Thunderf00t’s credibility has dried up

I’ve stayed out of the whole Thunderf00t affair until now. However, I am simply not going to after what he’s just done: he hacked into a private backchannel on Freethoughtblogs and stole confidential emails, before forwarding them on to other people.

One of the people on FTB who was affected is Natalie Reed. In her post here, she explains why this sort of thing isn’t acceptable:

Natalie Reed is not my “real name”. I use a different name for “real life”… for employment, for housing, for everything I don’t necessarily want connected to my being out as a transsexual, atheist blogger. There is a huge amount of highly personal, highly stigmatized issues I discuss on this blog, or in other venues under the name Natalie Reed. Transsexuality and transgenderism, my heroin addiction, stories from my life and past, my being a survivor of multiple rapes…I’ve even mentioned my being an incest survivor, an issue that’s incredibly, deeply painful for me. Most of these things I never, ever would have felt able to write about without feeling protected by this name.

It also protects my ability to pursue housing and employment without the threat of being outed as trans, a recovering addict, an atheist and so on by a simple five minute google search. It protects the possibility of my someday choosing to go “stealth” if I ever feel the desire or need, in which I could finally live as just a woman instead of always as a trans woman. It keeps me further removed from my birth name and images of my former self, and the life I led before transition. It protects my physical safety from those who feel the need to enforce their beliefs and feelings about gender through violence. It protects me from the countless rad-fems and HBSers who consistently out or dox trans women, often with the deliberate, explicit intent of exposing them to harassment, discrimination and violence.

She is a very brave person to even bring herself to talk of such things. But this is just one reason that email list was confidential, and there are plenty more.

Jason Thibeault has the technical details and evidence. Basically, the server program they were using never expires an invitation ticket, and the original confirmation email still allows you to log back in without informing the admin. I’m not an IT expert, but that seems like a big flaw in the software they were using, and I’ll have to keep a note of that for future reference.

This seems like as good a place as any to reiterate my opinion on pseudonyms. I do this myself on other sites, so I have no problem with people using them, as long as they don’t involve bigotry or unless those people create a second one to support themselves – in short, I tend to apply the Golden Rule. However, even if you use a pseudonym, I believe people should be held accountable for what they say, which is why I ask people for an email address when commenting.

This sort of thing is just not acceptable, and by doing so, Thunderf00t has lost any credibility and support he may have had with me. It’s one thing to publish an email sent to you that contains threats if you explicitly state that you will, but private ones between other people who may be discussing technical issues, or simply be bouncing ideas off each other for an event or even a joke like a massive April Fool’s Day prank earlier this year, are off-limits. What Thunderf00t did here was utterly wrong, and in fact it leads me to suspect he has almost no empathy for other people, given that he was threatened with it himself a while ago. Jen McCreight’s finishing paragraph on her post is right on the money:

How are you that obsessed with taking down a freaking blog network because you disagree with the fucking no-brainer of having sexual harassment policies that you’re willing to cost innocent people their jobs and safety? How is destroying lives of your atheist allies your priority over combating creationism in the classroom, faith healing, the Religious Right, and homophobia?

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About Philip

I'm a physics graduate, sci-fi writer, budding game designer, and amateur human.

One response to “Thunderf00t’s credibility has dried up”

  1. danielwalldammit says :

    The train-wreck just keeps rolling. …off the tracks.

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