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The Ligue du LOL (in French), or Laughing out Loud League, is the name of a private Facebook group created in 2009 by Vincent Glad [fr], a French journalist. The group was composed of mainly young journalists, and later added communication professionals, most of them being men and Parisians. Some of its members are accused of coordinated and grouped harassment. 

The main actions took place on Internet, social networks, in particular Twitter. The declared victims were harassed and even attacked physically sometimes, allegedly because of their gender, physical appearance, ethnic or religious origin and sexual orientation, as well as for their professional competencies. An antisemitic dimension was also noted..[1]

The scandal was disclosed in the media on February 8, 2019, when Checknews, a fact-checking service of the French newspaper Libération, published an article on the Ligue du LOL.[2][3] A dozen victims were interviewed and denounced the acts of mobbing by certain members of the group and their audiences on Twitter.[2]

After the first week of disclosure some persons designated as harassers experienced professional consequences,[4] while legal consequences may not be filed given the fact that in many cases of harassment the statute of limitations has expired.[5]

Contents

ContextEdit

The "Ligue du LOL" is the name of a private Facebook group created in 2009 by journalist Vincent Glad [fr],[6][7][8][9][10] which was made up of approximatively fifteen men and two or three women.[11] The Ligue du LOL united throughout the years and grew to approximately 20 to 40 persons, mainly early users of Twitter, who were for the most part working in the domains of communication, journalism, web, communication and advertising.[12][3][11] According to Libération, the group still counted around thirty members in 2019. Expressing themselves after the scandal erupted in February 2019, the group members claimed that the Facebook page allowed them to exchange findings on the web and to share jokes and advice.[13] Group member Henri Michel declared that this page was essentially meant to make jokes that could not have been made in public. He also added that there was a side that could be described as an "observatory of the twitter personalities", where jokes were made about certain personalities. His own estimation is that this group engaged in "observation of the little Twitter world" then focused on certain persons becoming a sort of "obsession of certain group members". [3]

A portion of the Ligue du LOL members are accused of harassing others users of Twitter, either on their own or as a group, using public and anonymous accounts. Among the alleged victims are many women like Florence Porcel [fr][12][14][15] (journalist), Florence Desruol (UMP activist),[12] Capucine Piot (bloger), Daria Marx [fr] (activist and author), Nora Bouazzouni [fr], Mélanie Wanga [fr](journalist),[16] Lucile Bellan (journalist),[17] Aïcha Kottman (news critic),[18] as well as men like Cyprien (youtuber),[12] Matthias Jambon-Puillet (author),[19] Thomas Messias (journalist),[17] and Benjamin Lancar [fr] (politician). Lancar was mocked for his presumed homosexuality when a Ligue du LOL member put his photo on a fly swatter (in French the word for fly swatter is "tapette" which is also a derogatory term for a gay man). At a time when he was leading the Jeunes Populaires group. He was referred by members of the group as the« tapette Lancar ».[20]

Several victims claimed they had alerted the bosses of certain group members, for instance Johan Hufnagel who was then chief-in-chief of Slate and as such Vincent Glad's manager.[21][22]

DisclosureEdit

Earlier attemptsEdit

A first attempt to denounce these practices was made in 2010 through a letter that was to be sent to several managing editors. This letter was leaked to the members of La Ligue du LOL, who published it on Twitter to mock it, minimizing its importance.[23][22] At the time, probably due to the fact that Twitter was not widely used, and that the implicated journalists were not well known, the story attracted little attention and only provoked indifference, as is demonstrated by a 2010 tweet from Aurore Bergé in 2010 where she stated that she did "not to give a damn" about the letter. In 2019, Bergé, now a member of parliament, condemned the acts of harassment and declared having no memory of this letter nine years later.[24] This letter is nonetheless amongst the most discussed subjects of the Ligue du LOL and has relaunched the harassment according to journalist Christophe Colinet, who co-signed it.

Another attempt to expose the group was made by Florence Desurol to Slate and to Gilles Klein from Arrêt sur Image at the beginning of 2010, after receiving an insulting message from Alexandre Hervaud. Klein then informed Laurent Joffrin of Libération, where Hervaud was employed. Alexandre Hervaud then publicly satirized the incident.

The first public disclosures took place in 2014, when Valérie Rey-Robert wrote an article on the French feminist blog Crêpe Georgette.[25] In May 2018, journalist Alexandre Léchenet, professor at the ESJ in Lille published a blog post on the realization that his own behavior might have been problematic.[26] Léchenet said he never belonged to this group,[3] but he was accused of participating in the homophobic harassment of Benjamin Lancar.[27]

Public disclosure on February 8, 2019Edit

On February 8, 2019, journalist Robin Andraca from Checknews published an article on the Laughing Out League. He indicated that he was contacted by someone prensenting himself as "Jean" in reaction to an article featuring Vincent Glad in Lee vent se lève[28] on February 3, 2019 concerning the patronizing way medias treated the subject of the Yellow vests movement. This article prompted reactions on Twitter. Robin Andraca started his investigation by confronting Alexandre Hervaud, manager of the web department Libération, because he had evoked the subject commenting a tweet from Slate journalist Thomas Messias. Hervaud confirmed being a member of the league on Facebook.

ConsequencesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ ""Etoiles jaunes et croix gammées. La "ligue du LOL": un harcèlement volontiers antisémite". L'Express (in French). Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  2. ^ a b "Ligue du LOL : des "caïds de Twitter" accusés de harcèlement". LExpress.fr (in French). 2019-02-10. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  3. ^ a b c d "La Ligue du LOL a-t-elle vraiment existé et harcelé des féministes sur les réseaux sociaux ?". Libération.fr. 2019-02-08. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  4. ^ ""Ligue du Lol" : démissions, mises à pied... quelles conséquences ?". CNews (in French). Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  5. ^ "Ligue du LOL : cinq questions pour comprendre l'affaire et ses enjeux". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  6. ^ Breeden, Aurelien (2019-02-12). "Facebook Group of French Journalists Harassed Women for Years". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  7. ^ Enders, Caty (2015-08-05). "Binders Full of Women Writers: can a secret Facebook group claim to be inclusive?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  8. ^ swissinfo.ch, S. W. I.; Corporation, a branch of the Swiss Broadcasting. "France: une "ligue" de harceleurs sur internet rattrapée par son passé". SWI swissinfo.ch (in French). Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  9. ^ "Journalisten verlieren Jobs wegen Online-Mobbing". fr.de (in German). 2019-02-13. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  10. ^ Cills, Hazel. "French Journalists Are Currently Dealing With Their Own Shitty Media Men". Jezebel. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  11. ^ a b BFMTV (2019-02-11). "Qu'est-ce que le groupe Facebook " la Ligue du LOL " et de quoi est-il accusé?". BFMTV (in French).
  12. ^ a b c d ""Ligue du LOL" : le cercle des pas-gentlemen pas-disparus". L'Obs (in French). Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  13. ^ BFMTV (2019-02-11). "Qu'est-ce que le groupe Facebook " la Ligue du LOL " et de quoi est-il accusé?". BFMTV (in French).
  14. ^ "Harcelée sur internet par la Ligue du LOL, la Marnaise Florence Porcel témoigne". Journal L'Union abonné (in French). Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  15. ^ ""Ils sont allés jusqu'à se rendre sur mon lieu de travail" : la youtubeuse Florence Porcel raconte comment "La Ligue du LOL" l'a "traumatisée"". Franceinfo (in French). 2019-02-10. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  16. ^ "Journalistes, réseaux sociaux et harcèlement : comprendre l'affaire de la " Ligue du LOL "". Le Monde. 2019-02-10. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  17. ^ a b "Ligue du LOL: "C'est toujours sur le ton de la blague sauf que c'est toi la blague"". Slate.fr (in French). 2019-02-11. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  18. ^ "La "Ligue du LOL", groupe influent aux victimes ciblées". Libération.fr (in French). 2019-02-11. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  19. ^ LeReilly, Benjamin (2019-02-10). "J'ai, il y a huit ans, et pendant plusieurs années, été harcelé par la Ligue du Lol". Medium. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  20. ^ ""Ligue du LOL" : l'homophobie aussi utilisée comme arme de harcèlement - TÊTU". tetu.com. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  21. ^ "Ligue du LOL: Vincent Glad reconnaît avoir cogéré un compte Twitter anonyme". www.20minutes.fr (in French). Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  22. ^ a b "La direction de "Libération" était-elle au courant du harcèlement de la "Ligue du LOL" ?". Libération.fr (in French). 2019-02-14. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  23. ^ Aurore Herreros (11 February 2019). "Bergé s'indigne de la "Ligue du Lol", des internautes déterrent un ancien tweet". Le Huffington Post.
  24. ^ "Bergé s'indigne de la "Ligue du Lol", des internautes déterrent un ancien tweet". Le Huffington Post (in French). 2019-02-11. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  25. ^ "Les sales petits mecs". Crêpe Georgette (in French). 2014-05-06. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  26. ^ "Coupable de cyberharcèlements groupés | misc.alphoenix.net" (in French). Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  27. ^ ""Ligue du LOL" : l'homophobie aussi utilisée comme arme de harcèlement - TÊTU". tetu.com. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  28. ^ "Ligue du LOL : les coulisses d'un scoop". Télérama.fr (in French). Retrieved 2019-02-15..