Jeffrey Phillips Freeman discussing Bioalgorithms, Machine Learning, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, HAM Radio and everything science.

More lies from the fediverse

Well there was a new development in the Fediverse drama that I mentioned in my last post. I posted the link to my last post to the mastodon-admin mailing list in an attempt to bring some attention to the situation. It ended in a debate where lots of accusations were thrown, and I had the photoevidence and links to disprove everyone beyond a shadow of a doubt. In the end the moderator blocks me and calls me alt-right, which is a pretty big insult as far as I’m concerned, but with nothing to back it up. Don’t take my word for it; I will let you judge for yourself. Below is every email, every piece of evidence…

Bring one piece of evidence I’ve been a dick to anyone, just one. Lots of accusations, and for every one of themI got the screenshots to disprove. Thats cause I’m not a dick and people lie! Anyway, decide for yourself, nothing ommitted from the exchanges below.

First set of emails, initiated by me

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 16:07

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org There has been a huge disinformation campaign going on for some time now, and has managed tto huge damage to QOTO, an instance which has always strived to be a LGBTQ ally.

Please read up about it here, it includes links and photo evidence. And please try to spread the word:

https://jeffreyfreeman.me/eugen-rochko-ceo-of-mastodon-found-to-support-nazis-agenda/

Jo Jerrica Decker talktome@diskseven.com 24 November 2022 at 17:16

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org This is incredibly rich coming from a man who mocks pronouns in his own bio and buddies up with raging transphobe Alex Gleason, to say nothing of the harassment campaign you just did to several admins.

https://archive.ph/FLAOa

https://archive.ph/XE5gG

Please, stop embarrassing yourself.

Sent from my Android device with K-9 Mail. Please excuse my brevity.

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 17:26

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Are you kidding me, me and Alex are known to have a huge beef and I attacked him many times.

I also dont mock pronouns, I respect everyones pronounds and use them. I also expect people to use respectful pronouns for me, the intent is not to mock its to have respect both ways, I use your pronouns, you use mine.

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 17:28

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org One nice exchange out of 4 years of attacking him and being attacked and now we are pals? yea ok….

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 17:34

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Actually your right. I shouldnt have been nice to alex and my pronouns coukd be misleading. Ill block alex when i get home and update my profile to explicitly state my intention is respectful use of pronouns and not to mock). Sorry if this gave a message i did not intend.

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 17:59

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Ok ive updated my profile to clarify my pronouns are not meant to mock. Let me know if you have any other criticisms i can address.

Leonie Ain me@koyu.space 24 November 2022 at 18:15

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Hi,

This is again some good old fedi drama. Okay, here’s the thing:

  • snow is indeed a malicious actor. This user has been actively harassing me and my users.
  • Qoto.org has some ties to Alex Gleason, but there’s no endorsement. Jeffrey doesn’t mock pronouns in his bio, it’s just a joke.
  • He has also been very helpful and processed my moderation requests carefully and quickly, especially when it came to said user. That this user is active again is quite unfortunate.

Also stop being so whiny and let everyone be in peace. This is why I left Mastodon for a few weeks, I hate this whole #fediblock bullshit drama. Just process your requests and work it out, we don’t talk about the why when and how, we just have this set of rules and if someone disagrees they’re fine to defederate.

Signed Leonie (@koyu@koyu.space)

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 18:26

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Thank you very much for telling your side. You are greatly appreciated, and always have been.

It is ashame a Nazi is being allowed to pit LGBTQ and their allys against each other.

Lies spread quicker than the truth I’m afraid…

Jo Jerrica Decker talktome@diskseven.com 24 November 2022 at 18:24

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Protip: Don’t have ties to notorious transphobes. Don’t claim to be an LGBTQ safe space when you’re actively singing the praises to someone who represents a clear and present danger to LGBTQ folk. It’s not rocket surgery.

It’s not like these are the only examples of his hypocrisy anyway.

(Also, jokes are supposed to be funny. Nobody is laughing.)

Thor Harald Johansen thj@thj.no 24 November 2022 at 18:29

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org I’ve been on this mailing list for a while, and it’s been entirely about requesting technical and practical advice. It’s not clear to me whether this mailing list was ever designed for matters of content policy, but the PRECEDENCE has been that this has not been a topic, that this has not been the place for that, and that it has largely been used to exchange information about how to keep the tech running.

We are seeing more of these content policy debates being brought up on various open source forums these days. People demanding that the software authors take clear stances on hot button political issues.

Whether or not this is the right way to go, do keep in mind that this is a very new thing to those of us who have been here for a while. Most of the FOSS community has been more or less isolated from these kinds of issues since the very beginning. This is not to dismiss the viewpoint where change is needed. What I’m saying is that this is quite the big adjustment. Anyone entering this space after so many decades will have to expect some resistance, or outright rejection at times.

People with strong political agendas (outside of the software version of it, i.e. FOSS/OSS) have largely been absent so far. So it might come across as highly offensive and annoying to some parts of this scene when newcomers step in and demand change, all the while having contributed little in terms of source code.

Just a thought.

Regards, Thor

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 18:39

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org As I said you are right about Alex.. historically I have been quite against him and called him out quite a few times.

But you also need to keep in mind it is easy to have the strength to publicly decry a person when other LGBTQ people have your back.. but when they all see you as the enemy and buy into a Nazi’s misinformation campaign it is a lot harder to call out those people or else I would have enemies on both sides. That said I have never endorsed him and always called him out regardless, but now is not the time for me to make enemies on both sides.

I have since updated my profile and made it clear the pronouns are not intended to mock.

If you have any other issues you feel I should address feel free to let me know.

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 18:42

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org I am curious who it is you are referring to here (as a few people have commented). I cant speak about Jo but I think everyone here has contributed code. I myself have a fork of Mastodon I maintain with quite a bit of code changes, I know Koyu does as well. That said I am honestly have a bit of trouble following the logic of your email. Not saying your wrong, just a bit confused to the point is all… i may be a bit tired though.

david wolfpaw david@tech.lgbt 24 November 2022 at 18:55

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: Mathias Babaiantz mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Since this went out to the full list, I’ll respond, as I have avoided continuing responses to Freemo and his multiple tiers of harassment. As background, my instance, tech.lgbt, was formed in April 2017, and my mod team has been working hard to make it a space that our community wants to be involved with.

My definition of harassment includes continued, unwanted contact by individuals who it is made clear that I do not want contact from. Blocking qoto from our instance started with how their CoC did not mesh with ours, and with targeted, unwanted communication by Freemo.

As much as he can show examples of private DMs between the two of us exchanging pleasantries, and he and his users demanding receipts from me to prove any examples, I feel that continued, unwanted contact is example enough. After blocking qoto almost two years ago, renewed interest in why we had them blocked has come up with new users. We have a policy of not sharing moderation decision-making for the privacy and safety of our users. This is something that I’m sure that Freemo could understand, as he repeatedly claims that his policies are specifically to protect his LGBTQ users.

After breaking my rule and sharing some reasons for defederation with a user after repeated requests, my DM was passed up to him very quickly, and he began messaging me again within just a few minutes. While I responded to that user and the other qoto mod that contacted me, I have explicitly ignored responding directly to Freemo. His belief that lack of response proves that I am both wrong and that I made a bad decision are only proven in my eyes by repeated unwanted contact, which I’d expressed in the past, and I would determine based on repeated unresponded DMs and emails.

Freemo took screenshots of private DMs between us and shared them on Mastodon and on Twitter, leading to more harassing messages toward me. He has also used a quote-toot feature to embed my posts directly into his posts, something that Mastodon explicitly does not allow for harassment purposes, and should also be an issue considering that I have his instance blocked to avoid our content ending up there, and vice versa. His added feature for his instance invades the privacy of users who have him blocked. Technically possible/feasible or not, there is a symbolic difference when you are choosing to not respect when others do not want to communicate with you.

There are reasons that qoto.org and koyu.space are among the most blocked instances. It is telling that the admin coming to his defense in this chat is the admin of the latter.

tyr@pettingzoo.co tyr@pettingzoo.co 24 November 2022 at 19:10

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org I’ve have both qoto and koyo suspended for homophobic harassment for years. So id really take what Koyo says here with a grain of salt. They were big players in the the gab era and apparently are back to their old ways.

Calling suspension of harassment “drama” is an obvious fascist dog whistle. I’d really suggest suspending both instances.

-Tyr

From: Thor Harald Johansen thj@thj.no Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2022 8:29 AM To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Subject: Re: [mastodon-admin] Beware, a Nazi is posing as LGBTQ and defaming instances

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 19:21

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org A great deal of disinformation here that needs to be addressed… and yes it is telling that all of David’s claims come without any evidence to back mos tof it up.. but lets address it one by one.

For starters The incident he talks about multiple times being asked the reason for defederation… I asked him, once, and only once. Many of his users have asked him, or others in the fediverse, and yes I do know of some of our users reaching out to him via email. I am not responsible for what other users do. If one of our users reaches out to him via email that doesnt make me a harasser, and I think that is clear to anyone here. The one case where hre refers to me responding multiple times was after HE emailed me.. In short, a user emailed him asking for information as to why we were defederated. In that email I was CC’ed. David responded with claims of harassment and included me in that response.. Only after he reached out to me in that response did I defend myself by replying to both parties of the emails. Attached you will see the email that clearly shows David emailing me, which i then followed up with responses.

The ironic part of this exchange is it was not initiated by me, in fact it was initiated by one of his users on his instance. A user on his instance was wondering why he couldnt talk to his friend on my instance. He reached out to his friend here and they thought it best to email David. The user on his own instance in the thread that david references even apologized and stood up and took blame for initiating the interaction and apologized as he didnt know david would find it unwelcome. No surprise david has since banned that user from his server.

So as is plain to see this idea of “harassment” is quite fabricated. I have the screenshot attached below showing that David emailed me first and not the other way around. Likewise I will link the countless examples of me being nice to him and over the top… One day he blocked me after a polite exchange (also posted here), but at no time did I harass him or anything even approaching it. His complete refusal to show any examples of me harassing him should be telling enough.

https://qoto.org/@freemo/103611927414971482

https://qoto.org/@freemo/103875635455378427

https://qoto.org/@freemo/103540475812695955

https://qoto.org/@freemo/103755299304947793

https://qoto.org/@freemo/103895288785997479

https://qoto.org/@freemo/103687371610964915

Thor Harald Johansen thj@thj.no 24 November 2022 at 19:21

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org This entirely skirts the issue of whether this list is for content moderation issues or not. Or, perhaps you have taken the liberty of deciding that this is subject on-topic. I personally object to the entire idea that this mailing list should venture into that territory at all. It has not had a history of doing so prior, and I was not given the impression that it was such a place when I signed up for it.

This is NOT to say that I am in favour of harassment or extremism in any way, shape, or form. These issues should MOST DEFINITELY be dealt with.

But I feel this is not the right place for it.

I doubt we will solve such problems by having a big argument about it on this relatively quiet list. I feel it will have to be dealt with out there, where the instances are run.

I don’t think anyone of us wants minority groups to be harassed. I believe we share a common goal. Some of us may be more interventionist than others in how we approach this, however.

I do not perceive this arena as a space for arguing content moderation policies, however.

Now, if the owner of this list steps in and clarifies that, then yes, it does serve that purpose too. Should that happen, I will shut up. If this is the new purpose of the list, then so be it.

Regards, Thor

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 19:23

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org I have no idea what the rules for the list are, but as you say if the rules suggest this or any discussion is unwelcome then I am happy to play ball by those rules.

Black Sheep (MoutonNoir) blsheepmail@gmail.com 24 November 2022 at 19:22

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Hey @all

Can you keep it technical here and drama-free ? Thanks.

Le 24 nov. 2022 à 18:20, tyr@pettingzoo.co a écrit :

 ## Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 19:26 To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Sure Id be happy to.. may i ask if your the admin of the list or if you know what the rules happen to be? Only asking for clarity and for future compliance to that. But otherwise happy to follow whatever rules for the list are set.

tyr@pettingzoo.co tyr@pettingzoo.co 24 November 2022 at 19:31

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Who are you saying that too? The admin of qoto? Or the people pushing back against them?

Yay fascist dog whistles!!!!

-Tyr

Sent from Nine

From: “Black Sheep (MoutonNoir)” blsheepmail@gmail.com Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2022 9:22 AM

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 19:34

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org It appeared clear he was saying it to everyone… me, you, everyone, end the drama, stop the conversation, keep it technical. I presume we will all honor his wishes now and drop it?

owl owl@tchafia.be 24 November 2022 at 19:24

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org hi,

having seen the discussions in the FOSS field for many years, I would not say it’s a new question but rather that diversity and minority care have been dismissed as “secondary political topics” on most channels (incl. the “higher” ones as we’ve seen with RMS himself being caught into this blind spot) with old ciswhite dudes refusing to see their own habits of dismissal and “bro” culture opaque to anyone “not like them” being a real problem (of patriarchal colonialism akin to fascism … yes, it’s huge)

but it’s also obviously a question that pervade the whole society, and with diverse acuteness depending on places …

the thing is : not seeing that there is something political in technology is actually siding with abusers and political bullies, bc no tool is truly neutral as it depends on a community of users and makers that itself has to “works it own politics”

so maybe yes some are just opening their eyes, and are slow to process … probably being conscious of this can help ease the relations, but no laziness should be tolerated imho as it’s long due …

it’s probably not here the place for tribunals, but there are things that need to be discussed and treated outside of a general public mob nameshaming

if you have ideas about this kind of process it would be cool to read … ;)

imho #fediblock should be used, with care, to help with documented cases … we are all short on time budget ;)

best,

O_wl

tyr@pettingzoo.co tyr@pettingzoo.co 24 November 2022 at 19:41

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org I mostly find it hilarious that Koyo and Qoto have told my users to commit suicide but the abusers among this group call it drama. Then the other abusers back them up. Then try to start a meta conversation about how preventing violence is the real fascism.

No one is calling out qoto for the original message which is clearly full of lies, but you are calling out the people pushing back against them. Probably because you realize you do the same bad actions as these people and you’re afraid people will realize you’re one of them.

-Tyr From: owl owl@tchafia.be Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2022 9:24 AM

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 19:52

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Any user that told one of your users to commit suicide and was reported or brought to my attention would have been instantly suspended by me. I am very sorry you had to deal with that. Please link the said incident if for no other reason so if it did get past our moderation we can suspend such a user. We have strict rules against that and have always moderated against it.

Jeffrey Freeman jeffrey.freeman@qoto.org 24 November 2022 at 19:58

To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Just checked, never has there been a single report from pettingzoo.co, screenshot proof below.

So if what you said is true you clearly made no attempt at making us aware of it so we could act…

!()[zoo-unresolved.png] !()[zoo-resolved.png]

Second email, moderator notice

Wxcafé wxcafe@wxcafe.net 24 November 2022 at 20:11

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Hi,

As (one of) the moderator(s) for this mailing list, I’d like to clarify that I have removed posting privileges from Thor Johansen, Leonie Ain and Feffrey Freeman.

I think it’s clear that this list was made for technical information sharing first and foremost. Therefore, considering that these people are a) concern-trolling to derail the topic here, b) historically (and still) nazis, far-right, or close to people who are, and c) generally assholes, their input to this space is not wanted.

I am not available for any discussion or debate regarding this decision. I propose we close the recent topic that they created, and go back on subject.

Thank you very much.

– Clem Hertling clem.hertling@wxcafe.net

Alex Dowson alex@dowson.us 24 November 2022 at 20:20

Reply-To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org To: mastodon-admin@lists.ffdn.org Hell yeah, thanks Clem.

–Alex from dads.cool > > On Nov 24, 2022, at 1:11 PM, Wxcafé wxcafe@wxcafe.net wrote: > > Hi,

Eugen Rochko, CEO of Mastodon, Caves to Nazi's Agenda

UPDATE: Eugen Rochko responded publicly about this and indirectly confirmed what was said here, see update at the end.

I know, clickbait title right? Sadly no. When we say Nazi here we dont just mean your garden variety racist, as bad as that is, but your swastika wielding, genocide wanting, literal Nazi. But lets take a step back for a moment and start from the begining. Its been a long road with many twists and turns, its a very damning accusation, and its important we lay out all the details, show the proof, and give you all the information for you to decide for yourself.

I am the founder of one of the oldest instances (servers) on the Mastodon network, QOTO. It is almost 5 years old and we have been building this network along side Eugen Rochko since the begining. There has been a fair bit of drama and while Eugen Rochko has been more or less consistent in stamping out hate speech and prejudice this seems to be limited to when its popular rather than when its right. But this isnt the story of Eugen, in many ways its the story of QOTO and the impact Eugen has played in the network and towards our little corner of it.

The begining, the exodus

QOTO was founded in July of 2018 out of a need to create a STEM oriented instance that respected and protected the safety of its userbase, in particular that of the LGBTQ+ community. At its founding the network was much simpler than it was today, only a handful of instances and moderation was simplistic.

QOTO only had a dozen or so users at the time and one morning in July of 2019 when I woke up I noticed we were getting hundreds of new users a day. I had no idea what had changed, excited I started asking around to see why we were so popular. As it turns out there was a fracturing throughout the network underway and QOTO was slowly becoming a focal point. To my shock it turned out that GAB, a social media network filled with hatred, racism, sexism, and all forms of prejudice, had decided to enter the Mastodon network. When this happened instance owners around the network took a hardline approach that divided the network down the middle. On one side instance owners decided to start forcing its users to not be able to see Gab content and blocked them from even seeing instances that did not likewise follow suit, users couldnt follow anyone, even from well behaved instances, if those users were allowed to see Gab at all. On the other side many servers allowed the content unrestricted. To further compound the issue the instances that allowed the content generally had little to no moderation policies themselves, so hate speech ran rampant on those servers. Meanwhile the servers that did block the content tended to be very draconian and were blocking users for very trivial reasons and “dog whistles” and it became a witch hunt. The reason QOTO became a focal point at this time is because we were one of the only servers that allowed our users to choose what content they wanted to block, and made our blocklist optional, but at the same time had a zero tolerance stance for hate speech and prejudice. It became a haven for the LGBTQ+ community that wanted the freedom to choose for themselves what instances make the cut or not.

I think it’s important I back up as much as I can with the evidence here, therefore, you can view our strong protections for the LGBTQ+ in QOTO’s Terms of Service here: https://qoto.org/about/more. Below are some excerpts from that link. For the sake of transparency it is important for me to point out in the early days when we were smaller these protections weren’t as clearly stated and were added as we grew and the issue needed to be more clearly addressed; however, we have always had a strong emphesis on engaging in respectful discourse and have had a heavy hand when it comes to banning those who engaged in hate speech.

All cultures welcome

Hate speech and harassment strictly forbidden.

hate-based speech such as sexist, racist, or homophobic speech will not be tolerated, be kind to each other.

QOTO aims to provide a community where our users do not fear being punished for their personal opinions. We do not allow people to disseminate ideologies that are abusive or violent towards others. Demonstrating support for or defending ideologies known to be violent or hateful is a bannable offense. This includes, but is not limited to: racial supremacy, anti-LGBTQ or anti-cis-gender/anti-straight, pro-genocide, child abuse or child pornography, etc. While we recognize questions and conversation regarding these topics are essential for a STEM community, in general, doing so in bad faith will result in immediate expulsion.

What will get you banned: … Hate-based racism, sexism, and other hateful speech…

As our numbers quickly grew into the thousands the issue of what to do about Gab and our stance on censorship came under scrutiny. We had to decide officially where we stand and what rules we wanted to make. Since our community at the time was largely made up of the very victims affected by everything going on we felt it best to hold a private discussion to decide how we could best protect the interests of our LGBTQ+ community. We had weeks of discussion and debate around the issue, but there was a strong consensus in the end. You see, there were some very bad actors on the Gab network, people like Milo Yiannopoulos, who had a habit of doxxing and making calls to violence against people in the trans community. Him and people like him were at the center of the debate. As it turns out the overwhelming majority of the LGBTQ+ that had migrated to our server did so because it was one of the few places left they could monitor these bad-actor accounts. They would keep a close eye for attempts at doxxing or calls to violence and then quickly disseminate that to their communities and warn the parties at risk. This was critical for ensuring the safety of the lives of many in our community. We still weren’t sure what to do so we discussed alternative ways to monitor these accounts, each of which were shot down for various reasons. I will summarize some of the alternatives we considered and why the community ultimately rejected it below.

Open an account on Gab for monitoring - This was immediately rejected as it would expose the victims emails, ip addresses, and usage patterns to the admins of Gab who were not trusted.

Use RSS feeds - This wouldn’t give access to follower-only posts and were not always enabled on many accounts

Use a VPN - VPNs only work when you remember to use it. If a user forgot, even once, to turn on their VPN then their IP would get exposed, a risk they weren’t willing to take.

Needless to say we didn’t have any good solutions that were in the best interest of our community. In the end we made a very controversial decision. We decided to let people have access to view these accounts but with very strict policies against anyone who would show any support for the hateful content. If anyone was shown to encourage or support the hate coming from these sites they would be immediately met with a ban and we encouraged all new users to import a block list that would block these servers outright, at their discretion.

Unfortunately this caused a lot of backlash. Many instance admins were bitter over losing such a huge chunk of their user base to us, particularly when they perceived their own actions as justice rather than oppressive. Many of the instance admins started misinformation and hate campaigns against QOTO and there was a lot of backlash and QOTO even got on a few block lists as a result. But since the safety of the lives of our LGBTQ+ community were a point we refused to compromise on our stance remained absolute.

Later we even took it one step further. You see in Mastodon when you follow an account this alerts the account that you are following them. This was a big concern since it might expose our LGBTQ+ members who were monitoring accounts and fear for their privacy was at stake. As a result we implemented a unique feature only present at QOTO called subscriptions. It effectively allowed our users to follow an account without alerting the account they were being followed. It was privacy-respecting, however, specifically designed so it only allowed you to see posts a user made as a public post. Any posts that were restricted to follower-only or private could not be seen with a subscribe, you still needed to do a follow for that. Despite the privacy-respecting aspect of the feature the hate and disinformation campaign against QOTO continued by a handful of bitter instance admins. They lied and made announcements about our feature as privacy-violating and claimed, erroneously, that it bypassed security and let users view follower-only content, which of course it didn’t. The divide grew even larger, and as it did our following grew even larger too.

Acceptance on the joinmastodon directory

Despite the divide across the network we still have a huge LGBTQ+ community and a large following in the thousands by this point. We therefore applied to join the joinmastodon.org directory, the official directory of Mastodon maintained by Eugen himself. The criteria for getting on this directory are listed clearly and since we qualified, and because of the applause of our supporters, we eventually made it to the list.

As a specialty instance that caters specifically to the STEM community this was a crucial milestone for us. It increased our influx of new users substantially and allowed us to reach a level of healthy growth. Due to our popularity Eugen generally defended the attacks against us from instance admins still bitter of the earlier exodus. This was looking good for QOTO and the fediverse.

Enter snow, the Nazi

By this point in the story QOTO had grown to tens of thousands in size and was in fact one of the largest specialty instances in the entire network. Aside from a handful of bitter instance owners our reputation was excellent and we were highly recommended by our peers. We were consistently seeing hundreds of new users a day and we were growing steadily.

In stepped a new user, a software engineer who went by the moniker Snow. At first he seemed unsuspecting and we had no reason to worry about him, but things quickly went downhill. Snow started posting content largely targeted at transgendered individuals criticising the choice to be trans as unhealthy. He quickly was met with opposition from our community and shortly after his hate speech began he found himself blocked from our community. He tried opening alt accounts and to protest the ban but we weren’t having any of it, he wasn’t welcome back.

Shortly after Snow was booted he tried to join a few other communities to use as a platform to discredit QOTO, some of which were somewhat accepting of hate speech but ultimately he was banned from all of them. Furious and determined Snow started his own instance called wintermute, his profile littered with actual swastikas and Nazi insignia, he called for genocide against trans people and other horrific acts. Sadly he even managed to gain a following at his server of similar minded Nazis.

Snow ultimately used this to his advantage and began coordinating an attack on QOTO whose effects linger to this day. He publicly posted from his main account a call to arms for his followers to flood fake accounts on QOTO and the fediverse at large. Their tactic was to post hate speech on QOTO, then immediately report it across several of the progressive instances around the fediverse in an attempt to make us seem like a pro-nazi forum. While the original post is no longer online as the server has since been taken down you can see a screenshot of this and a related post below.

Of course QOTO quickly deleted and suspended any accounts posting such content. But because their alts reported it immediately those reports still showed up on hundreds of other servers coming to the attention of their admins. Not only did he coordinate this attack by reporting the content across many servers around the fediverse but he also reported it to several block lists for further visibility. Below is a screenshot of him attempting to report it to the Fediblock block list. The link in the below screenshots originally went to the posts I showed above. Luckily he didn’t manage to succeed with Fediblock but he did manage to get us on quite a few block lists as a result.

Needless to say the previously small number of instance admins that still had an issue with QOTO used this as fuel for the fire. They spread the news of the reports in an attempt to defame QOTO and because the reports were so widespread it worked. QOTO quickly started showing up on numerous block lists around the fediverse. Needless to say it is hard to fight against a misinformation campaign, lies spread faster than truth.

Picking up the pieces

As the admin of QOTO I was left trying to figure out some way to counter the disinformation that had spread. Like most disinformation campaigns it took on a life of its own. People saw the lies, bought them, and their gut reaction was to hate us without ever bothering to check the facts. Once someone hates you it is very hard to reason with them, the lies compound, gossip ripples, and soon everyone swears they have a cousin who was the victim of an attack. Of course anyone who spent even a moment looking through QOTOs timeline would see we are a place where acceptance and concern for the LGBTQ+ community remains our top priority. We retained a loyal band of supporters, but our enemies were growing no matter how much goodwill we tried to spread.

In an attempt to remedy the situation I decided to reach out to key members in the community and explain the situation. I found a seemingly innocuous website on the internet that listed all the instances that blocked QOTO. I went down the list and started reading the about pages looking to see what administrators had contact information and welcomed people reaching out to them. Of the servers that blocked us about 20% of them explicitly had contact information and welcomed others reaching out about administrative matters. So I started emailing them one by one and tried my best to politely and respectfully explain what had happened in the hopes we could reconcile.

Unfortunately this backfired, many of these administrators had made up their mind before ever hearing our side of it. They used my friendly efforts to reach out and mend things as an attack, going so far as to call it harassment simply for contacting them at all. To add insult to injury it just so happened that the tool used to generate the list that ultimately made its way to the website was written by a member of KiwiFarms, a vile and hateful community. The website itself didn’t have any indication of this in the domain name and at the time I was unaware of this fact. Nonetheless this information was used to further defame us, as if we are somehow responsible for the tool a website author happened to use. Regardless of this a new campaign of misinformation and lies spread to try to attack us for emailing them and now the claim is centered around harassment.

For the sake of openness and providing all the evidence the full content of the letter I sent to the administrators mentioned above is included below:

Hi, I noticed you had QOTO blocked, I figured this might be a mistake as there has, for some time, been attempts to lie about our policies by some users we blocked for hate speech and sadly some of the community followed along.

Snow, some years back, was blocked for hate speech and he began a campaign against us spoofing various users claiming we accept hate speech on our instance and other outright lies. At one point he even attempted to create accounts on QOTO that posted hate speech and despite getting suspended shortly after, by doing so in the middle of the night, some of it was noticed for the short time it was up.

My guess is some of this misinformation made its way to you and you, understandably, may have blocked our instance.

We also had some similar trouble many years ago where the LGBTQ community was being attacked and they fled, en masse to our server (which is how our server became so popular early on). This caused several people to attack us in a similar manner spreading quite a few lies as well.

For more information detailing that incident please see this post, it also explains our subscribe feature, which is privacy-respecting and provides the same level of access as using an RSS reader to follow an account: https://qoto.org/@freemo/109319817943835261

I urge you to actually review our timeline and see for yourself, hate speech, harassment, misinformation, etc has never been tolerated in our instance and still is not.

To recap some of the misinformation:

1) We have very strict and aggressively enforced policies against hate speech in all forms, you wont find any on our timeline and if you do and report it you will find it is usually acted on with a suspension very quickly.

2) Our subscribe feature is privacy respecting and was specifically implemented to protect the physical safety of our LGBTQ community during their mass exodus to QOTO in the early years. Similarly, for their protection and at their request, is why we only silence servers and do not suspend them (see the post I linked above for the details on this).

3) harassment and other issues are also strictly enforced on our server.

If you wish to discuss this further please feel free to reach out to me either by email or by reaching out to me at @freemo@qoto.org

Eugen caves to Nazi’s campaign

This leads us to Eugen Rochko’s role in all this. Up until this point while QOTO was still popular with the majority of the instances he had defended his position to keep us on the joinmastodon official directory of instances. However with the misinformation spread by Snow and the hate this ultimately generated directly and indirectly from this incident he decided to delist us from the official directory over at joinmastodon.org. He did this knowing full well what happened with Snow, he knew Snow’s  efforts were to get us suspended, delisted, and blocked and knowing this was all the agenda of a Nazi and his cohorts he still decided to cave to popular pressure rather than to do what was right and set the record straight and stand by the LGBTQ+ communities safety above popularity. This is a shameful and outright disgusting act on his part. I believe it is fueled largely by the increased visibility Mastodon has had lately as people are migrating en masse from twitter to the network. He cared more about appearances than the actual safety of the lives of the LGBTQ+ community and this is disheartening to say the least.

I had reached out to Eugen and explained the situation in detail. There has also been a huge outpouring of people on both Twitter and Mastodon trying to contact him and get him to see reason. Other than a short email response he has completely refused to even engage in the conversation at all.

There are several concerning consequences of this decision, particularly the silence that accompanies it.

  1. It sends the message that as long as a Nazi or other bad actor can generate enough support his demands will be appeased.

  2. It lends credibility to the Nazi’s claims, giving the impression to others QOTO was delisted because the claims against it were true.

  3. It significantly reduces our influx of new users. As a specialty instance it is not easy to find new users as it would b e for a generalist instance.

  4. it no longer shows up when trying to connect using the official mastodon app which relies on that list as part of its search. This causes people to have a hard time connecting even if they are already here.

He was aware of the incident with the group of Nazis, he knew their agenda, and in the end he supported the Nazi’s agenda to get us banned and delisted because it was the popular thing to do. Nothing more, nothing less. In his own words in the one reply he managed to muster about this incident “I will take a listing down if it risks endangering the reputation of Mastodon”. A man who cares more about Mastodon’s “reputation” than he does about the physical safety of the LGBTQ+ community has no business being in charge.

Update: Eugen indirectly verifies content of this article

See Eugen’s response here, which I will comment on: https://mastodon.social/@Gargron/109402824022874888

Here is a link to all the changes that occured to our ToC over the last 6 months. As can clearly be seen the only changes made were stronger protections for the LGBTQ and replacing the phrase “free speech” with “Academic Freedom”.

https://web.archive.org/web/diff/20220525221306/20221122160257/qoto.org/about/more

Which means the only perceived changes he could mean are either greater protections to LGBTQ groups or he is caving to the misinformation spread by Snow.

I already mentioned in the article the emails he refers to, which were sent only to admins with email addresses that welcomed administrative contact. They servered the purpose of alerting them as to Snow’s disinformation and an attempt to set the record straight. They were sent, by hand, to a very limited number of admins.

Seems quite clear, even by Eugen’s own admission that what I said in this post is completely factual afterall. He did, cave to the misinformation spread by a Nazi.

In case the link to Eugen’s response is taken down here is a screenshot: