Note: I originally wrote this as a reblog of the post quoted below, but I want to ensure it shows up in Tumblr’s tracked tags and search results, so I’m cross-posting it from my blog using Tumblr Crosspostr, again.

birdsy-purplefishes:

Seeing a “predator alert tool” for social media sites run by kinksters is like seeing a henhouse guarded by foxes. I have absolutely no trust in the intentions of people who hurt people for pleasure.

I strongly second this sentiment.

And I want to clarify a few things, because I know there is a LOT of intentional, propagandistic misinformation being spread about the Predator Alert Tool project.

So, first and foremost, the Predator Alert Tools are not “run” by anyone. They can’t be. That’s an intentional part of their design.

  • The best example of this is also the most famous of the tools, Predator Alert Tool for OkCupid. There is no central authority, no one person, no group of people who can “run” the tool because the tool exists in your browser. This is what’s called an “unhosted” app. It’s not being “run” by anyone except the people who install the tool, and the tool does not interact with anyone other than you and OkCupid.
  • The canonical copies of the hosted tools, such as Predator Alert Tool for Facebook, are “run” by someone (me, though we are exploring unhosted solutions for these, too), but if what you are concerned about is my loyalties to sadomasochists, I can assure you, I have no such loyalties. (More on this in a bit.)

Secondly, if you read the “debates” about Predator Alert Tool, what you will find is that the BDSM’ers and others closely affiliated with sadomasochistic subcultures are far and away the most vocal opponents of the Predator Alert Tools. In no uncertain terms, people who self-identify as into BDSM show themselves through their words and their actions to be, generally speaking, consistently against tools designed to empower rape survivors:

In case you need examples of this, have a look at the following cases.

When the Predator Alert Tool for OkCupid was released, there was immediate and vociferous pushback from the BDSM crowd about “the choking question” included in the Lisak and Miller set:

Although PAT-OKC has gotten a HUGE positive response from OkCupid users, a small but vocal subset has expressed concern about the choking question and another similar Lisak and Miller question: “Have you ever punched or kicked or repeatedly slapped with an open hand (e.g., two or more times in a single incident) someone who you were in some kind of intimate relationship with?” Their critique is that these activities — choking, punching, and kicking a partner — can be done consensually and that it is therefore unfair of the PAT-OKC code to tar consensual chokers, punchers and kickers with the same brush as people who commit domestic violence.

The conclusion some of these concerned users seem to draw is that PAT-OKC’s author, Maymay, “appears not to be very friendly towards the BDSM community.” Those making this critique seem to be missing some important context. (At least, some of them do. Others are very familiar with Maymay’s position within BDSM culture and appear to be simply concern-trolling.) Of course, there is a long history of consensual BDSM being conflated with abuse by antagonistic outsiders. Maymay, however, is themself a long-time practitioner of BDSM and, most importantly, a radical supporter of the rights of submissive-identified people. Within BDSM, submissives and many others are harmed by a cultural hierarchy that privileges dominant identities and dominant behaviors above all others. In other words, Maymay is not a BDSM outsider who’s attacking “kink”; they are an insider who’s fighting domism.

PAT-OKC is, first and foremost, a tool for fighting rape culture. Forced to choose, then, it makes sense for PAT-OKC to prioritize getting as much information as possible to potential rape victims over potentially mislabeling some dominants as “predators.” Especially given that the answers to any red-flag questions are displayed prominently at the top of a user’s profile where that user can address them.

When Predator Alert Tool for FetLife was released, there was a swift backlash among rape-supporting BDSM’ers to try and overwhelm the tool with “spam” and “griefing” reports. This was summarized well by a Tumblr user here:

Okay this is long, highly technical and kind of unwieldy, but is also very fascinating. While it is talking a about system used to report abusers (of the sexual nature) or untrustworthy members of a BDSM social network site, it is very relevant to any internet communities and social groups in general.

What is interesting, and might be of interest to those of you who have an interest in analyzing the not-so-unique group mentality to rise up to protect a person (sometimes rightfully) accused abuse within a community.

We often see this mob-like behavior in fandoms whether the party being “protected” is innocent or guilty the activity of the righteous mod quickly obscures the issues with trolling behaviors. In this instance it was done by group of the alleged abuser’s friends spamming the reporting system with false, frivolous complaints.

What strikes me the most about what this data shows, which is really just electronic proof of what many of us have seen in our respective communities, is that this reactionary defense is so very common and a strong indication that this kind of group is likely to be more permissive of whichever type of abusive behavior the person they’re protect is being accused of.

In other words, that this knee-jerk defense of an alleged abuse is a strong indication that the group doing the defending is the perfect hiding place for a real abuser.

(Emphasis mine.)

When this “griefing” tactic didn’t work to neuter Predator Alert Tool for FetLife’s effectiveness, BDSM’ers on FetLife organized a more technical Denial of Service attack, carried out by a healthcare worker (of all people!) named Caroline Tyler, which caused Predator Alert Tool for FetLife’s input mechanisms to be rendered inoperable. Today, Predator Alert Tool for FetLife will still alert you of predatory behavior reported in the past, and it will still automatically scan FetLife user’s profile pictures against the United States’ national registry of convicted sex offenders, but you can not report a new consent violation.

The Predator Alert Tool for FetLife has consistently been the target of openly malicious attempts to silence survivors of sadomasochistic rape and abuse, and the attackers have brazenly admitted this and been applauded for doing this by the rest of the BDSM community. The creator of Predator Alert Tool for FetLife and the programmer of all the other tools to date (me), has a long history of hostility with FetLife that is perhaps well documented on the feminist blog Disrupting Dinner Parties here and the online sexuality magazine the Slantist here (as well as on my own blog, of course, such as here and the tag page here). The Slantist also recently published an extremely long and comprehensive overview of the Predator Alert Tool project, worth your time, here. An excerpt:

A group of hacker activists are developing a suite of tools to strike back at the culture of silence and isolation that surrounds harassment, coercion and assault. There are currently seven such tools, each of which focuses primarily on a dating site or social network (which, face it, most of us use as dating sites), though some target apps. Depending on the website or app that the tool is designed for, it has a different capability.

[…]

Earlier this year, developers connected several of the PATs to CreepShield.com. Now, when using PAT-OKC, PAT-ChristianMingle, or PAT-FetLife, every profile picture a user encounters will be scanned using facial-recognition software from CreepShield and compared with mugshots from the Sex Offender Registry to render potential matches. As with so many aspects of this tool suite, many of the developers involved in this project do agree that the Sex Offender Registry has serious issues, but they don’t think these issues mean access to that additional information should be denied to the users of their tools.

“There is no good excuse for not building sexual violence prevention tools into every social network on the Internet,” writes one of the PAT developers. “The Internet industry is in a unique position to effect arguably the most sweeping resistance to systemic sexual violence in history. Moreover, it wouldn’t even be technologically complex, or expensive. And we’ve already proved it’s possible.”

The total budget for all seven tools remains zero. The ten or so people participating in development, beta-testing, and documentation does so on a volunteer basis, and they welcome feedback and help from others. As mentioned, every tool is released into the public domain, meaning that anyone can take the code and alter it to suit their needs, or build on it to cover another aspect of the internet.

If this is not enough to convince you that the people who designed, programmed, advocate for, and evangelize Predator Alert Tools for social media are not loyal to the corrupt rape-fetishizing scum that is the BDSM community, then consider reading two of the core developer’s blogs posts:

Finally, I would like to point out that, yet again, we see a dialectic in which the Predator Alert Tools are deemed “unsafe” by anti-BDSM’ers because they think BDSM’ers created and advocate for them, or they are deemed “unsafe” by BDSM’ers because people who are anti-BDSM created them. If this does not strike you as totally absurd then you are undeniably ignorant of what is actually going on, and I suggest you find the time to read up on what is actually happening before you speak too much about the subject. I hope this helps clarify some of your concerns.

P.S. It would mean a lot to me if other people who are already knowledgeable about this call out the misinformation, gently if possible and when there seems to be a genuine misunderstanding rather than an intentional effort to sabotage and silence the tools, whenever and wherever they see it. Thank you.

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