Prokofy Neva

Racist 'Bots' Impersonating Me

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For three solid days now, I have been bombarded with dozens of messages from angry people telling me to stop spamming their groups with my alleged 'bots,' which are posting fake ads for my rentals but with racist remarks.

I don't use bots at all in my business and I don't have any day-old avatars using my business name, which should be your first clue that these are griefers unrelated to me. Needless to say, I don't post racists remarks, either.

These bots use my company name and spout racist, nasty stuff, getting people very angry and in turn, righteous about "doing something" to stop this.

They then gang up on me and send me numerous messages. They double down and keep sending hateful angry messages, get their bosses or friends to do the same, all in the belief they are in a righteous campaign.

The method, btw, is the same that Russian troll farms use on Facebook to turn out people to racist demonstrations in the US. The same method -- and tested in SL and in fact, by the same kinds of forces, likely related to a state.

I would say 80% of the people who get these racist spams from a day-old alt think it really is me, and that I'd be stupid enough to make a day-old alt called a "bot" (it's not a bot) and spout fake "ads" in groups for my rentals, saying they will be "Muslim-free" and other awful things.

Honestly, who would do that??? What rentals agent in their right mind would do that? Certainly not one in business for 12 years with thousands of customers. No need to poach on other people's rental groups. Why would anyone think in this day and age and in the relatively liberal SL that they could spout messages like that and get customers??? It's against the TOS for one.

The reason I mention this here is because it's the same gang that made the ugly effigies of my RL self in various poses, including killed, beaten, and eaten by chickens, and prim littered them all over my rentals to scare my tenants.

So given the obvious TOS violations -- racist remarks, targeted behavior intended to disrupt, etc. -- Why are these accounts still online in the People list? Why are they able to make new alts with slight variations of those who may be banned? Are there no hash bans in fact? We realize there is a very deep-seated belief among techies that IP addresses are "dynamic" and "shared" and you can't block them or innocents may be harmed. Anyone who actually studies IPs in the wild knows they aren't all that dynamic, or they change on a short range, and the "sharing" of them is not that common. More could be done here than is being done -- and it's due to ideological hobbling.

About 10% of the people getting these messages realize it's fake, it's not likely even a "bot," it's unrelated to me (I don't make avatar accounts with my business name in them), and they realize I'm being griefed and my reputation deliberately destroyed. These people have common sense and logic that others lack.

All I can do in this situation is tell the truth and urge people to AR these fake accounts. You'd be amazed at how many people think it's a trick on my part, having them AR accounts. They think I'd actually have them AR my own self-made griefer accounts. It's wild...

Edited by Prokofy Neva

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I report critically on griefer groups and abuse report them regularly for harassment, sim-crashing and copy-botting. Twelve years ago, I began doing this when I saw it happening to others, then I was targeted.

Apparently you believe there "must be a reason" when someone is griefed and that they "deserve it", and that this form of wild incitement of hatred "must have some truth to it".

OK, I'm familiar with that pattern and it's just one of many exploited by griefers.

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In your case, there is a reason. You have made enemies and they are out to get you. You are not an innocent victim. 

Thank you for clearing that up

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Let me think now. If there is some "enemy" of mine -- they didn't like a critical blog post? -- they get to make false accusations and facilitate griefer bots like this? Why would that be ok.

Someone just posted this on my blog:

 

"A warning against a racist landlord/troll: A lot of you have probably been spammed by Prokofy Neva these days. She has a years-old horrible reputation as a landlord (she is basically a scammer) and troll dating back nearly two decades. She has a strong hatred of the left, so it comes as no surprise that her bigoted rants are also hateful to muslims etc. If you need to rent a place in SL, there are thousands of better alternatives than Prokofy. IM me if you need some advice."

1) I haven't spammed anyone -- and the Lindens know that. Griefers with fake names using my business name in variations are entering groups and spamming them with fake ads.

2) I don't have a horrible reputation and haven't scammed anyone. I'd have to challenge that vigorously. I have thousands of happy customers. 

3) I haven't made any bigoted rants. *The griefers impersonating me* have. 

But thanks for letting me know where you fit into this bullying scheme : )

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I think you just need to get some assurance from the Lindens that they know it's not you. I've seen them act very fast when it comes to racism and the fact you are still here indicates they know what is going on.

As far as getting flamed by residents there isn't much else to do other than not pouring gasoline.

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The Lindens do eventually remove these alts harassing me. It takes time. I've never known any of them to be justified. 

The Lindens are not in the business of providing people with assurances of anything. They never answer any queries like that. But they can easily investigate and see the origins and behavior of these alts and experience shows that eventually they eliminate them. But it takes time, and along the way, a lot of damage is done.

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The sad price of having a very large target on your back Prok. And you are pretty outspoken at the best of times. (reads some old Alphaville Herald articles for the giggle)

The best response to any troll/griefer is always to mute/ignore. 12 years ago you didn't do this, you engaged. And now, you engage too.

Likely your protestations in group chats, and maybe even your thread here will likely be noticed by whomever is doing it, and knowing it's got your hackles up, they will hit harder. They will keep beating you with their pinata stick for the lulz.

The only winning solution, Prok, is not to play.

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To be fair to Prok, not speaking out and letting people know what is going would be more work for them as they would have to explain the situation to more people individually, it would be acting out of fear and allowing the griefers to disrupt their business more. When ignoring them causes you more problems it is no solution or help. They may be damned if they do and damned if they don't, but speaking out in this case is a matter of damage limitation.

I for one, because of reading this, will understand what is going on if I see one of these griefer events or bot spammers and report it.

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3 hours ago, Callum Meriman said:

Likely your protestations in group chats, and maybe even your thread here will likely be noticed by whomever is doing it,

It's not that unlikely. We are not supposed to mention names here of course but one of the people who has been known to enjoy griefing Prokofy used to be a fairly regular poster on this forum and may well watch it still.

 

6 hours ago, BilliJo Aldrin said:

In your case, there is a reason. You have made enemies and they are out to get you. You are not an innocent victim.

I certainly am an innocent victim and so are all the other people who are flooded by spam every day from somebody pretending to be a Ravenglass bot. Most of the victims of the griefers have never even heard of Prokofy Neva, they weren't araound in SL ten years ago and have no itnerest whatsoever in this mess. Yet they are dragged into it against their wills.

Are you going to defend that, BilliJo?

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8 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

... Are there no hash bans in fact? We realize there is a very deep-seated belief among techies that IP addresses are "dynamic" and "shared" and you can't block them or innocents may be harmed. Anyone who actually studies IPs in the wild knows they aren't all that dynamic, or they change on a short range, and the "sharing" of them is not that common. More could be done here than is being done -- and it's due to ideological hobbling.

Shared IP addresses are probably less common than they used to be -- there are still multi-dwelling unit Internet services that use them in some countries, but they're not very practical. The thing is, the vast majority of these (increasingly?) unshared IP addresses are completely trivial for an end-user to force-change. That is, while IP addresses change rarely on their own (so it's easy to track normal folks' alts through them), it's easy for a griefer to get a new one any time they like to avoid a ban. (And the Lab really wouldn't want to ban whole address blocks more than they absolutely must, for longer than absolutely necessary.)

I'm not sure there's a standard definition of a "hash ban" so that may be an option, or not. Any internet-connected device emits tell-tale hints of its identity, and presumably a "hash ban" uses some subset of those hints -- but all of them can be disguised (and some even spoofed) given enough knowledge and effort. Such a ban, then, would select for more technically adept and motivated griefers (as opposed to idle "script kiddies").

So it becomes a question of how lazy and lame these particular griefers are.

(It also seem likely that the more such machine-identifying methods are used, the more common become the tricks to evade them. That's much broader than SL, of course -- it's not that the Lab shouldn't use them, lest the bad guys develop "immunity" to them -- but rather that they may have already been used in other settings to the point that such immunity is now widespread, who knows?)

Edited by Qie Niangao

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7 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

they get to make false accusations

You and I both know that they are not alone in makng false accusations, don't we?

I am against all griefing, and especially the vulgar, racist, etc. types, but it's reasonable to say that, through the years, you have painted quite a large target on your own back. I don't mean that you deserve to be griefed, but you do set yourself up against people, not always justified, so it's not a mega surprise when things like this happen. It's absolutely wrong for it to happen, but it's not a surprise when it does.

 

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3 hours ago, DaisyCalderwood said:

I for one, because of reading this, will understand what is going on if I see one of these griefer events or bot spammers and report it.

Normally when one sees group messages claiming something offensive, one can easily surmise it's nothing more than drama etc.

It shouldn't need any explanation, or excuse giving.

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1 hour ago, Qie Niangao said:

Shared IP addresses are probably less common than they used to be -- there are still multi-dwelling unit Internet services that use them in some countries, but they're not very practical. The thing is, the vast majority of these (increasingly?) unshared IP addresses are completely trivial for an end-user to force-change. That is, while IP addresses change rarely on their own (so it's easy to track normal folks' alts through them), it's easy for a griefer to get a new one any time they like to avoid a ban. (And the Lab really wouldn't want to ban whole address blocks more than they absolutely must, for longer than absolutely necessary.)

I'm not sure there's a standard definition of a "hash ban" so that may be an option, or not. Any internet-connected device emits tell-tale hints of its identity, and presumably a "hash ban" uses some subset of those hints -- but all of them can be disguised (and some even spoofed) given enough knowledge and effort. Such a ban, then, would select for more technically adept and motivated griefers (as opposed to idle "script kiddies").

So it becomes a question of how lazy and lame these particular griefers are.

(It also seem likely that the more such machine-identifying methods are used, the more common become the tricks to evade them. That's much broader than SL, of course -- it's not that the Lab shouldn't use them, lest the bad guys develop "immunity" to them -- but rather that they may have already been used in other settings to the point that such immunity is now widespread, who knows?)

Sadly IP rotation is insanely easy these days and depending on the operating system can be automated in the same manner as a MAC Address change making the two methods pretty much ineffective on anyone above the most casual of offenders.

This information in relation to the thread topic and how it affects the OP in general when combined with the OP's history with where it pertains to griefer groups pretty much means that short of real world legal action the OP is SOL on getting any true relief.

Edited by Solar Legion
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10 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

I would say 80% of the people who get these racist spams from a day-old alt think it really is me,

I really, really hope there aren't that many fools in SL but... no, we can't be sure, you may be right. :(

One thing you can and probably should do, is soemthing similar to what Casper Warden did. He too had problems with people impersonating him and his staff and eventually he posted a list of all the genuine support alts. He did it on his web site, you could probably do it in your profile. Start the profile text with something like: "Warning! Prokofy Neva is the only account representing Ravenglass Rentals. Any messages from other avatars or bots claiming to represent Rvaenglass, are fake."

Edited by ChinRey

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@ChinRey, that's a good idea, I hate taking up space on my profile with this nonsense but I will link to a post about authorized representatives.

Did you ever have your 85-year-old aunt breathlessly send you an email or instant message explaining that you absolutely must tell all your friends about this hack or exploit involving Microsoft or Windows? That messaging *is* the virus. The reference might be to some actually necessary file in Windows or something. But the spreading of alarm about alarm is itself the griefing. So putting out endless messages of denial and rebuttal only help to spread people's hatred and doubts. I'm not kidding when I say 80% of the numerous people IMing me simply believe whatever garbage they see and don't stop to consider that a day-old alt in a group is a griefer.

You can also see the mentality in this thread, that people who have grudges because they've been called out for forums bullying in the past think that you "deserve" to be grief.

As for "IP rotation," if you ever actually document this as you are trying to follow, say the Russian troll farm operation of sites, as I have done, or various other types of operations like that, you see there isn't the "insane" rotation that may be *possible*. As I always say about the Snowden hoax, *capacity* to do something -- say, spy on Americans -- is not proof that it was *accessed*.

"Possibility" is not *action*. And if you do nothing more than follow your own IP address over weeks you will see that all this dynamism and rotation and plasticity that people endlessly invoke as a reason to "do nothing" about griefers in SL IS NOT THE CASE. IT IS NOT TRUE. The Lindens could ban these IPs tomorrow, but since some of them are anonymizers in the Netherlands or whatever, they fear they will be "blocking activists from Iran and China" or other such do-gooder devices. In fact, it's not the case. If their mass banning of griefers dings a few innocent people, they can then address those claims one by one. Again, theorizing and hysterical hypotheticals are hobbles of action against griefers. It's an argumentation that griefers themselves accentuate.

 

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I work in IT, and I see stuff like this on a regular basis.  I got a few of these messages and recognized right away they were fakes, but given how successful that sort of information warfare is in general society (and how easily people are fooled), I'm sure it's a pain to deal with.

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As someone who does trolling, I can tell you, this is exactly what they want. This thread in it's self detailing exactly what they have been doing, is a massive goal to them.

You are giving them a reaction. Trolls feed off reactions. Ignore them and block them unless you are ready to counter troll them. (I am not advocating you do the same as they are doing, trolling is a art, you must master it before you counter troll, and it must be done within the terms of service)

The best course of action is to put a notice in your profile stating you are currently being impersonated, as well as a blog post with more information on the subject.

For future reference, when handing trolls, here are the Do's and don'ts:

  • DO block and ignore, eject and ban.
  • DON'T comment on their actions, tell them "enjoy the ban", etc
  • DO AR them if they violate the terms of service or community standards.
  • DON'T tell them they have been reported, or make claims such as "you will get their IP", hack them, etc. Not saying you do this, but it is a reference for all. It makes who ever says it look pretty stupid because it isn't easy task(I'm saying this as a white hat hacker/software dev), and also illegal, and in some states, illegal to just say!
  • DO completely ignore their messages. Anything you do, trolls will feed off of. If you give them the silent treatment, they tend to go away.

 

Disclaimer of sorts: when I say I do trolling, i do the more innocent trolling where I mislead people into a elaborate ruse(eg: tell someone to do a series of unrelated and unusual tasks to get a non existent item in Guild wars 2, only for them to find out I have sent them on a ruse cruise!). I don't do it to tarnish reputations.

Edited by Chaser Zaks
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No, I totally disagree, as someone who has not only coped with SL griefing for 12 years, but someone who has covered terrorism and mass murder in RL.

Nobody decides "not to cover the Las Vegas shooter" or "not to cover the Paris terrorist attack" because this is "what they want". That's foolish and in fact doesn't work anyway. The free media has to cover attacks so that people are aware of the dangers and can understand what is required to prosecute and prevent them.

I've tried not blogging or mentioning griefer attacks for months at a time and even not abuse reporting it, but it does absolutely no good. It doesn't matter if you "feed the troll" or not -- some of them only harass you more if you don't react and are silent for months at a time because their game is to give a rise out of them.

I believe in fact in publicizing and abuse reporting griefer attacks because many people otherwise listen to their shill that their victims are the problem, or they "deserve it," or they "paint a target on their backs," or they had "poor security".

No, the criminals are the problem for commiting crimes, not their victims who may fail to put in a security system.

Many griefers have rogue viewers that overpower land tools and security anyway.

The idea that you should "ignore and block" someone who crashes sim, stalks and harasses you and loses your customers, and spouts racist, crazy nonsense in groups is part of why they continue in SL.

When people finally get together and decide they won't tolerate this behavior, they won't tolerate blaming the victims, they won't piously pronounce silly mantras like "don't feed the trolls," they move the Lindens to action.

I've seen it happen time and again.

As long as some Lindens (and their resident fans) think griefing is a form of art happening and hipster literature, and no one explains right from wrong, griefing persists.

I'm happy to always and everywhere announce that I have abuse-reported a violator of the TOS. There is absolutely no reason why I should be ducking and cringing. Abuse reporting works, when it is done persistently, over time, and by lots of people. I have seen this over and over. Publicity is the best weapon.

Hackers (white or black) are not the people you listen to about morals and fighting crime. They think crime is something they get to control or bend the rules around or judge about. But they don't. The rest of society fights back. All kinds of gun nuts said you could "never" ban bump stocks because blah blah blah. Then Congress buckles down and bans them when enough people cry because their relatives have been killed by a mass murderer.

Never let hackers determine your level of security.

Blocking trolls is a routine matter, as is banning them from groups. I never discuss anything with them or take their force-ports or annoying friendship requests. But I'm happy always and everywhere to publicize that they do this, and keep calling out their nests and enables and fans. That's how you succeed eventually.

 

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Callum, no, that's not true. It doesn't work. Believe me, I have tried every variation. Sometimes I was too busy in RL to respond to serious griefer attacks for weeks at a time. No change. Other times I deliberately didn't respond, just to change it up. Publicity is what works best.

You don't have the vast experience I have on this so you really don't know. 

What Daisy said is absolutely spot on:

To be fair to Prok, not speaking out and letting people know what is going would be more work for them as they would have to explain the situation to more people individually, it would be acting out of fear and allowing the griefers to disrupt their business more. When ignoring them causes you more problems it is no solution or help. They may be damned if they do and damned if they don't, but speaking out in this case is a matter of damage limitation.

I for one, because of reading this, will understand what is going on if I see one of these griefer events or bot spammers and report it.

 

The problem with griefing isn't so much the griefers; it's the enablers. Terrorism and Russian hacking -- same, to a large extent.

It's people doubting and fighting over what is effective and claiming that if you don'to say it's a war and warriors and treat it like a common policing issue, it will dumb down accordingly. It doesn't.

People in groups seeing spam like this make knee-jerk reactions based on automatic hatred and lack of critical thinking, and the ONLY way to fight that is publicity.

I've had at least one person who screamed at me in IMs to stop my racist spamming finally call back and apologize when he finally realized they couldn't possibly be my bots.

Like the bump stocks, you need to get a critical mass of people who say that we don't think this griefing is ok, that nothing someone writes in their blog about the privileged of SL would justify griefing, and no griefing is ever justified.

Edited by Prokofy Neva
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13 minutes ago, Prokofy Neva said:

But I'm happy always and everywhere to publicize that they do this, and keep calling out their nests and enables and fans. That's how you succeed eventually.

 

12 years and you have not yet suceeded. How long until you do?

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How do you block people on the forums? I read that you use a "drop down menu" and right-click. But nothing is dropping down.

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4 minutes ago, Callum Meriman said:

12 years and you have not yet suceeded. How long until you do?

Um, no, dear. I've been in business 12 years. During that time I have seen numerous griefers banned never to return because I assiduously reported them.

Some return because the Lindens won't bite the bullet on anonymizers and IP bans. But even those returness don't last long

Only publicity works, because only publicity draws the community's awareness and overcomes their fear of condemning the miscreants. It's especially important to document griefing by the types who claim they are tragically misunderstood artists and get the Chronicle of Higher Education or Tech Dirt or somebody to listen to their fake tales of persecution.

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1 hour ago, Prokofy Neva said:

Um, no, dear. I've been in business 12 years. During that time I have seen numerous griefers banned never to return because I assiduously reported them.

Some return because the Lindens won't bite the bullet on anonymizers and IP bans. But even those returness don't last long

It's always good to talk about this ongoing issue in SL. I've always been firmly in the mute/ban/move-on crowd, and my advice to anyone being greifed is on that basis. This thread is great to compare techniques, and learn new methods to deal with issues we face.

Leaving aside the Lab's complete inability to deal with a few habitually bad people I can think of, there is the broader issue of how we deal with these things.

I think we have all AR'd numerous griefers in our time for doing the wrong thing on our regions, or being stupid in group chat, but at this moment I find it interesting that your issues with them seem so much larger and more pronounced than any other person in business for a decade or so.

If you think you are attacked more as well, do you have insight why this might be? Or, do you think the level of abuse you get is no more than any decade old business owner?

 

Coming back to the Lab, I agree wholeheartedly that I would love the Lindens to attack long term serial griefers with the same ruthless ferocity they attack for the sake of example, sexual-ageplayers, but an IP ban won't do it, and neither will a hash ban. Both of those are trivial to bypass.

I don't think that this can be solved in a viewer side fix. IP bans and hash bans are just that. This is almost more of an issue for deep-learning to spot the problem sim-side. People are creatures of habit.

Edited by Callum Meriman

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3 hours ago, Chaser Zaks said:

(eg: tell someone to do a series of unrelated and unusual tasks to get a non existent item in Guild wars 2, only for them to find out I have sent them on a ruse cruise!)

Aw man, I knew those Legendary Quaggan Boxers were too good to be true  :(

And I'd almost collected the 10,000 Globs of Globby Gloop.

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