1. The accusations against Sarah Nyberg keep changing.
Since Sarah Nyberg’s identity was exposed in December 2014, diverse Internet allegations have been made that Nyberg is involved in some kind of criminal & reprehensible sexual activity. I am being vague here because even the people accusing Nyberg of this can’t seem to agree just what happened. Some people say she fucks dogs, whereas others accuse her of molesting children; and some #Gamergaters say it’s both.
But the details don’t seem to be important to Nyberg’s detractors. To most of them, even the dogs and kids seem to be nonspecific and interchangeable, to say nothing of details like where and when or how many. It’s more of a meme than a proper accusation, like the cartoonish allegations Alex Lifschitz is a war profiteer/billionaire playboy, or that Zoe Quinn wrote the Common Core, or that Peter Coffin’s wife is literally a sex doll. It’s such a ludicrous accusation that it sort of beggars belief.
2. The “”evidence”” has been hacked and tampered with, if not entirely fabricated.
Allegedly, Sarah Nyberg confessed to pedophilia and/or dog fuckery via IRC chat years ago, and #Gamergaters got a hold of the chat log by hacking into Nyberg’s computer.
There are a lot of ethical issues with that; first of them being that it’s impossible to obtain credible evidence by hacking into your target’s computer and stealing files. Even if the chat logs were genuine, the hacker proves they could be fabricated by hacking Nyberg’s server to obtain them.
And an IRC log is a pretty easy thing to fabricate; pretty much anybody can claim to be anybody in IRC. For example, Eron Gjoni had to verify his identity several times in IRC #burgersandfries so that those present would actually believe it was him. There’s no corresponding verification that the “Sarah” in these logs is actually Sarah Nyberg, or that what she said hasn’t been modified from the original version. There’s no chain of possession on the logs, and no way of knowing how many times it’s been edited. This makes it difficult for me to believe the Nyberg chat logs haven’t been modified or re-purposed (in whole or in part) from actual pedo chat rooms.
There’s evidence that this is indeed the case. Israel Galvez looked up the history of these logs, and found they had been modified on August 12 2015; i.e. very recently. In fact, the logs didn’t even exist until last month, and never existed at the “original” URL #Gamergate claims they came from. The meme about Sarah Butts is older than that, (ca. Dec 2014) suggesting that the chatlogs in play now are written to suit the memes, not vice versa.
There are logical issues here as well. If I were I to assume for a moment that the logs are genuine, why would hacking Nyberg uncover them, but not more substantive evidence?
Put it this way: real pedos get busted for saving child porn to local memory, not by confessing their proclivities on IRC. If the allegations were true, wouldn’t the hacker have found some child porn in Nyberg’s browser history, or receipts in her email, or questionable PMs in verifiable accounts of hers, instead of some weird chatlog from the distant past? Wouldn’t they have some hard evidence that Nyberg did something criminal, instead of merely discussing it? Or is this like a loser version of Minority Report, where instead of stopping future crime, #Gamergate’s trying to get justice for a crime that never happened?
3. A lot of the additional “”testimony”” attributed to Nyberg isn’t verifiable.
To shore up the aforementioned chat logs in light of problems I outlined above, some #Gamergaters (notably Ralph Retort) have found additional “”evidence”” against Nyberg; usually a screencap of a post admitting to be into some gross indecent sexual thing. Problem is, these auxiliary confessions are always written under assumed names, none of which are satisfactorily linked back to Nyberg. To disprove these claims, Nyberg would have to publish every screen name she ever used, which is not a reasonable demand since it would make fabricating these posts even easier.
It seems very possible that Ralph (and many other #Gamergaters) are simply screencapping some pedophile on the Internet and simply attributing these comments to Nyberg. That would explain why a lot of Sarah Nyberg’s “”confessions”” sound like they were written by someone else.
4. Accusing your critics of pedophilia is Standard Pedophile Operating Procedure at #GamergateHQ.
8chan.co and #Gamergate have had their own problems with pedophilia: 8chan with hosting it, and #Gamergate for defending it. Dan Olson wrote about 8chan’s hosting pedophilia content in December 2014, in a harrowing report called “The Mods are Always Asleep.” After writing this article, 20+ anonymous police tips were filed against Olson for… downloading and viewing child pornography. Olson spoke to the mounties, and the anonymous internet tips were all dismissed as unfounded. But that hasn’t stopped #Gamergate from calling him a pedophile to discredit him.
This same thing happened to Israel Galvez. He believes that “GG’s end goal is to be able to paint their political enemies as pedophiles *too*, so they can feel better about themselves.”
Heck, even I’ve experienced a taste of this firsthand. When I used a comments section, a lot of creeps would send me threatening or frightening messages via the comments, knowing they’d be sent to moderation, where I would read these posts and choose to not to host them. A handful of these posts accused me of molesting children, based on no evidence whatsoever. Eventually, I gave up on having a comments section, since so many trolls were abusing it. Given that experience, it seems pretty clear to me that accusing people of pedophilia is a standard #Gamergater MO to smear anybody who stands up to them.
5. Sarah Nyberg is being targeted by #Gamergate because she is effective at documenting their activities.
When dudes on the Internet claim Sarah Nyberg’s a pedophile, they usually link to other memes instead of actual evidence. I expect this is because rank-and-file #Gamergaters haven’t actually read the chatlogs; they’ve just seen the Ralph Retort/Yiannopoulous caricature of what they contain. In reality, the “proof” is a black box; some text files that appeared on August 12 2015 based on an accusation that’s been knocking around on Encyclopedia Dramatica since December, pushed by a hatemongering blogger (Ralph Ethan) and a “”journalist”” whom nobody in the profession seems to respect (Yiannopoulous.) These two schmucks would dearly like to have their story about Sarah Nyberg go viral and ruin her, like some #Gamergate anniversary follow-up to Eron Gjoni’s The Zoe Post.
Yiannopoulous and Ethan want this because it would boost their own notoriety and profitability, and because removing Nyberg would remove a formidable roadblock against #Gamergate and its associated groups.
Sarah Nyberg has been documenting #Gamergate and its associated environs since inception. Her posts effectively and neutrally document a lot of heinous bullshit, and she’s got a substantial following of people watching and talking about the the stuff she posts, including journalists and bloggers higher up the food chain. Because this ongoing discussion about #Gamergate is mediated and expounded upon by Nyberg, shutting her down would close the discussion around her work.
Sarah Nyberg also strikes an intimidating figure to the individual #Gamergater: she might read your site and report your content to administration. I am certain many #Gamergaters (notably Ralph Retort) blame loads of takedowns, bans, seizures etc. on Nyberg, whether she had anything to do with it or not. Her work is threatening to #Gamergate because it exposes them. The attack, then, is to isolate Sarah Nyberg by spreading stomach-turning accusations, so that her following crumbles and she’ll go into Internet exile. This outcome would be great for #Gamergate-aligned sites like Encyclopedia Dramatica and 8chan, who find her reporting inconvenient to their continued operation. In short, Nyberg’s being targeted because she is effective.
Since I’m not Sarah Nyberg, I don’t have to decide how to respond to this angry hate mob accusing her of sickening things. I don’t have to weigh the effect these accusations have already had on Nyberg’s personal life against the additional abuse she’ll undoubtedly receive were she to file suit against Breitbart, or decide which of these options is best. I’m not the one looking over my shoulder, afraid of getting shot by some angry loser who recognizes me from Encyclopedia Dramatica and believes I’m a pedophile.
And because I’m not in Sarah Nyberg’s position I really can’t speak for what she ought to do.
The only thing I can do is stand with Sarah, and offer my defense against this fabricated accusation. But there’s even a consequence for that: in the process of researching this post, my name as already made it onto one pastebin shit-list for Nyberg supporters. Other names on that list have received more specific threats about the effect standing with Sarah Nyberg will have on their reputations. Nyberg notes that “if what’s happening to me wasn’t part of an abuse campaign then the people speaking out in my support wouldn’t be harassed and threatened.”
But I think if enough people support her, #Gamergate’s going to find Sarah Nyberg wasn’t the vulnerable target they believed her to be. And if this smear campaign proves to be ineffectual, I think #Gamergaters may realize nobody believes what they have to say going forward. I think that’s when #Gamergate will realize the only credibility they trashed by attacking Nyberg was their own.