Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why Twitter Should Ban Donald Trump: Part 1 #OpKillTroll

Before I get to 2016 candidate Donald Trump, who former Florida Governor Jeb Bush famously accused of trying to "insult [his] way to the presidency" during a televised Republican debate in 2015, I need to provide some background about a few of the things that have been done to to me for the last four and a half years.

Feel free to jump to "Why Twitter Should Ban Donald Trump: Part 2 Perverted Twitter Justice", if you'd rather just read about Del Harvey's 'Perverted Justice' and 'To Catch a Predator' past, and what she has done as director, and, now, Vice President of Twitter's Trust and Safety. But if you just want to read about Twitter's new campaign to stop bullying, and how I believe it should be used to ban a name-calling, abusive billionaire - who is shockingly, a top presidential contender leading many GOP polls - for helping to make it an anti-social network, you'll have to wait until next week. However, I think it's best if you read the whole thing since it shows an example of victimization and Twitter's neglect in enforcing its own rules, perhaps because it hired the wrong person to help lead its Trust and Safety department.

For years, Twitter has done little to stop abusive trolling by bigots, sociopaths and alleged "satirists", even though they clearly break "terms of service" (also know as TOS). Now, since their stock is plummeting and they are losing money, Twitter claims to be taking it seriously, and will put a stop to online harassment.

But it's not just anonymous, cowardly, racist trolls who deserve to be banned. Some members of the hacktivist group Anonymous have used Twitter to dox critics and "enemies" for years. Doxing is a term that is often misused to refer to the outing of people who hide their identities, but it's actually more about posting addresses, phone numbers and private information such as social security numbers. The largest Anonymous Twitter account, @YourAnonNews, has been allowed to dox critics, police officers, and, even, some journalists for years.

This article isn't an attempt to demonize all of Anonymous, since I often report on imprisoned US journalist Barrett Brown, who was "embedded" within the group, wrongly raided by the feds in March of 2012, and arrested months later in September, partly because of his anger that an FBI agent was threatening to arrest his mother. Barrett Brown even recently won a National Magazine Award for The Intercept, while in solitary confinement. This keeps happening after he gives press interviews, and the media doesn't give him enough coverage, as he finishes a five-year sentence, even though he never hacked anyone.

"Prison officials informed him that he was being 'segregated' for 'information-gathering purposes,'" the Free Barrett website notes. "For the first three days in the SHU, Barrett was deprived of his daily antidepressant medication."

As a whole, Anonymous has done - and probably will continue to do - some great things, but doxing is a controversial issue that many members are against.

Some members of Anonymous dox families of their victims - who are sometimes horrible people who commit horrible deeds, as well - and there's a journalist named Lorraine Murphy aka "Raincoaster", who approves of this practice. In January of 2013, I got Murphy's editors at The Daily Dot to remove a link to a dox which included family members of girls who tortured a cat in an online video from her article. "Update: Out of respect for the relatives unintentionally affected, the Daily Dot has removed the link to the Pastebin document Anonymous released," was added in a note added to the bottom of Murphy's story. She even linked to my dox at her tumblr account, and often tweets it, when I notify her about mistakes or offensive sections in her articles, that are sometimes based on hoaxes spread by trolls or celebrate trolling as a modern artform.

I also don't want to demonize all trolls. Some trolls are just out to have fun, mock conventions, or make political statements. Others cross the line and are hateful bigots that get off on tormenting people.


In late 2012, after journalist Barrett Brown was arrested, I was harassed by members of Anonymous who were misled into believing that I had something to do with it. The group mounted an operation against me called "OpKillTroll", and @YourAnonNews tweeted it to over a million-and-a-half followers. It linked to a dox on me which included old addresses, phone numbers, and many lies, and it's essentially ruined my life, because I have to live in fear that some crazy person might recognize me in real life, and take the word "kill" literally. Not one media outlet has ever reported on this, yet I'm the only journalist Anonymous ever asked its followers to "kill".

Many other Anonymous related accounts quickly retweeted and favorited the #OpKillTroll tweet, but Twitter ignored nearly all my complaints, and only briefly suspended one account for a few hours for tweeting about it.

Anon2Earth, who was featured in Brian Knappenberger's acclaimed 2012 documentary "We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists", was the source of the dox, and admitted to posting it on the @YourAnonNews account. Twitter Safety and Trust refused to even contact @YourAnonNews to get them to delete the tweet even though I sent them many emails and registered complaints about it. Before he posted the dox, I tried to reason with Anon2Earth, and told him that I was working to help free Barrett Brown, and some of his friends confirmed it. But he refused to listen, and sent me threatening tweets, warning me how much "power" he had to menace me on Twitter.

While he menaced me on Twitter, Lorraine Murphy aka @Raincoaster followed me on Twitter, and I sent her some Direct Messages, mostly asking if she approved of families of journalists being included in doxes, which she didn't admit until months later.

At her website, Lorraine Murphy wrote, "At that point I surprised Ron by going rogue: I publicly RT’d some of what he’d been saying to me, with 'lol' remarks appended. He appeared taken aback entirely, although this is really a very basic Internet Drama 202 move. If you thought he was a mite touchy before, fasten your seatbelt." The next day, Raincoaster updated her blogpost, which contained some of the Direct Messages that I had sent her. She gleefully blogged, "Well, would you look at that. He HAS been doxed."

In a comment, Murphy triumphantly wrote, "Now the whole world has his address and phone number." Another comment by Murphy bragged, "When I had the time, I was quite the troll, and I’ve been paid as a consultant on internet drama many times. He did not know who he was messing with."

On May 3, 2013, Raincoaster refused to update her blogpost, after I told her the dox she had linked to included many lies and disinfo about me, and falsely linked me to social network accounts and email addresses that had nothing to do with me. In response, she demanded money to edit her post. "You want me to edit it, you pay me," Lorraine Murphy tweeted.

I complained to Murphy's editors about her blackmail threat, when I wrote to alert them about her article at the Daily Dot, which linked to a dox that included family members. They apologized to me, but kept her on staff until she allegedly quit over a dispute about a correction added to another of her articles. Last December, Vanity Fair published a story written by Lorraine Murphy, which contained a few mistakes, such as referring to a notorious troll as a hacker, and linked to explicit gay pornography. When I tweeted Vanity Fair and Raincoaster about it, she responded by tweeting a link to her blogpost cheering the dox on me.

The satirical website Encyclopedia Dramatica - which appears to have pop-up ads that infect computers with viruses - has an entry on me, which includes a confession by Anon2Earth, "I warned him to back off or I would drop his dox, and it wouldn't be just a small portion of people who would see it - but a lot of people. He mistook what I stated as some kind of 'powerplay,' saying that I was telling him how 'powerful' I was. I don't do drama much, I was tired of playing and dropped his shit on my account and Your Anon News. He freaked, and didn't understand that I had the access to tweet from YAN; and stated something about why he didn't understand why Anonymous (especially YAN) would support me. I still don't think he quite comprehends what exactly happened to him."

Over two years after it was posted, on December 12, 2014, Anon2Earth finally deleted the #OpKillTroll tweet from @YourAnonNews, and tweeted, "@ronbryn greetings, that was an old tweet - I removed it; apologies it that it was still up. @apblake @dellcam @YourAnonNews @paulcarr." Neal Rauhauser had misled Anon2Earth into believing that I had something to do with his arrest, so I forgave Anon2Earth and asked him to tweet a message to the ACLU to try and get them to help Barrett Brown. But the ACLU never helped Brown or even responded to tweets, even though they have helped in many related cases. The ACLU Texas chapter reportedly told Brown's family that they didn't have enough people to help, but the national ACLU, as far as I know, never got involved.

Even though I've been one of the major critics of bullying and trolling on Twitter since I was menaced in the summer of 2011, after I worked on an article with The New York Times called "Fake Identities Were Used on Twitter in Effort to Get Information on Weiner", I've been smeared as a troll. There's even a satirical (and actually kind of funny) video on YouTube called "The RonBryn Song", which pretends that I'm a troll, because I've lost my temper more than a few times, since Twitter is very selective on who it chooses to suspend or ban, when it comes to cyber-bullying.

As I learned, when you're being menaced around-the-clock by trolls that disguise their identities, it's hard to sleep, and you develop a sort of post traumatic stress disorder, which causes you to lose your temper more often than you normally would, and even makes you so paranoid, that you wonder if coincidences or bad luck in real life are related to the online harassment. I also made a lot of tweets, that I'm not proud of, and wrote a few weird stories in 2011, after being stalked and harassed, and that is exactly what trolls want you to do. They create convolution and hope to make it seem like you are the villain, and that they are the heroes who bully you to scare you off the Internet. Many trolls hope to get you falsely arrested or driven mad; some sociopathic trolls even hope you commit suicide or die from heart attacks, and they will continue to mock their prey, even after they're dead.

I worked on that New York Times story with Jennifer Preston, who said that she would see if I could get paid for providing, literally, hundreds of hours of research on that article, and others that we planned that she mysteriously never wrote. And a few days after publication, she asked me to publicly defend the article on Twitter from a Deputy District Attorney in California, Patrick Frey, who is a noted conservative blogger called "Patterico" and many anonymous trolls that were harassing her over it. But as soon as I did, I was instead targeted by Frey and his libertarian-leaning posse, and - at the same time - by a Democratic operative that wrote weird conspiracy theories about Weinergate. He also blamed Patterico for being the source of the still-unknown trolls that pretended to be teenage girls to get info on former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who resigned after admitting he lied about sexting and being hacked on Twitter and Facebook. Even though I later learned that Preston met with this oddball Democratic operative during Operation Wall Street in the fall of 2011, she claimed he was "dangerous" in a Direct Message she sent me in June of 2011, but never explained.

On July 29, 2011, the "dangerous" cyber-harasser - who often brags about being an "Iron Troll" - named Neal Rauhauser wrote a diary using his alias "Stranded Wind" at the Democratic website Daily Kos called, "Ethical Dilemma: Harassed By A Confused Man", as I noted in an article I published in September of that same year.

Rauhauser pretended that semi-threats on my life and against my family he tweeted to me, immediately after I publicly defended Preston, were just his way to try to "help" me. But this is what Rauhauser does. He uses sock accounts to harass critics and imagined "enemies", while claiming that he is a victim, and never does anything wrong.

"I publicly suggested on Twitter that he needed to go talk to a friend or family member about what he was experiencing, and he took this to be me threatening his family," Rauhauser wrote. "Nothing could be further from the truth and I stand by my suggestion: when it’s hard to tell what is going on it is best to seek outside advice."

Rauhauser ominously added, "That sort of outside advice is what I am seeking here. If this were some random annoying and/or dangerous right winger like Patrick Read or Patterico I’d put a bunch of his information in this diary so people could go find and torment him. If I were being truly evil I could even send a link to the diary to those rascally beandogs, who are the internet equivalent of a painful rash when they take an interest in someone."

The diary was mysteriously scrubbed (and can't even be found at archived links), even though Rauhauser was banned from Daily Kos hours after publishing it. And I was unfairly banned, too, for defending myself against the awful lies that Rauhauser used to get liberals to turn against me and conservatives to falsely accuse me of crimes, even though I was the Executive Editor of the left-leaning (but fair, when I ran it) political news website RAW STORY, and had recently done a story with David Corn published at Mother Jones based on WikiLeaks documents. I reported Rauhauser to the FBI for that diary, that same night, but they never got back to me, and the self-professed "Iron Troll" continues to "torment" me with trolls he recruits with ease, and many, many others that he targets, often for political reasons.

Also, bizarrely, even though it was obvious I was being victimized and tarnished by Neal, Patterico hatched an insane theory that I was in some kind of "terroristic" conspiracy with Rauhauser and convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin. Frey falsely accused me of making a bogus 911 call to get the police to "SWAT" him, which is a dangerous crime, and he knows I am innocent since I was on the phone with him while it happened, and couldn't have possibly committed it. Frey even used Twitter to harass me because I refused to talk to him on the phone, which appears to violate one of the California laws that he's sworn to defend. Since he falsely accused me of committing a crime, it sure is odd that Frey didn't just step back and let law enforcement officials investigate me, and it's even odder that L.A. County never fired him, even though he has bullied and menaced many people over the years.

Now, Patterico spends nearly every evening using Twitter to bash conservatives who don't want to vote for the candidate he supports, Ted Cruz, while he fends off a lawsuit from Kimberlin, after a judge agreed that Frey might be guilty of abusing his office to smear people over SWATtings. Each side in that lawsuit goes out of its way to not mention me in their filings, even though the only dubious link to Kimberlin is that I am the culprit, and the notorious hoaxer and convicted bomber has strange ties to my former boss at RAW STORY, John Byrne. The main reason I'm not named is that both sides know I will tell the truth, and damage both of their positions, since they are equally guilty of bullying and cyber - and "in real life" (aka irl) - harassment.

It's hard to find a job or an apartment when you're smeared as a troll and criminal on the Internet. At least fifty journalists claimed that they would write stories about this non-stop harassment, but not one ever has, and even though I break stories every week at this blog, most of them are largely ignored, because I've been blacklisted by liberals and conservatives. I'm also a tough press critic, and there are at least a hundred articles at nearly every media outlet that have corrections, based on my reporting or complaints. Journalism is extremely partisan these days, and since I report on both sides fairly, it's tough to find work for that reason, too. Also, sometimes I've gotten mad when I've been "exploited" or plagiarized by unscrupulous journalists, and that's used as an excuse to ignore my fair reporting, which is backed up by links, rather than just based on sources that lie.

On December 19, 2015, after I asked Lorraine Murphy on Twitter if she constantly links to my dox hoping I'm SWATted, and asked her if she really thinks that's not menacing, Raincoaster responded, "I couldn't wish you any worse fate."

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