John Scalzi quoted an informant who emailed him about ElevatorGATE and harassment via Twitter and Storify yesterday. (The quoting was with permission.)
A Twitter and Storify user who goes by the handle “@elevatorGATE” is a well-known cyberstalker of women via social media. His latest method of doing this is to compile thousands of pieces on Storify, often including every single tweet sent by his chosen targets, and then publish them, which notifies the women in question that he had published yet another piece archiving their every word. After repeated complaints and requests for help, Storify temporarily deactivated the notification feature on his account, which doesn’t actually solve the problem.
In a conversation yesterday with Xavier Damman, the Storify CEO suggested that the women @elevatorGATE is targeting turn off all notifications from Storify, which essentially suggests that they withdraw from the medium if they don’t like being stalked, and which also wouldn’t solve the problem of this user archiving everything these women say. One of the users pointed out that this is very much like telling a woman who is being harassed via telephone to never answer the phone. It was at this point in the conversation that Damman went from passively enabling a stalker to actively assisting one. He tweeted, in response to the women, that they “…can’t do anything about that. It’s @elevatorgate’s right to quote public statements…”
To interrupt for a moment – no it isn’t, not in every sense. It’s a legal right, but that doesn’t make it every other kind of right. The fact that it’s a legal right isn’t a reason for the CEO of
Prior to this point in the conversation, the women had named their stalker, but not used the @ symbol in front of his username. You know enough about Twitter to know why that’s a big deal. Damman either carelessly or deliberately notified a man stalking multiple women that they were seeking some way to prevent him from continuing to harass them, and then claimed it was no big deal because anyone searching for the information would have been able to find it. But there’s a very big difference between information existing and that same information being directly brought to a person’s attention.
If you know much about stalking, you’ll know what happens next. @elevatorGATE has substantially stepped up his harassment of the women who had asked Damman for help. Men who follow him on both Storify and Twitter have been bombarding these women via Storify notifications and Tweets with additional harassment. He has also increased his harassment of known online associates of the women in question, making it difficult for them to seek out help or support from fear of his beginning to stalk their friends as well. It’s the reason I’m contacting you privately, via email, rather than via social media: I’m afraid. I don’t want to be added to his list of targets.
Despite Damman’s claims that they can’t do anything, @elevatorGATE is violating Storify’s Terms of Service, which forbids users to:
Post, upload, publish, submit or transmit any Content that: (ii): violates, or encourages any conduct that would violate, any applicable law or regulation… (v) promotes discrimination, bigotry, racism, hatred, harassment or harm against any individual or group…
As I’ve mentioned here many times, I’ve tried to get Twitter to do something about 3 or 4 of the many instances of harassment I get via their service, and Twitter has been almost entirely unhelpful.
One comment sums up the nature of the harassment neatly.
When someone who has no particular welcome connection to you follows you around recording everything you say, and reposting all of it, and making sure you know they’re reposting everything you say, that is some sort of implicit threat. It might be a little less obvious what exactly the threat is, but I would note that, among people I know, women are pretty much always going to be a bit nervous when a hostile stranger is making it very clear that he is obsessively interested in them…
I’m not sure that applies only to women though, in fact I strongly doubt that it does.