The Problem With Personal Block Lists

(TL;DR, Randi Harper has advertised her personal blocklist as 99.9% MRAs and Gators, unfortunately lots of marginalized peeps, feminists and decent people are on there. I’ve created a list of them all here (Please unfollow if you don’t want to be listed), please review and unblock / promote their voices! Don’t give Randi any shit about this, hopefully she’ll unblock these people and/or stop incorrectly advertising her personal block list.)

Blocktogether.org provides a way for people to expose their private list of blocked accounts for other people to subscribe to, it’s a great idea and a progression from @TheBlockBot which originated the idea of shared block lists. Unlike @TheBlockBot anyone can create a shared list, and that is it’s greatest strength and weakness. When someone in a position of trust and power blocks many marginalized people, over minor disagreement*, then it disseminates distrust and removes avenues of communication for those marginalized people. Note this is not “censorship”, or “silencing”, any of the hyperbole thrown around by certain members of the Crocodilia order. But it is, a problem.

The creator of probably the best known blocktogether.org list is Randi Harper, one of the first to programmatically create her list (If not the first?) of people in the GamerGate “movement”. It was a rough diamond, with many false positives, but there was at least a way of getting off that list so you were not blocked by the thousands of people who use it. Unfortunately Randi also promotes her personal block list, which is full of people who are not as she describes in her tweets …

How I came to know this is when I tweeted to someone confused as to why they were blocked by Randi, offering to ask her to unblock as it appeared to be a mistake.

Now it is presumptious to @ someone you don’t know demanding to know why they blocked random person X, which is why I spent a day or so working out how I could do it without it being rude. I never found out as I was blocked for making that suggestion. The person I’m speaking to there is now locked but their only tweet to Randi was mild criticism, which is why I couldn’t believe she’d blocked her over it. Reproduced with permission, their response to my request –

@KilgoreSprout I don’t mind – as long as it’s clear I’m not inciting harassment/dogpiling, I guess (not that you’d do that just careful)

The tweet that got her blocked. Was part of a tweet run that was talking about white privileged game devs and how marginalized voices are ignored, ironically.

We see this when @jessesingal is defended by @Spacekatgal and @randileeharper and other big names

This led to a discussion where a handful of trans people spoke up to me and @LazerCrazy about having been blocked. Looking them up and it was all minor criticism of Randi over trans issues, something she should defer to trans people on really. This was about the Jesse Singal incident where he wrote a post in support of Alice Dreger, a notorious anti-trans sexologist who promotes dangerous “reparative therapy” that kills trans kids. Understandably people were emotional about that, Randi stepping in and asking people not to dogpile was fine really, she got criticized for it, which is also fine. What isn’t great is her blocking all trans people criticizing her and getting them blocked by the various tech contacts, feminists and celebs (Wil Wheaton blocked me!) that use her list, while advertising the list as 99.9% MRAs and Gators.

A similar incident happened again recently, I won’t go into it but again Randi was rightly criticized, mildly, she’s responded by blocking a lot more trans people. All those people are now blocked by all the tech contacts, feminists, celebs that sign up to her list, as well as anyone signed up to their block lists. Because yes, this has a way of snowballing from block list to block list. Some, like this one, were no criticizm at all.

She says there are probably a few false positives in there, so it would be unfair to “call out” Randi based on a couple of blocks. So how bad is the problem? Well, I scraped her block list to do some analysis and here are the results.

Scraping the blocklist of 16K, then scraping the friends lists of a number of trusted SJ tweeps, these two lists were compared to get a selection of people blocked who are not “MRAs and Gators”. This first pass found 300, of which some were from the “GGAutoBlocker” list, had a bit of a feel of “GG” about them, they were all removed. This was further whittled down to ~140 accounts, of which ~35 are openly trans.

This first pass is well over the 0.1% that are supposedly not “Gators and MRAs”, I will continue to add to the list. Please share and check out the people being blocked, unblock them ideally! It is also worrying how large a proportion are openly transgender, I only counted people with it in their bio, so there are likely more than the 35/140 = 25% of those SJ people blocked. This is I believe a reflection of the issues listening to the trans community and almost complete lack of tolerance for criticizm from trans people.

More examples of tweets that got trans people, others, blocked. From a quick manual scan of the block list, to check the code I wrote to find reasonable people blocked was working ok.

Whole thread

Whole thread

Randi obviously can block for whatever reasons she wants, colour of hair, use of oxford comma, anything. It becomes a problem when she shares her own personal dislikes with people as a list that is advertised as 99.9% abusive MRAs and Gators, blocking these people from many influential people on Twitter. She has a platform and people trust that the accounts she blocks are abusive people, not trans people concerned at her lack of allyship.

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* Unfortunately this is a red flag for GamerGate like nonsense about massive harassment campaigns being “just disagreement”, hence in this post links to what people have been blocked over are provided.

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2 thoughts on “The Problem With Personal Block Lists

  1. … then it disseminates distrust and removes avenues of communication

    It’s amazing how the various blocklists don’t have this effect more generally. *whistle*

    Like

    1. If you mean the ggautoblocker, @TheBlockBot then that isn’t the case. People sign up to those knowing full well who is added and why, there is a lot of scrutiny and if anything a prevailing attitude that people are added for “no reason”. I only highlighted her personal list as I think it is expected that the hordes of people giving her abuse, sealioning, etc will be added. Not people with legitimate reasons to be annoyed with her over trans issues.

      Like

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