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Thread by @ArtimusFoul: "Thread on @repeal_shield & & trolls, I've not a chance to talk properly about @Hazel_ok's, work breaking down our bloc […]" #repealthe8th #8thref #Together4Yes #repealedthe8th

, 41 tweets, 27 min read
Thread on @repeal_shield & #repealthe8th & trolls, I've not a chance to talk properly about @Hazel_ok's, work breaking down our blocklist data. & I want to talk about some of the pieces & comments people have made about SM & the #8thref result. #Together4Yes #RepealedThe8th
Alot of people are drawing comparisons between trump win the brexit referendum & #repealedthe8th. I think there are important takeaways from the campaign for other groups moving forward, but we should remember, that this referendum was a long time coming.
Speaking personally the 8th was a factor in my political life since my early teens. I remember spotting @taraobrien1 marching against the referendum in '93. This ref was the culmination of a campaign that kicked into gear with the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar 5 yrs ago
So activists went into the #8thref enormously well armed, well informed and motived. We knew what we were facing. We saw #brexit & #trump and were forearmed and prepped about the tactics we'd face.
& that's how @repeal_shield started. Concerned about news like Kanto being brought in, & watching the uptake in Anti Choice trolls at the start of the yr, myself @Hazel_ok, @magpie839, @NiamhNolan8 & others found ourselves bitching about the amount of time wasted blocking trolls
A blocklist was mooted, & literally in the course of a few days the account was set up. @PamelaPamo, @emilylayla & @Stephanenny joined us (Steph went & did our 1st press interview 12 hrs later) & @Ciaraioch designed our lovely AV & banner.
The 1st thing to remember about @repeal_shield is that it was designed as tool for activists. People actively campaigning for #repeal, the idea that these people were afraid of debate was repeatedly put forward online & the media. & thats ridiculous...
Our users understood the issues back to front. Again & again the "fear of debate" was put forward, as if there were anti choice arguments we hadn't heard before. We knew the issues, our minds were made up, we were out to campaign for #repealthe8th & didn't want a distraction.
.@repeal_shield was necessary because (& I don't think I fully grasped this before we started) abuse, harassment & intimidation have been a big part of the Anti Choice playbook since before there was an Internet.
Anti-choice activists be the outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Nebraska, or on Twitter, is trying to do the exact same thing, they're trying to shut you down, they're trying to stop you accessing or speaking about women's health & bodily autonomy.
And we saw the same thing on SM. One of the most effective pages for #repealedthe8th @InHerIrishShoes came under attack as antichoicers understood what a potent weapon these women's stories were for repeal…
this isn't an isolated incident. Again & again in attacks reminiscent of Milo/Gamergate, @john_mcguirk the #savethe8th "comms director" repeatedly named individual Irish Repealers (always women) who were instant targets for harassment by his 8k plus followers.
I'm not going to share examples of the kind of abuse that was thrown at repeal activists, there's plenty of examples of it out there. But I have to say after a couple of unpleasant (but minor) run-ins with some toxic trolls who tried & failed to doxx me, & targetted my family...
...I really understood, that sense of dread when you see a DM, how as much as you want to let the abuse slide off, it gets under the skin. & that's it's intention. To silence you, to intimidate you, there's a reason Anti Choice trolls target women...
With that in mind, I want to share @Hazel_ok analysis of our blocklist and briefly share a few points with examples.
We blocked 16k + trolls in our 4ish month existence, & 70% were American.
And combined with American Evangelicals coming to campaign, American money flooding in. & now thousand of American trolls targetting Irish #repealthe8th activists.
That should give you a sense of out disportionate the social media landscape was during the #8thref. If repealers had wanted to debate every Anti Choice troll out there, what would it accomplish? Even if you changed @TexanMAGAguns mind on abortion, he couldn't fecking vote here!
Another important claim by anti choicers was that "half of Ireland is blocked by Repeal Shield" well actually only a few hundred of the accounts we blocked were genuinely Irish.
Again antichoicers refused to concede that 1 twitter account does not equal 1 citizen. For example over the course of the last few months we caught prolific anti-choicer @EamonReilly_com set up dozens of fake accounts, like this one:
On an aside, the amount of time & energy Anti Choicers spent complaining about @repeal_shield was ENDLESSLY entertaining. You complained on twitter, in letters, "about being silenced by half of Ireland"
@phelimmcaleer wrote a column.

How many subscribers did you think we had?
The amount of time and effort they spent complaining about @repeal_shield was vastly out of proportion to the number of our subscribers. But as long as they were complaining about repeal shield, they weren't attacking repeal activists so we just didn't say anything.
We also noticed that Anti Choicers seemed to REALLY hate the gifs, so that should go some way to explain why we posted so many of those.

Juvenile? Petty? Immature? Little Bit. But in our defence we never said weren't any of those things.
That being said, one of the best things about @repeal_shield was that being set up in such as rushed manner, & with no resources, & no funding, we had ZERO expectations for success. And that was liberating.
We never imagined anything like this level of success. What mattered to us is that Repealers would find it useful as tool for mental health self-care.

I think we quickly learned that no platforming our opposition was a strategy devasting to the Anti Choice campaign. This article from the @DublinInquirer does a deeper dive.…
By not engaging with ACers we turned Irish Twitter in an effective tool for #repealthe8th campaigners, to organise, & support each other.

@repeal_shield can't take credit for that, it's a tactic that needs broad support from the community, but the a/c helped focus repealers.
Again for the anti choicers who decry the lack of debate, they're (again) ignoring the fact that @repeal_shield was set up in response to Anti Choice abuse, & we wouldn't have come up with it in the 1st place if it wasn't for anti choice abuse.
btw some of our more odious trolls are claiming that the fact that only 3% of our blocklist have been banned from twitter, is "proof" @repeal_shield is a failure,
No we take it as proof @twittersupport is fecking rubbish, and maintain if they did their job properly we wouldn't need @repeal_shield in the 1st place.

Also we notice that one of these trolls is posting this from their 4th account the previous 3 closed for abuse, so um
God this is the longest thread I've written. Final thoughts. I hate to think that something like @repeal_shield would be necessary for every referendum/election. It was a necessity during the #8thref due toxicity of the debate & the level of international attention.
What was heartening during the #8thref was how aggressive Irish activists were in spotting and reporting fake news/trolls. People like @LizCarolan, @gavinsblog, & @TheLiberal_x, & @TransparentRef were enormously effective
But was also depressingly clear was that @SIPOCIreland, @Charities_Reg & @RefCom_ie as well as election law badly needs reform ASAP, as they're just not equipped for the 21st century.
Potentially a twitter blocklist as a tactic could be employed as a specific campaign, for a specific time, in something like another #brexti referendum, or useful for US state-level abortion law campaigns (where most US abortion law is made) as a tactic for PCers.
My final thought is, like the rest of @repeal_shield I'm profoundly humbled & grateful for the support & love we've gotten from repealers. We are immensely proud of the small part we played in #repealthe8th
Also, well done me, for making it the whole way through this thread without using the word "organic" to describe things once.
Oh shite I nearly forgot to thank the amazing @BrianLeonardFR who stepped up, and joined the team effortless, making a massive contribution...
going to tag in @SecretGamerGrrl & @CaseyExplosion because I'm a basically a huge stan of both, they talk an enormous amount of sense about Social Media, the alt right, bigots & trolls, like this thread, which is amazeballs.
And @LaraWhyte & @5050oD who do amazing work on feminism, intersectionality and the alt-right. I'm going to do another thread, (not today) on the overlap between the alt-right & antichoicers, particularly in relation to what we found out with @repeal_shield.
Adding in this thread, which goes into the abuse repealers faced online in more detail.
Also a couple of people have commented that they're unclear about what @repeal_shield was. I forgot we've been in our #8thref bubble these last few months, he's some background to the account.

And a guardian article where we make a (brief) appearance.…
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