Written and Illustrated by Koriander Bullard
Hulk Hogan. Orlando Bloom. Leslie Jones. Three celebrities who have graced the silver screen at one point or another. What else do they have in common?
They’ve been hacked shortly after dealing with cyber harassment.
Private photos, private videos, private conversations with trusted friends and family, all plastered all over the internet with their assailants making a profit off of every click.
All three had their attackers proclaim the exact same messages over and over again.
You deserve it.
You had better kill yourself.
Keep quiet or else.
I hate you, so you must be Gay.
I hate you, so you must be a whore.
I’m exposing you.
I’m exposing the truth.
It’s not my fault you’re a slut.
You asked for it.
You offend my community.
I bet you’re loving this attention.
You’re a stupid (racial slur) get out of my country!
Leave the community!
All three have had the authorities tell them the same things.
It’s not against the law to say those things.
It’s not against our community standards.
What did you do to deserve this?
This is probably your fault.
What do you mean he used software to hack you?
Were you gaming online? You asked for it.
Oh you saw a pop-up I bet. You did this to yourself.
What was your password? You probably didn’t make it hard enough.
Don’t you even know what parental and privacy locks are?
Did you block him? Wasn’t that enough?
You did block him? Wow, unfriendly I see. No wonder he hit you.
Were you seen wearing something sexy? You may have been asking for it.
How dare you show your real life face or name in public?
You asked for it by becoming famous.
For the uneducated, hacking and cyber attacks are not and have never been “kids being kids”.
This is a form of terrorism.
The average cyber attacker or hacker is not a prepubescent tween as we have been assured erroneously by the public school system, although it is true that tweens and teens do put up with a good amount of this assault.
Wake up call! The average hacker or cyber stalker is between the ages of 19 and 35 while some of the more pig-headed comments typically come from the 36+ year old crowd.
Anonymous? Lulz? WikiLeaks? Lizard Squad? How many times a year do we hear about hackers destroying PSN and the XBOX Live community? How many politicians and celebrities have we heard about being hacked? How many hate pages are out there?
Now ask yourself this. Did you really, honestly believe this was all just children under the age of 16?
Of course not. These were adults.
True, in the case of Lizard Squad, one arrested member wound up being 17 years old at the time of his incarceration, but let’s be clear. All of the other attacks have been done by adults, many pushing or well beyond the age of thirty. Too old to be cyber bullies. Too old to be digging into your account.
The excuses they give are always the same.
We’re here to expose _______ for the corruption he/she/they hide behind.
We’re the real heroes, we’re just helping by exploiting the security flaws of ________.com!
We’re just telling you the real truth that the media won’t.
We’re all adults here. Let’s be realistic. This is not and never has been about “exposing corruption” or being the internet equivalent of Batman.
This is and has always been about control.
Just like a burglar or a rapist, these criminals, complete and total strangers by the way, select a victim they imagine they are stronger than, either physically or mentally. They target that victim with an assortment of threats and harsh language.
We as a society tell the victim to ignore it, with the thought that if you stick your fingers in your ears, it’ll magically disappear.
Well if this didn’t work on the playground, it doesn’t work here either.
When an attacker realizes he’s being ignored, he will go out of his way to force you to pay attention to him. He’ll harass your friends and family, spread lies about you to get rid of your fans and followers. When this proves to be unsatisfying, he resorts to the attack.
If he can’t rape you or break into your physical property, he’ll grab his buddies and have them hack your website, email, Twitter, or whatever else he can get into before you’re awake.
Now you’re forced to see him. He’s in your subconscious. You have no choice but to deal with him.
You have no choice but to fight back.
You reach out to the FBI via www.ic3.gov as they have a section just for internet crime. You phone the police. You have to submit all kinds of personal information just to get them to pay attention to you and to not see you as your own perpetrator.
If you’re Hulk Hogan, you get a lawyer and take the criminals to court.
A judge agrees that hacking is as mentally destroying as rape, and sides with you. While in the eyes of the law, you have finally gotten justice, and you will either see your attacker go to prison or pay for the damages, the media now mollycoddles the attacker.
How dare you stand up for yourself? Shame on you!
The attacker was just an innocent victim, trying to tell the truth via journalism.
The attacker was misunderstood.
The attacker deserves another chance at life.
Let’s wear rubber bracelets, light a candle and pray for the attacker.
You deserve what he did to you, you should be grateful!
You’re a dirty slut who needs to die anyway, be grateful he even paid you this much mind.
Poor attacker! He was a quiet, shy boy in school.
The attacker’s probably on the Autism spectrum, he has more rights than you.
Let’s do a kickstarter to get this saintly attacker out of jail and into college!
“Poor Gawker, he put all those innocent people out of work.” This last phrase rings in Hulk Hogan’s ears every time he goes to check his snail mail outside.
And just like a rape victim, you’re left with years of victim shaming, while your attacker is falsely praised as a hero. You’re afraid to even type “Happy Birthday” to your best friend ever again, while this guy gets off knowing he had control over your life for a few short hours.
We’re barely trying to do anything to stop rape culture, but we’re doing less than nothing to stop hacker culture.
In fact, we’re stupid enough to cheer it on.
“Look at Orlando Bloom! How dare he be naked in his private moments, let’s put funny faces on his crotch!” smears the Huffington Post, while conservatives slut-shame Leslie Jones, calling her a nappy headed n-word simply because she was hired to be in Ghostbusters 3 and newspaper after newspaper have begged for their weekly $3 tip from readers for how many times they can Photoshop Hulk Hogan and call him a “fallen hero” over a private sex tape Gawker hacked and sold of him. And the more we support the victim shaming, the more it becomes part of the daily habit of Americans.
As Americans, we need to stop accepting this internet terrorism as “normal” behavior.
We are better than this.
We need to call our newspapers, magazines and the like, and voice our anger. Stop victim shaming or my community will stop buying your tabloid rags. And make good on that threat! If it doesn’t stop, quit reading it. Unlike the page on Facebook and walk away. Tell your friends to do the same.
As far as these cyber attackers go, stop using cute names for them. These aren’t “bullies” and it’s not “bullying” it’s harassment and hacking. And you don’t have to put up with it.
Treat these cases on the same level as if it was in your face. If blocking and reporting is getting you nowhere, name your assailant. Screencap the emails and comments, then put them publicly on your accounts. Let your friends and family know somebody is threatening you, this way if you do get hacked, your family will know immediately you’re not at fault for anything posted.
These guys claim to be fans of exposure, right? So expose them back. Let people see the unedited harassment you put up with and where it came from. Get your friends to report their accounts until this stops being an issue.
Did the cops give you the cold shoulder the first time? Keep trying. Be blunt without swearing. Ask the cop gently “If I was your child, would you allow this to happen?” The minute I asked a cop what he would do if this was his daughter being attacked instead of me, I got a hacker arrested. Cops sometimes need perspective. Instead of fighting with them, offer some help. Use show and tell. Show them your sites and tell them about how little the security measures help. You’d be surprised how quickly a bad situation can turn around without raising your voice. Do the same for an FBI agent and don’t be afraid to ask for their superior or a detective. These are your tools you paid for with your tax money.
Stand up for yourself. It’s perfectly fine to say “no, you do not talk to me this way” out loud.
Treat your harassers like the toddlers they behave like. Instead of arguing and talking back like you would to an adult, talk to them like they’re three years old. “That’s very cute that you’re pretending I’m a whore, but Facebook is for ages 13 and up. Until you can behave as if you’re at least this old, you’ll have to make believe that I’m wrong somewhere else. Thank you for sharing your make believe with me.” Trust me, it’s much harder for these guys to get their buddies to gang up on you after they’ve been publicly exposed as behaving like preschool children.
If all else fails, do what Hulk Hogan did.
Get a lawyer.
Hacker culture is real, but we don’t have to accept it.
Koriander Bullard is an author, cartoonist and human rights advocate. Keep up with her on Facebook!