GGAutoBlocker

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[[GGAutoBlocker.png]]

Type Twitter Blocking Script
Owner Randi Harper
Status Active


GGautoblocker short for GooberGabber autoblocker (later changed to Good Game autoblocker) is a brute-force Twitter datamining script written by Randi Harper on November 04, 2014.[1]. Its main purpose is to block any user following well known twitter users for being vocal against gaming media corruption while labeling them as sheep, idiots and harassers. Ironically, the poor coding led to thousands of false positives. This made it subject of heavy criticism from news sites, developers and users that were labelled as harassers by being included on it.

Coding language and structure

Language

The author claims "the project is written in perl [sic] and C,"[2] though the version hosted on Github only has Perl code.[3] The implementation appears to be an amateur effort, though the use of Perl for this simple algorithm is particularly unorthodox. While Randi Harper blames Twitter's "API limits" for the poor performance of her application,[4] a more likely culprit is the use of Perl for datamining.[5]

Structure

In the words of Randi Harper:

Takes a list of the 5 major idiots of GG, looks at their follower lists. Generates a list of sheeple following more than one account, as well as a list of your followers that might be questionable. This does not rank users. It doesn't look at bios, it doesn't look at hashtags. But GamerGate appears to be completely useless at figuring out github when it's not just a wiki explaining how to be shitheads, so they'll probably never read this README and figure that part out.



[[121x150px]] [[15x11px]] Screencap of early code calling users idiots, sheeples and stalkers. Source.

[[149x150px]] [[15x11px]] Infograph containing screencaps of an appeal which was rejected for "sea lioning" and "victim blaming".

As mentioned above, this script doesn't search tweets, bios or any kind of information that could help define the user as a troll/harasser. Instead it bases who is blocked and who isn't by the people they follow.

It does this by extracting the names of vocal #Gamergate twitter users which she added to "blacklist.txt" and later names as "@idiots", then she extracts their followers and names them "@sheeples", the script checks if the users follow more than one person from "@idiots" . If the users follow more than one, they're added blocked. The script also searchs for blacklisted users in your followers list, if it finds one it labels it "@stalker".

When GGautoblocker went under flak, not only by it's poor coding but also by the way it used insulting variable names to talk about "pro-Gamergate". Randy changed the name from "GooberGabber autoblocker" to "Good Game Autoblocker" together with many variable's names.

False positives and whitelist

The underlying algorithm is based on the fallacious[6] proposition that everyone who subscribes to two Twitter accounts is a harasser. Due to the large pool of false positives flagged by this program, Randi has included a "whitelist" of accounts which are explicitly removed from the list. To be added to this whitelist, the owner of a flagged account "must include their twitter username and why they require a white-list" in the publicly visible "ggautoblocker appeals" group. The moderators of this group will then comb through the history of the appealing user "to verify there is no "sea lioning" or harassment of other users".[7]

The simplistic nature of this code placed many uninvolved parties such as rapper "Lil B" and Kentucky Fried Chicken on the receiving end of the blocklist.[8]

This caused several individuals and organizations who were neutral or even unknowledgeable about #GamerGate to become involved:

Use by Organizations

Despite its flawed coding and massive quantities of false positives, multiple organizations adopted and promoted the blocklist.

IGDA

On November 19, IGDA launched their "Online Harassment Resource" section, in it included the GGautoblocker as a tool, describing it as: "A Twitter tool to block some of the worst offenders in the recent wave of harassment"[17] without knowing that IGDA_PuertoRico's Chairman, Roberto Rosario was included in it.[18].

Randi's response to Roberto Rosario's tweet was:

If the Puerto Rico chairman of IGDF didn't want to be on the blocklist, he probably shouldn't have followed known harassers of women.
— Randi Harper.[19]

Guilt by association wasn't enough to justify Rosario's inclusion on the Blocklist and IGDA removed the blocklist from their tools while denying any participation in the elaboration of the script.[20] This statement was contradicted by Diona Prior[21] creator of IGDA Community manager SIG,[22] spokesperson in the IGDA Summit and affiliated with the IGDA wing WIG(Women in Gaming)[23] who claimed IGDA_WIG participated on the elaboration of the blocklist on Randi Harper's facebook page.[24]

Despite this, IGDA didn't claim responsability for any person being blocked due to their promotion and suggested developers blocked by GGautoblocker to deal with its creator if they wanted to solve this problem.[25]

Raspberry Pi

On October 15, 2014, Raspberry Pi became vocal on its disapproval of the consumer revolt, implying it drives women away from the Tech industry. Later that day, they confirmed their stance by stating they were not misinformed.

We want to encourage girls in this industry. Being horrified by #GamerGate does not “taint” us as one follower suggested and if, as another suggested, we “alienate people” - well, they’re ppl we weren’t too keen on having in our community in the first place.
— Raspberry Pi.[26][27]

Let us be clear, you few loud angry folks. We're not under/misinformed or blinkered: we think you’re WRONG. End of. #StopGamerGate2014
— Raspberry Pi.[28]

On November 25, it was confirmed by Roberto Rosario that Raspberry Pi's twitter account was using the GGautoblocker.[29].

[[164x100px]] [[15x11px]] Raspberry pi's forum moderator explaining the deletion of the thread as off-topic. Source.

That same day, "spacemidget", a frequent client of Raspberry Pi, created a thread asking for the removal of the blocklist from their official account. The thread was tagged as off-topic and deleted despite addressing a Raspberry Pi related topic.[30]

On December 11, 2014, Raspberry Pi stopped using the blocklist; the reasons of this are unknown since, to this date, the organization hasn't given an official statement regarding the use or disuse of GGautoblocker.[31]

Promotion

The program is on par with an entry-level college assignment. Despite this, many technically unversed journalists have penned inflammatory promotions for this "tool".

Responses

References


  1. Github.com - ggautoblocker(Nov 04 Archive)

  2. randi.io - Main Page (No archive given)

  3. Github - ggautoblocker.pl (No archive given)

  4. Github - GGAutoBlocker Github (No archive given)

  5. Practical mod_perl - Comparing Runtime Performance of Perl and C (No archive given)

  6. Your Dictionary - Examples of Guilt by Association (No archive given)

  7. GGautoblocker appeals group - GGautoblocker appeals group (archive)

  8. Brietbart London - Game Developers’ Association Calls 10,000 Tweeters ‘Harassers’-Including Kentucky Fried Chicken (No archive given)

  9. Twitter.com - @Elissabeth:"While you're keeping track, I'm on the list and I'm publishing a feminist anthology. Not a nice girl tho so ..."

  10. Twitter.com -@GREATBLACKOTAKU:"did I speak ill of their waifu or something?"

  11. Twitter.com -@APGNation:".@IGDA_ED Hi Kate, please email us your company's legal department contact information. Thank You. pr@apgnation.com"

  12. Twitter.com -@Adland:"Hi @IGDA_ED @IGDA, good call. We're an ad trade pub, and we were on it. An apology for promoting a list full of false positives is in order."

  13. Twitter.com -@MikeBaggz:"I'm a gamer, been one since I could talk, and for them to blacklist me is disrespectful, Before today I didn't know what #GamerGate was. 👈"

  14. Twitter.com -@theaduskin:"I am apparently on the block list of worst harassers. What a joke. My support is now totally official #GamerGate"

  15. Twitter.com -@spookyfishgames:"never made a single tweet/mention of #gamergate but somehow I'm on a #blocklist, because of who I follow!! How the fuck does that work??"

  16. Twitter.com -@ZenityGames:"Same here and I'm not even GG (nor blocked, after CHS was removed from the seeds). But knowing that IGDA does not have my back.."

  17. IGDA.org -IGDA Online Harassment Resource

  18. Twitter.com -@Siloraptor:"I'm chairman of @IGDA_PuertoRico and have been tagged as a harasser by the @IGDA itself for using #GamerGate hashtag "

  19. Twitter.com - @freebsdgirl:"If the Puerto Rico chairman of IGDF didn't want to be on the blocklist, he probably shouldn't have followed known harassers of women."

  20. Twitter.com - @IGDA_ED:"Read the disclaimer: *not* the @IGDA's tool or list. But like people, tools are imperfect; we've removed it for now. "

  21. Linkedin.com - Donna Prior's Linkedin(Archive)

  22. IGDA.org - SIGs: Community Management

  23. Twitter.com - @IGDA_WIGSIG

  24. Facebook.com - Randi Harper:"Someone's mad.ggautoblocker is now listed on IGDA as an anti-harassment resource."

  25. Reddit.com -r/KotakuInAction:"email received from igda"

  26. twitter.com -@Raspberry_Pi:"We want to encourage girls in this industry. Being horrified by #GamerGate does not “taint” us as one follower suggested (cont…)"

  27. Twitter.com -@Raspberry_Pi:"…and if, as another suggested, we “alienate people” - well, they’re ppl we weren’t too keen on having in our community in the first place."

  28. Twitter.com -@Raspberri_pi:"Let us be clear, you few loud angry folks. We're not under/misinformed or blinkered: we think you’re WRONG. End of. #StopGamerGate2014"

  29. Twitter.com -Siloraptor:"Congratulations @Raspberry_Pi you just turned a block list into a black list #gamergate #notyourshield"

  30. SpaceMidget.wordpress.com -Raspberry Pi use scattershot blocklist and put hands over their ears

  31. Reddit.com - r/KotakuInAction:"Raspberry Pi stopped using Blocklist? Any official word?"