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The Internet Trolls Are Teaming Up

Tech platforms aren’t doing enough to stop them

What do trans women gamers, Jewish journalists, academics of color, and feminist writers have in common? All of them could find themselves targets of coordinated harassment campaigns simply because they have a presence online.

Take the story of Trista (all names have been changed to protect privacy), a trans woman gamer. When she began streaming her games on Twitch, bands of harassers arrived en masse to jam up her channel with what she called “low effort, hateful memes.” Another woman gamer was called an “eBeggar,” the misogynistic gaming equivalent of “gold diggers.” On 4Chan, where harassers organized their attacks, posters organized “raids” of “SJWs” (or “social justice warriors”) against gamers like Trista, planning to “post many swasticas” [sic] and hurl ableist insults to threaten and belittle them.

Or take the story of Keith, a white Jewish man, comedian, and media professional. After criticizing neo-Nazis and the alt-right in his comedy, he found himself the target of anti-Semitic attacks from users of the website 4Chan. Harassers found his image online and vandalized it in racist and anti-Semitic ways, depicting him with darkened skin covered in sores, an enlarged nose, and altered hair. They drew on old tropes—white supremacist ideas that Jews cannot be considered white, are identifiable by their facial features, and are unclean—in an attempt to insult him.

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