**ETA: the original post erroneously stated that Courtney Milan was being sued by Tina Engler. It has been amended to Jane Litte.**
“…an Internet where everyone’s free to be their badass selves…”
(unless you don’t like something or choose to be critical)
On April 21, HuffPost ran an article about a group called HollaBack– that largely focuses on street harassment complaints- that’s currently running a (successful) Kickstarter campaign to launch HeartMob– an online site to combat cyber-bullying.
You know what they say about the Road to Hell, right? This is a catastrophe waiting to happen, no way around it. Being a natural skeptic and cynic, thanks to Anne Rice and a host of others the Internet’s done nothing but reinforce and hone these senses. The problem here, as in most cases, is not so much the idea but the (lack of) execution.
The Devil’s always in the details, and a few key ones are glaringly absent from all the warm and fuzzy.
When you read throught their fanfare and propaganda- because that’s what it is- you’ll be quick to note a few things. First off- the lack of affiliation with any reputable or established anti-bullying/harassment organizations. Yes, it’s a grassroots organization… yes, it’s some concerned citizens taking action against something they feel is wrong… but few of the groups whom you’d think could help them out are having anything to do with them. There’s any number or reasons for this, but to me it’s just not a good sign, especially for a group that been around a couple of years.
Second- the lack of any vetting or a system of checks & balances regarding complaints. I searched through all their info and couldn’t find anything referring to a verification process. Any blogger or reviewer can speak volumes to the current climate regarding online book reviews; it’s a sorry state where many authors feel justified in falsely accusing people of ‘bullying’ for receiving a bad review. By HeartMob’s own admission, all you have to do is contact them and they’ve got your back- no questions asked. Not a single one.
Well, other than how you’d like to proceed, that is.
You can be lying through your teeth and they won’t care. They’ll be sure to protect your identity and information- because no one should be bullied for contacting them for help; they just won’t bother to examine anything that you tell them. But they’re ready to assist you in going after your enemies, though. So if you want a ready-made street team to attack a reviewer or flame that guy you’re arguing with in a chatroom, they’ll have operators standing by.
HeartMob looks to be nothing more than a crying corner for anyone to come and whine about all the meanie pants of the world. One of their own ‘stories’ shows this: a woman talks about some looneytoon out on the street shouting things at her. He never approached her, never threatened her- just talked shit. I’m sorry- but how does this rate any attention whatsoever? I’m dead serious- who gives a fuck? Who hasn’t had this happen to them? And this is one of their recruitment tools.
And I hate to keep harping on this, but just try to imagine the kind of damage that could’ve been done had Lauren Howard had a site like this to run to during her epic run. Or Tina Engler/Jaid Black with her current lawsuit against Jane Litte? Or any Gamergater? How about any of those people (sic) over at STGRB?
It shouldn’t have to fall to the likes of me or anyone else to point this out. All these things should’ve been part of their business model. Especially as a non-profit, where all their practices will be available for public scrutiny, they’re already off to a shaky start. Not saying that it can’t get better or that it won’t eventually all sort itself out, but I don’t have any confidence in this already half-assed, Time Out for Adults site.