Monday, July 06, 2009

Twitter Attack

What would you do if you were Twitter Attacked? Twitter is all the rage now. I’m on it. Just about everyone I know tweets. News stations tweet. The President tweets. People tweet while flying, driving, eating, whenever, wherever.

But have you ever thought about what you would do if someone on Twitter decided to attack you? Would you fight back? Could you fight back?

The answer to “Would you fight back?” is it would be pointless. You’d only antagonize the bully and up the fire. The answer to “Could you fight back?” is apparently no.

I say “apparently” because an attack is going on right now. By a writer against two authors. The attacker is vicious. Probably 90% of the attacker’s tweets are hateful barbs against the credibility, the looks, the honesty, the works, the believability, the very soul of the two authors. Tweet after tweet after tweet after tweet. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t let up.

The two authors can do nothing. Twitter will do nothing. Twitter’s written rule is that, before it steps in, the attacker has to make a physical threat and name the place and time of the physical attack. The attacker has no reason to do that. The attacker can do more damage through a cyber attack.

And so the attack continues. One lie after another. One hateful attack after another. One virtual stab after another. On and on. Ad infinitum.

I am not adding my usual "Tweet This" bird because I'd rather you not tweet this. I don't want to add to the attacker's growing popularity. I consider this a sad and scary situation for the two authors being attacked. But I do think it's something each of us should be aware of.

38 comments:

  1. Could it be an insidious reverse marketing ploy? You know, "Any publicity is good publicity" kind of thing schemed by the authors? Call me suspicious. But if not, it's a Twerrible thing to do to any twit.

    Just saying.

    The Old Silly

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  2. Unfortunately, it's real, Marvin.

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  3. It's a shame that someone's using a great social media tool for something like this.

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  4. I agree, bermudaonion. It appears to be the sole reason the writer started the Twitter account.

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  5. To me, this is like the bullies in high school (and just as hopeless if the principal---Twitter--won't do anything to stop the attacks.) I hope it gets resolved. I'd probably just tweet 'sigh!' after each of the attacking tweets. Like it's gotten soooo old...

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  6. This is tough to endure, but, about the only smart option is to ignore and press ahead. Logic says the attacks will eventually slow, then, stop. The public will tire of it for certain and recognize the orign has an agenda.

    If the attacks are automated, then, maybe Twitter can step in. Yeah, it's just sad that there are mean people in the world. Mean, mean, mean. For now, I have no good advice. Just support. Maybe that's more valuable.

    Best regards, Galen
    Imagineering Fiction Blog

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  7. What a sad situation. I agree, it's best to ignore and get on with things, giving no acknowledgement to the provocation. Too bad Twitter doesn't draw the line.

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  8. I know it's not a perfect answer, but can't they just ignore the offending tweeter?

    Disclaimer: I find Twitter a bit baffling.

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  9. The downfalls of free speech!

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  10. It does sort of remind you of high school bullying (a very large high school). And I believe the authors are trying to ignore it and certainly aren't followers of the attacker. It may only stop if the attacker tires of doing it or if followers tire of it and block the attacker until no one is listening.

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  11. How sad and a bit frightening, I might add. I have a friend who is being bad-mouthed on Facebook because an old boyfriend from when she was 12 wants to "talk" to her and his wife is jealous. Maybe we are back in high school.
    Karen Walker

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  12. Cyber bullying has been going on for quite a while now (thinking of the young girl who committed suicide after being bullied by the mother of a classmate). You'd think adults would be beyond such childish antics, but they're not.

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  13. I never thought of this scenerio. It's scary. Maybe all social media needs to enforce some sort of no bullying policy.

    JaneKennedySutton

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  14. I have a friend, quite a prolific children's writer, who has a person who goes all over the internet bashing her books. She doens't know who this person is but it is quite upsetting. The anonymity of the internet lets people do this.

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  15. They probably won't, Jane, unless forced to. They don't want to have to police the millions of users.

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  16. It is sad that, when powerful tools of communication are made available to everyone, some people inevitably misuse them. I don't know of any action Twitter honchos could take, because an attempt to restrict the activities of bullies will end up restricting everybody else as well. I think the best solution is what you are doing here--speaking out and denouncing the activity. It probably won't get through to the culprits, but it reminds the rest of us who use these tools to behave responsibly.

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  17. That's terrible. I don't follow Twitter even though I have an account, so I know nothing about what is going on. But it seems like, with the advent of easy ability to say anything with no repercussions, some people take that as license to do whatever they like. No shame mechanism, no social repercussions, and the more of this that goes on the easier it gets for some people to act in this childish, irresponsible and cruel manner.

    If it were me, I'd try to say nothing publically on Twitter, but man the temptation would be great to do so. It never helps, though.

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  18. I just unfollowed a couple of twits who were bashing another public figure. It's not that they were exercising free speech to show opposition, which is a good thing; they were using vile language and shoveling hateful garbage into my stream of cool tweets.

    It's childish, it's ugly, and it's part of life. It's a risk we take when we put ourselves out there by writing books or running for office, then self-promoting.

    On the other hand, I would tend to go out and buy a sympathy book written by anyone who was being attacked by social media members. Success is truly the best revenge.

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  19. I never thought of that happening. I think it it was me--I'd just get off Twitter and let him be. Ignore it.

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  20. I'm with you, Patricia. Unfollow those whom you don't agree with or who are bashing others. If everyone did that, then the twitterer would be speaking only to an audience that likes what s/he is saying. They'd be happy and the rest of the Twitter world would be happy, as well.

    I hope this happens in this situation. Won't be the perfect situation for the two authors being attacked, but it's something.

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  21. Pathetic. My main hope is that I believe the huge majority of people will recognize this for what it is and realize this sort this is always foolish and the "author" to be pitied.

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  22. Wow! That's really too bad that nobody can do anything about this.

    Lynnette Labelle
    http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

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  23. I also hope the attacker will get tired of the tirade and quit. It seems the Twitter account was opened solely for this purpose so maybe the account will close once the "fun" of the attack wears off.

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  24. I don't like bullies, cyber or otherwise.

    If no one addresses the attacks maybe the attacker will eventually tire and go away, but this isn't much of an answer.

    Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

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  25. Helen, it is sad. Unfortunately, I know a couple of people who take great delight in attacking.

    I've had one show up periodically on my blog who absolutely hates any small press that uses Print On Demand technology. As far as he is concerned, it's all vanity press with no validity and feels that these books should not share the same space as legitimate, traditionally pubbed books. This man is particularly vicious and has targeted several small publishers and their authors and attacks.

    What's sad, is a person should be able to protect their reputation from cyber attacks as much as they do and can when it's in print in magazines or newspapers. I also think that social networks do have to tighten their rules. Many do. This particular person I'm speaking of has been banned from several. But there are always sites like Twitter that don't do anything.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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  26. I hate this, it frustrates me when people can't see someone is being vicious and spiteful. I always feel the perp. should be the one who loses credibility not the people attacked.

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  27. It's ridiculous to see people behaving this way, but social media is a big draw for trolls. However, I'd have to believe that many of their followers would get sick of hearing it and would unfollow them. I've unfollowed people who were too spiteful or constantly negative. Who needs it?

    --Lisa
    http://authorlisalogan.blogspot.com

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  28. I agree. And in my eyes, the attacker has definitely lost all credibility.

    I do not need negativity in my life!

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  29. I agree the attacker loses credibility. It's one thing to disagree with someone, but to just be mean - just because - is ridiculous and a waste of 140 characters.

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  30. And as any good writer knows...you should not waste characters. ;-)

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  31. Have I been living under a (huge) rock recently?!? Duh.

    I don't twitter, or is it tweet, but I know what it is... sorta, lol.

    I'm afraid, "very afraid" of that stuff!
    Call me a Luddite, but I consider it bold to post comments on blogs, LOL!

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  32. Lynn, I, for one, am very glad you do post comments!

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  33. Helen, I have not been aware of the attack on Twitter. Of course, I am not on the site very often to notice something like that.

    I find it disheartening to know that people are that rude and hateful to do something like that.

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  34. Hi Maryann. It is disheartening. For the great majority the of time and tweeters, Twitter is great. But for just a few it's a weapon.

    I find that sad.

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  35. That's terrible that someone can be so mean. Hopefully, by doing this people will be more inclined to read books by the ones who were attacked. That's the best way to show support.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://www.morganmandel.com

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  36. There will always be people who use the anonymous cloaking of cyberspace to behave in ways they (hopefully) would never behave face to face. It's depressing. All the authors can do is maintain their dignity and not sink to this other person's level.

    Sia, I know of whom you speak and this person is a few cogs short of a functioning mental and ethical mechanism. As I suspect all bullies are to some degree.

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  37. I'm unaware of the attack you mention but I would expect the attacker to quickly lose real followers. People know a troll when they see one. Their # of followers may indeed be going up, but with autofollows, and new follow generating apps, it's questionable how many of those "followers" are really following at all. At least that's my hope.

    About the only thing the authors can to is ignore it. They could try hiring a lawyer. Libel is actionable. But it probably would not be worth their time and money.
    ~jon

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  38. Jon, I believe that's what they're doing. They've "talked" with Twitter but for now are hoping it will die out.

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