I’m Sorry–No, No, This Time I’m Not

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I haven’t done anything to harm anyone.

I participated in the #WomenProtestTwitter  “walkout” Friday even though I didn’t think it would accomplish much but bring out people to mock a silent protest. It will take some time to see if Twitter will learn anything from how many people stayed off Twitter yesterday. I spent some time Friday emailing Twitter advertisers that I follow about the boycott. Really, if you want to get a huge corporation’s attention, you hit them in the wallet, and one way to do that is complain to their advertisers.

I went back to Twitter in the early hours of Saturday morning and was appalled by the hatred spewed at the women who protested by other women. Everyone had their convoluted view about why white women holding a silent protest was ridiculous, stupid, offensive, somehow increasing the problem of rape culture. I was astounded. I was astounded because I personally support the silent  “take a knee” protests by NFL players and cheerleaders, and I condemn trump and everyone else who demonizes them. That being said, why am I being harmful by choosing to protest in the only way I see left besides deleting my Twitter account? And I hate it for you, but no one is actually going to delete their Twitter account over Twitter’s refusal to enforce their own TOS. We’re going to keep reporting and asking why our reports are ignored and demanding that cases be escalated to supervisors and reporting the same people over and over and yell at Twitter support and get our own accounts suspended, and nothing will change.

Maybe we should walk out for longer . . . if we all can, if we can all fill that Twitter time with something else. I think that an awful lot of people can’t. Look at the settings on your phone, how much time you spend on Twitter, before you bitch at me for staying off for a day.

If you mocked protestors, I probably unfollowed you. Feel free to reciprocate. Doesn’t matter how long we’ve known each other. If it’s been years, you should have respect for me and my decision to protest. I don’t look down on people who didn’t protest. I do have no use for people who mocked those who did.

Oh, and look, apparently silence does speak:

4/ Today we saw voices silencing themselves and voices speaking out because we’re *still* not doing enough.

There are a lot of interpretations for the above statement. I see it as acknowledging both forms of protest.

And @Jack at Twitter is right . . . they are nowhere near to doing enough.

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#WomenProtestTwitter

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Women have, again, had it with the violent misogyny allowed by Twitter and have staged a “walkout.”
I’m with them, even though I don’t think it will make any difference.

This all began when Twitter suspended actor Rose McGowan’s account for 12 hours because she allegedly posted a tweet with a private phone number. The tweet was related to the rape and sexual assault accusations again producer Harvey Weinsten.
I was the victim of sexual harassment and cyberstalking in early January 2015. I ordered an item from a chain store because they had the lowest price (don’t EVER do that.) I used (with permission) my mother’s card because I hadn’t yet received my paycheck. I received the wrong item twice, got horrible phone service, complained on the store’s Facebook page, and attracted a pair of cyberstalkers, a man who works for the store and his girlfriend.

They set up a Twitter account devoted to trolling my closest friends and me and posted private information they could have only learned from my mother’s bank account. I reported them to Twitter over and over. Twitter did nothing. I finally shut them down myself when the woman used her work email address to set up a WordPress account to harass me. I called her at work. It all stopped.
But I had to stop it myself, because Twitter wouldn’t enforce their own TOS, so I really don’t give a damn if Rose McGowan tweeted someone’s phone number.

At the same time, I remember the #TwitterSilence walkout by women two years ago and how it failed because a) too many women couldn’t log out of Twitter for 24 hours b) many women and men denounced the walkout by comparing it to Sojourner Truth’s impassioned speeches and saying SHE would never have participated in a silent protest c) I remember a woman mocking the protestors for scheduling the protest on a night when a popular series had a season premier (again, too many people put live-tweeting on Twitter above protesting sexism and abuse) and d) I remember men tweeting that Twitter was great with all the feminazis gone. I didn’t post for 24 hours, but I read what our supposed friends and allies said, and I was dismayed and disgusted, and I expect much the same this time.

But maybe I’ll be wrong because this time the protest sprang up due to the treatment of a famous woman instead of just regular women. Maybe someone will notice our absence and care.
I doubt it, though.

Hey Pagans, Some Discussion Would Be Nice

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Or even a “thank you.”

The Twitter pagan/Wiccan community is not, shall we say, up to speed on some basic social niceties. Like being nice. Half-a-dozen times, I’ve responded positively to a post, or raised an issue of concern to me, or DMd a popular Wiccan or pagan account and got . . . nuttin’.

And these were not situations where the person or persons running the accounts were inundated with responses to their tweets linking to their blog posts. Maybe I was supposed to go to their blog to comment? Well, I just don’t f’ing feel like jumping through all the hoops to comment on everyone’s blog, and NO, I am not signing in with Facebook. Ever.

If someone links to their new blog post, and I respond, “Great post, really made me think about Topic X” is it so damn hard to respond and say, “Thank you!” Or, “For more discussion, visit my blog.” Or even, “F*ck you!”

If you keep running into the Pagan Wall of Silence, it’s not just you. I can’t give you an explanation for the bad behavior, but it’s not just you.

Someone presenting her or himself as an authority on paganism ought to answer a question. Or at least say, “Hey, can you ask that over here on my blog?” I personally am not going to anyone’s Facebook page because I use FB as little as possible.

It is tempting to unfollow people who have no manners, but oftentimes they write the most insightful articles. I think–I hope–that their Twitter accounts are automated and that explains the lack of manners, but that’s still not okay. Protip: Everyone hates automated accounts. Everyone. Stop it. I don’t care if you’re the High Priest of Cthulu. You’re still acting dickish.

Sometimes, the articles you comment on and don’t get a response  address noob concerns or basic, important topics. And then there will be a post about not doing the thing the person wrote about but ignored questions. So what the hell are you supposed to do?

Well, just because someone doesn’t reply to comments doesn’t mean everything they have to say is wrong. If the post resonates with you, study it for answers to unanswered questions. If you find it confusing or upsetting, go on your own search for answers.

A tip for people new to pagan belief systems:

Wicca and paganism are NOT about renaming yourself “Sister RavynnMorgyn” and posting digital art of voluptuous witches morning and evening and greeting all your friends with “Blessed Be, Sister GoldenDragonWing!” That’s a bunch of crap. That’s not real. The vast majority are struggling along just like you, struggling to learn, struggling to resolve conflicts between Wicca and our birth religion. And the people who put themselves out there as sources of knowledge should BE sources of knowledge instead of ignoring questioners. Wicca is all about questioning. You don’t have dogma. If you do have dogma, you shouldn’t.

Books. Libraries. Used and new book stores. Acquaint yourself with them, and accept that Wicca is like a university course that goes on until the day you die and then after.

Don’t let bad-mannered Wiccans turn you off.

Things Twitter Is Okay With

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Nazis

Racists

Bigots of all stripes

Misogyny

Death threats

Rape threats

Hate speech

Stalking

Doxxing

Copyright infringement (why wouldn’t they be, they just announced they plan to do it)

Sexual harassment

Accounts set up strictly for the purpose of harassing another user

Users saving your avatar and writing hate speech/drawing obscene images on it

Mass-reporting of people who haven’t done anything but offend certain political groups

Urging people to kill themselves

Did I miss anything?

Things Twitter is not okay with:

Reporting any of the above

Reporting trump fans

Demanding to have your case escalated to a supervisor

Why are we on Twitter?

Twitter’s format is useful to us. It’s great for writers, poets, and photographers–well not so much anymore since they’ve updated their TOS to allow them to steal our content. But Twitter’s micro-blogging format is perfect for people who just want to chat, don’t feel they can keep up their own blog, want to follow breaking news, meet others who love the same book/TV show/movie/hobby, and of course, love funny animal gifs.

But considering the fact that they let bigots, misogynists, stalkers, and genuine criminals roam free . . . why are we still there? The benefits don’t outweigh the riskes, but most of us are just too tied up in it to walk away. I’ve been on Twitter for seven years. I have good friends there. I don’t want to lose them. I’ve also come to rely on Twitter to get unedited breaking news. It’s hard to walk away from those things, and Twitter knows it, and that’s how they keep abusing us and letting others abuse us while knowing we’ll stick around.

Something has to change.

I’m fine with a site with ads if I feel that my abuse report will be taken seriously, even if the person I’m reporting is a trump fan/troll/bot. I understand that people have personal biases. I have personal biases. I don’t understand a site that allows the people who are supposed to be dealing with abuse complaints to let those people allow their biases to interfere with their jobs.

That is what Twitter seems to be doing.

It also seems that if you report that someone is harassing YOU, you get the “no TOS violation” horse hockey, whereas if you have a couple of friends report the same violation against you, the offender gets a Twitter slap.

That, right now, seems to be the best way to force abusers on Twitter to leave you alone: ask your friends to report it.

That’s . . . pathetic, Twitter.

Now I’m going to go report another user, AGAIN, who is harassing other people, and hope that someone might possibly do the same for me.

Has Anyone at Twitter Read the Twitter TOS?

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I mean, obviously the person or persons who wrote it read it, but it seems to be totally unfamiliar to the people at Twitter who receive abuse reports and decide if the person reported violated the TOS.

I reported someone for sending sexually explicit tweets to me, tweets that made me feel threatened. My opinion is, the person being harassed determines if the harassment is threatening, not someone sitting in a cubicle and not the person doing the harassment and their friends. Twitter thinks that some strange man ordering me to go perform sexual acts isn’t threatening.

Twitter is very wrong.

I actually argued with someone at Twitter via email tonight and tried very hard to get through to them, but I failed, and I cannot understand why. I sent them screenshots of the tweets and was told they didn’t violate the TOS. That’s a blatant lie, and the only conclusion I can reach is that the person I communicated TO, not with, shares the point of view of the “man” who sexually harassed me and/or is a trump supporter, like the “man” who sexually harassed me.

It seems that a lot of people in all walks of life are unable to leave their personal feelings at the door when they walk into work. That’s a big problem when you work for a hugely popular site like Twitter. I have seen too many women I followed leave Twitter because of Twitter’s failure to emphatically state that they will not tolerate sexual harassment and follow through. Women are afraid to push Twitter too hard in cases like mine because they know that the rep handling their complaint may just decide to shadow ban them or lock their account out of retaliation. No legitimate reason, just retaliation for demanding ENFORCE THE TOS.

I don’t see things changing at Twitter. I’ve seen nothing change for the better at Twitter since I joined in 2011, but so many of my friends are there, and there are so many great accounts that I follow: funny, informative, educational. So I have to put up with obscene tweets to use the site. Yeah, yeah, I can block people, but they just come back with another account, and they’re harassing other people! And Twitter doesn’t care.

I’m not leaving Twitter. But I’m not going to stop raising hell when I submit a valid abuse report and I’m told there was no violation of the TOS.

And there are usually ways of getting other agencies or organizations involved to deal with abusive users, because abusive users are stupid and think that they can get away with anything, and they almost always break an actual law. You don’t have to know their address to bring the hammer down. And when actual laws are broken and Twitter not only ignores it but doesn’t report it, they’re on the hook too.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat

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Yesterday evening, I looked yet again at the pictures of screaming, torch-carrying Nazis in Charlottesville, and something popped into my head. So I tweeted it.

“If you can’t stand the heat, don’t wave a tiki torch at a Nazi rally.”

Here’s a screenshot of my tweet, with the date and time. That’s important in light of what happened later that night.

slogan 6

Actually, I wrote it in the afternoon. At 5:08 pm, someone asked, “Can I steal this?” To which I replied, “You can RT it.”

At 10:44 pm, I got a tweet asking to use “this slogan” on the person’s podcast with my consent. I don’t know this person, this account, or anything about this podcast. I put them off with “let me think about it” so that I could find out what the podcast was about and who was associated with it. Then my neighbor came to the door. By the time I finished talking to her and got back to my computer, the user with the podcast had already decided that it was okay for them to use it because putting it on the Internet made it “fair use.”

That’s a load of manure, and I told them that they were incorrect. And then I spent hours fending off trolls . . . or tweets by the same person from multiple accounts . . . and reporting their tweets, including some that were sexually explicit. To a woman on the Internet, when a hostile, harassing man makes a sexual remark, it’s not a joke. It’s not “just trolling.” It’s threatening.

The person or persons with the podcast told me that I had FORCED them to reword my tweet so that they could use it as their own slogan. And they were foolish enough to put the copyright symbol at the end of their decidedly flat “slogan.”

People, please.

I’m not going to put the copyright symbol at the end of this post because I don’t have to. As soon as I write these original words and they appear on my screen, I own the copyright. Of course, registering your work with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is advisable because it makes it easier to defend your copyright in court, but I own these words.

Copyright and tweets is a new area of copyright law. Your tweet has to have some worth to be subject to copyright law. A poem, for example, has that worth. And if my “slogan” is worth people verbally attacking me for hours, telling me that I “deserve to be trolled off Twitter,” and rewording my tweet and showing it to me (I got a bunch of nice screenshots) then my tweet must have worth.

If I find the reworded tweet or my tweet being used for any type of advertising/moneymaking purposes, the people using it will get a DMCA takedown notice. And yes, I may consider a lawsuit. I told the people who so badly wanted my “slogan” that they did not have permission to use it in any way other than to retweet it. They’re already on notice.

I did not set out to write a slogan. I wrote a tweet about the stupidity of carrying a Tiki Torch to a Nazi rally, then whining about having one’s picture plastered all over the Internet. I don’t want the words that I wrote used to make money for some losers who can’t write their own slogans. I don’t want the words I wrote used to make money at all unless I choose to use them in some way and give the proceeds to the people injured at the Charlottesville rally and the family of the murdered woman. She was, like me, a bankruptcy paralegal, and she chose that career to help people, like I did.

Now I’m a freelance writer, and I know very well how much people want words written by a professional but don’t want to pay for them, or pay for what they’re really worth. I’ve written so much content for businesses that sell expensive products or services. They’ve made so much money off me. I’ve made minimum wage, if I was lucky, but I like the work, and it allows me to be at home with my mother in case she falls or has another episode of malignant high blood pressure. Freelancing allows me to make sure my mother eats three meals a day and doesn’t try to climb a ladder to cut down a tree branch or vacuum the basement stairs.

I pinned my tweet to my Twitter profile so that everyone can see the time and date stamps. If I see my tweet being used in any way, we’ll see just how much value a court thinks that it has.

Red in Tooth and Claw

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Snow White-A Smile and a Song

It is really too bad that nature is not like this scene from Walt Disney’s Snow White. BTW Snow White remains my favorite Disney Princess because when I was a kid in the 1970s, she was the only brunette. I didn’t really care about her “happily ever after” with the prince who appeared at the end of the movie. I loved the thought of her living in the forest in harmony with all of the animals.

Then I grew up. Unfortunately, a lot of people did not.

I follow two related Twitter accounts: A woman farmer in Ireland, and an account for one of her cats. She posts pictures and short videos every day of her sheep, her farm, her cats, her spinning room. Usually they’re a diversion from the ugly reality in the U.S. Sometimes sad things happen, like a premature lamb dying. Sometimes upsetting things happen, like one of the farm cats getting into a tangle with a strange tom and having to have his ear glued back together (which I found fascinating as it healed up so much more quickly than stitches.)

A few days ago, she posted a picture of herself rescuing a wren nestling before one of the cats got ahold of it. All’s well that ends well, right?

Not on Twitter. She was verbally attacked by multiple anti-cat people who refused to understand that this is a farm cat, not a city cat, cats are needed on farms to control the rodent population, domestic cats aren’t evil. I blame the Audubon Society for spreading lies about outside cats and associating with people who advocate killing them for this sort of nonsense.

Life is not a Disney movie.

I’ve seen a blue jay kill a house sparrow. By the time I got outside with the broom to chase away the jay, the little bird was hopelessly injured. Another year, a bunch of grackles killed a family of house sparrows, parents and nestlings. Territoriality. Animal instinct. I didn’t kill the blue jay or the grackles. And anyone who thinks no cat should be allowed to roam or that cats are an “invasive species” (in Europe!) and spews that nonsense is going to get it thrown right back in their face by me.

The Audubon Society needs a good housecleaning, starting at the top. They are no longer pro-bird. They are anti-cat, and they are validating the absolutely false views of people who just hate cats. One person kept saying the cats “poison” wildlife.

I’ve never seen a cat putting out poisoned bird food, have you? This insane rhetoric has gone way too far. And not enough people are standing up to it, so if you love cats and understand that “nature is red in tooth and claw,” could you confront people spreading anti-cat lies? Could you confront online bullies in general when you see them? Those of us countering the lies and confronting the bullies could use some help. I don’t want to see good people who make the Internet better driven off social media because some blithering idiot can’t understand why domestic cats are so valuable.

If you are one of those blithering idiots: enjoy your bubonic plague.