If you’ve been on Tumblr or Twitter over the last week you may have noticed hashtags like #AffectedByHate or #FamilyDontEndWithBlood, which are full of details about Tumblr users committing suicide.
But it appears as though a group of trolls from the anonymous message boards 4chan and 8chan are actually making the whole thing up.
There are reports of hacked accounts, but so far there have been no confirmed suicides. What makes the hoax even more troublesome is the fact it's occurring the same week as the highly publicized suicide of Tumblr user Leelah Alcorn.
The trolls also wrote that they plan to post gore and self-harm photos in popular social justice and fandom Tumblr tags, as well as target individual users with anonymous messages, in an effort to pressure them into committing suicide.
Chloe Jacobs, a 16-year-old fandom blogger from London, told BuzzFeed News that she’s seen hit lists that target an individual blogger’s “weaknesses.”
“You go on Omegle and, if they believe you're an “anon,” they give you a name, a website, and a list of weaknesses for that person,” Jacobs said. “It's creepily strategic.”
Being an "anon" would mean you're on their side.
Chloe Smyth, a 16-year-old YouTube fandom blogger from Australia, sent BuzzFeed News screenshots of Omegle users divvying up YouTube fandoms to go after.
In the above screenshot, "phandom" refers to the community of users who write fan fiction about the YouTube stars Dan Howell and Phil Lester.
“This is something huge that we've never really seen before so we're all really worried about it,” Smyth said. “There have been rumors and murmurs going around about suicides.”
The main fandom being targeted appears to be fans of the CW show Supernatural. The havoc the attack is causing among the show's fans has gotten so bad the stars of the show are tweeting about it.
There are rumors that the hacking and harassment this week is only the lead up to a large-scale hack on Jan. 1.
But there is so much misinformation going on it's hard to determine who exactly is planning what. Many bloggers reference a leader of the attack named "Vince," only no one on 4chan or 8chan seem to know what they're talking about.
Ashley Koszarek, a 17-year-old blogger from Chattanooga, Tennessee, told BuzzFeed News that this isn’t the first time she’s seen an attack like this, and said she was targeted by 4chan in a similar way over the summer.
After they discovered a post of hers where she wrote about how she passes out and has seizures at the sight of blood, 4chan users flooded her blog with hateful messages for months.
“I began getting droves of messages from 4chan users, all of them telling me that they had taken every picture of my face that I had on the website, and photoshopped them onto porn,” Koszarek said.
Considering how these things typically shake out, it might be best for Tumblr users to change their password. And anyone who is easily triggered by violent images should probably stay off Tumblr and Twitter for the rest of the week.
Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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