Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fact checking David Futrelle

The title refers to a one David Futrelle, but the rest of the content could just as well be fact checking any shallow "feminist" sources over the last few days. Fact checking Futrelle, SJW reddit mods, and of course, oolon.

Let's get started with a brief history of events.

Chapter 1:

  1. A person (let's call her "B") tweets a series of provocative statements.
  2. B has a conversation with a another college student, "D" from now on, about colonialism.
  3. B & D have a completely unproductive, sarcastic exchange
  4. B posts screencap on Twitter, along with D's LinkedIn profile.
  5. This exchange is spread around Twitter
  6. D's LinkedIn profile happens to disappear completely.
  7. B claims victory on Twitter, despite D's school apparently being silent on the matter
  8. B's tweets of this nature capture the attention of many critics. (See article here)

Chapter 2:

  1. Some unknown person writes a post on the /r/MensRights subreddit, claiming to be a student in B's class
  2. The reddit post author claims that B said some ridiculous things during class
    • Some statements implying circumcision was funny (B did not say this - read on) 
    • Some statements implying homeless white males do not deserve help (B did not say this - read on)
  3. The reddit post author links to several tweets made by B and provides commentary
  4. The reddit post author asks the readers of the subreddit if he/she should be "worried" or "concerned" about B's behavior.
  5. Several subreddit readers provide "advice" that is absolutely creepy, obsessive, and vengeful
    • Similar to "write it all down, you can use it to destroy her career later"
  6. The creepy advice garners the attention of the anti-MRA subreddits and SJWs all over Twitter
  7. Several individuals are accused of participating in "doxxing" B
  8. B changes her Twitter account to being protected 
  9. B changes her Twitter handle
  10. The reddit author makes a comment that makes his story about being a classmate seem spurious
  11. Some brilliant allies proceed to reveal new name as part of their Atheism+ BlockBot campaigning

The last item in that story might be the most depressing. Having Atheism+ on your side is like having a band of mercenaries that work for free, only to show up on the battlefield armed with some plastic spoons that they are destined to injure themselves with.

Perhaps the most well-read example of the "feminist" perspective on this matter will be the article written by David Futrelle, on his site named ManBoobz:

No long post today. Instead, I urge you to go over to the AgainstMensRights subreddit to read about how several long time Men’s Rights Redditors have doxxed and harassed a college student, with one of the regulars gleefully setting forth a plan to stalk her and ruin her life and another seeming to suggest he might want to pay her a visit to “debate” her.

The thread (which remained up for many hours) has now been scrubbed by the Men’s Rights mods — I got these screenshots from u/Aceyjuan and u/TraceyMorganFreeman’s respective timelines – but as of right now none of the doxxers have been banned from the subreddit, or from Reddit itself.
The “crimes” of the woman in question? According to her main stalker — who has apparently been harassing her for months — she’s tweeted comments like “white men are like the gum on the bottom of my shoe” and “Jared Leto looks like the kind if guy that gives you herpes.”
Yep. Apparently the second-worst evil misandrist comment she made was … a joke about Jared Leto. For these comments, apparently she deserves to have her life ruined.
Here’s the thing: If you don’t like someone’s comments online, you are certainly well within your rights to quote them and point out why you don’t like what they said. That’s kind of the point of this blog. But it’s one thing to point out these comments, and another thing entirely to track down their identity and stalk them in real life. It’s another thing to whip up a virtual mob against them.

The rest of Futrelle's post is diverges into a never-ending drama between him and his opponents, so that has been edited for length. Rest assured Futrelle wants you to believe this is just another episode in a history of obsessive MRA behavior.

What's missing from this picture? 

A number of things.

Context - notice that the first chapter is completely missing from Futrelle's recounting of the story. It's just gone.

The bit where B leaked a private IM conversation and tweeted a link to a LinkedIn profile. As far as the readers of Futrelle's blog are concerned, it did not happen. They are operating with a completely different version of reality, with a different list of heroes and villains.

But who needs context, anyways?

Facts - Futrelle claims that someone had "tracked down [B]'s identity". When did this happen?

The reddit post that Futrelle gets his information from lists some key details.

The datapoints revealed were:
  • Location (State)
  • School
  • Full name
And it's true - these details were out in the open.

How did this happen? The information was in B's Twitter bio. As soon as anyone shared a tweet link, the tweet author was supposedly "doxxed".

The first name and last name of B's Twitter bio was a completely plausible given name and surname. Unless B was actually operating under a pen name and the reddit post revealed a true name, the reddit post did not reveal any information that was not immediately available to someone who took a quick glimpse at what B had to say via her public Twitter profile.

However no one has yet claimed that B did not have her real, true, full name in her Twitter bio along with statements about her connection to her home state and college.

So to run with this definition of "doxxing", if you are a self-published author of online content and someone you disagree with links to you, that then must qualify as being "doxxed".

If "doxxing" is maintained to be a strictly factual revelation of details previously unknown, it would appear the only fact "leaked" was that B actually was a real person in a real place and did in fact attend classes.

Did anyone have doubt this?

Where we are now is that reddit (or at least the "controversial" subreddits) have apparently banned linking to Twitter. The basis of this is that reddit has strict rules about linking to Facebook.

The difference, of course, is that Twitter has more in common with Tumblr than Facebook. Whatever rationale that applies to Twitter must also apply to Tumblr, Blogger, Wordpress... the security models and information sharing mechanisms are practically identical.

Yet it is difficult to circumstance that would cause reddit will to block linking to these sites as a general rule. The thinking must be that more words somehow maps to more necessary responsibility for those words.

The crime that the reddit author did commit was publishing a fabricated story to an audience of people that were unsympathetic towards B's cause. To what extent this storytelling and embellishment whipped up additional rage is unknown, but is unquestionably unethical.

Let it be known - making up stuff about someone in order to cause drama is wrong. It's still wrong even if you write for FreeThoughtBlogs. A lot of people forget that.

Consistency - Futrelle writes:

If you don’t like someone’s comments online, you are certainly well within your rights to quote them and point out why you don’t like what they said. That’s kind of the point of this blog. But it’s one thing to point out these comments, and another thing entirely to track down their identity and stalk them in real life. It’s another thing to whip up a virtual mob against them.

Futrelle is so oblivious and hypocritical. Futrelle admits that his blog does the very same thing that the /r/MensRights posters did, except when Futrelle does it it is "quoting" instead of "tracking down" people. What logic is this?

As for virtual mobs, does donglegate not count? What about accusing an acquaintance of sexual harassment based on false rumors? What about publishing a name of a man before you know for sure?

What about accusing a mentally ill friend of being a sexual predator?

Finally, what about taking down someone's LinkedIn profile and then making a fuss when events force you to take down your own Twitter profile?

There is still another layer of the consistency puzzle - the word safety.

Why do Twitter social justice warriors make their accounts protected accounts?

Mostly because they are embarrassed, but the reason cited will be "safety".

The humorous part of this claim is how obviously false this desire for safety really is.

This is the quick and easy five-step program to Twitter "safety":

  1. Make your account protected
    • Optional: Rename your account for additional security
  2. Continuously tweet within your "secret" account about the evildoers that are "harassing" you
  3. Your followers will even more engaged than before!
    • Their public replies will conveniently reveal:
      • When you are making baseless allegations
      • When you are leading a report & block brigade
      • When you are carrying on a racist or sexist joke train
  4. Consistently ask your followers to report & block specific Twitter users
  5. Engage with the Atheism+ BlockBot brigade. They'll elevate your profile by tweeting your new account details while gleefully libeling old enemies.
    • This kind of undermines Step 1, but you knew Step 1 was a charade
  6. Bring your account back online and claim to be a brave activist

The important part: Never ask the supposed evildoers to redact information or correct articles.

The evildoers might actually do it, and then where is your social justice hero story?

Every hero needs a story!

Preferably a fantasy.

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