Wed, Feb 13, 2019 - Page 6 News List

French journalists’ online club said to bully women

INTIMIDATION REVEALED:Group founder Vincent Glad was suspended on Monday by a left-wing daily after an investigation by the newspaper’s own fact-checking unit

AFP, PARIS

A group of young French media executives was condemned on Monday for running a macho “boys’ club” that harassed female colleagues online.

Their closed Facebook group “League of LOL” — made up mostly of men in their 30s — ridiculed female journalists for years, sometimes using pornographic memes to attack them.

Women seen as feminist were the group’s favorite targets.

The founder of the group, journalist Vincent Glad, was suspended on Monday by left-wing daily Liberation after an investigation by the newspaper’s own fact-checking unit exposed its existence.

The revelations also led to the suspension of the newspaper’s online editor, Alexandre Hervaud, and his opposite number at France’s trendiest music and culture magazine, Les Inrockuptibles, David Doucet. The affair is being dubbed the “French media’s #MeToo,” with Liberation referring to the group as a “boys’ club” that bullied women online and cracked off-color jokes about rape culture.

Victims of the group recounted how the attacks and pranks had pushed one woman to quit journalism, and left another suicidal.

League of LOL targeted science presenter Florence Porcel, seeking to humiliate her by getting group members to pose as the producers of a prestigious television program offering her a job, then posted the recording of the fake interview online. Other women had their heads grafted onto pornographic images.

Set up in 2009, the League of LOL also had members in public relations, graphic design and media education. It had been much less active over the past few years.

The head of a porn culture Web site, Stephen des Aulnois, on Monday stepped down and suspended his Le Tag Parfait (The Perfect Tag) blog, apologizing for his part in the activities of the group that gets its name from the acronym for “laugh out loud.”

Journalist Melanie Wanga, who said she quit Twitter for several years because of abuse, tweeted that the harassers were finally getting their comeuppance.

“Imagine being a young, black woman journalist talking about blackface and apartheid and getting this stuff [racial and sexist harassment] multiplied by 20 from your ‘colleagues,’” she said.

“You can see these harassers erasing all their dodgy tweets, and talking about equality and regurgitating the work of all the feminists they attacked to buy themselves a new virginity,” she added.

French Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi described the men behind League of LOL as “losers.”

“It is a group of guys high on their power at being able to make fun of other people. Except that their mockery had an effect in real life,” he said.

French Secretary of Equality Between Women and Men Marlene Schiappa underscored that online harassment was outlawed, and said she was considering extending the six-year cut-off for prosecuting alleged crimes.

Under the law as it stands, only law-breaking posts after 2013 could be prosecuted.

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