Irish online forum moderators had their personal information leaked after deleting hate speech

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MODERATORS OF Ireland’s largest internet forum have had their personal information leaked online to ban users who have posted content that breaks rules banning hate speech and racism.

About a dozen moderators on Boards.ie have had their names, addresses, and phone numbers shared on websites that have been configured to look like replicas of the forum.

Warnings have been posted on Reddit – one of the most popular forums in the world – regarding behavior over the past 10 months citing a “group of disgruntled and banned Boards.ie users. [who] have set up a forum to make fun of the site ”.

A spokesperson for Boards.ie said it was “not acceptable” for someone to “post personal information about moderators on other websites for the express purpose of encouraging or facilitating trolling these moderators “.

According to a number of Boards.ie and Reddit users, the new forum attempted to post online the personal details of those who disagreed with their opinions.

“They use the information you posted on the site to try and figure out who you are in real life, where you’re from, photos etc. and post it alongside your Boards username,” reads -on in an article on Reddit.
Boards.ie has over 340 volunteer moderators who monitor over 10,000 comments left on the site every day.

Hate speech

Many of those who were targeted deleted and banned comments from right-wing posters that attacked Islam and made homophobic statements.

The practice, known as doxxing, is not specifically targeted under Irish law, but may be illegal if specific information such as phone numbers or other sensitive data is disclosed online. Other potential violations of the law by doxxing may include incitement to hatred. This law prohibits “acts of a nature to fuel” violence against a person or a group of persons.

In a case seen by TheJournal.fr, netizens posted the details of a Boards.ie user to another online forum. The user mocked the official Boards.ie logo and sub-deck which, when changed, read: “Boreds.ie/Now Ye’re Stalkin ‘”. This is a play on Boards.ie’s real slogan, which is “Now you speak”.

Details of where the man attended college and where he grew up were readily available. Users were also urged to “stay tuned” as photographs were due to be posted soon.

“It is both unfair and ultimately doomed,” Boards.ie said in a statement.

A screenshot of the doxxing forum.

“People want to be able to share their thoughts and opinions with other like-minded people, they want to be able to discuss and debate things that matter to them online.

“However, the majority of people want to be able to do this where certain basic standards of decency and good behavior apply, where online bullying and clearly offensive, disturbing and inappropriate content is not tolerated.”

Not everyone will agree with decisions made by moderators, the release said, but decisions are made in the best interests of the Boards.ie community.

“And if anyone wants to challenge these decisions, there are well-established mechanisms to bring these issues up, down to the management level.”

How to avoid being doxxed is a hot topic of discussion among those who see themselves as part of an online community.

There are currently calls to make doxxing illegal in the UK. Writing on Slate, Nick Thieme wrote that intentional or reckless re-identification of individuals from anonymized data would be prohibited.

According to the UK Bill’s statement of intent, the purpose of the laws is to “strengthen protections by allowing citizens much greater control over their own data.”

Along with strengthening the rights of individuals, we will provide more clarity and certainty for businesses while continuing to collect, share and process personal data – in doing so, we preserve the UK’s world-renowned culture of innovation, promoting economic growth and consolidating the UK’s position as a global leader in the digital economy.

At the end of last year, then-Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she had received Cabinet approval for the Non-Fatal Crimes Bill which aims to tackle the dissemination of revenge pornography and stalking.

The proposed laws were also aimed at making the posting of abuse from fake social media profiles a form of harassment. However, this would not extend to doxxing.

The new laws are expected to be implemented when the Dáíl returns after the summer vacation.

Note: Journal Media Ltd has common shareholders with Boards.ie

Read: Perpetrators of pornographic revenge to be jailed under new laws>

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