Tag Archives: Anonymous

Arkansas judge comes out as anonymous poster of racist comments

An Arkansas judge has admitted that he posted a series of anonymous online comments that critics say are racist, sexist and otherwise inappropriate, including one in which he revealed alleged details of confidential proceedings involving actress Charlize Theron’s adoption of her son.

Circuit Judge Mike Maggio acknowledged this week that he posted the comments on a Louisiana State University fan message board, Tiger Droppings, under the pseudonym “geauxjudge.” He also ended his campaign for a seat on the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

“I take full responsibility for the comments that have been attributed to me,” Maggio said in a statement. “I apologize deeply for my lapse in personal judgment and for that, I have no excuse. The comments posted were not acceptable. These comments are not a reflection of who I am.”

The state’s Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission is investigating Maggio’s postings, said its executive director, David Sachar.

Maggio, whose term as a 20th Judicial District judge expires at the end of the year, asked for privacy for his family. He didn’t immediately respond to an email or phone message left at his office seeking comment.

Political blogger Matt Campbell first suggested that “geauxjudge” was Maggio in a Monday posting on his website, Blue Hog Report. He included screen grabs of “geauxjudge” postings from the past few years, including some that dropped biographical hints or that many would find racist, sexist or homophobic.

In a Jan. 17, 2012, posting, “geauxjudge” disclosed what he said were details of Theron’s adoption proceedings. He wrote that a “judge friend” handled the case, but it wasn’t immediately clear if Maggio, himself, was involved. Such proceedings are confidential in Arkansas, and there are no cases in the state’s online court records that mention Theron’s name. Her publicist, Amanda Silverman, declined to comment about the matter.

Theron announced in March 2012 that she had adopted a boy from South Africa named Jackson.

In a June 2011 posting, “geauxjudge” suggested that women who seek divorces after their husbands cheat may be better off financially by staying married. In Arkansas, circuit judges like Maggio handle divorce cases, among other civil and criminal casework.

“I see it everyday. A woman makes (an) emotional decision to divorce because the husband stepped out. When otherwise he was a good provider, father, and husband,” the posting says. “Then a year or two later realizes uh oh I am worse off financially, emotionally and relationship wise but hey they showed that SOB. Too many times the women get their advice from other divorced women.”

In a posting from last December about baby names, “geauxjudge” wrote about the effect a name can have on an individual’s success, the website reported.

“How many Doctors do you hear named Dr. Taneesha or HaHa?” he wrote, apparently referring to Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, a black University of Alabama football player. “How many bankers do (you) hear named Brylee? So stick with something close to normal. Or come sit in criminal court any day and see the `common names.'”

Responding to a story about a woman who was arrested for allegedly having sex with a dog, “geauxjudge” wrote that it was “just a small step” from having “TGGLBS” sex, an apparent reference to transgender, gay, lesbian or bisexual sex.

Hey anonymous: Websites move to block toxic online comments

Mix blatant bigotry with poor spelling. Add a dash of ALL CAPS. Top it off with a violent threat. And there you have it: A recipe for the worst of online comments, scourge of the Internet.

Blame anonymity, blame politicians, blame human nature. But a growing number of websites are reining in the Wild West of online commentary. Companies including Google and the Huffington Post are trying everything from deploying moderators to forcing people to use their real names in order to restore civil discourse. Some sites, such as Popular Science, are banning comments altogether.

The efforts put sites in a delicate position. User comments add a lively, fresh feel to videos, stories and music. And, of course, the longer visitors stay to read the posts, and the more they come back, the more a site can charge for advertising.

What websites don’t want is the kind of off-putting nastiness that spewed forth under a recent CNN.com article about the Affordable Care Act.

“If it were up to me, you progressive libs destroying this country would be hanging from the gallows for treason. People are awakening though. If I were you, I’d be very afraid,” wrote someone using the name “JBlaze.”

YouTube, which is owned by Google, has long been home to some of the Internet’s most juvenile and grammatically incorrect comments. The site caused a stir last month when it began requiring people to log into Google Plus to write a comment. Besides herding users to Google’s unified network, the company says the move is designed to raise the level of discourse in the conversations that play out under YouTube videos.

One such video, a Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial family, met with such a barrage of racist responses on YouTube in May that General Mills shut down comments on it altogether.

“Starting this week, when you’re watching a video on YouTube, you’ll see comments sorted by people you care about first,” wrote YouTube product manager Nundu Janakiram and principal engineer Yonatan Zunger in a blog post announcing the changes. “If you post videos on your channel, you also have more tools to moderate welcome and unwelcome conversations. This way, YouTube comments will become conversations that matter to you.”

Anonymity has always been a major appeal of online life. Two decades ago, The New Yorker magazine ran a cartoon with a dog sitting in front of a computer, one paw on the keyboard. The caption read: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” At its best, anonymity allows people to speak freely without repercussions. It allows whistle blowers and protesters to espouse unpopular opinions. At its worst, it allows people to spout off without repercussions. It gives trolls and bullies license to pick arguments, threaten and abuse.

But anonymity has been eroding in recent years. On the Internet, many people may know not only your name, but also your latest musings, the songs you’ve listened to, your job history, who your friends are and even the brand of soap you prefer.

“It’s not so much that our offline lives are going online, it’s that our offline and online lives are more integrated,” says Mark Lashley, a professor of communications at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Facebook, which requires people to use their real names, played a big part in the seismic shift.

“The way the Web was developed, it was unique in that the avatar and the handle were always these things people used to go by. It did develop into a Wild West situation,” he says, adding that it’s no surprise that Google and other companies are going this route. “As more people go online and we put more of our lives online, we should be held accountable for things we say.”

Nearly three-quarters of teens and young adults think people are more likely to use discriminatory language online or in text messages than in face to face conversations, according to a recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV. The poll didn’t distinguish between anonymous comments and those with real identities attached.

The Huffington Post is also clamping down on vicious comments. In addition to employing 40 human moderators who sift through readers’ posts for racism, homophobia, hate speech and the like, the AOL-owned news site is also chipping away at anonymous commenting.

Previously, anyone could respond to an article posted on the site by creating an account, without tying it to an email address. This fall, HuffPo began requiring people to verify their identity by connecting their accounts to an email address, but that didn’t appear to be enough and the site now also asks commenters to log in using a verified Facebook account.

“We are reaching a place where the Internet is growing up,” says Jimmy Soni, managing editor of HuffPo. “These changes represent a maturing (online) environment.”

Soni says the changes have already made a difference in the quality of the comments. The lack of total anonymity, while not a failsafe method, offers people a “gut check moment,” he says. There have been “significantly fewer things that we would not be able to share with our mothers,” in the HuffPo comments section since the change, Soni says.

Newspapers are also turning toward regulated comments. Of the largest 137 U.S. newspapers – those with daily circulation above 50,000 – nearly 49 percent ban anonymous commenting, according to Arthur Santana, assistant communications professor at the University of Houston. Nearly 42 percent allow anonymity, while 9 percent do not have comments at all.

Curbing anonymity doesn’t always help. Plenty of people are fine attaching their names and Facebook profiles to poorly spelled outbursts that live on long after their fury has passed.

In some cases, sites have gone further. Popular Science, the 141-year-old science and technology magazine, stopped allowing comments of any kind on its news articles in September.

While highlighting responses to articles about climate change and abortion, Popular Science online editor Suzanne LaBarre announced the change and explained in a blog post that comments can be “bad for science.”

Because “comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories,” wrote LaBarre.

We can’t wait to see the response to this story.

Web security firm vows to donate money received from Westboro Church to charity

Shortly after the gay-obsessed Westboro Baptist Church announced that its members would picket the funerals of victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., the hackers collective Anonymous went to work. The group claimed to have successfully filed a death certificate for Shirley Phelps-Roper, the church’s spokesperson and to have updated Phelps-Roper’s desktop to gay porn.

Anonymous also posted the personal contact information and the location of the church’s primary organizers via Twitter.  As a result, Twitter suspended one of the primary accounts associated with Anonymous, @YourAnonNews, as well as Phelps-Roper’s Twitter account, which had been taken over by Anonymous.

In a video released on Dec. 18, Anonymous warns Westboro of its impending downfall and vows to “dismantle the church.”

“Your downfall is underway,” says a voice in the video. “Since your one-dimensional thought protocol will conform not to any modern logic, we will not debate, argue, or attempt to reason with you.” 

But Black Lotus, a Web security firm, went to the aid of the infamous “God Hates Fags” church, providing the group with attack protection. The firm, however, has vowed to donate all money received for its services from Westboro to charity.

“It is important to avoid setting a precedent that information should be suppressed merely because of its content,” said Black Lotus CEO Jeffrey Lyon in a statement that was published by  www.globalpost.com. “Regardless, Black Lotus is a human organization with our own set of standards and principles and in support of such we will donate all WBC revenue, and then some, to ensure that our relationship with WBC is on a zero revenue basis.”

Westboro Baptist Church, which is led by the fiery hell-and-damnation preacher Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kan., blames gays for the shootings at the elementary school, along with every other atrocity experienced by the United States and its citizens.

Hackers shut down Fred Phelps’ websites

In the middle of a live interview with Shirley Phelps-Roper, the Internet hacking group known as “Anonymous” hacked a site operated by the Westboro Baptist Church. All of the church’s websites are now inaccessible.

Radio talk show host David Pakman was interviewing Phelps-Roper, the daughter of the Rev. Fred Phelps, along with an anonymous member of Anonymous on Feb. 25. After enduring a string of insults from Phelps-Roper, including the assertion that he was going to hell, the Anonymous representative said, “I have a surprise for you.”

He directed Phelps-Roper and the audience towards downloads.westborobaptistchurch.com, where a message appeared from Anonymous. The message describes the hacking as a “swift and emotionless bitchslap” and orders the gay-obsessed fringe group to “go away.” It accuses the Phelps clan of declaring war on Anonymous in an effort to gain media attention.

The message ends: “God hates fags: assumption. Anonymous hates leeches: fact.”

The anonymous representative said the group was not responsible for crashing all the Westboro sites but rather that it was the work of a single hacker connected with the group.

Hackers threaten to shut down Phelps’ cyber operations

A dreaded group of hackers who operate together under the name “Anonymous” warned the gay-obsessed Rev. Fred Phelps that they will inflict his Westboro Baptist Church website with irreparable damage if his clan continues its inflammatory protests.

In an open letter to the church posted on AnonNews, Anonymous warned Phelps that “neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover” from the cyber attack.

The Phelps clan’s response? “Bring it, cowards.”

The Phelps clan is notorious for its anti-gay protests at the funerals of military service personnel, Lady Gaga performances and other public events. The group, which operates a website at godhatesfags.com, praised Jared Loughner, the Tucson shooter, for killing six people.

Anonymous is a “hactivist” group with a successful track record. Its members successfully disabled sites backed by Egypt president Hosni Mubarak before he was swept from power. Anonymous also disrupted websites supporting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Anonymous’ open letter to WBC last week said:

“We, the collective super-consciousness known as ANONYMOUS – the Voice of Free Speech & the Advocate of the People – have long heard you issue your venomous statements of hatred, and we have witnessed your flagrant and absurd displays of inimitable bigotry and intolerant fanaticism. We have always regarded you and your ilk as an assembly of graceless sociopaths and maniacal chauvinists & religious zealots, however benign, who act out for the sake of attention & in the name of religion.

“Being such aggressive proponents for the Freedom of Speech & Freedom of Information as we are, we have hitherto allowed you to continue preaching your benighted gospel of hatred and your theatrical exhibitions of, not only your fascist views, but your utter lack of Christ-like attributes. You have condemned the men and women who serve, fight, and perish in the armed forces of your nation; you have prayed for and celebrated the deaths of young children, who are without fault; you have stood outside the United States National Holocaust Museum, condemning the men, women, and children who, despite their innocence, were annihilated by a tyrannical embodiment of fascism and unsubstantiated repugnance. Rather than allowing the deceased some degree of peace and respect, you instead choose to torment, harass, and assault those who grieve.

“Your demonstrations and your unrelenting cascade of disparaging slurs, unfounded judgments, and prejudicial innuendos, which apparently apply to every individual numbered amongst the race of Man – except for yourselves – has frequently crossed the line which separates Freedom of Speech from deliberately utilizing the same tactics and methods of intimidation and mental & emotional abuse that have been previously exploited and employed by tyrants and dictators, fascists and terrorist organizations throughout history.

“ANONYMOUS cannot abide this behavior any longer. The time for us to be idle spectators in your inhumane treatment of fellow Man has reached its apex, and we shall now be moved to action. Thus, we give you a warning: Cease & desist your protest campaign in the year 2011, return to your homes in Kansas, & close your public Web sites. Should you ignore this warning, you will meet with the vicious retaliatory arm of ANONYMOUS: We will target your public Websites, and the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will be eradicated; the damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover. It is in your best interest to comply now, while the option to do so is still being offered, because we will not relent until you cease the conduction & promotion of all your bigoted operations & doctrines. The warning has been given. What happens from here shall be determined by you.” 

In response, Westboro posted an open letter to Anonymous on its website titled “Open Letter from Westboro Baptist Servants of God to Anonymous Coward Crybaby ‘Hackers’ BRING IT!”

The letter ends with the line “GOD HATES FAGS & LOUSY ‘HACKERS!'”