then any discussion about applying the law places it wasn’t intended to go is moot — the law is intended to protect people.

    Outside the discussion of the law: I do think what this creep is doing is obviously harassing in intent, and well within the scope of Storify to deal without need to reach for the law. Your continued attempts to wave away terms of service aside, the fact is that Storify (and other private entities) are perfectly able to choose whom to allow to use the service, pretty much for any reason, and can use those terms of service as way to have a process for punting people off the site.

    The point is, we don’t need to ask about harassment as a law, here — Storify can (and should!) act independently of that, consistent with its own terms of service.

    (As an aside, I do wonder if you’re not confusing Terms of Service for End User License Agreements. These are slightly different things and operate in different ways (and have different legal questions relating to them).)

    Notsont:

    No one’s sockpuppeting at the moment as far as I can see.

  158. re “incorporation” (which I take to mean the 14th amendment). It doesn’t mean harassment can’t be a crime, or that the first amendment relates to harassment. Congress can’t restrict public speech on political issues. If this were a cut and dried case of political speech, and Storify were an arm of the US Gov’t then yes, the 1st Amendment would be a concern (but not absolute, nor dispostive; see Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., re fire in crowded theaters).

    The question then would probably turn on Times v Sullivan. Based on what I can see, EG doesn’t have that safe harbor, since his actions don’t seem to be limited to people who are “public figures” he doesn’t seem to be attempting any specific political point, and the end-game seems to be driving others from the public arena: which *is* a political act, but one which (again see, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.) usually falls outside first amendment protections.

  159. PixelFish: His behaviour hasn’t ceased (even though many of us TRIED ignoring him) but it seems to be ramping up in some respects.

    I believe that is why one of the victims came to Scalzi with a request for help. The man can mallet outside his blog with some effectiveness. The victim asked Scalzi to put his money where his mouth was, and he did.

    nicoleandmaggie: I see the twitter link above to one of their funders, but what other actions can a person take? How about for people who don’t have twitter accounts?

    There’s a lot you, as an individual, can do, twitter account, Storify account or no.

    What you have to ask yourself is “How willing am I to defend my definition of right and wrong under potential adversity both on-line and off?” It’s remarkably easy to pick a fight. Sustaining the effort until you win? That’s a lot harder and takes a power base of either money or lots of very helpful friends.

    Having been harassed and helped someone who was being harassed, the problem is not “do we have enough evidence?” The problem is “finding people who care enough to prosecute based on the collected evidence.”

    You might also keep in mind that EG is the hero of his own story. I’m pretty sure he believes he’s defending all things that are right and good. He has the strength of his convictions on his side. So. Beware the anger of on-line zealots, for they know how to use search engines, and encourage trolls.

  160. Upthread: “This isn’t just a content aggregation thing. He storifies prominent and less-prominent atheist women and feminists in a context that leaves pointers for trolls and other harrassers to follow suit.”

    This is trolling for harassers, a new crime enabled by the internet. It probably falls under the internet harassment statutes in some states.

    And: “This kind of stalking (making sure the victim knows you are watching them at all times) is often a prelude to much more serious and violent actions.”

    I suspect that EG has already committed crimes. If Storify’s management had any sense, they’d shut EG down, fast, before EG commits more and Storify’s name becomes associated with it. Failing that, they would be well advised to check EG out—EG sounds like serious trouble.

  161. I’m going to sleep now, and so turning off the thread. It’ll be back up tomorrow morning. Sleep tight!

    Update, 8/16, 10:40am: Turning the comments back on. Since I expect that there will be some dudes who will show up to troll and/or mindlessly replicate the dudebro cue cards points already addressed and discussed (and in some cases dismissed) upthread, I’m going to make it simple for everyone and note that I’ll be Malleting comments I think do not add additional value to the discussion.

    Which is to say, you’ve got a high bar to leap over, dudebro cue card holders. Let’s see if you can get over it.

  162. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA HOLY SHIT THIS IS CREEPY!!!!!

    Mr. Scalzi, if you know the real name, occupation, address, or other information of the cyberstalker, I advise you to post such information here as quickly as possible. Name-and-shame works wonders, and this case is INCREDIBLY creepy.

    If you will excuse me, I need to go vomit, and wash my eyes. I am embarrassed that I share a gender with “EG”.

  163. @ Mr. Scalzi: Good point, but maybe we should do an Anonymous-style humiliation of this scumbag? Release his contact info to the press, and openly ask people to spam him? I feel unclean just knowing that this guy is on the internet.

  164. I don’t know, I see this as innovative social media crowdsourcing. I’ve been thinking of looking into how to archive all my tweets, because it would be tragic if any of them were lost, like tears in rain. Now I find out all I need to do is mention Rebecca Watson and a disturbed creeper will thoughtfully Storify them all for me. All I had to do was be mentioned as someone offering legal help to a controversial figure on one “side” of the skeptic schism, and all of a sudden folks were scouring my blog looking for old posts to link to and quote, and eagerly tweeting me giving advice about how I should spend my pro bono time. I think we’re missing out on the marketing potential of harnessing unbalanced malevolence here.

  165. @ZK, I am a little puzzled why you are arguing that things are unknowable or an “open question” when they manifestly are not. As DAVID notes via the EFF, “I didn’t bother to read the TOS” is not a magic take-backsie. Also, it’s a very old principle in Anglo-American law that is one provision of a contract is unenforceable, a court will simply disregard that provision without discarding the whole thing, if it can. (So no, if that TOS says you turn over your firstborn, a court will not enforce that; but you are still on the hook for the part of the TOS where you agreed not to spam.)

    You will note that the CEO of Storify is not echoing your opinion that they can’t enforce the TOS against this stalker because nobody reads the whole TOS anyway. I assume you can guess why.

    Also, not following your sweeping concerns about “stretching” criminal law. Could you be specific about how you believe that is being done here, please?

  166. Now I’ve slept on this, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

    1. Doesn’t matter if it’s ‘legal’ if you’d think it was weird behaviour in real life (it is) then you shouldn’t do it online
    2. Just because you say things in public, doesn’t mean somebody gets to wander around repeating them to you, so see (1)
    3. The answer is not telling people to go offline if they don’t like somebody being creepy at them… just the same as in the real world

    What I really can’t understand is that this stuff just isn’t that hard. Why are some people having trouble with it.

  167. Hi all, anonymous emailer here.

    For those who don’t understand why this is a really big deal, rather than just kinda creepy, start by reading the piece Lee linked above:

    http://www.salon.com/2013/08/13/womens_free_speech_is_under_attack/

    Now, let’s try a thought experiment.

    Imagine that every time you leave your house, unless you’re behind closed doors such that it’s physically impossible for anyone besides the person you’re talking to to hear you, everything you say is written down, with a note as to when and to whom you said it. Trying to talk more so that the guy doing it gets tired and goes away doesn’t work; there are no limits on his ability to record everything you say. Several times a day, he contacts you, just to remind you he’s doing it.

    Now, imagine that he’s sharing these notes with a few dozen of his closest friends, some of whom have a tendency to act like the very worst of 4chan when bored or annoyed. Any time you say *anything* they don’t like, they contact you in every way they can manage to let you know just what they think of you. And it’s not all “dude your dumb & u suck.” Some of it is the kind of messages Kelly Diels talks about in that Salon piece. It’s extremely graphic threats, it’s constant spamming, maybe it’s doxing or DOS attacks on your blog.

    Suppose you’re a woman, and among the things that they don’t like are women who disagree with them about anything, no matter how trivial.

    Further suppose that sometimes they’re bored, and don’t wait for you to say something controversial like “transgender people should have the same rights as everyone else.” You never know whether today is the day that asking a supermarket clerk in an unfamiliar store where the oatmeal is will lead to thousand-word diatribes about how you’re a stupid fucking cunt who’s too lazy to read the goddamn aisle markers and someone should beat some consideration into you.

    And sometimes, when you’re talking to a friend about one of the things that annoys these guys, the guy writing down everything you say starts ALSO writing down everything your friend says. And now your friend is under attack too.

    As if that weren’t enough, sometimes the guy writing everything down decides to splice bits of different conversations together, so that it looks like you’ve said things you would never say. Your frustrated exclamation while watching basketball that the center should just go ahead and shoot already gets put into a whole different context, so anyone who sees it thinks that you’re advocating violence. You have no way to make him take down those spliced conversations.

    Now imagine this going on for weeks or months. Rebecca Watson has been living with it (albeit only relatively recently through Storify) for two years. Ignoring it doesn’t stop it. Trying to fight back makes it worse. The only thing that can make it go away is for you to stop speaking.

    How long before you start censoring what you say in public? How long before you find yourself saying less and less about anything?

    Suppose that finally, someone is willing to listen to you, and says that he’ll help you.

    And his big solution is to make the guy writing everything down stop telling you that he’s doing it.

  168. Dear John,

    I really hate you, you know. Too much of my precious time (so much more precious than yours, of course) is getting squandered because you’re just too durn interesting. Really. Hate you. Thought you should know.

    OK, back on topic… I’m catching a persistent irrelevant sidetrack in this thread that I don’t think has been called out explicitly. Harassment/stalking/intimidation has nothing to do with whether an individual act is permitted or legal or even customary on the InterWebs. Much, possibly even most harassment involves acts that are entirely legal. It’s the context or the pattern they occur in that makes them harassment.

    A far-fetched example: I can phone up anyone in this thread who has a listed phone number that I can find. That’s entirely legal. Even if they aren’t interested in talking to me. I’m allowed to do that. If start calling them every five minutes, that’s a whole different thing. If I keep it up day after day, ad infinitum I’m entirely into actionable-harassment-land. Each call is still a legal thing, but the pattern isn’t.

    Then there’s context. It’s not illegal for me to sexually proposition some adult I’m interested in, per se. If I inquire of my bench-mate at a naked hot tub party in California, where I live, I’m on pretty safe grounds. (And, oh man, when you finally get the clothes off that hot tub, oh, hubba hubba babeeee.) Probably get turned down, but that’s a different matter. I’m still probably safe propositioning someone when I’m at a party of friends at a con. If I do it to a co-worker who has to work with me every day, tres dicey. If I do it to a subordinate at the workplace, I’m in such trouble.

    Back to pattern and that fannish party: If I repeatedly proposition the same person every five minutes for the whole damn party, no matter how nicely I’m putting it … really, need I say more?

    The question of whether the aggregation of public postings is legal or customary, or whether any individual action by EG is permissible, is supremely irrelevant. Actionable individual actions make it easier to hammer the perpetrator but don’t speak to defining harassment.

    pax / Ctein
    ==========================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
    ==========================================

  169. Some have likened Storify to pointing a camera through the open window of someone else’s home. But Twitter isn’t someone’s private residence, it’s a business that’s selling its user’s publicly-expressed content, and so is Storify (as far as I can tell). There really isn’t any meatspace analogy I can think of that approximates it. The closest thing might be if people in meatspace held every conversation in a public arena where they communicated by holding up 140-character signs everyone in the free world could easily read. The expectation of privacy is nil. Possibly televised roundtable discussions are the only pre-internet analogue. I do think we need social media platforms with more graduated levels of privacy, and that there’s a huge market for whatever companies step up to the plate to provide it.

    But this case is not about privacy. Imagine an individual or group of individuals decided to collect everything Ann Coulter ever said in public, and everything said in reply, and everything they could find said about Ann Coulter, and everything else said by those third parties, and collated everything into a publicly-viewable timeline to which they then added sexist insults and other personal attacks unrelated to what Coulter and others actually said, and notified their targets every time they added something. That’s not the patten of ideological dissent, it’s the pattern of organized bullying. Lest the person who emailed John (and it’s fairly apparent who it is, but I see no point in naming them) think I’m comparing them to Ann Coulter, I’m not. I’m saying that what whoever uses the handle elevatorGATE does is harassment no matter who is the target or perpetrator. It may not be illegal (I doubt it is), and perhaps criminalizing it would do more collateral harm than good (I think it would). But that’s no good reason for anyone to empower the behavior by providing a platform for the bullying.

    There’s at least one industry that has been doing this for longer than I’ve been alive, and doing it to a far greater extent. The paparazzi. I don’t buy their magazines and I see no reason to even consider using Storify if they insist on providing a platform for an internet troll. elevatorGATE is violentacrez lite, and I won’t help Storify give anyone like that a bullhorn. They can do it, but not with my help. Protecting trolls is a poor business model.

    @htom

    Stalking is in the eyes of the victim (it’s a form of assault.) It is not so much what the stalker does as how their victim feels about what the stalker does.

    I must disagree. Like you, I too have been stalked (twice, in meatspace, once by a woman and once by a man). If it was merely a matter of perception, I could accuse anyone who went my way for two seconds of stalking, but most rational minds will recognize the absurdity of that claim. What was done to me (and I assume you) constituted a clear threat to my safety and privacy. A judge agreed with me in the case of the woman against whom I discovered restraining orders come attached with nontrivial legal fees. Still, five grand was cheap compared to the lives of me and the person living with me at the time. She violated the RO and wound up on probation, which she also violated and spent a couple months in jail. She’s not bothered me since. But not everyone has five grand to pay a lawyer to file for an RO. How much justice can you afford?

    A different person whom I knew only in passing attempted to tell other people that I had stalked her in two particular places and times. Fortunately I was out of town on one of the occasions and had the hotel and ticket stubs to prove it, and I was with those same people on the other occasion, so they knew right away she was lying and they told me what she’d said. I took legal action, not because I wanted or expected any sort of settlement, but because I wanted a record of her defamation in case she persisted. That too cost money not everyone has to spend. Point is, if stalking was merely a matter of perception, she wouldn’t have felt the need to lie about where I was, she could have merely said she felt threatened by my existence. But she did lie because she knew stalking was not merely in the eye of the victim. Nor, for that matter is assault. The law recognizes bright line tests precisely because defining criminal behavior as perception would make a farce of both the law and its equal protection.

    I’ve known many women and a few men who’ve been stalked. There was nothing subjective about it.

    Also, although it should go without saying, false allegations are the exception, not the rule, and every allegation deserves to be investigated with legal consequences for the accuser if they turn out to be false just as there must be legal consequences for the perpetrator if they turn out to be true. Indeed, those few who would make false allegations are of a kind with stalkers and harassers.

    @Thomas M. Wagner

    Yeah, if you think that suggesting it may be a nice change of pace if a fictional character who’s been played exclusively by white males for half a century could probably be played by a woman or a POC makes you a “screechy feminist privilege peddler,” you might be a reactionary misogynist douchecanoe. And also, possibly, a redneck.

    I know it’s still considered politically correct in this country to look down you nose at people who live in rural areas and/or make less money than higher-cost-of-living urban area dwellers, and so many people feel no shame in using redneck or hick or hillbilly as pejoratives, but it’s still classist bigotry and a dick move. Just FYI.

    @leanmeansurvivalmachine

    EVEN THEN – it would still be the moral, rational, logical thing to do, when presented with a number of people telling you that this person is using your service to make them feel unsafe, to prevent that person from using your service. If one person is driving many away from your service by their behaviour, would you not make that choice? At the very worst, an “innocent” person is unable to use one of many social media platforms.

    What elevatorGATE is doing doesn’t appear to be innocent. But to address your question, no. If the majority of your customers didn’t like someone talking about his or her same-sex relationship on your platform, the moral thing would not be to prevent that person from using your service. It might be legal, it might even be the financially smart thing to do short-term, but moral it would most certainly not be. Stalking people is condemnable because it’s a bad thing to do, not because it’s unpopular.

    @Antonia T. Tiger

    Time for a DMCA notice? It would be slow, snail-mail speed, but Storify can’t afford to ignore it.

    AFAIK, Twitter users don’t own copyright to their content, Twitter does, but I could be wrong. Not that not owning copyright has stopped numerous individuals and organizations from abusing take-down notices under the DMCA which puts the burden of proof on those accused of infringing the copyright, but it would only work temporarily, if at all. More likely Storify would immediately recognize that the user’s weren’t the copyright holders and would therefore ignore the invalid take-down notice.

    @Xopher Halftongue

    These are the equivalent of RSHD’s gang of trolls, then. The ones who go to justify unjustifiable behavior wherever and whenever it’s called out, so it will look like it’s controversial. Like climate deniers or creationists, except that they’re actually trying to make antisocial behavior sound OK.

    elevatorGATE (and some other people) might be on a level with RSHD and his cheerleaders, but I’m a bit confused by your comment. Are you really suggesting that believing the Earth was created six thousand years ago or that disbelieving the evidence for anthropogenic global warming is the equivalent of racism, sexism or homophobia? Because for me what makes the RSHDs of the world reprehensible is their R, S and H, not their irrational unscientific beliefs about nature. You’re welcome to your opinion, of course, I just want to make sure I’m not misunderstanding it.

    @PixelFish

    Harriet Hall wore an insulting shirt multiple days running to a con specifically to poke at one of EG’s targets, and when called upon it, said that criticism of said shirt was equal to bullying.

    Is this about the “I feel safe and welcome at TAM” (I’m not sure whether this is the convention where Rebecca Watson was inappropriately propositioned in an elevator but it’s apparently been the location cited in several well-corroborated allegations of sexual assault) T-shirt? Did Hall actually compare the calls that she be required to take it off or be ejected to bullying? That seems as hyperbolic as saying Hall’s decision to distinguish her view of TAM from Watson’s was insulting, which also seems like another false equivalency. Can’t Hall and Watson disagree and dislike each other without it being bullying? It seems odd lump Hall’s T-shirt in with elevatorGATE’s systematic online harassment, just because elevatorGATE sort of came to her defense. Is there other activity by Hall to believe she’s, as Thomas M. Wagner put it, a vociferous anti-feminist, or is that based entirely on her declining to show solidarity with Watson and her self-identifying as not being a skepchick?

    @Lizard

    Does anyone have a concept of a workable way someone can put ideas out to an as-yet-unknown audience, and have those who respond positively to those ideas be able to share them with like-minded friends, find others, etc., while those who would use those tools negatively or hostilely be blocked/limited?

    Here’s the problem with that. Instead of being about whether what someone does is really wrong, it becomes about whether what someone does is unpopular. And this isn’t about negative responses. This is about elevatorGATE using privately-owned platforms to personally attack the people he dislikes, not merely disagree with their arguments.

    @John Scalzi

    However, they don’t currently. If and when they do, this would be a fine subject for discussion. For the moment, however, let’s not sidetrack into theory, and instead deal with what’s going on in the real world.

    I thought the whole point was that we wanted to change Storify’s real world behavior. Are you saying we should limit ourselves to calling for them to boot elevatorGATE for violating their stated terms of service? Because I, for one, think a per-user block is an essential feature for any social media platform to foster a civilized space. If they can’t provide such a basic function, screw ‘em. Any half-decent developer could implement that feature in an afternoon, less if they’re already familiar with the site’s code.

    @ZK

    A contract nobody reads isn’t a contract, IMHO.

    The opinions that matter are those of the Courts and, in this case, the many people whose business Storify stands to lose. The current state of the law is not at all clear that you can’t be held accountable for contracts you fail to read, and it’s quite clear that a relatively young platform like Storify is reckless to protect trolls and harassers. IANAL, but I did work in IT for over a decade. As best I understand it, in general, whether ToS are binding depends on whether they can be reasonably enforced, and whether they themselves violate existing law. In this case no one’s arguing that Storify doesn’t have the legal standing to boot elevatorGATE off their privately-owned platform, and it would be a little weird to make such a bizarre argument.

    @Ken

    I think we’re missing out on the marketing potential of harnessing unbalanced malevolence here.

    I was thinking of that Heinlein story where antisocial shipmates on a generation ship are tossed into the matter-energy reactor as fuel.

    Now that mythago and Ken are here, can we all please just drop the BS sideline about whether the gold standard is legality? Because it isn’t, and Storify can refuse service at will, ToS or not. Note that I’m making this appeal both to the people playing Devil’s advocate and the people arguing whether elevatorGATE broke any laws.

    Can we get back on topic?
    Yes we can 👍

  170. I’ll wear a Captain Dudebro cape and defend Elevator Gate. There seems to be an underlying assumption that there is no value or reason to what he is doing except to harass people. However, looking through some of his “stories,” I think there is some value. For example:

    http://storify.com/elevatorgate/conversation-with-ellenbethwachs-and-randylamonda

    Hopefully that links because I’m terrible at HTML. Here, Ellenbeth Wachs notes that “Skepchick Elyse” is calling Mr. Deity a “misogynistic dickbag.” Depending on your views, you may be happy/horrified about all of that, but certainly, I can understand wanting to know who says things like that and why they would say them. There is no indication he is trying to scare anyone mentioned there. Instead, it seems more along the theory of “exposing” people. You may very will not like Skepchick Elyse for saying that type of nasty thing about another human being, or you may be quite happy that she is standing up against Mr. Deity, but either way, there is value to knowing it.

    Similarly, a link from above shows someone talking about how they wouldn’t pee on Helen Lewis if she were on fire. If I’m Helen Lewis, I can imagine there is some value in knowing who wouldn’t help me if I were on fire.

    My experience with ElevatorGate is that the vast majority of his “stories” are along these lines of someone saying something about something else. It does have kind of a tabloid quality to it, but it does not seem like he is actively trying to stalk or intimidate anyone.

    So, the conclusion is that I don’t think you’ve proven your case that his actions are harassing, unless we want to expand the definition of harassment. No doubt, Bob Filner probably feels like he is being harassed, too. But so what, his feelings aren’t the only thing to consider.

  171. Floored by Scalzi’s awesomeness please listen to Magda. Going all Anonymous on EG is the same as rounding up a lynch mob. Harassment is not a new thing. There are rules in place in a number of locations to legally and legitimately deal with the issue. Scalzi, white gamma rabbit knight of the internet, Is doing all that needs to be done by airing the PSA about Storify not honoring and enforcing their TOS.

    Daveon: What I really can’t understand is that this stuff just isn’t that hard. Why are some people having trouble with it.
    Go and (re)read Scalzi’s “Lowest Difficulty Setting” blog entry. Please keep in mind that either Anger of the Enfranchised (EG – you’re getting in my face by asking for equality) or Incomprehension of the Enfranchised (XDamman – if it’s not a problem for me, it shouldn’t be a problem for you) apply here.

    As for what’s going on with Storify… “Do not ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”

  172. While it may be informative to know whether someone whose conduct on a social media site has been questioned has technically complied with the site’s terms of service, courts generally read contracts as having implicit terms of good faith and fair dealing. That is, if you are conducting yourself in a manner that deprives the other side of the benefit of the contract, you may be held to be in breach of the contract even though you are technically within the letter of the contract. Accordingly, social media sites would generally be well within their legal rights to deny access to stalkers and harassers even if the stalkers and harassers have not technically violated the terms of service.

  173. @Daveon

    Because people:
    1. Are thick,
    2. Don’t want to think of the behavior they/the people they admire engage in as bad, and/or
    3. Think the Internet is somehow some vastly different space with its own social rules where things you wouldn’t do in person are suddenly totes ok because of technology and Internets.

  174. Rev Matt said…

    “I am appalled, depressed, and angry at the surge in the past few years of men aggressively harassing and threatening women. Online and off, in academia, the skeptic and atheist communities, gaming community, and beyond. ”

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. From my perspective (as a person who has experienced very little harassment ever) it certainly looks like a surge of bad behavior. But is it really a surge, or am I just becoming more aware of a problem that has existed for a very long time? I suspect it’s the latter.

  175. Can’t Hall and Watson disagree and dislike each other without it being bullying? It seems odd lump Hall’s T-shirt in with elevatorGATE’s systematic online harassment, just because elevatorGATE sort of came to her defense. Is there other activity by Hall to believe she’s, as Thomas M. Wagner put it, a vociferous anti-feminist, or is that based entirely on her declining to show solidarity with Watson and her self-identifying as not being a skepchick?

    There is some context that you are missing there, I myself kinda dismissed the T-shirt thing, but it is worth noting that even Harriet hall came to admit she should not have done it the way that she did and apologized for it. Even while she was doing it Harriet missed the context of how it would hurt someone who considered her a friend.

  176. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. From my perspective (as a person who has experienced very little harassment ever) it certainly looks like a surge of bad behavior. But is it really a surge, or am I just becoming more aware of a problem that has existed for a very long time? I suspect it’s the latter.

    I think its more along the lines of people are no longer just accepting it as a cost of doing business. Things that were ignored ten years ago are now being slapped down hard and the people who think this behavior is AOK are getting upset at losing the privilege.

  177. Well Edward, firstly, having spent the last 10 minutes looking up “Mr Diety” (Brian Dalton) – I’m fairly happy he’s a ‘misogynistic dickbag’ – and I am, glancing at Twitter and then at things he’s said, written and videoed himself saying fairly comfortable in that assessment.

    It’s also clear from Twitter that he’s hardly unaware that that is how he is viewed, and seems, with a coterie of followers, wear the badge with pride. So, we come back to, what purpose does EG’s incessant use of Storify have? You’re talking bollocks if you really think it’s to alert people who say nasty things that people are saying nasty things about them. The only purpose that I can come up with is to take names and put in the public domain on a system that allows for easy cross integration into Twitter the names of people to be harassed.

    As we have a LOT of people saying this is in fact what he is doing, why defend him?

    Ditto Helen Lewis, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t need EG Storifying things to let her know that a lot of people take exception to stuff she says and does. So again, why is he doing it?

    The obvious answer again is to stalk and harass people saying things he doesn’t like and providing a handy tool for he and his friends to use when making people’s lives on line miserable.

  178. Gulliver: To clarify: The con that Rebecca Watson referred to in her original video was in Ireland, iirc. After giving a lecture on women in atheism, mentioning that she didn’t like it when men used her atheism as a hook for hitting on her, and having announced that she was tired at a late night kaffeeklatsch in the hotel bar, was followed into an elevator and hit on. She basically said no, nothing else happened, and all she did was note in a video that such a ploy was not a successful strategy by saying, “Guys, don’t do that,” and outlining why some women might find it threatening and uncomfortable to be propositioned while alone in an elevator at four in the morning. This is the argument that launched a thousand skeptics.

    The Harriet Hall incident came later. SurlyAmy, of Skepchick, sells ceramic jewelry with an atheist/skeptics theme. She wasn’t even directly involved in the original incident, although of course, being affiliated with Skepchick, she was being tarred with the same brush. SurlyAmy uses the proceeds of her funds to support scholarships for women attending TAM, and when it was discovered that as she had done in the past, she would be attending TAM and promoting women in atheism there, EG began to tweet about her and make fun of her. People were being encouraged to make sexist and gross parodies of Surly Amy’s work and undermine her business and people like me, who had bought her ceramic jewelry, were targetted on Twitter. SurlyAmy went to TAM, determined to get through things, even though she knew jerks were out in force. And there, she saw Harriet Hall wearing a shirt minimizing and slamming Skepchick, which she wore multiple days running. She apparently mentioned to somebody (maybe even Harriet, I can’t quite recall) that this was making her uncomfortable, and people started gloating about it on Twitter. Harriet herself eventually apologised (I’m told) but the criticism of HH stems entirely from her minimisation of SurlyAmy’s harrassment.

    I am providing this background because the EG partisans would have you believe that EG detractors ignore bullying of women, when said bullying is criticism over minimisation of harrassment–the very problem we are discussing at hand.

    Part of the pattern that has predominated is woman makes a statement that is reasonable, and could be discussed, but detractors tend turn it into a slippery slope argument that is a referendum on her man-hating ways. You can even see that here, wherein we made the reasonable request that Storify make a block button (oh noes! censorship!) and close the loopholes that allow notifications (oh noes!) and further, enforce the harrassment part of their TOS, when multiple people were coming forward to say that EG’s behaviour was unwanted, unwarranted, and part of a harrassment campaign. (Keep in mind that EG’s behaviour is not occuring in a vacuum, he does curate his tweets and sometimes provides commentary that indicates he is far from biased or journalistic, and the storified tweets have been part and parcel of other harrassing behaviours on the web.)

    This began two years back and many feminist women and allied men in the atheist community have been targeted. It’s been made clear to EG that most of us are not public figures, just private folks have a conversation in a public place. We get that tweets are by and large public, just like a conversation in a park is public. Most folks realise that even if a place is public, constantly hovering around and following somebody is creepy and unwarranted. Just like it would be creepy and stalking if some guy followed me around my local park after I told him to leave me alone. EG’s behaviour is no different than that–and he’s been doing it for nearly two years. People like Rebecca Watson and SurlyAmy and Ophelia Benson (upthread) have been dealing with the folks he’s churned up for that long. They get emails with pictures of themselves photoshopped in horrible gross ways, they’ve had threats to their jobs, they have people constantly impugning that the initial incidents didn’t even happen.

    So now, this isn’t just about simple collation of information.

    I agree with Magda and Victoria: I don’t really like turnabout-is-fair-play when it comes to sketchy behaviours like boundary violating. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept, it’s been said.

  179. Also, I can’t believe Edward Gemmer just equated Bob Filner, a known harrasser, to the women who are complaining about harrassment from EG. That’s just tacky. And really, a common ploy in these conversations, ie. calling somebody a sexist/misogynist is just as bad as being sexist.

  180. Sign Ahead: “But is it really a surge, or am I just becoming more aware of a problem that has existed for a very long time? I suspect it’s the latter.”

    Some of each, I think. It has existed for a very long time, but as the use of social media has blossomed, so too have both the opportunities for such harassment and, seemingly, the incidence of it as well as the opportunities for the rest of us to learn about it.

    My early experiences online were on Usenet, where there was plenty of harassment and bullying, but Usenet wasn’t on most people’s radar, so they don’t know what happened there. I learned back then how easy it was for a stalker to find out who and where I was. Before that, it was happening in MOOs (see Julian Dibbell’s article “A Rape in Cyberspace”: http://www.juliandibbell.com/articles/a-rape-in-cyberspace). And of course long before that, it was happening in meatspace everywhere. But if you heard about it, you heard about an incident here, an incident there. Now, thanks to the Internet, you can hear about a much larger number of incidents anywhere in the world, so it might seem that it’s happening more than it used to. And it probably is. Facebook, Twitter, and other online social media offer vast new opportunities for bullies and harassers, some who think it’s just fun and games and apparently don’t get that their games have consequences for the people they’re targeting–and some who have a malicious intent.

  181. @Edward Gemmer:

    There seems to be an underlying assumption that there is no value or reason to what he is doing except to harass people. However, looking through some of his “stories,” I think there is some value.

    Nowhere in either Storify’s TOS or any applicable US statutes on harassment does it say that for a statement to be harassing it must contain no value or have no reason other than to harass.

    Perhaps someone, somewhere, finds value in EG’s posts. So what? If his statements give reasonable people cause to feel threatened (which we have evidence for, given the number of reasonable people who have stated that they feel threatened) then they are harassing. Any other qualities EG’s posts may or may not have aren’t relevant to this issue.

  182. By the way Edward… given you follow MrDiety on Twitter and have defended him against ‘skeptics making shit up’ as recently as this morning… why do you find it useful to know that people think he’s a misogynistic dickbag?

    I mean, it’s not like this is going to be new to him is it?

  183. @ Daveon

    1. Do we “need” ElevatorGate? Well, probably not, but that’s a pretty lousy standard for which to treat people. We probably don’t “need” a lot of things we have. Do we “need” this blog? If the standard by which we disparage people and strip them of privileges or rights is what we “need” from them, then we are having a different conversation. I think the fairer approach is why should ElevatorGate be treated differently than anyone else. (And I understand the argument that he incessantly storifies people and they don’t like it).

    2. Harassment can come in a lot of shades. Incessantly saying nasty things about other people publicly is also a form of harassment, so it makes sense that EG and Mr. Deity and others may put value in collecting these nasty things and being aware as to who said them and why. Sure, there may be other avenues to find such things out, but my understanding is that the whole point of Storify is to make it easier to understand what is being said and to whom by putting conversations in one easy to read place.

    Needless to say, there is a lot of nasty stuff that is said on the internet. Showing who says these things and in what context does have some value, even if you end up agreeing with the nastiness.

  184. @Pixelfish

    My only point on Filner is to show that because someone “feels” harassed doesn’t mean either they are being harassed or that their harassment is unjustified. Not to equate Filner with any other person mentioned here.

    @Daveon

    Without trying to derail the thread with other stuff, I certainly have my own opinions about Mr. Deity’s video and have no problem pointing out factual errors where I believe they exist. If you like something or someone, and you see efforts to mischaracterize the person or product you like, you may feel you should try to correct the record. I think that is pretty natural.

  185. @gulliver: Some have likened Storify to pointing a camera through the open window of someone else’s home. But Twitter isn’t someone’s private residence, it’s a business that’s selling its user’s publicly-expressed content,

    Your analogy isn’t quite accurate. The equation is to someone following a person, taking pictures of everything they do in public and posting those on a website. Stop for a second and imagine this – someone takes your picture as you leave home… get in the car… stop at Starbucks for coffee… walk out of Starbucks and pet a dog outside… leave work and go to the store… play with your kids in the park on Saturday.

    All of that happens in public but if someone took pictures of all of that and posted them on a website – even with no comment at all – most of us would feel stalked and creeped out. That’s a rough equivalent to what EG is doing. That’s what Storify is enabling and defending.

    To be really clear, it’s not that he’s reposting public information… it’s that he’s doing to let people know he’s watching

  186. “1. Do we “need” ElevatorGate? Well, probably not, but that’s a pretty lousy standard for which to treat people. ”

    No, not really. He’s treating people in a pretty lousy way and obviously doing it in a way to maximise the discomfort of the women (and some men) he’s singling out. Not least of which he’s doing it fairly obsessively (assuming this is an individual) and behind a cloak of anonymity while making life miserable for a lot of the people he’s doing it to. So, you’re using a false standard of equivalence here which I resoundingly reject.

    Glancing at MrDiety’s feed, and your own involvement, you seem pretty relaxed about people saying nasty things. I’d even go as far as to say that you enjoy it. You then coming here to defend EG suggests that actually you just want a good trolling of people you think you’re cleverer than while maintaining an air of being above all of this nastiness.

    You’d have been a little more credible if you weren’t active on Twitter defending some of these people to be honest.

  187. I need to go off on the newspaper clippings being a bit creepy here.

    I’ll paraphrase Linus Torvalds who said that, if you or what you’re doing is relevant enough, the Internet will be your backup service.

    I see that as the original intent of things like Storify: to group together relevant content.

    That’s what newspaper clippings from a fan are, too.

    I run a fan site for an actor (ryanjohnsonactor.info), and I’ve had to do a lot of thinking about how to present relevant content. On my left is a magazine I got from Australia on eBay that has a picture of him that I’ve yet to scan and post. So, while I don’t collect clippings, I do have the one.

    It’s also good to remember that, as a fan, 99.999% of his life (at least) is not about me, and 99.99% (yes, one less 9) of my life is not about him. But there’s a pretty site to lift his spirits (and improve his google-fu) if needed.

    When I was having second thoughts about registering the domain, I wrote someone who ran another fan site who responded thus: “Most people in the limelight are happy with a fansite, as long as it goes easy on the gushing, treats them as human beings without objectifying them and respects their private lives.”

    I think all of that’s important, and I think that’s what’s missing from the EG issue and Storify’s response. While you might not consider it a “private life” if it’s on a public tweet (or Instagram or wherever), there’s a huge difference, say, between tweeting that you’re at your favorite coffee place (or even just that you’re having coffee, accompanied by a photo from which you’ve failed to scrub geotags) — and having someone else show up there because you posted. Or have someone else notify you that your tweet has been added to their Storify page.

    With over 23k tweets, any one tweet of mine is pretty anonymous even though they are public. A thousand of them taken together is a different story.

  188. Edward. By all means defend away. But if somebody, say me, finds what you’re defending to be the work of a complete nitwit, then I have to say you’ll get tarred with the same brush as far as I’m concerned.

    The crux of this is that EG isn’t doing this because they’re a reporter, they’re doing it because they’re a douche who wants to let people know that they are being watched, and they’ve found a handy tool to do it with, especially now they’ve been kicked off Twitter.

  189. If society was based on technicality, then we’d all be screwed. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Eventually, I think apps, protocols, and cultural mores will weave their way into the fabric of the internet, placing these sorts of technical-based aberrations into what they are in reality: crude and with little cultural value.

  190. Anyone who has children or grew up with siblings knows exactly what this behavior is, This is your older brother following the rules of not touching in the car by holding his hands a centimeter from your face and proudly proclaiming “i’m not touching so i’m not breaking the rules”. Guess what? When my kids do this I multiply the punishment for touching by 5 for being a “rules lawyer”.

  191. Edward Gemmer:

    “I’ll wear a Captain Dudebro cape and defend Elevator Gate.”

    Dear lord, why? Aren’t there enough dudebros in the world without nonconsensual devil’s advocates supporting them?

  192. Kilroy:

    “On a side note, I had no idea that there were prominent female atheists, or even prominent atheists.”

    Sarcasm…?

  193. He doesn’t just stalk women. He stalks women who are feminists, as well as men who identify as feminists and allies of those women. (Though his main goal is clearly stalking and harassing these women.)

    The difference is, men who ignore @Elevatorgate for a while tend to get ignored. I don’t think that works for his female targets. Or her female targets, I suppose I should say.

  194. @Deirdre

    “While you might not consider it a “private life” if it’s on a public tweet (or Instagram or wherever), there’s a huge difference, say, between tweeting that you’re at your favorite coffee place (or even just that you’re having coffee, accompanied by a photo from which you’ve failed to scrub geotags) — and having someone else show up there because you posted. ”

    Is there any evidence that this has happened? Caveat – I’m technically not that proficient so I only have a rudimentary understanding of Twitter and Storify, but I haven’t seen EG send out things like “Person X is at the Starbucks on Fifth” or something to that effect.

  195. Edward Gemmer:

    “Is there any evidence that this has happened?”

    This is the wrong standard to apply. Intent matters. As an example, not too long ago some creep threatened to give out information about where I live to 4chan so that people there could come make trouble. No one did (and anyway it was a stupid threat, as I’m in the phone book). But whether someone showed up — and whether that information was previously public — is immaterial to the fact that this dipshit did what he did with the intent of harassing me (and encouraging others to do so as well).

    Also, is the “I’m not technically proficient” thing some sort of rhetorical tactic? The fellow I booted earlier claimed the same thing re: Twitter and Storify, yet nevertheless showed rather a decent ability to navigate both services in an attempt to make his point. It makes me suspect this is a sort of “unfrozen caveman lawyer” tactic of feigning lack of knowledge to keep others off balance.

  196. @Daveon

    “Glancing at MrDiety’s feed, and your own involvement, you seem pretty relaxed about people saying nasty things. I’d even go as far as to say that you enjoy it.”

    I’m a pretty relaxed person in general. I wouldn’t mind a little less anger and righteousness on the internet, however. A lot of my experience is that people play these games of “What’s One Fact About You that I Can Use to Dismiss You and Everything You Say.” Which is frustrating.

  197. @Scalzi

    “This is the wrong standard to apply. Intent matters.”

    Well, no doubt. However, EG has six thousand stories or so up, so it’s not like his pattern is an isolated incident. Are there examples of his stories being used in a way that details who people are, where they are, etc. I haven’t seen that, but by no means have I read them all or even more than a handful. In my experience, they are usually Person X saying something mean about Person Y, which I would put in a different category than personal identifiers.

  198. @PixelFish

    The con that Rebecca Watson referred to in her original video was in Ireland, iirc. After giving a lecture on women in atheism, mentioning that she didn’t like it when men used her atheism as a hook for hitting on her, and having announced that she was tired at a late night kaffeeklatsch in the hotel bar, was followed into an elevator and hit on. She basically said no, nothing else happened, and all she did was note in a video that such a ploy was not a successful strategy by saying, “Guys, don’t do that,” and outlining why some women might find it threatening and uncomfortable to be propositioned while alone in an elevator at four in the morning.

    Sounds like perhaps the elevator propositioner was deliberately trolling her after hearing her lecture. Thanks for the background on both cases. It still doesn’t sound like Hall was being deliberately insensitive, but I can see how some people interpreted it as minimizing Amy Roth’s experience. I think Hall has a moral right to stake her own position and self-identity without it being a slam on the people she’s distancing herself from, but there’s a lot to be said for doing that tactfully. Glad they reconciled.

    @rick gregory

    Your analogy isn’t quite accurate. The equation is to someone following a person, taking pictures of everything they do in public and posting those on a website.

    Although I agree with you basic conclusion, that analogy is flawed as well. People going about their private lives in a public space still enjoy some measure of (admittedly evaporating) expectation of privacy. Twitter isn’t just a public space, it’s a public space for saying public things. A protestor holding up a sign would be closer, but even that isn’t quite right. A protestor can’t be read by anyone on the planet with unfettered internet access, but a protestor is also usually not holding semi-directed conversations. Twitter is basically performance conversation. A public debate is another imperfect analogy.

    Part of the reason no meatspace analogy is perfect is because people use Twitter as a substitute for email on the assumption that they’ll get restaurant-style privacy when they want it, and mass publicity when they communicate something that trends. But Twitter itself doesn’t have any incentive to build privacy into their service, because their service is not their product (aggregated user data).

    Like I said, I think there’s a huge untapped demand for social media with more graduated levels of privacy. Facebook doesn’t really fill that niche because their privacy is all opt-in and their byzantine setting aren’t built to help users manage it, but rather to make it harder for them to do so, because user’s information is the product, Facebook is just the honeypot.

    In spite of all of that, you can still harass someone at a protest rally, or a public debate, or a call-in roundtable show, or any other public forum. As John said, the pattern of intent matters.

    @XtinaS

    Killroy: “On a side note, I had no idea that there were prominent female atheists, or even prominent atheists.”

    Sarcasm…?

    I was unaware of the atheist community until fairly recently. I knew about Richard Dawkins’ militant rants because I read his science books and wished he’d get back to writing them instead, and I knew about Christopher Hitchens dickishness when it made the news. But until a couple years ago when John wrote about what happened to Rebecca Watson, I was basically oblivious that there was a large organized world-wide community of atheists. I guess in general I’m happy for them since it makes it harder for hard-line religious folks to stomp on us, but I do find their militant arguing with fundies a bit gratuitous, and blaming the evil men and women do on their mythical confuses rationalization for motivation, IMO. Mostly I think militant atheists are metaphysically right, but intolerant of other people being, and they and I see it, metaphysically wrong.

  199. I see that some trolls and Internet Lawyers have started blathering about how it is defamatory to suggest that @ElevatorGate is stalking or harassing without meeting the definition of stalking or harassment under some jurisdiction’s statute.

    That, of course, is nonsense. Referring to a disclosed course of conduct (like, say, a Storify account) as “stalking” or “harassment” is an absolutely classic example of a statement of opinion, wholly protected by the First Amendment. If someone said something like “I have reviewed photos I can’t share and based on those photos it is my opinion that @ElevatorGate abuses underaged squirrels,” that might potentially be defamatory, because it implies facts that can be proved true or false. But saying “I’ve looked at these public activities and they look like stalking and harassment to me” is clear protected opinion.

  200. @gulliver “militant rants” “dickishness” “intolerant” yeah your in no way trying to derail here..lol

  201. Although I agree with you basic conclusion, that analogy is flawed as well. People going about their private lives in a public space still enjoy some measure of (admittedly evaporating) expectation of privacy.

    Not really. And you’re dodging and weaving, trying to justify his behavior. Have fun with that, but it’s basically trollish and I have better things to do than to listen to it.

  202. @Edward Gemmer — In the case of EG, not that I know of. It does happen to higher-profile actors, at least, which is why one of the implied social contracts of clued fans and actors is to never say where you’ve seen an actor until both of you have left that space. If it’s a place they frequent, then never revealing that space so they may continue to enjoy it.

    However, the situation Scalzi’s post is about is a situation where there IS no social contract, implied or otherwise, that makes EG’s behavior less creepy. EG’s not a fan, rather an anti-fan.

    Anyone who’s got a big enough profile will have anti-fans. Hell, I have them. Most of the time, anti-fans don’t bother putting energy into talking about the target of their unhappiness, which is why you probably won’t hear about how I hate anime or filk because of several mishaps when conrunning. (I don’t hate filk, which is why I attend a local filk convention most every year, but I can see why some people might think I do. I don’t like anime personally and wouldn’t bother with an anime convention, but I recognize that I’m just not the target audience.)

    Catch is, this is someone who’s putting persistent attention and energy into being an anti-fan. Just think about what that has to be like, you know?

  203. I see a considerable debate within the thread as to whether EG’s intention can be discovered outside of mind reading. Actually, that’s quite easy, by looking at his choices of action and reaction.

    Simply put: If he did NOT have the intention to be harassing, he would be compelled by his true intention to immediately and publicly change his tactics when even the mere accusation of harassment was voiced. This is not really arguable. If he meant to be some sort of reporter, aggregator, or debater, then certainly he would not countenance being told his actions are being interpreted as harassment, which would be contrary to his intention. He may be offended, but if he had a different intention than harassment, he would still choose to change his behavior, at least explain himself or he would acknowledge that he failed at his intention and cease what he as doing.

    He clearly did not choose to modify his behavior, did not cease his behavior, nor did he attempt an alternate explanation or declare his intention failed. He didn’t even interact with the accusation, which clearly betrays his true intention to act in a harassing manner.

    This isn’t rocket science. :)

  204. I don’t see why a DMCA takedown notice wouldn’t work. Copyright is owned by the author, and publishing through one service (e.g. Twitter) doesn’t give anybody else permission to republish. The fact that something is publicly visible does not put it in the public domain; try (e.g.) republishing all of Scalzi’s blog posts without permission and see how far you get.

  205. Gulliver:

    Are you really suggesting that believing the Earth was created six thousand years ago or that disbelieving the evidence for anthropogenic global warming is the equivalent of racism, sexism or homophobia?

    No, not at all. I’m talking about the pretense that these things are controversial. Evolution and global warning are not controversial, but creationists and climate deniers try to create the impression that they are. Similarly, these trolls think that if they show up in enough numbers and say “that’s not harassment” it will look like it’s somehow controversial that it is, in fact, harassment.

    Not trying to draw parallels on the content at all.

  206. @notsont

    “militant rants” “dickishness” “intolerant” yeah your in no way trying to derail here..lol

    Trying to, no. But I concede I was off-topic and apologize. Dawkins’ recent Islamophobic noble-prize comment rubbed me the wrong way, but I shouldn’t have dragged it into this thread. I will say that I don’t assume all skeptics or even atheists (not sure if the skeptic community excludes theists) are militant. But some definitely are.

    @rick gregory

    Not really. And you’re dodging and weaving, trying to justify his behavior.

    Fuck no. I said it before and I’ll say it again, harassment isn’t justified by something being said or done in public. No dodging. No weaving. Statement of abso-fucking-lute fact. I’m sorry you find it so hard to process the difference between the right to privacy and the right to not be stalked or harassed. For example, the fact that we both participated in this thread wouldn’t give either of us the latitude to harass the other. If your view of stalking or harassment is that it’s justified by a lack of expectation of privacy, then your view of society is supremely fucked up. If you can’t or won’t understand the difference, I can put it no plainer, so I’ll bid you good day.

    @Xopher Halftongue

    Similarly, these trolls think that if they show up in enough numbers and say “that’s not harassment” it will look like it’s somehow controversial that it is, in fact, harassment.

    Oh, that makes a lot more sense and I agree totally. Thanks for clarifying and sorry I misunderstood you.

  207. John,

    Thinking back to my post and your response last night, I believe where i am unclear comes from my not understanding this statement from the email sent to you:

    > After repeated complaints and requests for help, Storify temporarily deactivated
    > the notification feature on his account, which doesn’t actually solve the problem.

    Can someone explain how turning off notifications on a per user basis doesn’t solve the problem here?

    Semi-related: in the year to two years that elevatorgate has been following people and tweeting, blogging, and storifying what they say, has his behavior ever gone beyond the web published word? Has he ever threatened people, or doxxed them, or shown up at real world events where they are?

  208. The stalker’s intentions are not especially relevant. If the stalker, noting the age of the bunny, decided that it would be tough unless boiled for a long time, claimed the intent was to be helpful, I doubt the victim would feel less threatened.

  209. Victoria:

    Going all Anonymous on EG is the same as rounding up a lynch mob.

    Please don’t minimize the vile, horrific phenomenon that was lynching with this kind of comparison.

    Also, while Anonymous is unpredictable and too frequently misogynist themselves, I strongly disagree that calling them into play is inevitably wrong.

    Gulliver, I’m sure this isn’t your intent so I don’t want to jump down your throat, but your initial comment is too easily read as an assertion that if Person X wasn’t stalked as badly as you were, then they weren’t really stalked.

    Also, perhaps atheists wouldn’t have to be so “militant” if we (those of us in the US anyway) didn’t have to live in a society that shoved its metaphysical beliefs down our throats and those of our children, treated us as de facto immoral and, still in some states, barred us from office.

  210. I’ve said this upthread but currently there is no block mechanism on Storify. And to disable notifications from one user, you have to disable all notifications. Which limits its utility if you use it for other things. Furthermore, I receive notifications not just when I’m storified, but when my friends who arre also targetted by EG are. (Although I think the recent manual disabling by Storify staff must still be in effect because I didn’t get any today or most of yesterday, which is a small mercy.)

  211. @ Victoria: No, going Anonymous on this dipshit is not like a lynch mob. Mr. Scalzi already posted a link upthread that would have explained why what you just said is what a dipshit would say–only you pretty clearly just jumped down to the bottom to post an angry screed.

    Definition time for the hyperbolic ones among us: A “lynch mob” is a group of civilians who decide to be vigilantes, usually while drunk, and publicly execute another civilian for a real or perceived crime, or occasionally just on general principle. Such terms are generally used to refer to racist gatherings, often sponsored or organized by the KKK and similar hate groups, that hunted down and killed thousands of African-Americans during the period following the Civil War and before the 1970s (or so).

    Revealing a dipshit’s contact information to the press is not being a lynch mob.

  212. I will say that I don’t assume all skeptics or even atheists (not sure if the skeptic community excludes theists) are militant. But some definitely are.

    Its Ironic that the term “militant” has completely different meaning when applied to different groups. I’m not going to go into a long discussion about this with you as this isn’t the thread but I would invite you to examine why you would use the word militant to describe the behavior of writing books and talking about ones views for one group, but not for another.

    Also most of the condemnation of Dawkins for his ill conceived tweets have come from atheists. The man is bad at it, there is no argument here.

  213. Gulliver:

    Thanks for clarifying and sorry I misunderstood you.

    Not at all! If you misunderstood, so did others. Thank you for pointing out that I wasn’t clear, which gave me the opportunity to clarify.

  214. Dear Folks,

    OK, another crimson cod (that’s the right colloquialism, isn’t it?) has raised its scaly head.

    Intent.

    Not so important, really!

    Many folks who harass or stalk are, well, unclear on the concepts. Stalkers, in particular, are often motivated by obsessive love rather than malice. They truly believe in the goodness of what they are doing. So very not germane. Speaking to my earlier example, if I really were stalking John Scalzi and phoning him every five minutes, I could very well be doing it out of obsessive love, not with any intent nor effort in mind to upset him.

    (And, really, what other motive *could* any reasonable person have?! The guy’s just cute beyond belief, lovable beyond words. And I know he feels the same about me, or at least he will once he gets to know me just a bit better. I just have to try a little bit harder. I know I can get through that unutterably attractive gruff shell of his with just a little bit more effort. So what if he’s married? I’d be so much better for him than his wife, and he knows it, deep in his heart. Really. I can convince him. I just have to have more faith in myself.)

    (note to self: must remember to delete preceding paragraph before posting)

    Ummm, where was I? Oh, yeah.

    It’s comfortable to think that harassers/stalkers/intimidators are inevitably driven by malice. Makes life so simple. Problem is, many of them are genuinely confused, clueless, even psychotic at times; they truly don’t get that they’re doing something wrong. Doesn’t excuse their behavior one bit, nor does it change the impact on the victims.

    Doesn’t much cut it with the law, either.

    Even in matters as overwhelmingly serious as rape, it happens. The guy who pushes sex on the drunken date who’s slurring, “uhhh, I don’ think I realllly wanna…” too often truly doesn’t get it that he’s committed rape until he gets smacked upside the head by her lawyer. It wasn’t what he was thinking of, it wasn’t his intent.

    Ditto for “ordinary” harassment and stalking. So many of these people don’t think of themselves “that kind of person.” If confronted with it, they’ll protest vehemently and violently, not out of a sense of guilt but out of having their personal world- and self-view trashed.

    You look at the impact and effect on the recipient, not the intent of the perpetrator. That tells you whether it should be treated as harassment/etc.

    EG’s intent simply does not matter. Whether he protests vigorously or not tells you nothing about his intent. All that matters is that if he’s engaging repeatedly in activities which make some of the recipients of his attentions feel unsafe or threatened, then those activities need to be curtailed. It isn’t about the law or the custom or the intent. It’s about what’s right and acceptable behavior.

    pax / Ctein
    ==========================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
    ==========================================

  215. @notsont

    …but I would invite you to examine why you would use the word militant to describe the behavior of writing books and talking about ones views for one group, but not for another.

    I should have been more careful about making sweeping generalizations. That was careless of me. I use the word militant for certain behaviors within any group, behaviors I see exemplified by Dawkins and others that behave like him. Actually, militantly atheist isn’t even all that accurate; militantly anti-religious is more how I’d describe Dawkins.

    @Woman Atheist

    Also, while Anonymous is unpredictable and too frequently misogynist themselves, I strongly disagree that calling them into play is inevitably wrong.

    It might be worth noting also that Anonymous is a banner under which many gray-hat hackers have labored. Not all Anons march to the same drum.

    Gulliver, I’m sure this isn’t your intent so I don’t want to jump down your throat, but your initial comment is too easily read as an assertion that if Person X wasn’t stalked as badly as you were, then they weren’t really stalked.

    I apologize if that’s how it came across. That most certainly was not what I meant. Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt. I’ll keep your critique in mind.

    Also, perhaps atheists wouldn’t have to be so “militant” if we (those of us in the US anyway) didn’t have to live in a society that shoved its metaphysical beliefs down our throats and those of our children, treated us as de facto immoral and, still in some states, barred us from office.

    Fair point. And as someone who’s an agnostic/atheist, I’m not unsympathetic to that point of view. As I told my sister (who’s a pagan), if religious folks feel a little put out these days, I’m not terribly sympathetic to their plight given that many of their predecessors spent all of recorded history inventing novel ways to kill folks like me (and often like her). But I also strive to keep in mind that it isn’t the belief in improbable cosmogony that drives people and cultures to do bad things, those are just the empty excuses they hide behind.

    Anyway, as notsont correctly pointed out, that’s off-topic, so I’m going to drop the issue now. Sorry if I inadvertently caused any offense; I’m sure Dawkins isn’t totally representative of his community.

    @Xopher Halftongue

    Thank you for pointing out that I wasn’t clear, which gave me the opportunity to clarify.

    FWIW, I mentioned it only because that didn’t seem like your style, and I was confused.

  216. ctein:

    Stalkers, in particular, are often motivated by obsessive love rather than malice.

    No.

    If someone does not want you in their life, and you refuse to obey their wishes and insist on causing them distress, that’s not “love.” That’s dehumanizing entitlement.

    Stop providing cover for the abusers.

    The guy who pushes sex on the drunken date who’s slurring, “uhhh, I don’ think I realllly wanna…” too often truly doesn’t get it that he’s committed rape until he gets smacked upside the head by her lawyer. It wasn’t what he was thinking of, it wasn’t his intent.

    Wrong again.

    I would suggest that you actually read up on the phenomenon of stalking, rather than provide all sorts of “explanations” that are no more than folk tales and excuses.

  217. Also, rape isn’t “sex.” The drunk guy isn’t “pushing sex” on the woman. He’s raping her. By using such euphemisms, you are again giving cover to rapists.

    Gulliver, thanks for your reply.

  218. “What’s One Fact About You that I Can Use to Dismiss You and Everything You Say.”

    It all rather depends on the fact frankly.

  219. Folks, I am off to dinner with family soon and so will being paying only occasional attention to the thread. I do see it’s beginning to get a little spun up so I remind people that I want you all to be polite as possible to one another. Also, if in quickly going through I decide I need to Mallet something, I won’t have time for a drawn out and/or snarky explanation. I’ll just Mallet.

    So: Play nice, don’t use bad arguments (remember Jim Hines’ cartoon noted at the top) and don’t make me get out the Mallet in the middle of dinner. Thank you.

  220. Dear WA,

    You misread me. I am not providing anyone cover. Reads the whole post, do not take out of context.

    As for love. I don’t call it love. You don’t call it love. THEY, the stalkers, often call it love. Not a folk tale and not an excuse. This post is about the red herring of intent which goes entirely to the perpetrator’s state of mind, not reality.

    (Which I would have thought the hyperbolic digression would have made obvious to the most casual reader? Huh, wrong.)

    I did call it rape. Twice even, once before that sentence that offended you and once afterwards.

    Really, context-read? Please?

    And PLEASE do not assume I am uneducated in such matters.

    pax / Ctein

  221. Woman Atheist, with respect, I think you’re missing Ctein’s main point, which is that even if EG’s widdle fee-fees are just ever so pure, he’s still committing harassment. And “pushes sex” was the thought of the (yes) rapist; it doesn’t matter if that’s what he thinks he’s doing. He’s still raping her. As Ctein said.

    Now, your link makes the point that they often know exactly what they’re doing. Fair enough. But Ctein’s point (I believe) was that even if they don’t it doesn’t matter a damn; it’s their actions that count. I think this is a case of violent agreement.

  222. Whoops, sorry Ctein. You speak for yourself and quite eloquently. I didn’t refresh before posting mine.

  223. I don’t know that “someone has expressed fear” is a legitimate reason to require someone to change their behavior. There must also be some objective standard that is also violated, because there are a certain percentage of people who will say anything if it means they can control someone else.

  224. Yes, Edward, and the sneaky bastards like EG will game any system’s objective standard, like the aforementioned kid holding his hand half an inch from his brother’s nose and saying “I’m not touching you!”

    And you know what? I don’t agree with your first statement. ANY decent person would stop doing whatever it was that they found out was frightening someone else. Reasonable people can tell the difference between someone just saying “you’re frightening me” and a whole bunch of people all legitimately feeling threatened. EG is not reasonable or decent; therefore Storify must be reasonable and decent on his behalf, and stop him.

  225. But I also strive to keep in mind that it isn’t the belief in improbable cosmogony that drives people and cultures to do bad things, those are just the empty excuses they hide behind.

    I agree partially with this, except where people are following explicit directions from whatever “holy” book they follow. In cases where people are following scripture for their actions it is perfectly reasonable to put a large portion of the blame on the scripture.

    As far as EG I know in this thread we are discussing Storify, but that is not where it begins and ends. What he does on Storify is only a small piece of the whole. Its creepy enough all on its own but its part of a pattern of behavior stretching back a few years now.

  226. The equation is to someone following a person, taking pictures of everything they do in public and posting those on a website.

    Right. I looked at his Storify, and EG’s essentially behaving like a sort of e-paparazzi, since a good chunk of what he catalogues isn’t even remotely related to him or atheism or whatever his hobbyhorses are- I don’t really know, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t random conversations about Star Trek or ants (to use two examples that I got just browsing his account). And there’s a lot of controversy about the ethics of stalking celebrities- it can have very real psychological consequences.

    Of course, it’s worse than that, for a few reasons. One, EG has made it clear that he hates the people he’s cyberstalking. Two, celebrities are public figures; EG targets random people on Twitter. Three, there’s the notification thing- so a better real-life analogy would be someone following you around taking photos in public, and every time they do, an email is automatically sent, so you always know that you’re being watched.

  227. I don’t know that “someone has expressed fear” is a legitimate reason to require someone to change their behavior. There must also be some objective standard that is also violated, because there are a certain percentage of people who will say anything if it means they can control someone else.

    Ahh the slippery slope, the “if we block stalkers, someone will use the precedent to stop (insert minority group here) from being able to speak out. one step further and you hit the “i’m so skeptical that I doubt reality itself” trope.

  228. I don’t know that “someone has expressed fear” is a legitimate reason to require someone to change their behavior.

    You don’t think that somebody making somebody else feel scared isn’t a reason for them to change the behaviour that’s impacting the other person? Is this a universal belief or do you accept that, say, if I were to walk behind women on dark streets they’d have a fairly good reason to ask me to stop for no other reason that it’s a dickish move for a large bloke to walk behind women on a dark street whether or not you actually would do anything?

    The point at issue here is I know instinctively that that would be a dickish thing to do and I’m getting the impression that you don’t?

  229. Dear Xopher,

    Thanks for the check-in, though. If everyone (or even many) read it the way WA did, I’d have to be looking really hard at what I wrote, trying to figure out where it went off the rails (first rule of a real author– if a lot of your readers don’t understand you, it’s YOUR fault).

    I don’t want to get into a fight with WA. I really admire her comments. Really, truly, sincere about that. (I suppose in the interests of full disclosure: I am quite far from being an atheist but as the saying goes, some of my best friends are.)

    And, because this always is worth repeating: “Many” does not mean “all;” it doesn’t even mean “most.” It just means that there are enough that that factor cannot be discounted. which is exactly what makes intent irrelevant.

    Y’know, I need a word that falls between “some” (which is too often read as insignificantly few) and “many” (too often read as most/all).

    Personally, I feel more strongly than “they often know exactly what they’re doing;” I think they USUALLY know what they’re doing. For whatever values we’re using for “they” and “doing.” I stuck with the much more vague “many” because that’s another sort of red herring I didn’t want to encourage, which is the whole arguing over “how much” thing, when it doesn’t really matter in this case.

    pax / Ctein

  230. Temporarily delurking to say: Three cheers for civility and a skillful mallet.

    Seriously, what you and Scalzi are doing here—a site with clearly stated and consistently enforced TOS—is a model of what Xavier Dammon should be aiming to do on Storify.

  231. @Edward

    “I don’t know that “someone has expressed fear” is a legitimate reason to require someone to change their behavior.”

    Oh, i don’t know, if I did something, even if it was meant to be anything but innocent, and someone’s response was “Hey, can you stop that, it’s creeping me out?” I’d stop because I wouldn’t want to be perceived as a creepy jerk.

  232. You don’t think that somebody making somebody else feel scared isn’t a reason for them to change the behaviour that’s impacting the other person?

    “Making somebody else feel scared” is a broad brush – it covers a range from outright terrorism to dickishness to simply being in the world. Consider driving – if I hoon down the wrong side of the road at twice the speed limit, I’m terrorising other drivers. If I drive a little too close behind you honking my horn when you slow down, I’m a dick. And if I drive at 60 on a 60mph road, scaring the little old granny who prefers forty, I’m simply being in the world.

    Consider Travyon Martin, who found that walking down a street while black managed to scare an insecure gun-nut. What behaviour do you recommend he should have changed?

    “Being scared” is a subjective state. That’s why stalking laws also look at the offenders state of mind and intentions. it’s appropriate to apply sanctions to terrorism you wouldn’t apply to simple dickishness, and to distinguish dickishness from uses of the medium which have a legitimate purpose to the author.

  233. There’s a common test in law, IIUC, that’s called the “reasonable man” test. “Would a reasonable man be scared in this situation?” it asks, and the decision is up to the jury.

    Recently it’s been drawn to the attention of authorities that they need a “reasonable woman” test too. And IMO a “reasonable small person” test! I am small and harmless (-looking) and my big, scary-looking friends don’t understand my discomfort in certain situations. This is a pale echo of the constant state of threat in which our misogynist society forces women to live.

  234. @MRAL

    And there’s a lot of controversy about the ethics of stalking celebrities- it can have very real psychological consequences.

    I find our culture’s tolerance of this revolting and shameful.

    Two, celebrities are public figures…

    I’ve always found that to be a hollow excuse for what the paparazzi do, which is definitely stalk and harass people. Setting aside the problematic idea that all a society has to do to deprive someone of their privacy is take a massed interest in them, that idea still doesn’t justify harassment. Just because someone is in the public eye doesn’t make it open season on their every waking moment or tweet.

  235. That’s why stalking laws also look at the offenders state of mind and intentions. it’s appropriate to apply sanctions to terrorism you wouldn’t apply to simple dickishness, and to distinguish dickishness from uses of the medium which have a legitimate purpose to the author.

    However, I reserve the right to point out to people being dicks that they’re being dicks and should stop the dickish behaviour. I exercise the privilege of being a 120kg 1.93 metre tall human white male with a British accent while I do which tends to get people to pay attention to me. OTOH, I also am quite happy to call out dickish behaviour on behalf of friends and friends of friends and even people I’ve never met before who seem to be in trouble.

    We don’t need to get the law involved here, nor actually apply for legal sanctions, the person, EG, who is being the dick, should stop being the dick. And the people standing up for him? Yeah, I think they need to start thinking about where they stand on the dick/not a dick scale of things too.

    Sheesh. People. THIS IS NOT HARD.

  236. @notsont

    “Ahh the slippery slope, the “if we block stalkers, someone will use the precedent to stop (insert minority group here) from being able to speak out. one step further and you hit the “i’m so skeptical that I doubt reality itself” trope.”

    No, you have to first prove he is a stalker, providing some objective definition of stalking that he fits. Simply stating that someone has complained about him is just one step, IMO.

    @ Daveon

    “Is this a universal belief or do you accept that, say, if I were to walk behind women on dark streets they’d have a fairly good reason to ask me to stop for no other reason that it’s a dickish move for a large bloke to walk behind women on a dark street whether or not you actually would do anything?”

    Well if you are doing it solely to be a dick, that’s pretty easy. But any one act of a large person walking behind a woman at dark is not universally a bad thing to do regardless of intent.

  237. I think the fairer approach is why should ElevatorGate be treated differently than anyone else.

    Because he is acting differently.

    We probably don’t “need” a lot of things we have. Do we “need” this blog? If the standard by which we disparage people and strip them of privileges or rights

    What right is he being stripped of? No valid right (unless it’s your intent to argue one has a right to stalk and harass people).

  238. But any one act of a large person walking behind a woman at dark is not universally a bad thing to do regardless of intent.

    Face. Palm.

    Really Edward. It is. No exceptions. Cross the street. Hang back, take another route. JUST DON’T DO IT. You’re being a dick if you do.

  239. This is quite similar to the Reddit situation, sounds like. TOS for websites are designed by companies’ legal counsels to deal with international laws, not U.S. Constitutional law. (The U.S. does not own the international Web or other parts of the Internet.) They are designed to reduce a company’s legal liability and allow it to operate in many countries without running foul of their regulations. Consequently, TOS are designed to allow companies to ban users for almost any reason.

    I have already forgotten the name of the guy on Reddit who hosted child porn and cyberstalking, but I haven’t forgotten that it was on Reddit and how they acted and I will never use Reddit’s service thereby. I have not forgotten how Reddit was threatened with lawsuits and prosecution for criminal action and had to act fast to protect themselves because they had been negligent and had through their service harassed people in not only the content that was present but in how REDDIT itself delivered the content to users.

    This guy, similarly, his identity is unimportant (and will be forgotten in the cyberworld although not probably in the atheist community,) as is his intent. The group of people who are complaining to Storify is complaining to the company that they are being harassed by STORIFY. Storify’s software is spamming their email, and they cannot block it without abandoning notifications altogether or no longer using Storify. This means that Storify is violating numerous regulations and its own TOS, etc., and leaving itself open to legal liability. This liability was increased when the CEO of the company announced that Storify would continue to harass these people. If he turned off his Twitter account, I suspect it’s because his company’s lawyers told him to do so. To correct the problem and reduce their liability, Storify needs to change their software so that users can block individual notifications.

    In the meantime, to protect themselves, as Twitter did, they should logically suspend or ban this person who is generating the harassing spam from their site, via their software, on the grounds that he is harassing a group and violating the TOS. Storify does not have to prove that this man is deliberately using their software glitch to harass in any court of law in any particular country. They can simply ban him because this person agreed to the TOS and Storify feels their TOS has been violated.

    No doubt there are numerous other incidents of Storify’s software notifications spamming people, who have complained. Storify will have to implement short term fixes for these cases, such as banning those they feel are abusing their software and service, and then the long term fix of the notification service. If they don’t do this, they may still prosper, but they will be open to a variety of lawsuits in a variety of countries and a continued PR problem. The service that Storify provides is easy enough to get somewhere else. Storify’s success rests on more people knowing them and using them for that service. But there are several hundred other companies already archiving Twitter feeds, some of them very popular. If they don’t do spam harassment through their software and if more people go there, then Storify loses market share. So their CEO is stupid. Scalzi and others letting people know that Storify has a software glitch that causes the service to spam your email account certainly makes a lot of sense.

  240. Dear Edward,

    I don’t buy your “someone has expressed fear” objection for a moment, but I’ll play along.

    OK, propose an objective standard for measuring someone feeling threatened. Really. ‘Cause, if that’s how you want it to be, ya gotta come up with one. We, hell the whole world, is not going to come to a screeching halt on issues of harassment/stalking/intimidation over your objection. We’re either going to just collectively wind up rolling right over you or you’re going to have to give us a plausible mechanism for addressing your objection.

    So, I’m listening. Can’t wait.

    pax / Ctein
    ==========================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
    ==========================================

  241. @ctein

    Ohio menacing laws certainly provide a blueprint. For example, menacing by stalking is defined as:

    (1) No person by engaging in a pattern of conduct shall knowingly cause another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to the other person.

    (2) “Mental distress” means any of the following:

    (a) Any mental illness or condition that involves some temporary substantial incapacity;

    (b) Any mental illness or condition that would normally require psychiatric treatment, psychological treatment, or other mental health services, whether or not any person requested or received psychiatric treatment, psychological treatment, or other mental health services.

  242. Gemmer: you have to first prove he is a stalker, providing some objective definition of stalking that he fits. Simply stating that someone has complained about him is just one step, IMO.

    More of the, “you need to satisfy my unstated definitions”. People have given clear terms of what they think stalking is, and why EG fits the mold.

    And you don’t like those definitions. But you don’t address them; you merely say, “not good enough”. It leads people to think you will never see a definition which encompasses his behavior which is “good enough”.

    The issue isn’t, “is this specific action legal”, it’s more a case of, “would a reasonable person find this pattern of behavior threatening”.

    Now take me. I’m not one to be all that nervous about things. I write inflammatory things under my real name, and under noms de net which trace back to me. I have people who hate me. I even look pretty inoffensive.

    But I grew up in a rough part of the world. I spent a lot of my adult life in a rough way of making a living. I’ve seen several elephants. I think the evidence (and there is a fair bit, both the direct actions of EG, the testimony of those he has targeted, the behavior of his defenders and apologists, etc.) points to harassment; and moreover to harassment by intent.

    You aver it doesn’t. That’s a positive statement. Defend it. Give an operational definition of harassment; and show why EG’s actions (taken as a whole; with the evidence discussed) falls outside it.

    Show futrher how it doesn’t violate the ToS of Storify.

    Explain why it is so lacking in threat (implicit) and so non-harassing (in effect, even if not in intent) that we; who have also looked at this evidence, should discount it to the point of saying, “nothing to see here, carry on”.

  243. Gemmer: (1) No person by engaging in a pattern of conduct shall knowingly cause another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to the other person.

    Ok, EG has violated that, because at least one person has said his harassment has triggered her PTSD: but I’ll point out that the only part of that which is, “objective” is the clarification on mental distress.

    The portion about harm is “cause another person to believe”. Which is the standard you didn’t like.

  244. Oh, and “knowingly”, but we all admit EG is aware of the way his actions have made others feel, so that aspect of the objective requirements has been met.

  245. Gemmer, like PitchGuest, is a regular feature over at FreeThoughtBlogs.com, endlessly inventive in his minimisation of anyone else’s concerns about harassment. They are also regular features at the Slymepit where any women complaining about harassment are “professional victims” and “need to grow a thicker skin or fuck off the internet”. Not their quotes directly, but repeated ad-nauseam in various forms at the Slymepit.

    He knows perfectly well that women like Ophelia Benson, Rebecca Watson etc etc have asked to be left alone by ElevatorGATE and his pals at the Slymepit. They ignore these requests, why? Ostensibly because their horrible feminist ideology is poisoning skepticism, in reality because they like to bully them. I say this because they can quite easily “disagree” by writing blog posts and putting their arguments forward for how the atheist-skeptic movement would be better without feminism or with their “equity” feminism in its place. Mostly they eschew this for the unpleasant personal attacks given they get a reaction that the poorly written blog posts rarely manage.

    They then blame their targets for the reaction and paint it as over-reaction and them being “professional victims”. This has been going on for years and I’m amazed they haven’t managed to poke their targets into making more mistakes so they can DARVO them more effectively.

    So thanks for John for highlighting this stalker, and thanks to the commenters here for exposing PitchGuest and pals so effectively. Glad to see their crap is not tolerated here!

  246. So when someone keeps moving the target and repeating unsupported statements as if saying them makes them magically true–perhaps further attempts at conversation with that person will only leave more work for the mallet when Scalzi comes back from dinner? Just a thought.

  247. So no disrespect intended to the state our host lives in, but I am not entirely sure that they’re necessarily a good model here. So you don’t think it’s mental distress unless it actually results in full on mental illness?

    That’s pretty damn unpleasant frankly.

  248. Adding that according that article, Storify has added a report abuse button as of today. Sweet. Hopefully we can get the block tool soon too.

  249. =Tamar has a point there. (And if that’s a screen-name s/he uses to comment on a certain adorable web cartoon, I am often in agreement with him/her/zhe.) If EG is not EG, he’s definitely a fellow-traveler and sympathizer.

    @Ctein knows boundaries. He knows the difference between an outright leer and a respectful look, trust me. ;) And when to speak and when to listen.

    I am not sure why Storify is leaving itself open to possible law suits, certain bad PR, and the subsequent exodus of users. IANADatabaseGeek, but it seems that coding up a user-enabled block is easy enough, since so many social sites have it.

    It’s a bad way to do business, that’s for sure. It’s financial suicide.

    I’m going to stay here where The Mallet keeps us safe.

  250. Xopher Halftongue 9:59 pm
    >Shawn, I bet it would fix….
    What would fix it for me is to have a damn memory about why I shouldn’t hit -enter- to make the text in notepad /here/ look pretty to /me, here/: See, HTML wraps per what it should for the screen/frame/window width. And for wikipedia and some other places I change the width of my browser window to make the text easily readable. ( = I don’t have to move my eyes to to see each whole line.)

  251. @oolon

    “Not their quotes directly, but repeated ad-nauseam in various forms at the Slymepit. ”

    So things I don’t say but I should be responsible for anyway? Nice.

    @Pecuniam

    “Ok, EG has violated that, because at least one person has said his harassment has triggered her PTSD: but I’ll point out that the only part of that which is, “objective” is the clarification on mental distress.”

    Well that’s the whole point of that part. Would the action “normally” cause PTSD? I don’t know – I’m no expert on that. But that’s the point, one person’s actions don’t get to dictate and control another person. That’s probably a defining characteristic of the liberal movement – you can’t control other people just because they inconvenience you. Sure, it would be nice for the complainers if every time they complained, they got to control what happened to their target. But that’s unfair, immoral, and unjust, which is why we have imposed high standards on controlling other people.

    @Daveon

    “So no disrespect intended to the state our host lives in, but I am not entirely sure that they’re necessarily a good model here. So you don’t think it’s mental distress unless it actually results in full on mental illness?”

    Well that is a criminal statute and should be subject to a high standard, IMO. It’s also the basis for protection orders. So I don’t necessarily have a problem with a lower standard for things like Storify, but there still needs to be a standard besides someone somewhere claims abuse ergo you have to do what they want.

  252. It occurs to me that anyone who is arguing “EG may not have read the TOS, so do they apply?” is implying that if he hasn’t read the TOS, they don’t bind Storify either. But even if the TOS do bind Storify, I very much doubt they explicitly state “Storify will not cut off a user’s access to the service without a court order requiring them to do so.” In other words, the TOS almost certainly *allow* Storify to take action to stop EG from using their service to harass people, whether or not they require it.

  253. Trivial for me under WinVista to set word wrap to on in notepad, and size the notepad window’s width to my eyesight.
    Not trivial for me to remember that I should.

  254. Edward – “you don’t necessarily have a problem with a lower standard for”… an online service turning off to an odious creeper?

    Well that’s good to know. Except, here’s the thing Edward, given the last day of passive aggressive concern trolling you’ve engaged in here. I just don’t believe you. I think you like what he’s doing and you fully approve and you don’t actually care if it impacts on peoples lives and you sound like you get a bit of a kick out of thinking that its hurting people.

    So, your concerns about the law and standards are noted.

    You complained upthread about being judged on a single opinion; I think you’ve actually done yourself proud with the amount of data you’ve given us to work on.

    Cheerio!

  255. Vicki at 8:44 pm.
    >It occurs to me that anyone who is arguing “EG may not have read the TOS, so do they apply
    Legal terms of service do apply. Illegal ones do not.
    Doesn’t matter whether person has read what they agreed to, because person agreed.

  256. Guys, I’m going to make this simple:

    1. If you’ve agreed to the TOS, you’re bound to it, regardless of whether you read it or not.

    2. A private service like Storify is not required to wait until someone violates a law to act on what they feel qualifies as harassment. And argument that it should or must is, frankly, stupid.

    As both of these are the case, I’m now disallowing discussion of TOS and the legal threshold of harassment as aside the point. Any further discussion of these is liable for Malleting.

    Carry on.

  257. So, I have a question. Does the person doing this have an employer? If so, it seems to me that if he is spending that many hours a day doing all this activity with Storify that one might be able to demonstrate that he is doing this during work time…and perhaps this should be brought to the company’s attention.

  258. And an entity that has a TOS is bound to it, whether they do or do not understand that a contract goes both ways.

  259. So things I don’t say but I should be responsible for anyway? Nice.

    Ya know, if your standing with a group of people doing horrendous things to other people and all you do is nod them on and give them cover, I have no problem whatsoever tarring you with the same brush. When you are standing with a group of people who take sockpupetry to whole new levels of dickishness. I have no trouble assuming you are just another sockpuppet, So yeah I’m assuming you are doing the nastiest stuff that comes from that group even though this “persona” might not be. But hell even in this persona your a troll.

  260. @Phoenician in a time of Romans

    Consider Travyon Martin, who found that walking down a street while black managed to scare an insecure gun-nut. What behaviour do you recommend he should have changed?

    Every time I try to put into words why this example seems completely inapropos (to put it gently), I fail. Best I’ve come up with is that the situation we’re discussing is not the targets of EG’s storification being affected through his mere existence while [some immutable characteristic]. It’s because of his actions. If anything, there’s more of a suggestion that they were targetted based on their characteristics, with the majority of them being women — and women ARE harassed online much more than men are, apparently for Existing While Female. So for you to use as an example someone who was killed for Existing While Black to illustrate your contention that the onus should not be on the person “making somebody else feel scared”…well, it seems exactly backwards.

    @pecunium

    But I grew up in a rough part of the world. I spent a lot of my adult life in a rough way of making a living. I’ve seen several elephants.

    Wha… maybe I’m just missing a figure of speech here, but I cannot imagine out what pachyderm perception has to do with roughness? I’m totally mystified.

  261. 292 thoughts.
    Awesome.
    BTW, I am a guy and I am quite offended by my bad memory. Grh, Argh. Buffy. Is about time for me to watch those again.

  262. Robin: “Seeing the elephant” is a euphanism for having been in combat. “That guy may be a soldier, but has he seen the elephant?” sort of thing.

  263. My theory is that EGate is not actually one person, but many persons using one account. Otherwise, EGate is running on few or no hours of sleep per day. I also theorize that the Storify things are a script/program designed to be triggered by mention of certain topics or people, or by any tweet by certain “special” targets.

    About nine years ago, I was involved in a forum breakup. It was awful. It made bitter enemies out of former friends. There was a mob mentality that led to an “us versus them” approach, and some rather unforgivable things were said and done by both sides. Secret boards were opened up. Vicious rumors were slapped together. Sneering, denigrating, ad-hominum insults were slung back and forth. My “side” was, in my opinion, the worst, and when the mob mentality started getting bad, I started backing away.

    My point being that this could be the result of such a mob mentality. The tribalism feeds off itself, becomes firmly entrenched, and reaches a point where “if you’re not one of us, you’re one of THEM!”. So the voices of reason and moderation fade away, and the mob sees its actions as justified, the “right thing to do”. Something the recipients see as harassing, the mob doesn’t see that way…

    I definitely think it’s harassment. It’s creepy. Creepy one way if it’s one person, creepy in another way if it’s a group.

    Has anyone considered that this MO is very similar to the way a certain well-known web group that shall remain nameless behaves, for the “lulz”?

  264. I agree completely with that judgment John,

    But as I said above, I am still not seeing the harassment.

    If for two years, elevatorgate has done nothing but storify tweets how can that be harassment?

    Would it be harassment to storify everything the NYPD tweets?
    Would it be harassment to storify everything Republican Caucus tweets?
    Would it be harassment to storify everything the Tea Party tweets?

    Would it be harassment to storify everything Scientology tweets?
    Would it be harassment to storify everything the Vatican tweets?

    Would it be harassment to storify everything the Paris Hilton tweets?

    Would it be harassment to storify everything the David Brooks tweets?
    Would it be harassment to storify everything the Rush Limbaugh tweets?

    Would it be harassment to storify everything NOW tweets?
    Would it be harassment to storify everything Gloria Steinem tweets?
    Would it be harassment to storify everything Amanda Marcotte (Slate writer) tweets?

    Would it be harassment to storify everything CFI, or JREF tweets?

    Why is it harassment to storify what a group of very public, very vocal, leaders in feminist and skeptical movements face?

    Related: What behaviors in real life or online are present to indicate that elevatorgate’s focus on atheismplus adherents is real life threatening in any manner?

  265. If for two years, elevatorgate has done nothing but storify tweets how can that be harassment? Reading does not seem to be your strong point, so I’m guessing you failed to notice that storify is just a small tiny part of it, as has been pointed out numerous times. Hell even his moniker is a jab at someone.

    Oh and I assume Shawn will be vanishing soon, bye shawn.

  266. @Ron: I left a comment earlier today, which our gracious host freed from the spam filter, that I think illustrates the nature of the problem. The short answer is that it’s the combination of archiving everything and the ways in which EG shares those archives that make it harassment. If somebody Storified every tweet I ever sent, but didn’t tell anyone, that wouldn’t be harassment. Creepy, but not harassment. It’s the intrusive element that crosses the line.

  267. Ron:

    “But as I said above, I am still not seeing the harassment.”

    Ron, just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

    “If for two years, elevatorgate has done nothing but storify tweets how can that be harassment?”

    As has been amply noted in this thread, it’s not all that this fellow does.

    And again, whether you choose to acknowledge that is neither here nor there to the reality of the situation.

  268. Also, folks, I am likely again to turn off the thread when I go to sleep tonight (probably within the half hour), and keep it off for Saturday because I will be traveling. So consider closing statements, if you would.

  269. @Ron: This might help you understand: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/08/15/storify-stalkers-and-terms-of-service/#comment-496938

    What do you think? Sound pleasant and reasonable?

    Also:

    “And sometimes, when you’re talking to a friend about one of the things that annoys these guys, the guy writing down everything you say starts ALSO writing down everything your friend says. And now your friend is under attack too.”

    Are the friends of prominent people also considered public figures and fair game for obsessive archiving and spamming?

  270. I am barely keeping my eyes open, so I’m closing the thread for the night. Remember it will also be closed Saturday as well. It should be open again on Sunday. Night, all.

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