TR Member Perks!

Updated Editor’s Note 11/7/2017 – In an effort to further commit to our editorial vision of quality content about nothing but games or the industry, we are leaving this note here to let you know that this article does not meet the standards of that vision as it exists today. This article may be poorly written, or it may be well-written but with charged political content, which we have stepped away from. It’s not the ideas we have a problem with, as we do not discourage any viewpoint, we are just moving away from this sort of content. This article no longer represents TechRaptor’s editorial vision today and into the future. You can read more about why we are doing this here.

 

It’s a great day on the internet; a day in which online harassment has been put in its place by the brand, spanking new Crash Override Network.  All one has to do to get their support is sell out logically, intellectually, ideologically, and philosophically to a select few of the internet’s most underhanded characters.

To garner the attention of Crash Override, first one must be a victim of online harassment.  Fortunately for the logically deficient or willfully ignorant, there’s a ready made tool to turn absolutely anyone into a victim. The tool for the average person to call anything they don’t like harassment is called “death of the author”.

Death of the author” is nonsensical fop in which it is asserted that the context surrounding a piece of writing as well as the background of the author is irrelevant when weighed against how a piece of writing is interpreted by the reader.  In the hands of the anti-free-speech crowd, it’s the BFG 9000: any text, song, video, video game, or spoken word that violates the fragile little psychological construct of the reader (usually Special Snowflake Syndrome) is automatically labeled harassment or “problematic”. “Death of the author” is a key philosophical component to the Crash Override Network.

I Was Zero Cool

When I first saw the phrase Crash Override show up on Twitter a few days ago, I thought it was an attempt to make a sequel to 1995s fantasy computer nerd movie Hackers where the only returning actor was Johnny Lee Miller.  Eagerly anticipating the posters for Crash Override: The Search for More Money, I started investigating, and boy was I wrong.

Only to a point, though.  The internet version of Crash Override is a search for lots of money.  Sadly, it has nothing to do with Hackers.  As advertised, Crash Override Network is a “support network and assistance group for victims of online harassment, composed entirely of experienced survivors”.  According to them, they “assist and support victims of online harassment” both in the moment and in an ongoing fashion (the money is in the medicine), and they “seek to prevent victims from ever needing us in the first place”.  Taken at face value, Crash Override looks like it should be a great thing to help those who are suffering from the onslaught of harassment.  The devil, as they say, is in the details.

Who Gets Help?

Gaming Editor at Badass Digest Andrew Todd had his personal information posted on 8Chan.  He wrote about it on January 17, 2015.  For the time being, leave all the intuitive leaps attempting to tie an anonymous message board with a Twitter hashtag out of the discussion.  I’m happy Crash Override Network was there to provide Mr. Todd the advice and support he needed when he needed it.  To be perfectly blunt, all political slap fighting aside, no one deserves that kind of treatment.  I, for one, wish Andrew Todd all the best in the days to come, and I sincerely hope he can recover from the incident to return to normal life ASAP.

Sadly, application of the “death of the author” fallacy means those last words will most likely ring hollow, but for what it’s worth, I mean every word.

The Andrew Todd case is a great one for the public at large, as interested observers can get some insight as to what kind of harassment and how much attracts the attention of Crash Override.  I know an online personality who has suffered online harassment consistently not for days or weeks or months, but for years.  If a single incident of personal information being posted to an anonymous message board triggers Crash Override to swing into action, surely a person suffering ongoing harassment for years would be a candidate for the network’s support.

As I’ve mentioned before in disclaimers on TechRaptor, Total Biscuit and I were colleagues at shoutcasting website WoW Radio from October 2006, through February, 2010.  WoW Radio closed in February, 2010, and TB went on to found Cynical Brit, and focus his efforts on e-sports.  TB has received harassment of nearly every variety since I’ve known him.  In an email conversation with me, he characterized the harassment he’s received recently:

Over the past year we have received death threats in the triple figures and that’s just by email. Not a day goes by when someone isn’t trying to attack us for something, in fact the harassment seems to have increased since the cancer diagnosis, though that could be a correlation fallacy.

Online death threats numbering in the triple figures aimed at person diagnosed with cancer sounds exactly like the type of person Crash Override would want to at least contact to provide support to.  I asked TB if he’d been contacted by Crash Override Network:

No they have made no effort to contact me.

A strange turn of events, don’t you think?  I can’t imagine the leadership at Crash Override are trying to send a message that one person’s harassment is more serious or more debilitating than another’s, especially when one is recovering from a potential life threatening medical condition.  According to Alex Lifschitz, the Crash Override leadership is picking and choosing which cases they take:

We will be assisting people in being able to take care of themselves while putting active priority on very particular cases of relentless and dangerous harassment that we have pre-vetted, while continuing to alert and assist new targets. We’re remaining as adaptable as the situations we encounter.

I sent an email to Crash Override asking for details about the pre-vetting process Alex Lifschitz mentioned above, and as of the time of posting, I have not received a response.  Total Biscuit’s case seems like it would more than qualify, but somehow, it hasn’t.

There has to be something that separates TB and Andrew Todd. I think I know what the difference is.  TB is a consumer advocate, and has spoken out against corrupt media; Andrew Todd is a “GamerGate = 8Chan and 8Chan = the devil thus GamerGate = the devil” false narrative peddling muppet.

Ah, So Crash Override is Just a Weapon

Suddenly, the purpose of Crash Override makes sense.  Andrew hates 8Chan; Zoe and Alex hate 8Chan; therefore, Andrew is “worthy” of getting support from Crash Override.  TB supports gamers and consumers; therefore TB is not “worthy” of the network’s support.  If one wants the support of the network, one will preach the orthodoxy; anything other than total subjugation to the “GamerGate = 8Chan = hate group” narrative and Crash Override Network is going to leave you out in the cold to fend for yourself.  I have outlined a case study which demonstrates the network’s ideological favoritism.

Fortunately, TB isn’t necessarily looking for support.  I asked him if he feels he is a “survivor” of online harassment, since he more than qualifies based on how Crash Override defines survivor:

I don’t call myself a “survivor” because that’s insulting to people who have actually survived things like wars, domestic abuse, rape, child abuse and more besides. I am a rich guy living in a first world country. Let’s keep the term “survivor” for people that deserve it and should be receiving our help and not bandy the word around as if it’s some sort of fashion accessory. Surviving mean tweets is not difficult. It sucks that it’s happening and something should be done but attempting to create support groups on the internet or “policing” harassment is a completely ineffective way to go about it. We should be harnessing the ingenuity of technology to help deal with this issue and attempting to dispel online tribalism through our[sic] actions and promotion of positive industry endeavour.

 22 “news” outlets trumpeted nearly identical narratives about Crash Override Network, and since none of them had the presence of mind or the presence of spine to ask the important questions, I will.  How long before the story of a victim of online harassment Crash Override has knowingly denied service to ends in tragedy?  If someone denied service does the unthinkable, isn’t Crash Override just as responsible for causing the tragedy by denying that person support as the harassers are?  Are we really going to celebrate a “support network” wielded as a weapon to mug anyone ideologically different from the network’s founders?

An Aptly Named Service

Crash Override Network (CON) has an apt acronym, for it is an all mouth, no trousers con.  The number of dupes is staggering: 20+ news outlets, 6400 followers on Twitter, and 850 Patreon supporters.  At this rate, the race for who is the 21st century’s P.T. Barnum will be up for grabs by the end of 2015.  Potential customers will trumpet the narrative or be dumped at the side of the road, as dupe after dupe after dupe after dupe lines up to drink the kool-aid without seeing if the emperor and empress have no clothes.  It’s as if we’re supposed to just trust wolves in sheep’s clothing who burn books and make false DMCA claims at their word.  Not me.

So Let’s Solve the Problem

All that said, there are some pretty major problems with the internet and how people interact with each other.  People falsely advertise constantly: in their Twitter profile pic glamour shots, as game developers, in the mission of their “anti-harassment network”, in “news” articles that are really paid commentary.  People take advantage of the anonymity the internet provides to say things they’d never say in front of another person.  Technology companies, governments, and law enforcement are slow to react to technology that’s evolving at an ever increasing rate.

So how do we fix it?  TB has some suggestions:

What I want are more tools to let me filter who gets access to me. Twitter is so ridiculously open and easy to abuse. Why can’t I filter whose replies I see based on account age so that brand new egg accounts can’t be used to troll me? Why can’t I set a minimum number of tweets or whatever before I see someones @replies? Why can’t I remove people from my reply feed? Even blocking someone allows the comment to show up for others and that gives a vector for trolls to antagonize my audience. Twitter is a massive vector for abuse and has done a piss-poor job using technology to help individuals handle it. All of its efforts have been ill-conceived, WAM being the latest example of giving super powers to a tiny group of agenda driven individuals which resulted inevitably in abuse and false flagging.

I’ve long been a proponent of removing anonymity from most of the internet, though I do see the value in a person being judged solely on the strength of their argument, and not what socio-politico-economic group they belong to.  I’m not sure I have a complete answer to any issue regarding internet harassment.

This I do know: putting a band-aid on the symptoms caused by a free and open internet solves nothing, and letting bitter, partisan people guide the discussion for fixing the problem threatens to remove the internet’s greatest attribute: a place where free exchange of ideas happens.  That, I’m afraid, I cannot abide.


Todd Wohling

A long time ago on an Intellivision far, far away my gaming journey started with Lock n' Chase, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons The Cloudy Mountain, and Night Stalker. I earned both a BS-Physics and a BS-Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Today I spend most of my time on PC. I left a career of 14 years in aerospace in Colorado, so I could immigrate to Norway.



  • Cy

    I agree that the Twitter reporting system needs to be fixed, but I’m not really sure I’m a fan of the idea of making it so easy to determine who gets to respond to you or whose tweets you see. One of the biggest problems on the internet are the closed off ideological bubbles that people live in where they aren’t exposed to any ideas that they disagree with and, consequently, can’t handle them when they do come across them someplace else. People need to learn how to deal with the fact that they’re not always right and that people don’t always agree with them and that just because someone disagrees with them that doesn’t make them a rapist or a racist or a nazi. And you’re not gonna do that by creating yet another closed off hugbox on Twitter.

  • KLLRFRST

    I have no idea what CON (could they make it any more obvious?) is going to do that isn’t already being done by other sites and sources. Are they going to report the harassment to Twitter? Because there’s already a system for that. Report it to the FBI? I don’t see why a third party is necessary to do that, and I doubt the FBI is going to devote time, money, and manpower because someone got called a whore on Twitter. Are they going to gather info on the harassers and dox them? That’s then just fighting harassment with harassment, and could get CON in trouble. The only thing I can see them doing is coming to the home of the harassed persons to give them hugs and bake them cookies.

  • What another one? Doesn’t a professional victim helpdesk like that already exist as well as that autobot thing?

  • Reptile

    Autobots…CON (How autobots call decepticons), this is looking more like a transformers wars than anything else.

  • Reptile

    “I don’t see why a third party is necessary to do that”
    Who do you think will manipulate the narrative and select who is “worthy” of being helped?

  • “Why can’t I filter whose replies I see based on account age so that brand new egg accounts can’t be used to troll me? Why can’t I set a minimum number of tweets or whatever before I see someones @replies? Why can’t I remove people from my reply feed?”

    Because Twitter is not open. It’s a proprietary website over which you have no control. The problem here isn’t the “free and open internet”, because the two main “social networks” aren’t the free internet; they’re closed websites.

    One of the most depressing things for me over the last two decades on the internet has been watching what was a free and open network become progressively more closed and walled-in. Email and NNTP were (are) open protocols for which anyone could build a client, and anyone could host a server. That no longer seems to be the way things work. We’re (well, you are) now at the mercy of whatever tools Twitter and Facebook’s developers condescend to give you.

    It’s not good enough.

  • Typical

    It’s just a new disguise they are wearing to try to fool idiots into not realizing they are the true scum of the earth. Also to bilk money out of said idiots. You know the only support someone being harassed needs? A backbone. The sociopaths know that they can feign concern from the weak willed and then exploit their misplaced trust, this has been ZQ’s modus operandi from the beginning: use and exploit anyone and anything to further herself.

  • Johnathon Tieman

    I can see your point, but I didn’t read it as trying to create another “closed off hugbox”. I interpreted it as referring to actual harassment or even just general idiocy. Someone like TB has real problems trying to communicate to his audience in general. The threats are certainly one issue, but even people just being smart alecks, contrary just to be contrary, or even well-meaning “Me too!”s or “I agree!”s don’t actually contribute anything to good conversation. How can someone filter that down in order to have an actual conversation?

    Of course, one of the big issues is that Twitter was *never* designed to facilitate discussion at all. Twitter was designed as a micro-blog system, not the Internet’s global chat channel (which is what it has partially become). If I remember correctly, things like at-replies and hash tags are things users did, and Twitter added formal support for them later on. So Twitter is stuck playing catch-up, and having to deal with a massive user-base that has many different use-cases way outside any bounds originally conceived for the product, some of which probably conflict. I certainly don’t envy their development team.

  • Sinsate Etasnis

    Gotta disagree with ending online anonymity, how else can unpopular but necessary voices protect themselves from reprisals? How many people come out about their abuse or sexuality online so they can talk about it under protection of anonymity? The negative aspects of anonymity are highly publicized, but in discussion of abolishing or limiting it, the very real benefits of it are often underplayed or outright ignored.

    That said, I do think it’s fine for a social media site to only allow their real credentials. In that way everyone on said site has their cards on the table so to speak. That won’t stop people on third party sites from using that information though.

  • Reptile

    Agreed, even in “anonymity”, the police (specially FBI) have tools to locate people’s physical location. So no need to end it.

  • Nanowired

    My first inclination here is that they are building themselves up as a “Professional source” for claims to show that all of their victims are harassed by pro-ethics people.

    That being said, they might just be trying to tank while their backstabbers go to work.

    Either way, they are a waste of time.

  • So something set up by dishonest people with the acronym C.O.N. is dangerous you say?

    I love how they’re being subtly open about how shady this is.

  • Steve Creampeen

    When they first popped up all I said was “I wish CON would have been around when WizardChan and TFYC were being harassed”, and I was blocked immediately. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger farce the Crash Override Network online right now. Anyone in the know is well aware that Zoe Quinn is a serial harasser and the fact that she’s the head of some resource for fighting online harassment is absolutely ridiculous.

  • sinister

    The fact that a “under construction”, information free website with a countdown clock is regaled as a resource for anti-harassment tells me all I need to know when I wonder which media outlets are colluding with each other.

    Maybe we also need to start up ten or so websites with countdown clocks to ethics. Apparently that is what makes a source credible now?

  • sinister

    The level of “inyourfacery” on this one tells you all you need to know about how “afraid for her life” Zoe Quinn is.

  • PossiblyCthulhu

    Agreed, and in the arms race to raise the most number of subscribers to your social media platform, they have forgotten the most social part of speech – open, honest debate. That’s the biggest irony of all, but given that the ‘media’ part of social media is all about the message and rarely the response to it I shouldn’t be all that surprised

  • David Lalilulelo Oh

    I’m not sure about this article; I think it is to early to judge to this extent as far as an article is concerned. I don’t have faith in Crash Override Network (CON) either, I’m just as skeptical as the author, but CON technically hasn’t even officially started. Ignoring that CON is still not in effect, it also seems inappropriate to use someone who, by their own admission, doesn’t need CON to criticize its lack of action.

  • sinister

    Does the fact that it’s a Tumblr sway you just a little?

  • Meittimies

    Eh, “dangerous” is starting to be pushing it in my opinion. Lets not stoop as low as the AntiGG who tries to justify their censorship with their targets being “toxic”, or “dangerous” or “harmful”.

    Zoe tries to rack up some more fame and money before her 15 minutes of fame have finally ended, and she starts to realize what kind of a career-suicide she committed during these 6 months. Thats pretty much it.

  • willbucket

    Hey man, Death of the Author doesn’t necessarily mean that. It just means that the author’s intention isn’t the absolute authority on a piece. After that, there are a couple ways you can go: New Criticism takes the interpretation with the most evidence as the best, and is an awesome method for it. On the other hand, the “whatever the reader thinks is automatically true” way of interpretation is called “Reader Response Theory”, and it’s awful.

  • greenleif .

    ZQ being in charge of any anti-harassment network is like saying Shanley Kane should be in charge of helping minorities in tech.

    boom

  • Chris Fett

    That’s not quite what death of the author is. What you are writing about, the removal of all context, is what is known as close reading and is a method of reading texts for the literary school of new criticism (a school that kind of just gets eye rolls from contemporary critics).

    “Death of the Author” posits that the intent of the author of a text can never be truly determined. Any reading is going to have the reader’s subjectivity involved in their interpretation of the text. If an author attempts to explain his intent, that explanation will also be subjected to the reader’s subjectivity and you still have an inability to completely grasp the intent of the author, only now with two nesting “texts”. Furthermore, there is the issue that even the author himself does not know his/her intent when (s)he wrote the text because the moment has since past, any conclusion (s)he will come to will be subject to the author’s hindsight. Therefore, as the intent of the author can never be found, even by the author himself, all that can ever truly be worked with is interpretations by readers (including the author him/her self!).

    However, Death of the Author does not allow for “any interpretation goes” there are still strong arguments and weak arguments. If your interpretation has no basis from which you can relate your interpretation to other people, it’s going to be dismissed as a weak argument. Yes, you can say that cat in the hat is about the edo period of japan, but if the only evidence you have is “because I said so” you’re going to be ignored by other critics.

  • SHOTS FIRED! *airhorns*

  • Chris Fett

    Glad I’m not the only one <3

  • So… basically that “service” exists because 12 years old can’t handle the internet.
    Guess my idea of banning the internet for everyone under 18 isn’t so bad after all.

  • It’s not so much about Governments tracking individuals, rather the individual *consenting* (tacitly or overtly)… In other words, whilst anon still exists Government *HAS* to use legal means to trace and track, whereas when the populace wilfully gives that up, Government can just do whatever it wants because there is no longer a requirement (rubber-stamping actions rather than being required to use due-process).

    But yes, anon has little to do with the abuse people are painfully willing to freely fling at complete strangers, openly and under their own real names. Just look to Twitter and Facebook for proof of that.

    [edited for clarity]

  • Person Person

    I don’t disagree with the premise that CON will not help anyone they perceive to be GG, BUT why would anyone expect them to contact Total Biscuit, if he didn’t ask for their services? If he asked for help and they denied him, that’s one thing but to expect them to solicit their services to any individual is ridiculous. Come on, there are enough things to complain about without building straw men.

  • It’s arguable that “social” is the defining factor, “media” just being the mechanism (reason) for the connection between users. So although you *are* right about responses being ignored, people are not posting *to* get responses in the first place, they doing it to be seen, so responses only matter with respect to that.

    And we can’t use email the way we did because of spam and the CANIT Act requiring all sorts of disclosures and opt outs etc.. etc..

  • Touma

    correct me if i’m wrong but CON (subtle) has hackers or something in their midst? question, why would they need that to help victims?

  • They prey on the vulnerable to indoctrinate them, make them a ‘proper victim’ that will then go on and evangelise the ’cause’.

    This is the oldest cult tactic.

    Also notice the tweets from CON that make it clear they don’t take third party referrals. The victim is required to contact them directly, isolating them from any existing support structure (which they can then freely criticise).

    This is the second oldest cult tactic.

  • Nick
  • Todd Wohling

    They contacted Andrew Todd, according to all the stories I’ve seen. I feel TB’s case is clearly one they’d want to take on if they were really interested in combating online harassment.
    That they haven’t is all one needs to know about the motivations of the people behind the network.

  • David Lalilulelo Oh

    It isn’t though. Is it? I just went to the site and there is no indication that it is a tumblr.

  • Ryan Mo

    This. I winced when reading that it was “nonsensical fop”. Furthermore, the (in)validity of CON is not definitively concluded simply because they chose to help one person and not another, who so happens to have been a past work associate. As an opinion article, this is very telling of the author’s bias but fails to persuade readers that such bias is justified.

  • Todd Wohling

    I read “death of the author” differently than you’ve explained it, but I’m by no means an expert on literary interpretation. I spend most of my days writing technical documents, where there’s no such thing as “intent”. That is to say, if you don’t say exactly what you want a piece of code to do, or what you want an interface to look like, etc. you can be reasonably sure that whatever product is going to be wrong.
    Further, it *seems* like death of the author is being massively misused by SocJus as well.
    TW

  • Chris Fett

    Oh absolutely. There are so many concepts in literary theory, critical theory, and postmodernal thought that are pulled WAY out of context and butchered by the SJW crowd. The most prominent problem is any kind of suggestion that “everything is subjective so I can do whatever I want”.

  • Ryan Colson

    TIL TechRaptor is antisemitic on top of hiring shitty writers on top of being a shitty site

    It’s like a poop sandwich

  • Emmgee

    TIL that people who look at a pic of money and assume/claim it’s some sort of antisemitic thing are pretty crappy people who are JUST as prejudice as those who they make the claim against. Even MORE so if it’s grasping at straws.

    They’re like poop sandwiches.

  • Gone

    Requiring your identity to use a private website is a far cry from requiring your identity to use the internet. It is abhorrent that these “SJW” types are playing into the government’s push for the last half dozen years to strongly justify censoring the internet and stripping anonymity and privacy by justification of “but intarweb bullies you guys!”. It’s gross.

    It’s a fucked up world where people who should be defending privacy, anonymity, and freedom of expression are the ones pushing for the end of all of that for their own personal gain.

    Further, nobody needs to offer a justification for anonymity or privacy or anything else. It’s like demanding justification for free speech. Or freedom to be atheist. Or of any religion. You can just fucking be that. This is the primary tenet of a free fucking society.

  • D.K. Wilson

    How about this idea? I know it’s controversial. I know it’s not PC. I know it requires taking far greater lengths to apply than tasking Twitter with providing more tools to its users.

    How about —- Personal Responsibility. How about people actually thinking before they make a death threat; don’t use “death to the author,” as a retort. You and I both know what Todd Wohling did there. What Wohling omits is this: if you’re Muslim and some fear dealer pushing his or her street terrorist product to anyone wanting a quick racist, xenophobe, jingoism fix can report said Muslim person and get them banned from Twitter forever and – BONUS PRIZE SPOILER! – have them tagged an surveilled by the DHS, FBI, and any other intelligence agency wanting to prop up its trillion dollar fear drug production.

    But rather than understand that “Words Matter,” Wohling is engaging in the gross hyperbolic language and pedantic blather he and his gamer sycophants, I mean knee pad-wearing supporters, always turn to when obfuscating the fact that they want everyone else to be held accountable for their actions but them.

    This isn’t time for trotting out some version of a tread-worn childish adage. That sicks and stones shite in today’s world translates to the abuse of weapons than, in the very real world, can kill by applying but 11 pounds of pressure to a trigger.

    Funny thing is, if any of you, including Wohling, bothered to not just read but properly contextualize the actions of the male figure who acted as unintentional angel for gamer sites spanning the globe – oh wait, I need to be PC here and remember to mention the growing number of people who believe the Earth is flat – and remove your personal investment in blame drugs, you can see this angel is actually pretty damn emotionally retarded. That he actually attempted to calculate the weight of the response of his every verbal attack, or lovelorn screed (also understood as… “psychologist’s wet dream”) informs the socially adjusted human that he is also THAT dude who sits in a room in one of 28, that we know of, intelligence agencies, who willfully targets other humans thousands of miles away and kills them with the press of a button.

    That this angel was able to completely disassociate himself from his female target and that there are millions of people who agreed with him to the point of terrorizing other women (yes, “terrorizing;” attach any number of “enemy” countries to your place of origin and that’s what your actions would be called) is a clear sign of an epidemic of psychopath mimetic behaviors in the Western world populace.

    That Wohling acts as a mid-level dealer exhorting and extolling these behaviors is endemic of the psychopath mimetic phenomenon. Then again, of the top five chosen professions for psychopaths, it’s no accident that “psychopath” is among the top — three.

    (Oh, and TL; DR means you did.)