Category Archives: hacking

Gamergate, autoblocker, anti-trans violence and sea lions: Katherine Cross for the win

One of the most productive commentators about so-called gamergate is Katherine Cross.  Her recent post on Feministing is so on point that it deserves some archival / expansion work.

1.  There is an autoblocking program for twitter that removes most of the posts from gamergate trolls.  For anyone out there interested in civil space, this is a big improvement.  Cross describes it this way:

What offends GamerGaters about the autoblocker, aside from the fact that a woman found a technical solution to a social problem, is that it denies them the ability to impose themselves on targets. The idea that the women, people of colour, and queer folk who’ve comprised the majority of GG’s targets might be able to curate their online spaces and have certain discussions only with those of their choosing is repugnant to many GamerGaters. In the absence of genuine legal recourse, the worst thing you can do to a bully, harasser, or troll is ignore them after all.

via Revenge of the Sealion: GamerGate’s crusade against blocking.

2.   Underscoring much of the gamergate vitriol is a toxic anti-trans politics.  Much of the visibility of the violence seems to have a direction.  Again Katherine Cross gathers enough targeted tweets and message board quotes to rile me up.   For those who are trans-inclusive, trans-positive, or simply kind human beings, it is worth marking gamergate as a particularly anti-trans moment in time.

3.  Katherine Cross introduces me to the idea of “sealioning” — a refined bullying tactic.  Cross explains:

“Polite” GGers, defined as those who do not explicitly swear or use slurs, nevertheless harry the people they target because they do not take no for an answer and come in packs. The phenomenon of “sealioning”– barraging a target with politely worded but interrogating questions asked in bad faith– gained a name under GamerGate because of how common the tactic was.

via Revenge of the Sealion: GamerGate’s crusade against blocking.

Also provided is this nice comic!

Sealion-Comic

 

 

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Filed under Animals, communication, feminism, Gay, hacking, human rights, intersectionality, protest, representation, resistance, sexism, Surveillance, technology, video games

Fighting the trolls: Lindy West engages

I like Lindy West’s pop culture analysis.  She writes for a few online spots like Jezebel.  Feministing noted that she had been harassed by a troll who opened a twitter account in the name of her deceased father.  This is the feministing quote:

Lindy, who you might know from her writing at Jezebel and GQ, was trolled by someone who set up a Twitter account in the name of her dead father. She wrote about how awful that made her feel, and to her surprise, he wrote to her again – but this time, to apologize.

Then, she called him and interviewed him about what had gone through his mind when he decided to do what he did. And recorded it all. “It felt like if I could just get the specifics,” she says, “gather them up and hold them in my hands — then maybe I could start to understand all the people who were still trolling me.”

They talked for two hours, and by the end, she’d forgiven him for the terrible things he’d done – the meanest thing anyone has ever done to her. She understood what his life looked like at the time that he was trolling (he’s since stopped, he says) and she felt sorry for him. Still, she says, it’s disturbing to know that there was nothing wrong with him per se. “It’s frightening that he’s so normal,” she says. He’s not your idea of a monster, and unlike a fairy tale troll, he certainly doesn’t live alone under a bridge. He has women coworkers, and a girlfriend, and women friends. “They have no idea that he used to go online and traumatize women for fun.”

via “It’s frightening that he’s so normal.”.

In a Jezebel essay, West notes her reasoning to humanize and engage with trolls:

I feed trolls. Not always, not every troll, but when I feel like it—when I think it will make me feel better—I talk back. I talk back because the expectation is that when you tell a woman to shut up, she should shut up. I reject that. I talk back because it’s fun, sometimes, to rip an abusive dummy to shreds with my friends. I talk back because my mental health is my priority—not some troll’s personal satisfaction. I talk back because it emboldens other women to talk back online and in real life, and I talk back because women have told me that my responses give them a script for dealing with monsters in their own lives. And, most importantly, I talk back because internet trolls are not, in fact, monsters. They are human beings—and I don’t believe that their attempts to dehumanize me can be counteracted by dehumanizing them. The only thing that fights dehumanization is increased humanization—of me, of them, of marginalized groups in general, of the internet as a whole.

via Don’t Ignore the Trolls. Feed Them Until They Explode..

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Filed under communication, critique, feminism, gender, hacking, health, kindness, representation, resistance, rhetoric, sexism, technology

Rick-rolling your teacher

I’ve gotten papers with little comments or song lyrics embedded in the prose.  I assumed they were little tests to see if I was actually reading the paper.  I note it as a technique of surveillance or accountability.

Thanks to openculture.org for the image.

This is a whole extra level of thoughtfulness.  Rick-rolling without really altering the content of your paper.

I wonder if this was really a paper for this class or was it made as a gag?  

Shout out to openculture.org for the story.

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COINTELPRO 2013: jailing activist journalist Barrett Brown

Barrett Brown is a investigative journalist who was imprisoned for . . . well, no one seems to quite know what Barrett Brown was jailed for.  Rolling Stone:

Although he knew some of those involved in high-profile “hacktivism,” he is no hacker. His situation is closer to the runaway prosecution that destroyed Aaron Swartz, the programmer-activist who committed suicide in the face of criminal charges similar to those now being leveled at Brown. But unlike Swartz, who illegally downloaded a large cache of academic articles, Brown never broke into a server; he never even leaked a document. His primary laptop, sought in two armed FBI raids, was a miniature Sony netbook that he used for legal communication, research and an obscene amount of video-game playing. The most serious charges against him relate not to hacking or theft, but to copying and pasting a link to data that had been hacked and released by others.

via Barrett Brown: America’s Least Likely Political Prisoner | Culture News | Rolling Stone.

Brown was a part-times spokesperson for the hacking activist group Anonymous.  I had never really thought about this, but as is pointed out in the article, Anonymous became a target for private security companies looking to score government contracts.

After Operation Payback, Anonymous was on the radar of every private security firm looking to build a quick reputation. In the office of Aaron Barr, CEO of a struggling digital-security contractor called HBGary Federal, it was the biggest thing on the radar. Barr was convinced that taking down Anonymous before it struck again was a fast track to industry juice and massive contracts.

via Barrett Brown: America’s Least Likely Political Prisoner | Culture News | Rolling Stone.

HBGary was hacked by Anonymous of course, and a big pile of emails were leaked.  Barrett Brown helped to organize a crew of volunteers to go through the emails.  This crowd-sourced data processing garnered a couple of fascinating insights into the workings of private security firms who have been hired by Bank of America.

The biggest fish flopping in Brown’s net was the story of a cluster of contractors known as Team Themis. The origins of Team Themis dated to Bank of America’s alarm over Julian Assange’s 2010 claim to possess documents that “could take down a bank or two.” The Department of Justice recommended Bank of America retain the services of the white-shoe D.C. law firm Hunton & Williams and the high-­powered intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. On behalf of Bank of America, Hunton & Williams turned to the large and growing world of InfoSec subcontractors to come up with a plan, settling on HBGary and two data­intelligence shops, Berico Technologies and Palantir Technologies.

The Themis three were also preparing a proposal for Hunton & Williams on behalf of another client, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The leaked HBGary documents revealed that Themis was exploring ways of discrediting and disrupting the activities of organized labor and its allies for the Chamber. The potential money at stake in these contracts was considerable. According to Wired, the trio proposed that the Chamber create a $2-million­a-month sort of cyber special-forces team “of the kind developed and utilized by the Joint Special Operations Command.” They also suggested targeting a range of left-of-center organizations, including the SEIU, watchdog groups like U.S. Chamber Watch, and the Center for American Progress. (The Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America have denied ever hiring Team Themis or having any knowledge of the proposals.)

In pursuit of the Chamber and Bank of America contracts, the Themis three devised multipronged campaigns amounting to a private-sector information-age COINTELPRO, the FBI’s program to infiltrate and undermine “subversive” groups between 1956 and 1971. Among the The mis ideas presented to Hunton & Williams: “Feed the fuel between the feuding groups. Disinformation. Create messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization. Submit fake documents and then call out the error.”

The revelations represented a triumph for Brown and his wiki. A group of Democratic congressmen asked four Republican committee chairs to hold hearings on the “deeply troubling” question of whether “tactics developed for use against terrorists may have been unleashed illegally against American citizens.” But the calls for investigation went nowhere.

via Barrett Brown: America’s Least Likely Political Prisoner | Culture News | Rolling Stone.

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Accountability: Anonymous hacking Steubenville

Adrian Chen has a provocative essay on a hacker/Anonymous member who was instrumental in articulating the digital actions to challenge rape culture in Steubenville Ohio.

Chen not only describes the mistakes made by Lostutter and Anonymous hackers, but also outlines the cultural impact of this kind of hacktivism.  Here Chen describes the impact of the video released of the football player enthusiastically cheering on the rapes.

The video wasn’t forensic evidence of a crime, but of the attitude that could allow something like the rape to happen over and over again. When people talk about how Anonymous “exposed” Steubenville, they can’t mean the facts of this case, which were utterly botched by KnightSec and its allies. What they mean is that Anonymous exposed how sexual assault is a bigger issue than bad people doing bad things. That it is enabled and even celebrated by a culture that tells young men it’s OK to laugh off a horrific rape as harmless late-night debauchery, to be instagrammed and tweeted about, then expects the rest of us to feel bad for the perpetrators when they’re punished. That’s the valuable lesson of this video, and KYAnonymous alone had uncovered it.

via “Weaponize the Media”: An Anonymous Rapper’s War on Steubenville.

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Digital direct action: accountability for rape

From the Mother Jones article.

Josh Harkinson has written an excellent essay on the digital direct action involved in the documentation of the Steubenville rapes and a Canadian instance of sexual assault and cyber-bullying which resulted in death of Rehtaeh Parsons. 

I didn’t know that Anonymous had helped to document the evidence about the Steubenville Ohio assault (much of it drawn from social media).

About two weeks later, the Anonymous subgroup KnightSec hacked RollRedRoll.com. The hackers posted the incriminating tweets, Saltsman’s Instagram photo, and the names of 11 bystanders. “This is a warning shot,” said a video communiqué featuring a computer-generated voice and the group’s trademark Guy Fawkes figure. The video (watch below) warned that KnightSec would release the phone numbers and Social Security numbers of the entire football team unless “all accused parties come forward by New Year’s Day and issue a public apology to the girl and her family.”

via Exclusive: Meet the Woman Who Kicked Off Anonymous’ Anti-Rape Operations | Mother Jones.

One result of the increased focus was the visibility of community support for the rapists.   In some ways the hacking made community accountability in Steubenville possible.  And after the evidence had been released, Anonymous hosted at least nine protests to force police action against the perpetrators. After one significant video was released the numbers swelled to what might be described as critical mass and in front of thousands of angry protesters, the women of Steubenville spoke about other rapes.

And vent they did. For four hours, there was a catharsis of personal pain and grief that nobody in the small town could have imagined. Women who had been raped stood in front of the crowd, clad in Guy Fawkes masks, to share their stories. Some of them unmasked at the end of their testimonies as they burst into tears. Rapes at parties, date rapes, rapes by friends and relatives—their pent-up secrets came pouring out. “It turned into this women’s liberation movement, in a way,” MC recalls. “And it just changed everything. There was nothing anybody could do against us at that point because it was so real and so true.”

via Exclusive: Meet the Woman Who Kicked Off Anonymous’ Anti-Rape Operations | Mother Jones.

The audio clips are available on the Mother Jones site.

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Filed under communication, documentary, feminism, hacking, protest, representation, resistance, sexual assault

Away from the keyboard: pirate bay documentary

So much interesting stuff in this documentary.  Thanks to Pigeons and Planes for the link.

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Filed under capitalism, communication, documentary, hacking, human rights, learning, police, propaganda