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Recent Society articles from Daily Dot

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    Maturing from their birth in the dungeons of 4chan a scant decade ago, Anonymous has recently become the Internet's most active crusaders. Recently, the hacktivist organization has helped reunite a British girl and her mother, exposed a group of cruel kitten-abusing teens, come to the rescue of a young girl who was bullied nearly to the point of suicide, drawn global attention to a rape in Steubenville, and stood vigil at funerals in Newtown, Conn., to keep the Westboro Baptist Church away from those mourning the deaths of children at Sandy Hook. 

    Now they're once again speaking out for those without a voice in #OpBeast, a 2-week-old op that focuses on exposing and eliminating animal abuse of all kinds, including bestiality (which is legal in several states in the U.S.). It sprang from two earlier Ops: OpVoiceless, a general anti-animal-abuse op, and the highly specific OpOutrageBestiality, and is led by Twitter user Forever_Way, who estimates there are between 50 and 100 people directly active in this Op, as well as many hundreds who support in smaller ways, like retweeting or sharing the information on Facebook or their blogs. 

    This past weekend, they doxed Anders Ljung, the publisher of the Swedish Hunt and Hunters magazine, for his support of the killing of Susi, "the most important wolf in Europe." Susi became politically radioactive when the indigenous people complained that she and her mate were killing the reindeer on which they depended, but according to supporters, the wolf stocks of Scandinavia are so depleted that her DNA is essential to the survival of the species. "He wanted to kill, Susi wanted to survive. Now he hates Susi. We bit back. Anders Ljung, expect us," tweeted OpBeast.

    We chatted with Forever_Way in an IRC, and here's what s/he had to say about the relatively new operation. 

    Daily Dot: When did you start OpBestiality, and what does it take to get an Op started? A website? A crew? An IRC? A Twitter account?

    An op takes an idea. The matter of your choice of exposing your idea is your choice. I've had barrages of people wanting to help, including Bullyville [the influential anti-bully account run by former Marine James McGibney, who recently won a six-figure judgment against revenge pornographer Hunter Moore]. It's constantly growing. It won't stop. Ever.

    DD: It's inevitable to me that it will eventually be outlawed in all states. It's a states' rights issue, isn't it?

    It's a global issue. Animal abuse is all over. We are currently working on a few Denmark cases and a Swedish case. Heard of Susi the wolf? Susi is a wolf that the Swedish government wants to kill to use her genetic material, same as 16 other wolves. There is a court ruling at the moment. We are also working on a magazine that wants to hunt Susi and and puts down the organisations that are pro-Susi.

    DD: Was there a particular case that got you into this, that inspired you to become involved?

    Well, I was working on an op for almost a year which focused on bestiality.daily I saw evidence of these animals being abused. I fought furiously to take down websites and bring down ppl that were involved in these acts. The most success we had was a d0x on a company called 'Ecatel.' Then I went into a depressive state, not going to go into that, and started this op after that episode. They are a hosting company who hosts child pornography and bestiality and a lot of other cruel things. I coped after a while. It's a topic i'd rather not go into. But after that I came back rather surprisingly to my contacts. Lol. And I just started a tweet on animal abuse and it formed in my head.

    DD: So it sort of coalesced into OpBestiality?

    Yes. Made it broader and revamped it. This op is for ALL animal cruelty. We have a case about dog hunters that eat and kill dogs.

    DD: What's your mission statement, if you have one?

    Directly from the Mission Statement: We will not tolerate any behaviour of this sort from any person. We vow to minimalize the amount of animal abuse, and ultimately help stop it. We will do whatever it takes to bring down the filth that is polluting the world.

    DD: Is there a point where you'd ever say, "OK, my work here is done"?

    Until it is peaceful in the world, my work is never done.I am tired of seeing the human race trying to dominate everything. I'm trying to take the horror off of the animals. Humans are not the only beings.

    DD: What are the specific actions OpBeast is working on now? Like IRL picketing or doxing offenders?

    Both are necessary for me. I usually stick behind the screen. On Halloween I was spreading word though, through pamphlets and flyers. People can support by telling people about the terrible things that happen to animals. It can be as simple from signing a petition or tweeting, or even attending a future protest. 

    DD: How does someone send you an idea? Through Twitter, or is there a Facebook or web submission system?

    It's usually discreetly. I can't reveal my ways mostly. Usually DM [direct message] and pastebin though, or they can contact me at with ideas.

    OpBeast's supporters continue to tweet animal-related outrages, petitions, trackers, and abusers, as well as taking action in “meatspace”; given their beat, it's sadly unlikely they'll run out of material any time soon.

    Photo of Susi the Wolf via The Petition Site

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    Creepshots are going local.

    Police in the sleepy Pennsylvania town of Easton are scrambling to figure out who ran a Facebook page called "Exposing Easton," where 1,500 people ogled, "liked," and dissected pictures of local women. Accompanying the photos were the women's real names, as well as explicit details of their supposed sexual encounters with the page owner. Many looked very young, even teenage. Some of the raunchy messages identified one of the girls as a minor. It's likely none of them consented to their photograph being shared online.

    The photos spawned long comment threads where subscribers debated whether the "Exposing Easton" owner had really slept with the women. That was more important than reporting the page to Facebook, apparently, which was all anyone needed to do to get it removed. The company deleted the page on Monday, shortly after enquiries from Zach Lindsey, a reporter at The Express Times, the local newspaper. 

    The case has echoes of a national debate that began last year, when high-powered Web community Reddit became a focal point of controversy thanks to a forum called r/creepshots. There, thousands of strangers hornily devoured surreptitiously snapped photographs of girls and women, many of whom were out in public (or in a high school classroom) at the time and had no idea creeps on a pseudonymous forum were using them as masturbation fodder. It was a nightmare harassment scenario—you could go out for walk, and within minutes have your photograph pop up on the monitors of 10,000 pervy strangers. The forum shut down in October, but versions still persist under different names.

    A local Facebook page is even more imminently threatening than a pseudonymous Reddit forum. Easton sits in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, about 70 miles west of New York City, and has a humble population of about 28,000. It's likely many of Exposing Easton's subscribers actually knew the women in the photographs. When the creepshots pages shut down, others sprout up to replace them. Exposing Easton, in fact, was simply a replacement for "Exposing Easton Sluts," which Facebook had earlier deleted.

    “Every couple of months this is coming up, and it’s the same thing,” a local police officer told The Express Times. And that's just in little ol' Easton. How many similar pages exist for other cities and towns? Here's one in Greenville, Mississippi, that's been harassing women for seven months. The trend doesn't stop at U.S. borders, either. At "Malindi Sluts Exposed," admins brag about their popularity as they name and slut-shame Kenyan women to an audience of 1,000.

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    Body modification enthusiasts may know better than most people what it's like to be judged on sight for their piercings, tattoos, scars, and other forms of body art. 

    For Shannon Larratt, the founder of BMEzine, this societal judgment may have cost him the final years of his life.

    The 39-year-old writer and publisher, perhaps best known outside his community for ModCon: the Secret World of Extreme Body Modification, died on March 15 of an apparent suicide. On his blog, a letter that he spent months carefully composing was made public after his death. In it, he discusses his deteriorating quality of life due to calcification, a process in which the body replaces soft tissue with calcium deposits, caused by a genetic disease known as tubular aggregate myopathy.

    In a moving examination of his own medical treatment, Larratt discusses the marginalization of body modification enthusiasts by the medical profession:

    I do believe that there were fundamental shortcomings in the way both my condition and my pain was treated, and that the last few years could have been much more pleasant if the pain had been more aggressively managed. I believe this was in part because of the prejudice of multiple doctors due to my appearance causing them to stereotype me as drug seeking (and the simple reality is that it can be hard to tell, and we are so cruel as to prefer to “punish” the sick than to “reward” the mentally ill). I wish there was some way to make those doctors understand the cruelty they enacted. A patient should have the right to a pain free life, even if that comes with some risk. 

    Even before his medical diagnosis in 2010, Larratt was no stranger to this kind of prejudice. In a 2004 blog post about the superficiality of tattoo culture, he wrote, "Being a modified person in an unmodified world can really suck. ... Most people think we’re a bunch of losers, and few of us work to change that perception."

    But Larratt was one of those few. A former online casino designer, he quit his day job in 1995, the year after founding BME, the oldest online zine devoted to body modification. Its publisher until 2008, Larratt evolved into an expert on all forms of body modification, hosting private gatherings for enthusiasts and promoting safety and education on the BME forums—for everything from bloodplay to suspension

    "BMEzine ... was like the island of misfit toys, where we "freaks" could all share our experiences, our kinks, art, and random thoughts in a safe online environment," wrote blogger Marisa Kokoulas.

    "Shannon boldly published the most "extreme" and "shocking" imagery on the web," echoed Feminisnt

    [T]he "BME Hard" section of his web site contained photos of voluntary castration, cliterodectomy, nipple removals, testicles turned into pincushions, and just about everything "weird" that a person could do to their body and genitals. ... For his work in pushing the envelope and putting himself at risk of obscenity prosecutions, we are all in Shannon's debt, whether we are pornographers, kinksters, artists, body mod practitioners, or just people who don't believe in censorship.

    But Larratt knew the cost associated with pushing the envelope. "We ... are effectively a self-made minority and are treated as such," he wrote about his community. 

    Writing about Larratt's suicide, disability blogger William Farley noted that "there are obvious parallels between the bias modified people encounter and the bias people with a disability encounter."

    These biases ultimately took their toll. "[C]ountless others in Canada and abroad are going through this right now even if I’ve escaped it," Larratt wrote in his suicide note about the prejudice involved in his medical treatment.

    Larratt also left a moving plea for a flexible and understanding right-to-die law in Canada—one that might actually have prolonged his own life:

    It is my strong believe that if I had known that there was a “safe,” pain-free way for me to go at a time of my choosing, hopefully at home surrounded by love, it would have brought me not just enormous peace, but I believe would have given me strength to fight this even longer than I have.

    Yet despite his awareness of the difficult reality that he and other body modification practitioners lived in, Larratt's final letter is a hopeful parting statement to anyone who may have struggled with their own individuality or identity.

    I have no fear of death itself in part because I know that the life I chose allowed me to have a special role in changing the course of human civilization ... there’s never been a point in human history where individuals have had this level of self-expressive control over their morphology and physical decorations. ... And I’d like to think that even though I was a big puzzle piece in body modification, that I was a smaller but still important puzzle piece in a larger movement of people from all sorts of different subcultures fighting for mutual support in a diverse [pantheon] of self-expression and dream chasing.

    If the many comments and reactions to his death from the BME blog and around the Web are any indication, then Shannon Larratt will continue to inspire his community. And, perhaps, contribute to the further acceptance of people whose dream-chasing takes on an outlandish appearance.

    Photo via Facebook

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    An Oxford University librarian has been fired for facilitating the performance of a reenacted "Harlem Shake," but the students involved say the bookworm had nothing to do with the act. Now they're fighting to help her get her job back.

    School librarian Calypso Nash was working in the St. Hilda's College library at 11:30pm on the night that the notorious "Harlem Shake" went down last month. She was sitting at her desk, presumably checking out anthologies or memorizing the Dewey Decimal System when a raucous, altogether contained rendition of the "Harlem Shake" broke out between a series of four desks.

    Like most Harlem Shakes, the chaos lasted for 15 seconds, after which the students—dressed in horse heads, football equipment, squirrel suits, and Pussy Riot costumes—likely went back to whatever they were doing beforehand: studying, reading, chatting calmly, whatever.

    Nash, who's also a graduate student at the University, never did anything about the antics and went about her job accordingly. One month later, she was fired from her post for not doing anything to stop the performance.

    The students, roughly 30 of them, were fined for their actions.

    It's the former's sanctions that's left those students so incensed. This week they're going to great lengths to get their librarian reinstated.

    St. Hilda's Junior Common Room passed a motion calling for the reinstatement of Calypso Nash Monday, requesting to JCR president Esther Gosling that she "Ask for a written reason for the decision from the Head Librarian, and also to bring the matter to the attention of the governing body, calling in the strongest terms for Calypso to be rehired."

    The students also called for Gosling to write to the school's Dean asking for the fines to be overturned, arguing that "the Harlem shake did not cause a disturbance coming as it did at 11:30pm on a Sunday evening" and that the event "only lasted roughly 7 minutes."

    Both motions passed at the meeting. Gosling will present the JCR's arguments to the Head Librarian and school Dean this week.

    "We are not trying to deliberately undermine any decisions made by college authorities, but we believe that the dismissal of the librarian in question was unfair," JCR secretary Katie Meadon told Oxford's Cherwell newspaper. "We hope that the college will take the JCR's opinions into account regarding this matter."

    Calypso Nash was not available for comment. Cherwell's attempts to contact the Head Librarian went unanswered.

    Photo via Calypso Nash/LinkedIn

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    Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn have finally made their not-so-secret relationship official. Like, Facebook official.

    The future hall-of-fame golfer and philanderer—sorry, Tiger, no one's ever going to forget all the women you cheated on your ex-wife with—announced on his page yesterday what everyone already knew: that he's dating Olympic alpine skier and sometimes swimsuit model Lindsey Vonn. 

    And in typical Tiger Woods fashion, he prefaced the news by boringly talking about golf. "This season has been great so far and I'm happy with my wins at Torrey and Doral," Woods wrote. "Something nice that's happened off the course was meeting Lindsey Vonn."

    "Lindsey and I have been friends for some time, but over the last few months we have become very close and are now dating. We thank you for your support and for respecting our privacy. We want to continue our relationship, privately, as an ordinary couple and continue to compete as athletes."

    The post also included four staged photographs of the happy couple being loving and caring and whatever it is that happy couples do to each other.

    Vonn, who bears a resemblance to Woods's cheated-on ex-wife Elin Nordegren, also confirmed the relationship on her own page.

    "I guess it wasn't a well-kept secret but yes, I am dating Tiger Woods. Our relationship evolved from a friendship into something more over these past few months and it has made me very happy. I don't plan on addressing this further as I would like to keep that part of my life between us, my family and close friends. Thank you for understanding and your continued support! xo LV"

    Here's hoping the relationship lasts and doesn't end in a high-profile cheating scandal!

    Photo via Tiger Woods/Facebook

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    There's a sexual harassment epidemic in Egypt, and women are turning to a tried-and-true platform for fighting back.  

    The Facebook page Efdah Motaharish—"Expose Harassers"—is growing with viral speed as Egyptian women rally around it as an outlet for exposing creeps and perpetrators of sexual assault. It's a movement Egypt badly needs. In a 2008 study by Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, nearly two thirds of Egyptian men admitted to sexually harassing women. More than half of the men surveyed said it was the women's fault they were harassed.

    The English-language Egypt Daily Newsexplained how the group was born:

    The idea for this latest initiative was born when the administrator and creator of the page was bothered by an elderly driver while she was stuck in traffic. The driver verbally harassed her for some time and she decided to expose him by taking his picture and uploading his photo on Facebook. She created a Facebook page... where she posted his photo and related her experience of how he harassed her.

    The woman's friends shared her photo, and their friends, and their friends. More than a half-million people eventually saw it pop up in their news feed. The Expose Harassers page ballooned in size overnight. Now less than a week old, it boasts more than 10,000 subscribers. Dozens of other women have reached out to the anonymous creator—a politics student who calls herself simply "M"—sending her photographs and videos of men behaving badly.

    The exposure works. The driver who harassed M was ultimately identified, and he later threatened to sue her for slander.

    Egyptians used Facebook to help organize the downfall of former president Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of predatory, grope-happy men may be next.

    Image via Bola Elia/YouTube

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    You won't even need a television to stay on top of this year's March Madness.

    Twitter is partnering with Turner Broadcasting to share video highlights from all 67 games of the 2013 NCAA men's basketball national tournament just minutes after they happen.

    The company made the announcement on Monday via a blog post and noted that fans can keep track of all the action by following @MarchMadness, which will be hosting and tweeting the highlights.

    "Instant replay plays to Twitter's strength of news in real time and on mobile," Twitter's director of promoted content and partnerships, Glenn Brown, told USA Today.

    This is Twitter's second foray into semi-fresh sports highlights, after trying it out during the 2012-2013 college football bowl season in conjunction with ESPN. And just like that instance, the videos— roughly 15 seconds in length—will be prefaced by ads.

    The first of these instant replays will be posted when potential 16-seeds Liberty University and North Carolina A&T face off tonight for the chance to join the tournament as a #16 seed. The winner will play Louisville, the team that statistician wizard Nate Silver says has the highest chance of winning the whole tournament.

    Photo via Steven Worster/Flickr

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    A man was charged with online impersonation after allegedly creating Twitter and DeviantArt profiles under his ex-girlfriend's name and sharing nude photos of her.

    After a woman found naked pictures of herself on the profiles, a deputy linked the accounts to an address where Matthew Ryan Guillory, 24, was one of the occupants. The woman told authorities Guillory, of Tomball, Texas, was her ex-boyfriend, reported the Beaumont Enterprise

    According to investigators, the woman claimed Guillory took the photos while they were together and refused to return them. He apparently told investigators that he had the photos and created the profiles, which were seemingly set up in such a way that someone could reasonably determine the woman created them herself, according to court records.

    Online impersonation has been illegal in Texas since 2011, and it's a crime to use "someone else's persona to harm, defraud or threaten any person through the Internet." The third-degree felony offense carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. 

    Prosecutors in Harris County, where Tomball is located, have laid online harassment charges 16 times since the law was created in 2009. 12 of these charges came after the law was broadened to include the impersonation charge.

    Photo by stevendepolo/Flickr

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    Thanks to a few Magic: the Gathering–obsessed redditors, one man may be $32,000 richer than he thought. UPDATE: And it might all be an elaborate hoax

    On Tuesday, Reddit user Safeisbig hired a locksmith to crack open a safe (no, not that safe) he discovered in his house during some remodeling. What he found inside the 5-foot-by-4.5-foot metal box was a stockpile of the "best hidden Magic: the Gathering collections of all time," redditor and Magic expert JubilationLee commented

    The collection included a binder full of cards, a signed baseball, old bank notes, and silver dollars. Safeisbig also posted a handful of videos on YouTube of him flipping through the binder of cards. This got JubilationLee even more excited.

    "What you have in that binder would rival all but the largest retailers in the US as far as expensive older cards," JubilationLee added. "I watched it a few more times and a conservative it's-3-am-and-i'm-half-asleep estimate would be about $28,000-$32,000 (retail, you could probably get 70-80 percent for 3/4 of the cards in there).

    "Please PLEASE be gentle with those cards. Not only is that a substantial amount of money, but that stuff just isn't out there much anymore. You found history. A very meaningful binder of treasures. I'm not gonna lie, I thought about making you an offer on it of around $10k, but that would be a shitty thing to do. You deserve to upgrade your house, get a new car, whatever."

    Shortly after, redditor thekidd142 investigated and compiled a fairly convincing list of why Safeisbig's find was all a hoax.

    Safeisbig's find is the biggest to rock the r/WhatsInThisThing forum. In just four days, the subreddit has collected more than 73,000 readers. The group was created by New Zealand redditor dont_stop_me_smee after he discovered a large safe in his home. The safe has yet to be opened, but dont_stop_me_smee is working with four different locksmiths to crack it.

    Photos by Safeisbig/Reddit

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    The man who raised more than $50,000 by tattooing the URLs of porn sites and online casinos onto his face is now trying to raise $4,000 to remove the URLs of those same porn sites and online casinos from his face forever. 

    32-year-old Hostgator Dotcom, né Billy Gibby (he sold his name, too), is a local legend in his native Anchorage, Alaska, where he lives with his wife and five kids. He's recognizable anywhere, because he has a face that's unlike anybody else's in town: a face that over the past 10 years has been covered by URLS belonging to sleazy-looking websites.

    They're not hyperlinked, but everybody knows where they go:, He carries the words "freak" and "porn" and "fart" on his cranium; one time, he counted more than 20 tattoos on his face, with some even carrying over onto another. 

    His arms and legs are tattooed as well. At the beginning of all this, he sold his entire back to an online casino for $10,000. 

    Dotcom says he tagged himself so excessively because he was sick. Dotcom suffers from bipolar disorder. 

    "There were times I wanted to get help, but I thought I was just being weak mentally," he told theAnchorage Press in December. "I'd think 'I can't be a wuss.'" So he'd bury himself in cheap advertising offers, eventually seeing his rate plummet from $10,000 to $75.

    Today, with a firm hand on his illness, Dotcom wants to wipe the slate clean.

    "I'm trying to get rid of the ones on my face," he told the Huffington Post. "I regret them because I only did them because of my mental illness."

    In the last few months, Dotcom has met with tattoo removal specialists around Alaska and learned that it would cost around $4,000 to remove the myriad tattoos that currently appear on his face. What's more, those removals would have to come in the form of 18 different treatments all spaced two months apart. 

    Times have been tough; it's hard for a man with porn sites tattooed to his face to get any job, much less keep one—and to earn enough to feed his five kids, at that. So Dotcom may turn to the one method of madness that's kept his head above water this whole time: tattooing his body for money.

    Dotcom said that he won't accept any political ads or ads with racist connotations, but that he has plenty of real estate for tagging. 

    "I have space on my arms, hands, chest, and the legs," he said. 

    There's one place he won't go, however: his still-untouched pelvic region. 

    "I'd need $1 million to do that," he said.

    Time to start a Kickstarter.

    Photo via Hostgator Dotcom/Flickr

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    Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. James Holmes. T.J. Lane. These killers may be infamous for their crimes, but to a large subset of the Internet, they're heroes.

    And increasingly, it appears, that group includes teenage fans.

    "T.J., why so sassy," was the only comment one fan had to say in response to yesterday's courtroom speech wherein Lane, wearing a t-shirt that read 'KILLER,' mocked the families of the 3 students he killed in a Cleveland high school cafeteria last year.

    "TJ LANE THOUGH," said another, using Tumblr shorthand for a public figure they find incredibly hot, adorable, or impressive.

    "Regardless of what he’s done, he’s really," echoed a third..

    Glorifying the anti-hero is nothing new to our culture; Heathers, Natural Born Killers, Fight Club, Silence of the Lambs, and Death Note are all examples of successful stories with large fanbases that glorify fictional mass murderers or serial killers. The new television show Cult is currently exploring fictional serial killer fans, as it explores a fictional cult TV show and the fictional cult killings it inspires. In Cult, some fans take their hero-worship of the show's fictional killer too far, while other fans step in to help solve the murders.

    But how far is too far when fans are only expressing themselves on Tumblr and Facebook?

    An 18-year-old fangirl calling herself "Elysse Klebold" after Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold has a Tumblr devoted to the Columbine shooters, Charles Manson, Aileen Wuornos, and other serial killers and mass murderers. In some ways, it's a typical Tumblr full of teen angst, GIFs, and iconoclasm. And it's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fangirls of killers on Tumblr.

    "I wish I could swap places with him," reads one anonymous confession at Holmes Confessions. "I'm a good person, but he was better and I can admit that."  Holmes Confessions is not, as you might think, a Sherlock Holmes fandom blog, but rather a James Holmes fandom blog. The blog started on March 13—the same day Holmes pled not guilty in the shooting deaths of 12 people in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater last year.

    "James isn’t a monster," reads the blog's first confession. "He’s a man who needs our help.”

    On DeviantArt, it's easy to locate the serial killer fandom. Searching for famous killers like Bundy, Dahmer, or Gacey will bring up a dizzying number of comics and works of fanart devoted to the killers, sometimes imagining them interacting with each other. One artist imagines Bundy and Dahmer as cute “chibi-fied” characters in a wacky romance, with herself as the starstruck fangirl. Others just draw them murdering people. (And eating them, in Dahmer's case.)

    The Facebook page "James Holmes for Life" has over 3,000 subscribers, though pictures of actual killers are rare, sandwiched in-between racist memes and image macros. Still, the occasional ode to Holmes does pop up. "if anyone gets pissed that I upload any of these," states the site's admin, "it's meant to offend, it's trolling, james holmes style."

    So are all the fans who make GIFs, create fanart, and praise the hotness of real-life killers all just trolling the rest of us?  If they're doing it for attention, they've certainly got plenty of it. Digg's Veronica De Souza was horrified when she stumbled across the love on Tumblr.  "There are actual TJ Lane FANGIRLS on Tumblr," she tweeted.  Other Twitter and Tumblr users began browsing Tumblr's "TJ Lane" tag, pronouncing the results "repulsive."

    On her NSFW Tumblr, user nekomeowmeowmeow's praise for Lane ("hes cool as fuck") is getting her plenty of attention, and she seems to be lapping it up. " i actually want to die being murdered," she tells one horrified commenter. Could she be an actual psychopath? another politely inquires. "there's always that possibility," she answers tactfully.

    Image via depressimistic/Tumblr

    Of the many, many, many Tumblr accounts devoted to crime and criminals, ki11ers and ramirezbundydahmer are among the few who avoid pairing their posts about criminals with praise for the killers, sexual fantasies, or glorified fictional crime scenarios. They are also among the few criminal blogs unimpressed by Lane's speech. "This is what he wanted," ki11ers said.

    [H]e wanted all of you people to be very angry about his actions and type furiously online about how disrespectful he was, haha. He got what he wanted. You gave him what he wanted. I’m sure he’s pleased right now.

    "[H]e probably received letters from teenage girls claiming to love him because of what he did," ramirezbundydahmer echoed. Speaking to an anonymous commenter who asked, "Is it wrong to have sympathy for killers/sexual offenders?" she answered:

    I think it’s alright to sympathize with certain aspects of their life, their childhood and environment, for example, but I feel as though in some cases people can be manipulated to feel sympathy towards certain people, particularly criminals...

    "I think it must trigger some sort of savior complex," wrote special-snowflake-hall-of-fame, "where they fantasize that they were able to save him with their love, friendship, and make him see the light." They were one of many who took to the “TJ Lane” tag to comment on the fan activity they saw—and fuel the flames of debate about where to draw the line between "reacting" and "fangirling."

    Perhaps, ultimately, it's as simple as keeping it to yourself. "Go ahead and write your TJ Lane fanfics but don’t publish them," Tumblr user chadwagon advised the Lane fans.  

    And if the fans don't appear to be listening, then it seems the outrage from the rest of Tumblr will likely drown out their support of Lane.

    At least until the next killer comes along.

    Photo via speedallergy/Tumblr

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    Before a joke about a "big dongle" cost an attendee his job and spurred a misogynist online backlash, last weekend's PyCon event looked like a success. 

    2,500 attendees had flocked to Santa Clara, Calif., to discuss the Python programming language; the event sold out more than a month in advance.

    But once it began, very little went smoothly. First, an attendee was removed from the event following reports that he used an illicit substance. PyCon called his behavior "inappropriate and unacceptable" and banned him from attending PyCon U.S. for two years.

    That incident paled in comparison to the firestorm that erupted over a lewd joke.

    When Adria Richards, a developer evangelist for email delivery company SendGrid overheard a man sitting behind her laughing with his friends about the word "dongle," she planned to brush it off as just another dumb dick joke.

    But then the speaker onstage showed a photo of a young girl who'd taken part in a coding workshop, and "I realized I had to do something or she would never have the chance to learn and love programming because the ass clowns behind me would make it impossible for her to do so," Richards wrote on her blog.

    So she tweeted a photo of the guys.

    Richards next contacted event staff and shared a link to the conference's code of conduct, which states"Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks."

    Event organizers caught wind of Richards's complaint.

    She spoke with a staff member and the men were escorted from the ballroom. 

    Roughly a day after the event, one of the men involved brought up the matter on a Hacker News thread, under the newly registered username mr-hank. He apologized and defended Richards's right to report him to event staff. He admitted he made a "big dongle joke about a fictional piece [of] hardware that identified as male," but he claimed Richards applied "sexual context" to another joke he made, about "forking."

    He also claimed he lost his job when his boss found the photo of him Richards tweeted.

    My friends and I had decided forking someone's repo is a new form of flattery (the highest form being implementation) and we were excited about one of the presenters projects; a friend said "I would fork that guys repo" The sexual context was applied by Adria, and not us.

    My second comment is this, Adria has an audience and is a successful person of the media. Just check out her web page linked in her twitter account, her hard work and social activism speaks for itself. With that great power and reach comes responsibility. As a result of the picture she took I was let go from my job today. Which sucks because I have 3 kids and I really liked that job.

    She gave me no warning, she smiled while she snapped the pic and sealed my fate. Let this serve as a message to everyone, our actions and words, big or small, can have a serious impact.

    He added in a separate comment that he was able to give his side of the story to staff. "I gave a statement, apologized and thanked them for upholding the cons integrity," he wrote. "They felt I was sincere and let us leave of our own accord. I was also the only one who was let go."

    Richards weighed in, thanking him for sharing his side and expressing regret that the guy lost his job.

    The forking joke set the stage for the dongle joke. Yes, this time I decided I didn't want to argue my perspective. I decided instead to accept it bothered me and took action based on the PyCon Code of Conduct. It sounds like if I'd said something about the forking you would have denied it having a sexual association. Not sure if I smiled but I'm also unsure what facial expression you would have expected.

    Richards claimed that the incident was the second time that day she had to deal with the "issue around harassment and gender" after a male developer made a joke laced with sexual innuendo. She told him that while the joke might be appropriate in some settings, it wasn't the case at a type of conference where "women historically have felt unwelcome." (Women accounted for more than 20 percent of PyCon attendees this year.)

    "Both parties were met with, in private," PyCon chair Jesse Noller said in a statement regarding "inappropriate comments made during a crowded plenary session."  

    He noted, "The comments that were made were in poor taste, and individuals involved agreed, apologized and no further actions were taken by the staff of PyCon 2013. No individuals were removed from the conference, no sanctions were levied."

    While much has been done to make software development and the technology industry more open to women, the development community can't seem to shed its reputation for sexism. Derogatory terms are ubiquitous on open-source code-sharing site Github, for instance, while T-shirts distributed by a magazine at a U.K. conference last month urged attendees to "enhance your PHPness."

    The fallout—and backlash—over the PyCon incident bubbled over into communities like Reddit, Google+, Twitter, Hacker News, and even the comments on Richards's blog post.

    "What makes me rage the most are all the tweets calling her 'brave' and praising her for 'taking a stand,'" commented redditor deirox. "Apparently getting offended by a silly joke makes her a victim." Another redditor, TheHairyHungarian, simply wrote, "Disgusting excuse for a human."

    But the Twitter reaction was even worse:

    Screenshot via @adriarichards/Twitter

    Some called out Richards for having also made a joke about male genitalia before. (Slight difference there: She made the joke via Twitter at-reply in a semi-private forum, rather than in a conference.)

    On the flip side, there were many messages of support.

    Richards also claimed there was an attempt to force her blog offline through a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack

    As for the man who lost his job, he vowed to be at PyCon 2014, ready to joke and socialize but a little more aware of his audience and surroundings.

    Photo via @adriarichards/Twitter

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    Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games: Three of the biggest titles in sci-fi/fantasy literature, and all three are reliant on largely female fandoms. If mainstream popularity is anything to go by, then the era of the stereotypically male genre fiction fan is over.

    But according to feminist writing blog Ladybusiness, women still have a long way to go in the world of sci-fi/fantasy literature. Mirroring The Count 2012, an annual report on the representation of women in professional book reviews, Ladybusiness set out to track reviews of SF/F books online. And in their own words: “SPOILER: it’s depressing.

    Image via Ladybusiness

    While The Count included publications such as The Atlantic and The New Yorker (both of which skewed heavily towards male book reviewers and authors), Ladybusiness collates review data from SF/F sites such as sfsignal, The Alternative, and Speculative Book Review.

    Despite the huge success of female-led sci-fi series such as The Hunger Games, most SF/F books reviewed online are still written (and reviewed) by men. Also, evidence suggests that many male SF/F reviewers prefer to review books written by men rather than women. In 2012, only 25 percent of female authors were reviewed by men, while female reviewers tended to be more egalitarian.

    Image via Ladybusiness

    While VIDA’s 2012 Count was met with criticism and accusations of sexism in the mainstream media, the information presented by Ladybusiness is harder to explain. Most of the reviewers in question are fans rather than professionals, and it’s difficult to blame The Man for blogs that are written on an individual, unpaid basis.

    As Ladybusiness points out, the situation is a complex one. While many popular SF/F fandoms are now female-dominated, “hard” sci-fi and fantasy literature is still often seen as more traditional, and tends to be more welcoming towards male fans and authors.

    Image via Flickr / calamity_photography


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    In its 29-year history, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) has shared “ideas worth spreading” through two annual conferences, a robust online archive of TED Talks, and a series of independently organized TEDx events at cities around the world.

    And now it seems there’s even a TED conference taking place in a completely fictional location. 

    TEDxSummerisle appeared on Twitter last week, alongside a Tumblr account promoting the Summerisle TED conference. Since Summerisle is the imaginary Scottish island depicted in 1973 horror movie The Wicker Man, it’s not entirely surprising that it doesn’t appear on the official TED website. 

    Image via TEDxSummerisle/Tumblr

    At first, the TEDxSummerisle Twitter and Tumblr accounts seemed like a charmingly weird one-shot parody of TED culture. Both accounts were mostly inactive until March 15, at which point they began promoting the conference taking place on March 20—the spring equinox, as celebrated by the “real” inhabitants of Summerisle in The Wicker Man. TEDxSummerisle’s Tumblr even posted a worryingly real-sounding conference schedule, including talks such as “Historian Rose MacGreagor will reveal The Secret Science of the Ancients.” 

    But on March 20, all bets were off. Whoever created these parody accounts must have done some serious planning, because if Twitter is anything to go by, TEDxSummerisle is actually real. The official Twitter account gave every impression of livetweeting from an actual event, including photos of slides from the various talks. Not only that, but people on the #TEDxSummerisle tag were commenting on the talks as they happened. 

    There are even a few single-serving Twitter accounts for speakers at the conference, such as Jenny Lassiter, who apparently delivered a talk called “As Above, So Below: The Emergence of Cross-Species Communal Behavior.” 

    The genius of TEDxSummerisle lies in its dedication to the buzzword-strewn language of TED conferences. Quotes like “Gamification incentivises ritual. And ritual binds healthy communities together” seem completely plausible. Of course, if you’ve ever seen The Wicker Man, you’ll know that Summerisle’s “gamification” of “community ritual” mainly involves putting on animal masks and chasing visitors around the island before burning them alive as a pagan sacrifice. Unfortunately, many of the TEDxSummerisle attendees seemed unaware that the “final community event” of the conference might involve just that. 

    As TEDxSummerisle drew to a close, things grew increasingly ominous. Attendees began to realise that maybe this wasn’t an official TED conference after all. 

    While some of the speakers were ritually murdered by the Summerisle inhabitants, others escaped out into the night. The #TEDxSummerisle hashtag transformed from a cheery livestream of the conference topics to a text-only version of a found-footage horror movie, with the @TEDxSummerisle operator and various TED speakers trying desperately to escape the island. 

    Spectators callously retweeted pleas for help as the remaining survivors fled across the island and posted Blair Witch Project-style Vines of the Summerisle forests. In a scene mirroring The Wicker Man, TEDxSummerisle finally ended with its guests being rounded up into a giant wicker statue and burned alive, still tweeting to the last. 

    Oh, and if you see anyone tweeting about calling emergency services to help these people out, it might be a good idea to explain that TEDxSummerisle isn’t actually real

    Photo via Wickerfurniture/Flickr

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    It's cloudy with a chance of system-security failure at the BBC Weather department.

    You can chalk another high-profile Twitter hack up for the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA): The Bashar al-Assad loyalist group claimed to have compromised the official account of BBC Weather. The collective has sent eight tweets from the account at the time of writing.

    The SEA has targeted several high-profile media social networking profiles over the last couple of years, though few attempts have done so in a funny way. That camel tweet is almost ridiculous enough to be believable, for instance:

    The @bbcweather takeover allowed the SEA to share its message with the account's 57,000-plus followers. Syria has been in civil war for two years, resulting in as many as 70,000 casualties, according to the United Nations.

    Earlier this month, the SEA compromised two accounts belonging to French outlet FRANCE24, sending tweets to more than 405,000 followers before getting locked out of the accounts again. 

    The SEA gained access to news organizations Al Arabiya's English Facebook page last March, and forced LinkedIn's blog offline a few weeks later. In June, the group also comprised an Al Jazeera Twitter account, and last month put in its crosshairs the nonprofit Qatar Foundation and newswire service Agence France-Presse.


    UPDATE: It's not just @BBCWeather that was under SEA control. As Twitterer James Cook pointed out, @BBCArabicOnline is compromised as well, with tweets dating back a few hours. @BBCRadioUlster was hacked too, but has deleted the tweets.

    Photo via @BBCWeather/Twitter

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    The Reddit user who claimed to have found a treasure trove of Magic: the Gathering cards in a hidden safe was lying for the lulz. Like the safe, he was full of crap.

    The hoax began on Tuesday when redditor Safeisbig made a post claiming to have discovered a 5-foot-by-4.5-foot metal safe while renovating his home. After hiring a locksmith to pick the safe, Safeisbig claimed to have discovered a treasure trove of Magic cards valued at about $32,000. 

    Photos and vides of Safeisbig's findings sent Reddit into a frenzy and ultimately garnered enough upvotes to land his story on the front page Wednesday.

    "What you have in that binder would rival all but the largest retailers in the US as far as expensive older cards," redditor JubilationLee said in the thread. "I watched it a few more times and a conservative it's-3-am-and-i'm-half-asleep estimate would be about $28,000-$32,000 (retail, you could probably get 70-80 percent for 3/4 of the cards in there).

    Shortly after hitting Reddit's front page, user thekidd142 got curious about Safeisbig's claims and decided to spend some free time at work digging into his history. By tracking accounts and posts on YouTube, OkCupid, Texas Magic Zone, and Reddit, thekidd142 was able to prove that Safeisbig actually owned the cards he claimed to have found.

    Here's what he dug up:

    "All of that is fairly circumstantial," thekidd142 added, "but perhaps the most most notable piece of evidence is this link."

    It's an image of randommiser's collection, including the same playmat shown in the vault.

    "It's fake and the internet should know better," thekidd142 concluded

    A few hours later, Safeisbig fessed up.

    "Oh this was not done for karma, it was done for entertainment," he admitted in a front-page post featuring thekidd142's findings: 

    [M]y first plan was to have my cousin get inside the safe and poor chocolate syrup out the door bottom when it was opened while we complained of the smell, after we tried to zoom in to see what was inside she would take a gooey syrup soaked hand and splatter it on the outside while we ran for the exit cloverfield style.... wife talked me out of it.

    Safeisbig claims to have collected the cards over years of trading. And the value of the collection is " closer to 105k really," he added. These comments, among others, riled up the Reddit community.

    "I dont know who to feel sorry for more: The woman who is married to an adult troll who spends all his money on magic cards or the manchild who still trolls people for the hell of it and has a massive collection of magic cards," cynicalprick01said

    It elicited a response from Safeisbig's wife, redditor dietotaku. She stood by her man, but had to partially side with the Reddit community:

    "[I] may be married to the guy and love him to death, but yes, OP is a f****t,"  dietotaku commented. "[H]opefully this has gotten something out of his system and future f****try will be kept to a minimum."

    Photo via Safeisbig

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    If you ever dreamed of buying a home in middle-of-nowhere Canada for almost a half-million dollars (or the equivalent in Bitcoins!), now's your chance.

    "Properties like this rarely come on the market and this one's priced to sell," proclaims homeowner Taylor More in his ad for the home in the village of Coleman, Alberta. 

    Moore's not just offering up his very cozy 900 square feet for the low low price of $405,000—he's willing to negotiate that price down if you pay in Bitcoins, the peer-to-peer online currency that's been gaining more mainstream traction in recent years. 

    "If you had $405k I wouldn't turn you down but if a partial or whole transaction is done using Bitcoins the price can be reduced depending on how many Bitcoins you have to trade," More wrote in the ad. One Bitcoin is currently valued at $68.91 U.S. dollars.

    Once the transaction is complete, you can move in to the "quaint" two-person "bungalow" in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. When you tire of your one-story, two-bedroom abode, you can stroll into town (population: 1,000) to enjoy local favorites like that one diner and a cafe and some buildings. There are also railroad tracks.

    "We are hoping to be the first piece of real estate sold for bitcoins," More told Ars Technica. "We think maybe this could help push the currency more mainstream." This is apparently not a joke.

    Here's a tour of what $405,000 (or the equivalent in Bitcoins!) will buy you.

    Coleman sits in the middle of a pristine Canadian valley surrounded by mountains and bears (secure your trash!).

    A view of the beautiful downtown.

    Spark some romance by taking a date to the local diner.

    Your home (left) and neighbors.

    Photos via Google Maps

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    One Direction fans have never had any trouble finding plenty of drama, often to the consternation and bafflement of outsiders. This week, though, it's the media fanning the flames of fan drama rather than the fans themselves; and it's not just the boy band’s girlfriends who are caught in the crossfire—it's an adorable little puppy.

    Most fans were delighted when 1D member Liam Payne (the dirty blonde one) got back together with longtime girlfriend Danielle Peazer after a short breakup last year. But not all fans supported the relationship, commonly called "Payzer," and when Payne announced that they'd solidified it even further by buying a dog together, some fans waged a backlash.

    "Everybody meet mine and @daniellepeazer new dog Loki :)" wrote Payne on Twitter, revealing the world's most adorable Siberian Husky puppy. Peazer echoed the sentiment, calling Loki "the new love of mine and [Liam]'s life."

    Photo via daniellepeazer/Twitter

    Most fans greeted the news in high Directioner fashion, creating photosets of Loki and holding "which 1D puppy do you like better?" contests. And of course, there’s the requisite puppy-on-puppy fanfic (unfortunately not work-safe). Some fans speculated that Payne and Peazer were just trying to hold on to a fading love by doing the boy band equivalent of having a baby together. And others just thought Loki’s adoption was "fishy."

    But some fans allegedly took their anger at the Payzer relationship directly out on the puppy—at least according to the Metro UK, Buzzfeed, EOnline, MSN, Yahoo, DigitalSpy, and countless gossip blogs around the Internet.

    Or did they?

    One fan was reported as having tweeted "i will look for you, i will find you, and i will kill you" at Liam and the puppy—but since this is a quote from Liam Neeson in the movie Taken, it was probably a joke taken out of context. That is, if the tweet existed at all. It doesn’t show up in searches on Twitter or Twitter analytics site Topsy, and no news outlet has named the original poster.

    Harder to explain is the hashtag #DieLoki, which angry Directioners reportedly tried to turn into a trending topic. At least until you realize that no one is actually threatening to kill puppies on it. The harshest anti-Loki tweet from a Directioner using the #DieLoki tag is a now-deleted tweet from a very apologetic @_directionERJEN:

    Screengrab via ashleycullen28/Twitter

    Since issuing the now deleted tweet, the alleged 14-year-old has been anxious to assure others that she means the dog no harm. She also tweeted Payne and Peazer directly, telling them she
    "didn't mean to trend" the hashtag.

    But it doesn't look like she did. According to Topsy, the earliest public tweets using the #DieLoki hashtag were all horrified reactions to news reports of there being a #DieLoki hashtag.

    The source of the rumor may have been the British tabloid Daily Mirror. "I am outraged and appalled f***ing Loki the dog! that dog aint nothing but the scum on my shoe," reads one tweet that was allegedly sent to Payne and Peazer over the puppy. But it seems the tweet never existed, and the Twitter user who supposedly posted it was never named.

    The Mirror also cited trolls debating whether to kill Loki with a knife or a gun. Again, not real. But by the time the Daily Record and others picked it up, the media was off. The UK Metro, a source cited in several other news reports, did not respond to the Daily Dot's request for links to the tweets they quoted.

    So why was it so easy for dozens of news sites to believe totally un-fact-checked rumors about a bunch of Directioners? Fans of One Direction have waged many wars in their time, including making death threats against the members' girlfriends and each other, battling eating disorders, carving the word "Bravery" onto their bodies, inventing a vast mythos of dead fans, and attempting to forcibly out Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson from a homophobic closet that by their own accounts they're not actually in.

    But they aren't actually puppy-killers.

    Perhaps the drama coming from the fandom is so constant and vacillating that reporters didn't have to source the rumors of puppy threats in order to believe them. After all, it wouldn't be the worst thing that the 1D fandom had ever done or said. But when otherwise reliable news sites don't bother to source the rumors—because they're so obviously true, right? right?—it would seem that the impetus is, for once, not on the fans to change and police their own behavior.

    The fandom has been busy handwringing over its puppy-hating contingent. "This is why I hate saying im a directioner," tweeted one fan. "THIS IS THE TYPE OF SHIT THAT MAKES EVERYONE HATE US," echoed another.

    Hatred? Perhaps not; but when you're already unfortunate enough to be one of that most reviled group of Internet denizens—a bunch of excited teenage girls—you're an easy target for misconception and ridicule.

    But in this case, it appears the criticism is unwarranted. Most of the Payzer fans have been happily celebrating the couple and the new addition to their family—-with adorable results:

    Illustration by pandapal/Tumblr

    As for Loki, he promptly got a fake Twitter account that's since been followed by 33,000 Directioners.

    Photo via daniellepeazer/Twitter

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    With the #donglegate sagaerupting, it may come as little surprise that 4chan's anarchic /b/ forum got involved.

    At this weekend's programming conference PyCon, developer evangelist Adria Richards overheard a sexual joke about "big dongles" and tweeted a photo of the laughing attendees behind her. She forwarded the image to PyCon staff along with a link to the event's code of conduct

    The men weren't kicked out, but that image led to one man, an employee with mobile game monetization company PlayHaven, losing his job. The backlash over his firing grew disturbingly misogynist and violent. Days later, Richards was publicly axed by her own employer, email provider SendGrid.

    You can read more about the incident and the fallout here and here.

    The debate soon hit /b/, the Web community that, most recently, filled Twitter with bogus rumors of a Justin Bieber rape scandal.

    Users locked Richards, PlayHaven, and SendGrid in their sights. Many urged others to sign a petition calling for Richards's firing, and seemed to delight when SendGrid suffered from outages in the face of an apparent DDoS attack. The thread's goal: to ruin Richards's life.

    We capped it all here. Click images to expand.

    Someone suggests affecting Richards's ad partnership with YouTube over apparent racist and sexist remarks.

    Others seemed to celebrate as SendGrid was hit by performance issues of an apparent DDoS attack.

    Someone claiming to be Richards posted in the thread too, calling for civility. However, the pledge to only apologize "if and only if everything about me is erased from the internet first" seems off. As someone who works in the technology industry, Richards would surely be aware that it's damn near impossible to remove anything from the Internet. It's highly unlikely that this is actually her.

    Photo via adriarichards/YouTube

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    When the owner of the most popular science page on Facebook revealed her identity the other day, the reaction was sadly predictable. "OMG GIRL," came the crescendo of comments from dumbfounded men (and a few women). It was as if Elise Andrew had infiltrated a 19th century scientific conference and suddenly ripped off a fake mustache in front of the assembled muttering menfolk. Cue pipes falling from open mouths. Shock! Awe! A woman!

    Indeed, the whole scenario provides a fine case study in the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes in the sciences that still persist well into the 21st century.

    The reveal was inadvertent. Andrew, who works for the publishing group LabX Media, simply wanted her 4 million Facebook fans to follow her on Twitter, too, where she tweeted under her real name. So she posted a link to her account on her "I Fucking Love Science" Facebook page. Her Twitter account includes a photograph that shows her face, which also appeared in the Facebook post.

    She got a bump in Twitter followers, but also a flood of unwelcome comments about her gender and physical appearance.

    Here's a sampling:

    • "You're beautiful."
    • "wow, your a hottie!"
    • "you mean you're a girl, AND you're beautiful? wow, i just liked science a lil bit more today ^^"
    • "You're...a woman...?"
    • "OMFG! You are a beautiful GIRL!!!  I admit I never expected you to be a girl and on top of that a beautiful one. My sincere apologies."
    • *points, mouth open* GIRL!!!
    • "For you baby, I ll become a sceintist. "
    • "Holy crap I pictured. A 30 sumthin harvard geek lmfao thanks for makin science more enticing ;)"
    • "wow who would've thought!! you're a girl and kindda pretty! LOL"
    • "Hey, the I fucking love science girl is fucking cute!"

    And so on. The whole thread has devolved into either comments discussing Andrew's gender and looks or comments complaining about those comments. It wasn't pretty.

    Andrew tweeted this in response:

    Why does anyone care that Andrew is a woman? What's far more interesting is the story behind Andrew's success: How has she turned a simple science page into a Web behemoth and become the Neil DeGrasse Tyson of Facebook? Gender is by far the least interesting part of the "I Fucking Love Science" story.

    Too bad Andrew's fans don't realize it.

    Photo via Elise Andrew/Twitter

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