Users of an alt-right 4chan board are conspiring a cyberattack against the LGBT+ community. (4chan)
Alt-right 4chan users plan to belabour LGBT+ people’s social media accounts, as well as boycott and assail companies that run Pride campaigns throughout Pride Month, as part of a terrifying cyber attack known as Operation Pridefall.
And PinkNews has just entered its radar after we reported on it May 26.
The imageboard website has, over the years, become a pivotal megaphone for anti-LGBT+, racist, antisemitic and sexist voices. Often taking tinderbox issues, such as the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests or the #MeToo movement, and playing with matches.
Pride Month this year was bound to be different in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has pad-locked Pride marches, while the history of Pride gains a new, harried urgency as Black Lives Matter riots rumble and show little signs of petering out as police increase violent tactics to disband marchers.
But 4chan users seek to ratchet tension further with a wave of cyber attacks under the umbrella of Operation Pridefall. An astroturf counterprotest to Pride Month where members spew poisonous propaganda on social media and threatening LGBT+ users using fake accounts.
However, PinkNews spoke to someone deep in the encrypted chat forum used by one wing of the group, who wished to remain anonymous.
They shared dozens of screenshots of chat logs, memes and a list of users stretching dozens-long. The source told us over e-mail that a faction of the group are planning to pummel PinkNews, specifically targeting our Jewish CEO Benjamin Cohen.
Homophobic alt-right groups target PinkNews with vile anti-semitism.
Operation Pridefall members are currently communicating on a private messaging board Riot, the source said, after both 4chan and Discord banned them.
They described how a “bong, f****t journalist” wrote about the cabal, before commenting on why Jewish people, using the offensive antisemitic slur “k**es”, have not been “gassed already”, screenshots of the chat shared to PinkNews showed.
One member then said: “By the way, do you think I can get banned for asking a Jew if she will hop into the ‘showers’ with me?”
What is the goal of Operation Pridefall?
Members explained their aim is to create sham social media accounts to clog pro-LGBT+ content shared by corporations with, the source explained, “homophobic propaganda”.
“Radicalising people works a lot better when people don’t associate you with hate and extremism,” the source laid-out, “so they create these accounts and masquerade as LGBT-critical liberals”.
Many of the accounts hope to create radicalising pathways by sanitising their discrimination. The source compared the operation’s tactic of posing their mock accounts as “liberal” in a way akin to the neo-Nazi movement self-describing using terms such as “paleoconservative” or “identitarian” to camouflage their fascist views.
Who is involved?
Operation Pride fall was first seeded on the /pol/ 4chan board. The board was originally created for users to chat politics but has since become a bulletin board for the alt-right.
Alt-right members, often evicted from mainstream platforms, tend to prefer anonymous internet-based communities such as 4chan or Discord. As a result, these have become almost catchall websites that attract members of the alt-right – less a specific group of people, but rather a disparate network united by hatred.
In screenshots of the since-deleted Discord chatroom the group organised on, many members’ usernames contained white supremacist dog whistles, in what became a Rolodex of racist terminology.
The latter, the source described, is a stand-in for an anti-Black slur that references the killing of Black jogger Ahmaud Abery by armed white men. Many of the users lionised the actions of some authorities’ brutish force to disperse the Black Lives Matter protests gripping major US cities as well as using Nazi apologia to flag their anti-Black views.
What can the LGBT+ community do to protect themselves during Pride Month?
“Rumours have spread from TikTok that groups affiliated with Operation Pridefall are doxxing and even kidnapping people,” the source explained.
just look at the follows & retweet, it’s a network of.. well just look at the follows pic.twitter.com/pt6jsV4bEi
— Aletheia (@A_lethe_ia) June 2, 2020
“These rumours are mostly hysterical. A few lone wolves have sent IP grabber links to LGBT+ people’s DMs and posted their IP addresses publicly, but as someone who’s embedded in the Pridefall group, this isn’t part of their operation, nor are the doxxers part of these groups.
“What everyone can do this June is watch out for suspicious links in your messages. Watch out for common IP grabbing services such as ‘grabify’ and don’t click anything you’re not sure of. Or you can save yourself the headache and close your DMs.”
The source stressed that, while some Twitter users have begun to switch their accounts to private that, “the group doesn’t have much of an interest in targeted individuals, so you’re probably safe.”
“Everyone can do their part in reporting and blocking suspicious pages that are sharing homophobic content,” they continued.
“Things to look out for are new and empty accounts, especially those created in May and June. They’re also using AI-generated faces as profile pictures, so here’s a good guide on how to spot these.”