The previous post was getting a bit long, so here’s where things currently stand.
Regarding the Block Bot
I’ve managed to actually have a conversation with ‘Oolon’ and away from Twitter he’s a lot more reasonable. The Block Bot has made considerable changes already and appears to be in the process of making more. Hopefully this will address the remaining issues but honestly as things stand my only remaining objection is to the titles of the levels and this is extremely iffy as something actionable, even in the UK, given the other changes in wording.
Given that Oolon’s been very reasonable and we’ve had productive conversations on the issues and given the changes that have taken place I see no reason to proceed any further on that score at this point.
Regarding the GG Autoblocker
Harper’s less amenable to reasonable discussion, at least so far. No changes have been made at the site as of yet either. I’ve consulted with a third solicitor with more specialist knowledge regarding defamation online and US law and they’re a bit less optimistic than the other two, though both agree that this is a pretty cut and dried case all things considered and don’t believe the SPEECH issue is really an issue.
Cheaper alternatives to a full libel suit are harder to prosecute and I’ll need to gather more evidence before deciding to proceed on that score.
I’ve been approached by some intermediaries, neutral parties, who are seeking via other means to repair the problems with the GG Autoblocker and have asked me to ease off.
Given the changes at The Block Bot seem to indicate the way the wind is blowing, the need to build a stronger case and in the interests of giving allowable time for these people to work and for potential solutions to come through (as well as not wanting to be used as an excuse to fuel Harper’s Patreon) I’ll hold off for now.
The letter is still a first step and exhibiting patience and fairness will build a stronger case – should it be necessary – in the future. Hopefully Harper et al seeking legal advice will lead to changes and not to ‘reverse libel tourism’. With a year free to file there’s no rush and meanwhile I’m talking to the local police as well as solicitors – as they have some options for dealing with online harassment and false accusations.
It is, however, amusing to me that when accused of harassment themselves – as a matter of record – people who will normally take it, if anything, too seriously will so quickly rush to judgement, shaming, trolling and further harassment.
To reiterate, yet again, the issue isn’t the block list in and of itself or being blocked. I don’t think anyone HAS to listen to anyone. While I think these kind of lists and pre-emptive blockings are a terrible idea and contribute to a potentially dangerous trend towards extremism (an internet equivalent of only ever watching Fox News) they’re not illegal and people have the right to do stupid things, so long as they don’t directly harm anyone.
The issue with the blockers is (or has been) that they defame people both as a group (the list) and as individuals (named individuals). By way of analogy, it is like having a big sign up saying ‘These people are all rapists’ with thousands of names listed underneath, many – even most – of which are not rapists.
It’s not about being blocked, it’s not even about the breathtakingly dangerous stupidity of ideological purity tests for who can talk to you or challenge your statements, it’s about defamation and – as Block Bot has shown – this can be relatively easily fixed.