Blocked: Silencing the Public Opinion

I’ve been advocating for solutions to online gaming harassment for just over a month now. It was rough after being torn through the mud by ABC and having to explain myself. One thing I noticed is that every side seemed willing to hear where I was coming from and actually embraced my innocence to GamerGate and to certain internet celebrities. After establishing that I wanted to help bring together solutions to present to the gaming industry and not tear down women, or men, or anybody for that matter I noticed a change.

**Personal Block Experiences
**

Blocking was a new concept to me when it came to silencing someone for a differing opinion. I knew it was a mechanism used to block harassers, stalkers, and violent threats. I didn’t imagine it would be used to stop someone for presenting facts or to silence someone’s voice because their opinion differs from yours, especially not when someone is a paid advocate(even if it is Patreon) for the topic you want to discuss. I claim a neutral status on the GamerGate topic. I love talking to others about their varying opinions and discussing our differences so affiliating with one side or the other would do me a disservice.

My first block was from Randi Harper for pointing out that her definition of harassment wasn’t the same as the Standard English dictionary. I had never spoken with her before…I didn’t even know who she was. I saw someone misusing the term “harassment” so I spoke up. (Click the images below to enlarge)

Little did I know that blocking was a technique used by many figures that generally stood against the GamerGate consumer revolt.  Randi never offered a discussion and by blocking me she officially shut down my voice for her and all of her followers. She had effectively created a safe house for herself with her own following where outside and questioning opinions were not allowed.

It made me feel as if I had somehow done something wrong. I was pointing to truth without yelling, calling names, or shutting anybody down. It made it worse when the overall response from followers on twitter was “Yeah, I’m surprised it took that long” and “I’ve never even spoken to her and I’ve been blocked”.


My next experience was a block by Brianna Wu; I had never spoken to her. Within an hour of Randi Harper blocking me I was now blocked by Wu as well. What had happened? I didn’t have an opportunity to share my views or ask her questions about things she posted in an attempt to have a productive conversation. It has been speculated that I was blocked for which twitter accounts I follow but we’ll get back to that soon enough. My most recent block was from GamerGhazi, a subreddit thread that is anti-gamergate-activism, without so much as a reason why. When I was new to the topic they were very welcoming, as soon as I chose a neutral stand it seemed to upset them. I had posted many threads in GamerGhazi to get their opinions and was generally open with the community. I still haven’t received a response as to why I was blocked.

Silencing of the Public Opinion

Here is what it comes down to. Online we have the ability to block individuals that we don’t agree with; it is a power that we do not have in any other parts of our lives. In the physical world today we wouldn’t see one political candidate mute another candidate’s microphone for disagreeing with their proposed policies, and then allow them to continue on while labeling it a fair argument. With twitter, youtube, facebook, etc. this happens constantly; and it happens on their public opinion based profiles. Blocking when on a private account that you don’t want associated with your public opinions is acceptable as you aren’t calling for action; When someone blocks another on twitter for expressing an indifferent opinion on a public opinion account it is effectively creating a zone that is unproductive to views besides their own.


They shelter themselves only with people who believe all that they say and are self-promoted with in that subset group. Without their views being challenged it puts them in a delusional state of conscience and when they are brought out to the public they find themselves with a rude awakening.  Besides creating a safe zone these users are turning people against them who may otherwise had been open to conversation, if not in support of the work they are attempting to do.

@Blackisinyo writes:

” …it might be “legitimizing” the stupider argument, but it also exposes the argument to open criticism. It’s kinda like–IDK, a cave fungus dragged out into the light. We would get to see how ridiculous the argument is (or how not-ridiculous possibly), convince bystanders that, yes, the other argument is the better one instead of letting the question fester out of sheer curiosity, prove that, no, it’s not actually plausible that vaccines cause cancer or some shit. It also placates those who think their voices are being suppressed. And when you suppress people and enough get tired of it…things get ugly very fast.”
Brianna Wu surprised her views and her team are not openly welcomed to a convention due to her opinions not aligning with the public outside of her tight nit selected follower base, decides to grossly over exaggerate concern for safety:

Section revised for corrections 3/2/15

Recently a new string of bots have been created to block massive numbers of people upon utilization:

“TheBlockbot” is an advertised program that runs in the background of your twitter and other online accounts such as in forums. It has three settings that claim to block all harassers, stalkers, trolls, and creeps. In a perfect world it may actually do some good..but it is far from perfect and this application is effectively shutting down and blocking voices who have no ill intent. It does not readily announce why these names are added to their public list and it gives links to the blockees personal accounts shown on their “blacklist”.

  • Level 1 is listed as the lightest level of blocking labeled as the “worst of the worst trolls, stalkers, and imitators” and effectively wipes out 3426 users automatically.
  • Level 2 is their recommended setting claiming it blocks “unpleasant people”. It automatically blocks 3857 users plus all of the users for level 1.
  • Level 3 is the highest level of silencing and it claims to block people who aren’t “straight out haters, but just obnoxious”. A whopping 9738 people automatically are blocked using this setting. The numbers are continually rising everyday.
    When placed on this block list it is almost impossible to get off. Admins reply with short snippy responses that let you know he/she doesn’t intend on changing a thing regardless of the circumstances.

TheBlockBot is not ready to take on the task of selective blocking. The concept designer of the original software states,”I believe there are serious flaws in how this service is designed and operated that make it a poor solution for most Twitter users. The media, focused on the larger problem of harassment, are not covering these operational issues. I will detail them below.”-For more information click here goo.gl/KuXBcx

There is another application used online called the “ ggautoblocker”; it is utilized specifically for twitter. A large controversy stemmed from the IGDA using the ggautoblocker as a reference and suggesting its use without looking into its actual purpose; as a result the Chairman of the Puerto Rico chapter of the IGDA had himself been blocked for following twitter accounts the ggautoblocker labels worthy of blocking. When the Chairman reached out to the creator of the ggautoblocker her response was that he needed to go to through the appeals process; later claiming he deserved to be on the black list for accidentally following people the ggautoblocker deemed unfit. The code partners with BlockTogether to block those who Harper and her moderator team deem fit for blocking. The code is a naive algorithm based on the logically disproved idea of guilt by association.

The ggautoblocker itself has a crude code created by Randi Harper that refers to users as “sheeple” and “idiots”, Randi Harper refers to gamers openly as monsters within the code. She relies on BlockTogether to make her portion of the code operational. Most users who have utilized this bot may not realize what its true intention is; by reading the code break down you can see for yourself. http://goo.gl/RGevuT

Georgina Young, Techraptor has this to say about the GGAutoBlocker:
“The structure of this list, which is labeled under mental wellness and self-care and refers to users mentioned as monsters, sheeple, and idiots various times, means that journalists and gamers, such as myself, who follow a wide range of twitter users in order to keep myself informed on the latest news, have been implicated as offenders of harassment, despite never participating in such.
Mike Cernovich, a lawyer and twitter user @PlayDangerously, is now looking into the case legally, to see if there is anything he can do in terms of the defamation of his and several thousand others names. Harper has also accused Cernovich of making a rape threat against her for stating that she needs a “real man”.
After the outrage following the labeling of more than 10,000 people as online harassers IGDA has since changed the document from “A Twitter tool to block some of the worst offenders in the recent wave of harassment” to “A third-party Twitter tool developed to quickly mass block some of the worst offenders in the recent wave of harassment and those who follow these offenders.” While there is still a strong implication of harassment from all 10,425 accounts, this is particularly damning to the 8 blacklisted members listed above.”
(org. artcl [http://archive.today/Q4ZaO#selection-625.0-633.532](http://archive.today/Q4ZaO#selection-625.0-633.532 “Here”))
The current ggautoblocker as implemented by both Randi Harper and Brianna Wu, is not ready for the public and is effectively shutting down voices that may have even helped their cause. The issues these implimentors are addressing are not one sided and represent a large population of people. I am blocked by two women who claim to represent me as a female, as a gamer, and as an activist against harassment. How can they represent my voice if they don’t want to hear me speak?

For a more in depth look at the BlockBot you can go to its original website here:
www.theblockbot.com

For the more about the GGAutoBlocker from the creator here:
http://blog.randi.io/good-game-auto-blocker/

The ggautoblocker black list:
http://goo.gl/GVoPlL