Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reporting Thursday: Stop the GR Bullies

I've started this post two or three times. I'll delete it and start over and then delete it and start over....you get the picture. I'm torn between my desire to not contribute to an already volatile situation and my desire to share my opinion on said situation.

First, let's get the basics out of the way. Stop the GR Bullies is a site that proposes to do exactly that. The individuals in charge of the site have identified individuals they feel are "bullying" either fellow reviewers or writers on Goodreads. This site is an attempt to fight back, so to speak, against these individuals. As of press time (I've always wanted to say that), none of the four posters to the site have been identified by anything other than their handles. They have no plans to shut the site down, despite the general uproar it has caused.

Why is it causing an uproar? Well, when I said they were "fighting back", I actually meant they were releasing personal information about these "GR Bullies".

Now, the backlash as been tremendous. Really, it has. It almost makes me wonder if these people considered the possibility that individuals aside from their victims (and I'm not using this word lightly--I'll explain more later) might find something negative in such actions. I'll do my best to not rehash what has already been said, especially since it was said in a way I couldn't begin to improve upon (don't worry, I'll give you some linkage later). I'm not going to talk about the people the site has profiled--I don't know any of them, I have no connections that I'm aware of with any of them, and they are not the ones on trial here. (more on this later).

What I want to talk about, very briefly, is the terminology being bandied about and the implications behind said terminology.

The individuals running Stop the GR Bullies chose that title for a reason. On a guess, I'm going to say because the word "bully" is one that, with the exception of some UK slang, has a universally negative connotation. And if you broke the word down by usage, looking at just the verb/noun form, there would be no exceptions to its negativity.

The site takes great pains to expound on what they call "bully culture", in an effort to give visitors to the site an idea of what they, the posters, are fighting against. What I find interesting is that with all this effort and linkage--and they do a good job finding articles to back their opinion, so kudos to their research team--they still can't get the terminology correct. Now, none of the individuals involved claim to be writers, so I can almost forgive them their ignorant word usage.

Almost. If it was another subject and I didn't have the tiniest of hangovers (they make me cranky).

"Cyberbullying" is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is NEVER called cyberbullying."...Stop CyberBullying
One of the most widely publicized cases in recent history involved the suicide of a teenage girl after weeks of bullying, both in person and online. Phoebe Prince was a recent immigrant to the United States, emigrating from Ireland with her mother and sister in 2009. When she began accepting social invitations from male classmates, her female classmates responded by spreading malicious gossip and physically attacking her, sometimes while on school property. The intimidation tactics continued online, via Facebook and Twitter. Less than six months after beginning school in South Hadley, MA, Phoebe Prince hung herself in the stairwell of her apartment building. She was only fifteen years old. Her body was discovered by her twelve year old sister. Even after her death, crude, belittling comments were posted on Prince's Facebook wall (they were later removed by her family). Two months after her death, six students attending the same school as Prince were arrested and charged in relation to her death. Legislation dealing with anti-bullying was signed into law in May of 2010.

That is bullying. It is actions by minors committed against minors. As horrible as all of that was, only three of the six were charged as adults. In the end, none of them received a jail sentence. What this says about how our culture views crimes committed by youth against youth is a subject for another time.

What the individuals at Stop the GR Bullies are engaged in as CYBER-STALKING. And as horrible as cyber-bullying is, cyber stalking is worse.

Case in point: Kathy Sierra. In 2007, Sierra, who is involved in game development and blogged about marketing,canceled speaking engagements and took her blog down after she became the focus of an online mob. She was issued death threats, her personal information--including addresses and Social Security Number--were posted on-line, and she was also threatened with rape. In the end, no one was arrested, as there was a great deal of back and forth over the origination of the material and the authenticity of said origination.

There is no federal (United States here) legislation involving cyber-stalking/harassment. As such, there is no concrete definition as to what constitutes such behavior. Still, Paul Bocij has authored several papers dealing with the subject and he has identified some characteristics of cyber-stalking/harassment.
  • False accusations. Many cyberstalkers try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them. They post false information about them on websites. They may set up their own websites, blogs or user pages for this purpose. They post allegations about the victim to newsgroups, chat rooms or other sites that allow public contributions, such as Wikipedia or Amazon.com.
  • Attempts to gather information about the victim
  • Monitoring their target's online activities and attempting to trace their IP address
  • Encouraging others to harass the victim.
  • False victimization.

Now, let's take a look at what those brave, brave souls at Stop the GR Bullies are doing.

(Sorry, I can't get my snapshot thingie to work--copy and paste it is!--actually, that works better so I can asterisk some things--obviously I can't undo what Stop the GR Bullies has done, but I'll be damned if I'll make it easier for them to get their message across)

GR Name: Victim 1
Real Name: Victim 1
Location: Don't Be A Stalker
Category: Ringleader
Level of Toxicity: DEFCON 1, Maximum Alert
Out of all the GR bullies, we consider **** to be the biggest offender.  **** is one of the three ringleaders who organises assaults on authors on Goodreads and on her Redacted Book Blog.
On each Buzz Worthy News post on Redacted, there is a section at the end called Redacted, where *** and her cohort talk about the latest “author scandal.”  This usually sets the minions off onto a witch hunt for said author/s, and not-so-strangely enough, after each Redacted post, the author/s mentioned is then stalked, terrorized, and humiliated until that author/s either retreats into the shadows or leaves Goodreads altogether.
As if this weren’t bad enough, she has personally led several attacks on authors, about which we will talk below.  But for now, here is a brief analysis of the ringleader herself:What *** believes she is: the fearless leader of a special jihad against misbehaving authors.  That her purpose in this life is to put them in their place and teach them the GR bully code of conduct.
What *** really is: an unemployed housewife who stays at home, drinks, and sometimes takes care of her children, that is when she is not drinking, tweeting, or waging her holy war against authors.
 Are we seeing the problem here? This isn't even the worst one.

GR name: Victim 2
Real name: Victim 2
Location: Stop Wondering
Category: Stalker/Information Fetcher
Level of Toxicity: DEFCON 1, Maximum AlertOur sources tells us that the GR bully known at *** is really ***. who lives with her husband,***, in ****.  *** and *** frequent *** and *** usually on Sundays at 4:30 pm (here are couple screenshots in case the links disappear: .)
*** is what we here at STGRB call a stalker and an information fetcher.  Whenever the bullies are stirring up trouble, she jumps into the fray, terrorizing and stalking the victim/victims being targeted.  Then, she brings back the information she has found to the group.  From what we’ve seen, she appears to take her job very seriously and is dedicated to her stalking duties.
As for her professional life, well, she doesn’t have one.  She doesn’t work for a living or take care of children.  From what we’ve gathered, all she does is stay indoors, at home, and sit in front of her computer ALL DAY LONG!  So if you’re wondering how she has so much time to stalk people online, that’s how.

I'm not going to go through and point out each characteristic these "profiles" embody. I'm assuming if you're still here, you can put two and two together and get four.

These profiles go on to give detailed accounts of "actions" that would cause the victims to be selected for profiling. They had an opinion, they weren't nice enough, they were too bitchy, so on and so forth. In other words--the perpetrator is blaming the victim.

Yes, I said victim. And I mean it. A victim is defined as :
 
(n.) Person who suffers from an injurious action or event


The posters at Stop the GR Bullies have violated what constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy, thereby violating the rights of the profiled--making them victims. 

Some people may say that the individuals profiled were "asking for it" by posting their personal opinions, by engaging in argument/debate with other people, etc, etc. I wonder if these are the same people who would make the argument that if an individual is dressed in a provocative manner, they "deserve" to be sexually assaulted. I'm hoping not, because that would only make me more pissed off.

Anybody else feel the need to throw up a little? Or a lot?

And just in case you weren't sick enough, take another look at those profiles. Notice the pronoun usage? Both of those redacted-as-much-as-possible profiles are of women. As a matter of fact, the only individuals profiled are women. To me, this looks like a campaign targeting women.

Now you can be sick and pissed off.

I tried to shorten these, but in the end, I just went with the authors' words. Because they said it so much better. (emphasis is mine)

 Although there is no comprehensive, nationwide data on the extent of cyber stalking in the United States and other countries, some ISPs compile statistics on the number and types of complaints of harassment and/or threats involving their subscribers, and individual law enforcement agencies have compiled helpful statistics. There is, moreover, a growing amount of anecdotal and informal evidence on the nature and extent of cyber stalking. First, data on offline stalking may provide some insight into the scope of the cyber stalking problem. According to the most recent National Violence against Women Survey, which defines stalking as referring to instances where the victim felt a high level of fear: (US department of Justice, 1998)
It has been estimated that approximately 20,000 Americans are being stalked (D’Amico, 1997), and with somewhat more liberal estimates ranging as high as 200,000 (Jenson, 1996). Australian data from the Bureau of Statistics suggests that in 1997 more than 165,000 women over the age of 18 were stalked (Lancaster, 1998). Further estimates suggest that as many as one in 20 adults will be stalked in their lifetime and that up to 200,000 exhibit a stalkers traits (Tharp, 1992). Evidence collected by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office suggests that of the 600 cases reviewed; roughly 20 % of them involved some form of electronic communication (L.A. Times, Saturday 23rd of January, 1999). Given the latter finding, there is sufficient evidence to warrant that electronic mediums are in fact providing the stalker with new avenues for the deliverance of their threat (Petherick, 1999).
In the United States, one out of every 12 women (8.2 million) and one out of every 45 men (2 million) have been stalked at some time in their lives.
·         One percent of all women and 0.4 percent of all men were stalked during the preceding 12 months.
·         Women are far more likely to be the victims of stalking than men - nearly four out of five stalking victims are women. Men are far more likely to be stalkers - 87 percent of the stalkers identified by victims in the survey were men.
·         Women are twice as likely as men to be victims of stalking by strangers and eight times as likely to be victims of stalking by intimates.
In the United States, there are currently more than 80 million adults and 10 million children with access to the Internet. Assuming the proportion of cyber stalking victims is even a fraction of the proportion of persons who have been the victims of offline stalking within the preceding 12 months, there may be potentially tens or even hundreds of thousands of victims of recent cyber stalking incidents in the United States (Cyber angels, 2003). Although such a "back of the envelope" calculation is inherently uncertain and speculative (given that it rests on an assumption about very different populations), it does give a rough sense of the potential magnitude of the problem. Jaishanker and Sankary

 Forgive me while I go throw up. A lot.

You'll notice I've bolded Stop the GR Bullies and referred to the full name every time I've mentioned the site. I did this on purpose. I want you to remember the name. I want you to remember what they've done. And I want you to take a stand for what's right. I'm not proposing you engage in their tactics--please, don't lower yourself to their level. But if the topic comes up, have the facts. Know the difference between the truth being presented by these individuals and the truth presented by facts and experts.

To quote one of my favorite authors, Mira Grant--Rise up while you can.

(Okay, a little dramatic, but you get the point)

Now, for the promised linkage from other, more social justice sided viewpoints:

Fangs for the Fantasy
Shattersnipe: Malcontents and Rainbows

And from bloggers:

Dedicated Readers Only

And finally from authors:


Jennifer Armintrout
Rachel Vincent

7 comments:

  1. I truly can't believe that this website is still up and they don't realize that what they are doing is a type of bullying WAY worse than what the bullies themselves are doing! No one's personal life should be put out there like that without one's consent in such a negative way! It's a horrible thing that they are doing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderful post, thanks for highlighting the facts!

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  3. There's so much here that angers me, it's hard to be coherent. I absolutely loathe this culture online where expressing your opinion is equated to bullying, that holding a differing opinion to someone else is bullying, or that having a negative opinion is bullying. You see it with writers and gamers, and it's vile.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree completely, Naomi. We hear so much about the importance of a diversity of opinion, but God forbid there should be something to counter the majority. And what is really laughable about this in particular is the sheer hypocrisy of the individuals behind the site. While I doubt they will see such a thing in their actions, at least other people do and are standing against them.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What an excellent summary of events

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  6. Without exposing these people the way they've exposed members of our community, I've started a blog to shine a spotlight on some of the REAL bullying that's going on at Goodreads and STGRB.

    stoptheentitledauthors.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
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