--- layout: post title: "On cvcvcv: Pleroma's Free Speech Stress-test" date: 2019-1-21 category: essay tags: pleroma, social summary: cvcvcv trolling harassment as a stress-test for Pleroma's decentralized, federated freedom of speech respecting microblogging community --- cvcvcv appeared suddenly on the Fediverse with a unique brand of extremely hostile schizophrenic blanket harrassment, radically altering the Pleroma landscape by stress-testing its claims to free speech and hands-off moderation in a stage where the social connections had formed deep enough to set aside principles of psuedonymity, identity distancing and online freedom, in favor of maintaining the e-friendships and userbase formed on the communities. Launching a blanket harassment tirade against the userbase in a mega-phone model (outward expression without reception to anyone that falls in their path) without necessarily resorting to any kind of spam or automation—however hostile and nested in the language of schizophrenic conspiracy, cvcvcv never strayed from intelligibility or inconsistency of views—cvcvcv was able to question the strength of the rulesets/Codes of Conduct held by several instances' ostensibly aligned with free speech, which explicitly omitted harassment or discrimination clauses. ## "Free Speech" Admin Response What do these "free speech" instance admins do when their user is operating entirely in the acceptable realm, yet his intense hostility, rapid posting rate and rejection of considered discussion overwhelms its previously peaceful userbase? Invariably, they chose to ban the user, in rejection of their stated ideals but in preservation of their built communities—especially in preservation those weaker members or connected networks that could not handle it. [screenshot of cvcvcv posting[ This happened with the first instance cvcvcv joined, freespeechextremist.com, infamous across the Fediverse for being anything-goes with a notoriously hostile userbase. The decision to ban cvcvcv was largely due not to cvcvcv performing hostilities within the instance, whose members self-elected for a free speech instance and are well acclimated to hostility, but because the extrainstance harassment performed from within the instance threatened them with a blanket instance-ban that would hurt their ability to communicate and interact with the larger fediverse that they've become socially integrated with. [screenshot offending post] cvcvcv was directly banned for harrassing a user on an external instance (the stated violation: anti-trans opinions not hidden behind a content warning) resulting in an instance ban of FSE, which resulted in a ban of cvcvcv on FSE. [screenshot of p's ban] The next day following his ban, cvcvcv showed up on pl.smuglo.li with an identical account and immediately continued his tirade. Smuglo.li was another notorious instance well known for harboring vitriol due to the hands-off policy of the "laid-back" admin, @nepfag. This admin made repeated attempts to engage cvcvcv over several hours in a notably emotionally threatened way, saying things like "you're not even funny." After being continuously ignored, nepfag banned @cvcvcv, likely out of frustation—though he would later make disingenous claims on the event as is discussed in 3. Admin Reappraisal. [screenshot of nep whining] Another instance that made claims to free speech or hands-off moderation where cvcvcv was apparently banned for antagonizing the administration themself was bsd.moe. Whereas the harrassment is accepted as far as free speech goes, it ends when it targets the administration. This can be interpreted as holding an objective strength of ideals, unlike the other "free speech" admins, that is set aside when their personal ego is under emotional threat. [screenshot nether demanding respect] ## Exploiting Small Instance Federation This would be last time cvcvcv was to join a large instance. Perhaps aware that the claims to free speech were erreneous, cvcvcv moved exclusively onto small to medium sized instances, apparently arbitrarily chosen. Presumably this was done under the assumption that a lightly used instance would take more time before an admin noticed their presence, because they happily posted in each one up until the moment admin took notice and banned him, then immediately moved on to the next. The full list of instances cvcvcv found themself, divided by "free speech" and not, is [here]. This new methodology is in an innovative exploit built on the nature of federation. With all Mastodon, Pleroma and Gnu Social federating with each other, and the plethora of tiny micro-instances of less than a handful of active users, along with the relative infrequency of instance blocking (only possible with Mastodon servers), a harrassing user is easily able to jump from any minor instance to the next and continue his vitriol easily while forcing admins to perform active blocklist management if they intend to protect their users from unwanted speech. Without any kind of vetting process, any bad faith actor can easily federate and gain a platform to send any kind of information to the network. This could be feasibly used to spam or post illegal content, and could only be stopped with pro-active block management. One user even proposed a concept to automate this form of ban-evasion through auto-generating one-use micro-instances and accounts for each message, effectively making blocking impossible. [lev's idea] ## Public Reception The more vulnerable and anti-harrassment Mastodon side of the Fediverse predictably reacted to cvcvcv with confusion, pain and emotion, doing whatever they could to mitigate exposure to cvcvcv as fast as possible. However, among [the free speech side of Fediverse], cvcvcv quickly picked up a reputation of infamy, which over time evolved into one of martyrdom under the name of free speech, forcing a grudging respect from administrations who previously reject them. Now largely understood to be an elaborate troll, previously trolled admins struggle to recover their reputations, both as intelligent individuals as well as "laid-back" admins, by attempting to be "hip" to cvcvcv, like much of their userbases have become. Several terms from the cvcvcv vernacular have entered popular use, such as the use of FLOURIDE to describe poz in software, and cvcvcvposting to describe anyone posting in a similar schizophrenic-rant style. [pleroma dev calling me cvcvcv] ## Admin Reappraisal [p expressing regret] [nepfag changing the narrative] [nether allowing cvcvcv] ## Analyzing cvcvcv Motifs While the immediate reaction to cvcvcv is to assume it is some kind of spambot, or a nonsensical schizophrenic, closer analysis reveals a set of consistent themes and values and context-aware posting. Flouride Indian Linux The style is markedly similar to the schizophrenic, computer-oriented rants of Terry Davis and xx. One can draw out an advanced understanding and knowledge of the contemporary Linux landscape, as well as an awareness of toxic health issues and governmental propaganda. Pointededly, nothing of cvcvcv's values are actually *wrong.* ## Moving Forward cvcvcv always be met with bewilderment, confusion and emotional pain by Mastodon whenever exposed, but Pleroma has come to accept him, even supporting an ebooks bot that automates his tirades (though pointededly neutered in its lack of indiscriminate, or any, mentioning). @bsd.moe's own admin has had a change of heart and is now the permanent (as of 1/19) host of cvcvcv, under the agreement the harassment isn't directed at the instance admin. [cvcvcv ebooks] What future Pleroma holds for accounts like cvcvcv has yet to be seen, but it was a stress-testing that was overdue. As Pleroma and the wider fediverse grows in size and reputation, it should expect more advanced-level trolling and the community will have to learn to appreciate the opportunity they present for their own maturation and hardening, as opposed to the primitiveness of an impulsive rejection to any confusing outsider threats. Vitriol is a cleansing measure that offsets the stagnation and intellectual disingenuity (at the sacrifice of the social) caused by too-deeply nested friendships, something all psuedonymous communities are vulnerable to.