Internet outrage strikes over the Nazi pug, WWE’s Fabulous Moolah and the far right but no one cares about Facebook’s massive data breach?
The internet is getting more and more bizarre thanks to the pitchforks and torches mentality as the social media platforms roll out heavy censorship and Facebook has $25 billion wiped off their value. It doesn’t take much to be on the receiving end of outrage or even get into legal trouble as free speech is gradually replaced by the opinions of the most outspoken.
We have recently held discussions regarding the naming of a Hollywood actor who has used their money and fame to silence women who have allegedly been raped and sexually assaulted by him. While this is still a story we are actively working on, we aren’t in a position to name the individual as we simply don’t have the funds for a lawsuit and so the story may get published here on the Gear4Geeks Blog but without naming them. This is a dilemma that many news outlets face (not that we’re a news outlet) where sometimes important stories have to be dropped because of the implications, namely being crushed like a bug. However, this is a pretty standard problem that is a part of any publishing but we have been increasingly cautious over humour and some of our content because of the increasing pressures from internet mob “justice” or even worse, imprisonment. So far, the extent of trouble has been a moderator from Reddit doxxing our toy photographer over an article we were planning on Reddit’s increasing censorship, getting DDOSed by anti-Trump people and getting hate mail because an article we published contained 3 consecutive question marks. Imagine what could happen if we did publish something controversial.
Nazi Pugs F**k Off
In 2016 a video by YouTuber Count Dankula went viral with over 3 million hits after he uploaded a video of his girlfriend’s pug. Tired of his girlfriend claiming that everything the pug did was cute, Markus Meechan announced on YouTube that he was going to prove her wrong by turning the dog into the “least cute thing” he could think of – a Nazi. The two and a half minute video featured the pug performing a Nazi salute every time that Meechan said “Seig Heil” and reacting excitedly to the phrase “gas the Jews”. It’s fair to say that the majority of people who viewed the video took it in the manner intended, as being a light hearted video designed to elicit a laugh, even if the joke ran its course after 30 seconds. Unfortunately for Meechan someone reported the video to the police and he was arrested for the crime of hate speech and breaching the electronic communications act, which he was convicted of last week and he could possibly face jail for. Bizarrely, one of Meechan’s neighbours who had called Meechan a “Nazi bastard” was also arrested and charged with hate speech.
While Jewish comedian David Baddiel thought the video was hilarious, unfortunately for Meechan, Ephraim Borowski, the Director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities found it highly offensive. While Borowski denies that he or his organisation reported the video to police, he did testify against Meechan:
“I’m no historian but it is the marching signal of the Nazi storm troopers who contributed and supported the murder of six million Jews including members of my own family and I take this all slightly personally.
“Material of this kind goes to normalise the anti-Semitic views that frankly we thought we had seen the last of.
“The Holocaust is not a subject for jocular content.”
“an inflow of migrants from the Middle East, north Africa and south Asia, which had implications for European culture, traditions and politics.”
it seems that Meechan’s video is very low on the list of causes of Antisemitism. The case mimics the ridiculous case of Paul Chambers who was arrested for “threatening to bomb an airport”. It is a scary indication of the state of the law when obvious jokes continue to result in prosecutions and now convictions while hundreds of Jihadis are allowed to return from the UK unmonitored and extremists are potentially going to be offered free housing and incentives. Oh and child abusers don’t go to jail either or they get their court appearance postponed so they can go on holiday first.
Meanwhile, leaders of a far right British group, did go to prison in a bungled bit of propaganda filming where they intended to harass two men on trial for abusing children, but in one instance harassed the wrong person when they went to a house that a defendant no longer lived at. While the charges of being hostile to Muslims is a very legitimate one, the judge’s comments that
their words and actions “demonstrated hostility” towards Muslims and the Muslim faith.
are a little odd. The one person they were hostile to has since been convicted of the crimes he was accused of and it’s a bit sick that a convicted child abuser can testify in court about how intimidated he felt by the harassment. For harassing the innocent people, certainly the far right leaders deserved their sentences but the judge’s comment quoted above seems to indicate that it’s a crime to show hostility to a faith now? The law is based totally on precedents and the above two cases now mean they are enshrined in law and will serve as the basis for future trials, meaning that prosecutors will argue that edgy jokes and hostility towards any religion are hate crimes.
Does that mean Scottish police will be arresting every person posting “Happy zombie Jesus day” on Facebook this Easter weekend? Probably not but what is a laughable proposition is suddenly a very real possibility.
Speaking of Facebook…
Facebook in Trouble Again
While Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and YouTube have clamped down massively on anything they find disagreeable while filtering news stories that they want to trend, Facebook has been forced to admit that 50 million users’ data was farmed by an app. While Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg has been quick to blame Donald Trump’s election victory on Russian hackers using Facebook to spread fake news and has been vocal in his dislike of Trump, a larger issue could be looming. Facebook claim that Cambridge Analytica harvested data for Donald Trump’s campaign in a way that breached Facebook’s rules but former President, Barack Obama’s campaign staffer Carol Davidsen has stated that in 2012, Facebook allowed Obama’s team to break rules and handed over data because Facebook was on Obama’s “side”. While that is the far bigger crime, it is Cambridge Analytica who are taking the heat, rather than Facebook.
This means that Facebook has willingly handed over user data, discovered that Cambridge Analytica was harvesting profiles and didn’t warn users, has filtered news to be anti-Trump, has manipulated feeds to ensure that businesses, artists, musicians, bloggers and more have to pay to be seen while ensuring that you don’t see posts in the order you want to. Facebook also allows businesses to build “mirror audiences” where a business can upload the email addresses of its customers and Facebook will suggest users with similar interests. It’s also alleged that the Facebook app hands over the phone numbers stored in your address book. While Zuckerberg had been expected to stand in the 2020 Presidential election it seems that’s now off the cards thanks to this week’s scandal. Could Zuckerberg’s anti-Trump stance be because he got slapped with an extra $2.3 billion tax bill courtesy of Trump’s policy of taxing businesses who trade outside the US, a policy that has also lead to Apple looking to bring a lot of their business back to the US?
While experts called for Facebook to be broken up, the internet exploded in anger over Facebook’s deceit, citing Facebook as being the shadowy Orwellian big brother figure that we’ve always feared. Only joking, no one cared because they were either too busy looking at pictures of doggos, judging Donald Trump for sleeping with pornstars or sending angry Tweets at Snickers, the WWE and WWE’s wrestlers/Sports Entertainers/Superstars/whatever tax avoiding term they are this week.
Kony 2012 II: Lithuanian Boogaloo
A video posted on Reddit 3 weeks ago quickly almost became the modern Kony 2012 thanks to ticking all of the internet outrage bingo boxes:
- Won’t somebody pleeeeeeease think of the children
- Government oppression
- A well made video
- Sticking it to “the man”
- The rich are evil
- Shadowy elite people abusing children
- Sad music with pictures of children
- A call to action
- A petition
41,000 upvotes later in just the r/videos sub-Reddit, posters started to realise that accepting a one sided story at face value may not be the wisest idea. Thankfully, r/videos moderators finally woke up and locked the post as it broke the sub’s rules.
The video was a young man talking about how his mother had been exposing child abuse in Lithuania which was being carried out by politicians and the rich. She had to flee for her safety to the US but now was held and set to be extradited to Lithuania where she wouldn’t receive a fair trial. This classic David and Goliath tale omitted a whole slew of facts, much like Kony 2012 did, that would have given the viewer a much more balanced view of the overall picture. What was terrifying about this is that it was a clear illustration of how easy it is to manipulate the masses simply by making sure you press the right buttons, edit your videos well and play The Scorpions’ Wind of Change over a montage of photographs of dead people and children. While the press is still going on about Russia influencing everything, it’s pretty obvious that they don’t actually need to because the vast majority of folks can be manipulated very easily by a passionate video that touches on primal urges to protect kids, even if it features a band who unwisely featured a naked child on an album called Virgin Killer. (Very NSFW Wikipedia link)
Not so Fabulous Moolah
Oh boy. On March 12th the WWE announced that at this year’s Wrestlemania there would be the first ever annual battle royal match for women’s wrestlers, to accompany the already established Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal for men. In keeping with the naming of the men’s battle royal, the women’s event was to be named after The Fabulous Moolah – a female wrestler considered to be the very best in the history of wrestling. The fans took issue with the event bearing her name and began bombarding WWE and their female wrestlers with messages outlining their disgust. A petition was started to get the name changed which would never have worked, but what did work was fans contacting Wrestlemania 34 sponsor Snickers who made WWE change the name to the Wrestlemania Women’s Battle Royal on March 15th.
Why were the fans outraged? See the list in the above section about the internet bingo outrage boxes. Fabulous Moolah has allegations against her that she exploited and pimped out female wrestlers during her time while drugging them to keep them easier to handle. Where does this evidence come from you might ask? Surprise surprise, it’s that reliable source – Reddit so it must be a fact! After all, this is the same Redditor who posted about what an awful person The Ultimate Warrior was because Bret Hart said so. Plus the post about Moolah cites other posts on Reddit as proof so that has to make it true, right?
Over half of Reddit’s users are 18-25 which means that none of them were alive during The Ultimate Warrior’s red hot run and none of them were alive when Moolah was women’s champion. This is a generation of fans who’s knowledge of the past doesn’t come from experiencing it but rather from hearing of it, usually through shoot interviews and the autobiographies published by WWE, none of which are reliable histories. This is also the generation who are also exposed to information outside their sphere of interest via macro templates – what most would consider a meme; an image with text over it.
Likewise, Moolah’s legacy comes from two completely opposite sources: WWE’s fondness of her as a trailblazer for women’s wrestling and from an article originally published in Augusta’s Metro Spirit which was reproduced by the Free Times in 2006. The Free Times article is the source of 90% of the hatred towards Moolah as it tells the story of wrestler Sweet Georgia Brown’s son trying to find his father while his older sister had passed down horrific stories of their mother’s time in the business. There’s no allegation of Moolah drugging or pimping out Brown, the only mention of Moolah is of her striking Brown in front of her family and that Brown’s money was sent to her family from Moolah or Moolah’s husband, Buddy Lee.
No one has looked into Buddy Lee and his promoting, instead choosing to blame Moolah. Sure there are more allegations but there’ll be a full article about the whole situation published here on Gear4Geeks in the coming days where we’ll look at the facts over the hysteria.
The last few weeks have taught us that allegations that feed into people’s emotions, particularly about sexual abuse, won’t get questioned in depth as people will usually presume they are true. Likewise, it’s now very easy to end up in court over statements made on the internet so if you post something controversial, if the lynch mob doesn’t get you then the law just might.