Yesterday, Twitter user @wjjhoge was permanently suspended for targeted abusive behavior. According to Twitter and Mr. Hoge, his Twitter account will not be restored. Mr. Hoge went ahead with his other twitter account @hogewash to rally support around his alleged targeted abuse of liberal activist Brett Kimberlin and reporter Bill Schmalfeldt who has been covering the antics of Mr. Hoge and his mob of sock puppet twitter accounts for the last couple of years. Hoge, now claims that he was actually banned for having fake followers follow him instead of the real reason he was banned, which has been his daily abuse posts on his blog about Team Kimberlin and Bill Schmalfeldt and using Twitter to spread it for maximum effect.
The targeted abuse seems to be that Mr. Hoge uses his daily posts about these two people to spread and or foment or incite others to attack those Mr. Hoge discusses. His only blog posts revolve around his thought for the day, a random space picture (he works for NASA) and Team Kimberlin posts which are used to harass Kimberlin and Schmalfeldt. For the last 3 years or so Mr. Hoge has been on a daily 7 day a week posting grind about Mr. Kimberlin and his family and children, and his roving hatred masked as a psyop propaganda campaign against Mr. Schmalfeldt, who is disabled and suffers from Parkinson’s disease, but still manages to report on Hoge’s activities as best he can.
Both Kimberlin and Schmalfeldt have numerous lawsuits in various state and federal courts in Maryland alleging that Mr. Hoge and his followers are targeting them for harassment and abuse, along with alleged defamation and other torts, while google bombing them with all sorts of nasty snide and false accusations, some of which can be seen here. It is no wonder that Twitter finally took notice. What is more interesting though is how these groups of serial harassers tend to have legal support behind them.
— Popehat (@Popehat) April 29, 2015
In a large way that legal support is their muscle which allows them to have legal backup while abusing their targets. In other words, this is not your average stalker group, rather this is a group that has legal power behind their activities. If the targets of their abuse file something in the courts to try and stop the abuse, then up pops some attorney to defend the abusers claiming its all first amendment activity and opinion, when in reality its targeted harassment and abuse. Kenneth White is an infamous twitter personality and lawyer who believes that free speech must be defended to the death no matter how bad that speech is or what the consequences for it are.
There are numerous accounts of Twitter abuse in the news, one such person is Zoe Quinn who suffered her targeted abuse at the hands of an ex-boyfriend whom she had a short relationship with. When she broke up with him he launched an all-out assault on her that turned into what we now refer to as Gamergate.
The harassment she suffered, and continues to suffer from, however, shows just how difficult it is to obtain any sort of relief from Law Enforcement or the courts. At present, there are few resources from Law Enforcement that are dedicated to rooting out abuse in social media. Most police departments are ill-equipped to deal with social media abuse, and State and Federal courts are no better at handling that type of abuse either. Most Judges don’t even understand social media or Twitter or abuse by roving mobs of anonymous trolls, and mostly because the laws on the books concerning targeted social media abuse are few. This leaves the courts ill-equipped to deal with a rather new phenomena of targeted social media harassment. Without legislation that gives the Federal branch of government the power to help those who are victimized by roving gangs of abusers, there is little relief that victims can actually seek. This leaves victims without a voice of their own, and most who have been targeted have left social media altogether, while some have even had to move out of their homes or worse, lose their jobs, leaving them with little to no income to support themselves.
In the case of Mr. Hoge, he already had a backup account on Twitter which he quickly started using to continue the activity that got him banned in the first place. But his supporters now claim that he is being persecuted for his opinions instead of what he was really banned for in the first place. The groups that support Hoge are generally libertarians like Kenneth White (Popehat) and Tea Party extremists who all have the same victim mentality which they use to claim their religious beliefs are being targeted by the liberal media, or liberals are trying to have them silenced, or their first amendment rights are being violated, or using tactics such as accuse the accusers, which they use routinely to describe how they are under siege by liberals in the media or, in this case, social media companies like Twitter and Facebook who are now out to silence them.
Of course most of this allows them to raise money for their cause, and once they find someone large enough to demonize, they go about claiming that demon is victimizing them and they need money to defend their rights and so forth. It’s mostly bullshit, but it still resonates with their base and allows them to raise enough money to support themselves, which then allows them to continue their victimization and abuse of those they are targeting.
What is clear at this point is that the courts are unable to protect victims, and Law Enforcement is not interested or even equipped to handle the myriad of complaints from those who are being victimized. They are used to dealing with burglaries, rapists and murder cases, which are things they can actually see and possibly do something about on the local level. Social media abuse and “name calling” as they refer to it is not something they are even interested in dealing with, and partly because of the jurisdictional issues that social media brings to the table. Until there is legislation at the Federal level which would classify this activity as a federal crime with financial resources allocated to combating it, victims will continue to be abused, and victimizers, especially those with lawyers guns and money backing them up, will continue to ply their trade free from any consequences for their actions.