Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"The Internet Ruined My Life" on SyFy: two specific tweets lead to stalking, and then to Homeland Security detention of a UK tourist, also, combative elements in animal rights, gaming

The Internet Ruined My Life” has started with half-hour episodes on the SyFy Channel, link.

The Pilot on March 9 presented two stories.

The first concerned Chicago resident Suey Park, who blogs and writes for the interests of the Asian American communities about various social justice issues.  She wrote a tweet with a hashtag #CancelColbert that attracted unbelievable trolling and anger, including doxing of her personal information and threats, forcing her into disguises and moving around. Elizabeth Bruening has a detailed story of the incident in the New Republic, here.

 The tweet referred to the “Ching-Choing Ding-Dong Foundation”.  It had been intended as hyperbole, not to be taken literally.

The episode shows the prevalence of the “us vs. them” mentality in some of the Internet, which Donald Trump is thought to be exploiting.

This is all rather shocking. I write and tweet about sensitive things but nothing like this has happened.  I don’t have the volume of followers that she did, however.

The second part dealt with Leigh Van Bryan and his girlfriend Emily Bunting, tourists from the UK.  They were detailed at LAX, jailed and eventually deported with visas revoked for a single tweet, about digging up Marilyn Monroe (the sidewalk in Hollywood) and “destroying America”, which is a British idiom based on “destroying pubs”, which in fact refers to pub crawls (the film “The World’s End”, Aug. 29, 2013, Movies blog). A Homeland Security official named Comiskey admitted this was language overreach, but because of the problems with profiling and Trojan horses, it is very difficult for the NSA and homeland Security to identify false positive hits.

The UK Mail has a story with images and many comments

 It is possible that the narrative about what happened in 2005 when I was substitute teaching, and one of my screenplays was "misinterpreted" could fit the series. There are some unsolved mysteries and coiniidences and a lot of out-of-context thinking. See main "BillBoiushka" blog, July 27, 2007 for details.

Episode 2 (March 16) "Food Fight" presented a chef who lost a job after four years at a classy LA restaurant serving foie gras, when he got into a Facebook fight with an animal rights activist in Minnesota.  He got after her for writing a bad review of a restaurant for political motivations when she had seemingly never been to the restaurant.  She became combative, and then so did he.  She apparently misappropriated the man's daughter's picture on Facebook in a threatening way.  (Why wasn't this a TOS violation resulting in suspension?)  But she was able to turn the thread around to ruin his online reputation, making him look like a misogynist. A typical news story is here on an LA local news site here.  It took four months or more for him to become employed again.

Then there was the story of Brianna Wu and "#gamergate", who got threats after she challenged male domination in some parts of the gaming business, Guardian story here.  A check of the hashtag even tonight March 16 on Twitter shows some nasty stuff happening (the reader can look on her own).
It makes you wonder, what makes some people so personally combative over narrow issues?  I ran into this myself in earlier days, before the Internet, especially on both the radical Left and radical Right, and sometimes with religion.

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