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Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Organizing Online Harassment of Harassment Victims

Many posts have discussed the political uses and abuses of social media.

 Nicholas Fandos at NYT:

The menacing posts began cropping up on Twitter last September just hours after a former aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York sued him over sexual harassment claims.

The tweets attacked the aide, Charlotte Bennett, in starkly personal terms. “Your life will be dissected like a frog in a HS science class,” read one of the most threatening, which also featured a photo of Ms. Bennett dancing at a bar in lingerie.

The post was part of a thread written by Anna Vavare, a leader of a small but devoted group of mostly older women who banded together online to defend Mr. Cuomo from a cascade of sexual misconduct claims that led to his resignation in August 2021. But it turns out, her tweets had secretly been ordered up by someone even closer to the former governor’s cause: Madeline Cuomo, his sister.

In the hours before the posts went live that morning, Ms. Cuomo exchanged dozens of text messages with Ms. Vavare and another leader of the pro-Cuomo group We Decide New York, Inc., pushing the activists to target Ms. Bennett, one of the first women to accuse Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment. She appeared to invoke her brother’s wishes.