Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
As a “graduation present” for Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, trolls on 4chan and 8chan shared his contact information — including his home address and multiple phone numbers connected to his family — and called for his harassment. AÂ day later, a prank call claiming there was a hostage situation in his house led to an armed police team being deployed there. The practice, known as âswatting,â is aÂ harassment toolÂ online trolls use to attack their victims, and it has provedÂ fatal on at least one occasion.
The now-archived 4chan thread is a response to HoggÂ teasing the announcementÂ of the activismÂ âRoad to Changeâ bus tour, a gun violence prevention tour he and some of his fellow Parkland shooting survivors just kicked off. In a June 3 post, a troll references Hogg having a âsurprise for usâ addingÂ a linkÂ to the announcement of the bus tour, and posts contact information that includes home address and phone numbers linked to the Hogg family, saying itâs a âgraduation present.â
After the post and subsequent replies were apparently deleted from 4chan, trolls took to 8chan (a message boardÂ launched in responseÂ to perceived censorship on 4chan that has since became more anarchic) to continue the âdoxxing,â or the publication of a victimâs contact information with malicious intent. In theÂ 8chan thread, trolls complained that 4chan (which they refer to as âcuckchanâ) had deleted the original post, plotted to send âlarge usps boxesâ to the Hoggsâ home address, and schemed about âlooking intoâ a patent under Hoggâs fatherâs name. After the news broke that Hogg had been swatted, at least one troll on the thread also complained that âunfortunately he survived.â
The doxxing and subsequent targeted harassment of Hogg follow months of right-wing mediaÂ attackingÂ and floatingÂ absurd conspiracy theoriesÂ about him in reaction to his gun violence preventionÂ activism. Online, trolls are mirroring the attacks thatÂ right-wing media figuresÂ and theÂ gun lobbyÂ are waging on Parkland shooting survivors, or vice versa.
And in taking to message boards like 4chan and 8chan to plot hits on their victims, theyâre continuing what is becoming a terrifying pattern: During the 2016 presidential campaign, 8chanÂ launchedÂ a harassment campaign against journalist David Cay Johnston after he published an excerpt from President Donald Trumpâs 2005 tax documents. After a judge upheld existing regulations to assault weapons, trolls shared his contact informationÂ on 8chanÂ in clear efforts to target him for harassment. After he profiled an anti-Muslim Twitter crusader, a HuffPost reporterÂ got doxxedÂ on 4chan,Â followed byÂ numerous colleagues. In 2014, 4chan trollsÂ organizedâOperation Lollipop,â an effort to infiltrate feminist Twitter and sow dissent. These message boards have proven to beÂ ideal hubsÂ for far-right trolls to organize harassment campaigns aimed at silencing, threatening, and hurting those they oppose politically, with little to no consequences.
Media MattersÂ confirmed the veracity of the address and has edited the images from the message boards to blur all sensitive information.
Header image byÂ Sarah Wasko / Media Matters