Dr. Brooke Magnanti is a researcher who used to do sex work to get her through school. She was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to turn her written experiences of said work into published materials, which soon earned her a bestselling author status. Of course, to the rabid anti-sex-work lobby, this would not do, and they managed to damage Magnanti’s prospects by harassing her both online and through frivolous libel lawsuits.
I remembered seeing a tweet from @Popehat from a few years ago. Someone had maliciously bought the account thousands of followers; this is something people do so they can report the account for the fakes, and try to get them kicked off Twitter. I DM’d a couple of people with experience of both being the target of online harassment and of communicating with Twitter. The response was unanimous: someone is trying to get you banned. Lock your account and start deleting the fake followers.
With a book set to come out on the 25th, I was between a rock and a hard place. Publishers increasingly expect authors to use social media presence to publicise their work to readers. My publisher likes that social media is embedded in my writing and that I engage with a lot of people online – without the Internet, I would never have become a writer at all. Should I lock the account and be unable to promote the book widely, or unlock it and risk a ban? I decided to go quiet, and see what happened. The day of my book release came and went.
By Friday night the Twitter follower count was touching 40k with no sign of slowing. I didn’t have much choice anymore. I locked the account and started blocking the bots and declining the hundreds of follow requests from fakes coming in. This is an ongoing effort. If you have recently followed me and find yourself blocked, I apologise — there are going to be some false positives in this process.
I don’t know when it will stop. I hope it tops out at 5k, which is soon. A bit of Googling shows anyone can buy 5,000 followers for anyone else and for as little as $10. I hope someone isn’t spending much more than that, and that they have better things to spend their money on. Books maybe.
The timing of this bothers me. I would be tempted to think it was a coincidence, someone winding me up for no particular reason. But considering that feminist charity Eaves For Women slapped my book The Sex Myth with a libel threat on the day it was released, getting it pulled from shelves nationwide, it is sometimes hard to believe in coincidences.
Read more here.
(By the way, the same women harassing Magnanti are also the same TERFs trying to harass me from the UK)