Zoe Quinn is back in Twitter headlines yet again, and this time she’s teamed up with Randi Harper (Harper wrote a post called “An Open Letter to Social Autopsy” on the matter of Social autopsy five days ago). The duo best known for their “efforts” in ending cyber harassment with their online platforms funded by Patreon supporters has launched an attack on an unfamiliar victim, and targeted her in what they brand cyber bullying. Candace Owens was the founder of a Kickstarter which ended abruptly due to efforts sustained by anonymous individuals and Randi Lee Harper.
Although there isn’t any concrete evidence to support Quinn’s cooperation in the effort, Harper claims credit for multiple individuals involved in the smear campaign. It all started April 12th when Quinn reached out to Owens in what could only be described as a strong-arm move to dismantle her project through email, then a conversation through phone. During the conversation, Owens sates that Quinn tried to “talk her out of launching her Kickstarter project,” due to the nature of its content, and mission statement:
“I came across your Kickstarter today and I would very much like to speak to you about it. Or rather, I would like to talk you out of it based on what I know from over a year and a half of being a leading voice in the discussion around solving online abuse. I’m assuming you’re coming from a place of good faith with trying to fix the issue of online abuse, and I’d like to ask you to assume I am as well given my expertise in the subject”
I thought this portion was weird. Because of all of the anti-bullying communities that we had networked with and reached out to, none had approached us with such an attitude. Questions initially? Sure. But stating an intention to “talk us out” of our company? That takes a certain amount of ego.
Nonetheless, I agreed to speak with her over the phone. I was anticipating a very short discussion between two people who were in the same camp. I expected to address her concerns, and answer them in ways that would lessen her anxiety. I also thought I would expand SocialAutopsy’s network of anti-bullying supporters.
I normally keep the grass cut low. The business of finance had properly exposed to me to the idea of snakes, and I had take away from it the ability to spot one out from a mile away. But Zoe was a victim, and managed to slide past my defenses easily. My guard was fully down when she phoned me at 9:50pm, from a Hawaii number.
At best, the conversation I had with her was weird. At worst, it was unstable.
As the conversation continued, it began to descend into a cavalcade of foolishness, and eventually lunacy on Quinn’s part. Owens quickly realized that she wasn’t dealing with a person on her level of intellect or rational thought. As you’ll see below Quinn sustains her efforts to disparage Owens work, and her thoughts regarding something she was unfamiliar with.
She told me that she KNEW those people were not bad people. That she herself had been a part of the online group Anonymous, and that it was really just “something they did”. She explained that she would never want the people who harassed her listed anywhere, and that she knew the first and last name of some of them, and yet had never reported them.
I grew silent. I didn’t know what to say to someone telling me that they thought such internet aggression was light fun.I told her I appreciated the feedback and that she had given us an idea. That maybe we should let celebrities and victims opt out somehow if they knew their attackers. It felt like a good way to end the conversation positively.
She reiterated to me her credentials, and said I ought to listen to her because of them and that she didn’t want to go back to the anti-bullying organizations that had reached out to her with concerns with the current answers I was giving her.
I asked her to name which organizations, and she did not. I offered to have her put me in touch with them directly, and she declined.
This is about the point where my red flags starting waving back and forth wildly. I had been in the weeds with anti-bullying organizations and I knew it was highly unlikely that they would send a third-party person to speak with us on their behalf.
We are all a part of the same initiative and want to help one another get there. There is absolutely no need to hide behind a third-party spokesperson if you have any legitimate concerns.
She switched her tactic, once again, telling me that I did not know who I was messing with. She warned me that Gamergate (the community) would come after me and that they would be ruthless. She warned me that they would try to end my Kickstarter campaign, put me through cyber-hell, and that it wasn’t an experience I wanted to live through as she had
It is very important to note that Zoe Quinn told me that Gamergate would try to end my Kickstarter campaign.
Again, I had no idea who or what Gamergate was, but I assured her I was ready to embrace their backlash. Of course, one cannot expect to end cyber-bullying without some sort of cyber-revolt against us, and I was confident we would be ready when the time came.
She then grew hysterical, claiming that it wasn’t enough. That she wanted to me put a stake in the project altogether, never bringing it to launch.
This part was practically insane to me; the fact that she thought that with a simple phone call, I would drop something that I had sank thousands of dollars of personal investment and hard work into, just because Zoe Quinn said so. Her suggestion was ego-manaical.
I told her firmly and with as much respect that I could muster at that point that we were going to have to agree to disagree; that I was not dropping the project nor was I clear on what it was exactly that had her so riled up, emotionally.
We had reached a point of no return here. She was beyond emotional, and I was (aside from confused), aware that she and I would never see eye to eye. I told her that I hoped that when we launched, she would see the value in the technology. At which point she broke into tears and exclaimed “By then it will be too late, it’ll ruin everything”.
With that, and after 43 minutes of erratic conversation, she hung up the phone on me.
Shortly after the conversation, Owens began receiving threatening emails surrounding her Kickstarter, and had a barrage of personal attacks launched at her, many of them racially centered. During Owens interview with Theralphretort.com, she exposed all the emails publicly, to test a theory about the confidence of the people operating them. Her theory proved successful. They stopped. There is more evidence that support Owens claims, as shown in the twitter feeds of Quinn and Harper. Whether there actually is another side to this story is yet to be seen. However, for now we can say that online abuse in any form shouldn’t be carried out on anyone.
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s)
Robin Ek – Editor
SocialAutopsy on Twitter
Randi Lee Harper on Twitter
Zoé Quinn on Twitter
Zoé Quinn´s “Be A Better Bystander: How Third Parties Can Help Targets Of Online Abuse” post
Randi Harpers open-letter to Social autopsy
The Gaming Ground
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