Guilt by Association Part 2: Cross-Site Bans

Note: This is a follow up to my first article about this subject, which you can read here.

Archive: https://archive.fo/vd3NY

It’s a scene that sounds like it came straight out of a dystopian novel: You’re on the internet, doing your own thing on what we’ll call site A, making posts. Now on site A, they have lax rules, and you can post whatever you want. On site B though, you’ve been a good, law-abiding citizen staying inside their rules. Then one day, you log in to site B and find yourself banned. “But I didn’t do anything” you might say, and you’d be right, except this isn’t 10 years ago. This is current year, where postings on one website can lead to bans on other sites, and it’s all just another sign of how the internet is turning into a dystopian hellhole where private corporations who control the internet can ban you from everything because of something that happened on another website.

Just like how bans on big websites evolved from telling you that you’re banned, to using underhanded tactics like shadowbans that don’t tell you that you’ve been banned but that merely hide your postings from the rest of the site, effectively silencing you, websites have changed their criteria for banning you. Besides datamining information from your electronic devices (in the case of phone apps, just look at all those permissions they ask for and at least you see them being asked unlike on your desktop/laptop), websites now look at your off-site behavior. This tactic came to light when Twitter announced it was going to be doing just that which led to people asking the ethical questions: Is it ethical to ban someone who’s broken zero rules on your website because of their views on another website? While most bans from social media sites like this are done with no reason given, recently there was a website that pulled off a ban wave of people accused of being alt-right with one source being a dodgy blocklist.

First, a bit of background

So, the website this happened on was FurAffinity (an art website for furries), and boy oh boy does that site have a history dodgier than the Carfax of a flood car. Furaffinity is almost like a parody of modern tech companies and social media with just how poorly everything is handled. For starters, they’ve had the source code leaked before, they’ve had their passwords all leaked and decrypted due to their poor security, and the site has been down for weeks at a time. It’s got more exploits than a Windows 98 computer due to it’s dated and bloated code. Its owner is infamous for being lazy and is well documented on websites that catalogue drama. The site has been slowly dying, and not from the site’s missteps (which would kill a lot of websites) but moreso from the general move towards social media that the rest of the internet is undergoing. Dragoneer is also a liar, but a liar so poor he’d make Todd Howard seem like an honest man, and during this situation he made multiple lies.

The furry fandom on the other hand got slammed hard from the left wing political takeover that’s been hitting every other “nerd” fandom, and for a good reason. It’s seen as the worst fandom, with the only changes from the past being the fact that it’s population has gone up heavily. A lot of far-right linked websites will absolutely shit all over the furry fandom, and the same goes with numerous websites that mock cringeworthy individuals on the internet, and as a furry I don’t blame them. Go look at Rainfurrest 2015. Go look at all the hospital visits during MFF 2017. Go look at the video of the 2 furries in fetish gear having fake sex in the hotel lobby at FWA. There’s a reason they’re seen as the shittiest fandom online (especially if you group together linked fandoms, like the Pokemon fandom and Sonic fandom), and this turns people away. Hell, if you want a fun game go to a furry con (or look up videos of one that’s recent) and try to spot the “normal people” there.

While some fandoms had pushbacks to varying extents (with mixed results), with Gamergate being the big one but Comicsgate, Sad Puppies, and a minor one in the tabletop game community also being notable, the furry fandom’s pushback has been weak, and for quite a few good reasons. For starters, those pushbacks happened with groups where the fandom revolved around media formats, not nerds wanting to bang anthromorphic animals. The Furry fandom has had alt-furry, and with the tendency of some of it’s associated groups to take in the fandom’s rejects without realizing why they’re the fandom’s rejects (Notably Crusader Cat and Foxler), along with the existence of a Discord server led by Len Gilbert (a paranoid wannabe Nazi who wrote Nazi furry fanfiction), it’s led to a comedy of errors on their side that’s tainted their image, especially among more “neutral” or center-right furries. Furthermore, there’s been a schism among the alt-furry servers, with the original branch led by QuQu (A more shitposty telegram chat on the level of say, older Gamergate era chats with channers) splitting off from the branch led by Len Gilbert and Blumiere (now known as Xanadu) after chat fights, with members fighting with each other.

2017 is when the political fight really kicked into high gear, kicking off with a furry con being canceled over tweets from larping Antifa types online wanting to “punch some Nazis” (context: early 2017 was when the media cycle was about “punching Nazis” after the Richard Spencer (the media’s scrapegoat) got punched during an interview). The year was marked by numerous events, from Califur’s hotel being called up to let them know there was a cub panel taking place there (and someone there possibly taking it too far with alleged threats, leading to the panel being shutdown), Discord shutdowns (I’ll have more on this in another blogpost), and perhaps the most lasting event, a Twitter blocklist that fandom gatekeeper Dogpatch continued to shill numerous times.

2018 is when the fight seemed to die down to some extent, with a few small fires burning in the background. Len Gilbert and his friends continued to make numerous fuckups left and right, there was another Discord server purge, and there were chat leaks coming from former members, and not the left wing furries, as the blocklist continued to be used more and more. The overuse of the Twitter blocklist, finding myself blocked by more and more furries and nutcases I never even looked at started to eventually set in. On one hand, I couldn’t give 2 shits about being blocked by some communist living in a rich industrial western nation (which was at one point split because of communism even) who blocked his own friends for telling him that their family had to escape communism. On the other hand, being blocked by furry artists with some going on Twitter to brag about how “Yeah, I denied commissions for some dude because of his political views” is worrying, and that’s when I started to get concerned that something big was going to happen. Furthermore, there seemed to be witch hunts about artists possibly drawing cub (underage furry character, think like lolicon) porn that got pretty intense. Before I went to a furry con with a friend, I deleted my Twitter.

It turns out, that was one of the best choices I could possibly make, as Dragoneer would pour gasoline on a dying fire.

The Purge: Furaffinity

Due to the drama I mentioned earlier, Len Gilbert and his friends have managed to make themselves some of the most disliked furries by gatekeepers or left leaning furries. I say those groups because literally nobody else gives a shit about them. Anyhow, people wanted them banned to the point where they were raging at Dragoneer for days, with a figurehead/gatekeeper of that group of furries tweeting about it as well. This built up for several days, with numerous twitter accounts also tweeting about this.

A few days later, FurAffinity responded to them in perhaps the laziest way possible. The first thing Dragoneer did was roll out a politically motivated terms of service update (with comments on the article disabled of course). While calling out alt-furry, he decided to say there wasn’t enough evidence that Antifa was a terrorist group. You know despite the fact that people inside the US Government consider them one. He also claimed in the update that you wouldn’t be banned for off-site actions.

All while you know, saying it’s not about politics.

Afterwards, Dragoneer carried out perhaps the dumbest ban wave since maybe the Destiny 2 ban wave for merely firing up the game. Numerous users were banned from the site with only one thing in common: Being right-wing. One of the main criticisms of the bans was, “What did I even do”, as every single user got the same generic ban message, stating they were banned because the administration did not feel “you are a good match for the community”, also saying it’s permanent and without going into detail on what your alleged crimes were.

Attempts to appeal the bans were turned down, also with the same message.

Some people tried to ask what they were banned for, and while some users got nothing

…another user was luckier, as Dragoneer slipped the real reason for being banned. Apparently, it was for off-site activity, activity said user denied.

Even though some of those people left alt-furry, despite some of them saying “if you leave x group you will be forgiven”, some of them were still caught in the ban wave. The same goes with people who’ve disavowed them. Hell, some of these users had been on the site for 10-12 years, maybe even more. But in the kangaroo court of social media moderation, you don’t even get to see what your crimes are most of the time. You get a ban message, and when you ask about it you get an about face. Then when you post your ban message to Twitter you get a mob yapping at you telling you that “they’re a private company they can ban anyone they like” or “quit lying bigot we know you did Bad Thing” before posting a XKCD comic and a dril tweet from their Apple Macbook Pro, even if big social media companies monopolize the internet and all of the open discussion areas.

Oh, and the Progynova & SSRI fueled soylent addicts who called for stricter rules? They’re not happy, and they’ll never be happy. Anyone who’s been on the internet long enough knows when you give these people an inch, they always double down and ask for a mile, and they’re calling for more things they don’t like to be banned. They won’t use the site, but they’ll sit in their ivory towers dictating what to do. Just like in gaming.

So, what can we learn here today? Well, there’s a lot of things we can learn from this.

The first and most important thing is, if you’re in charge of something you should never ever cave. If you cave in to the demands of vocal minorities online, you’ll end up with a lose-lose situation. People might praise you on Twitter but there will still be more to be done, a never-ending list that essentially demands you to cede control of whatever you run to them. On the other side, you’ll be branded as someone who caved and you’ll need to do a whole lot to try to rebuild your reputation…if that’s even possible.

This is also why it’s a bad idea to use a social media website as a login for other websites. Not only can you lose access to other websites because you were banned from one website, but you could also find yourself banned from social media websites because you used your social media account to login to say, post a comment on Breitbart news. Now Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg knows you were posting on the wrong news site. All it’ll take is one pissed off “activist” working at a social media walled garden who woke up in a bad mood and you’ll get banned. Social media is a minefield in an internet that’s becoming more and more dystopian.

Furthermore, here’s a classic internet protip: Never use the same usernames across a million sites. It might seem tempting to someone willing to build up a “rep” online, but it just leads to a posting trail that can be used to ruin you later on. Some failure at life with nothing to lose living off Uncle Sam, Paypal.me, Amazon Wishlists, and Patreon dollars can ruin your career during a witch hunt with a tweet giving out all your personal information and a “Oh by the way, don’t report this guy to his boss” tweet, with a wink and a nod. While in severe situations they can get you fired and harass your family over this, a more realistic situation is you could find yourself banned from more than one website because of something you did once, or posts you made a few years ago, or which groups you hang around online. This is a time where those in charge are either more concerned about being on the “right side” of history or ensuring political outcomes they don’t like “never happen again” than the freedom of speech of some guy on the internet.

And of course, here’s a good rule when it comes to dealing with furry artists. If you get turned down from one because they’re overly political and you need art, just find another. The furry art industry is the third most oversaturated industry, behind mall phone repair kiosks and vape shops. There are plenty of furry artists out there who need/want cash and are thirsting for $ to draw your fursona, so don’t get bummed because one of them hung with Twitter nutters/is a nutter himself.

Jake

Jake

I'm a purple cat :V

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