The mechanics were similar. They pointed On twitter to some person -in general, women- whose opinions deserved their disapproval. They made fun of them. Behind, as often happens in this social network, came the pack of trolls: users, some of them anonymous, who flooded the victim with disqualifications. Sometimes, the harassment jumped from the virtual world to the real world. A woman was visited at her place of work and one day they spent a practical joke on the phone that ended up hanging on the network.
The particularity of this case of cyberbullying is that the stalkers were journalists and their victims, too. It happened between the end of the last decade and the beginning of the current one. His discovery has led to a beginning of self-examination in some media. "At last, the media addresses their introspection," he said on Tuesday. Libération, which places the scandal in the context of revelations of harassment and sexism MeToo movement and as an example of power relations in journalism.
Beyond small circles, the existence of the group was unknown until last week, when, following some messages of complaint on Twitter, Libération He explained what the 'Liga del LOL' was. This is the name given to a private Facebook group composed of around thirty people, mostly white men, professionals in the world of communication.
The 'League of the LOL' (LOL, in English, are the acronyms of laughing out loud, laughing out loud), began in 2009, with the simple purpose of "having fun", as its founder, the journalist Vincent Glad, has told us. collaborator Libération. It was about making jokes and spending jokes, some heavy, or making fun of other colleagues in social networks.
"Quickly," Glad adds in a message posted on Twitter, "our way of having fun became very problematic, and we did not realize it." "The word feminist what [en los años 2011-2012] He freed himself, it seemed ridiculous. At first I did not understand these words that appeared: 'patriarchy', 'culture of rape', 'mansplaining' … I mocked, as I mocked everything. Today I am horrified to see my tweets circulate in 2013 where I made fun of the culture of rape. I am ashamed".
Journalist Florence Porcel began receiving attacks in 2010. "They found me, I was unaware of their existence. I was on Twitter. I had made videos that had been viral and had been very mediated. I imagine that's how they knew my existence, "explains Porcel by telephone. "I do not know why they got mad at me."
Other people who will have been targeted by the 'Liga del LOL' had a similar profile. "They were young people who studied journalism, or journalists, from the world of communication, or young bloggers, but not only."
From her they disseminated pornographic photomontages. Once they went to a television set where he participated in a live program. It was in 2013 when he received the call of a supposed television producer, call that remained available on-line until this weekend, when, after the scandal broke, it disappeared. "It was four years of permanent tension," he sums up.
Another former member of the League of LOL admits in a message on Twitter: "During this period, I made two phone jokes, among which, with courage, Florence Porcel told, in which I was posing as a television contractor. Now I realize how disgusting these acts are, and there is no excuse, "writes David Doucet, suspended from his position as editor-in-chief of Les Inrockuptibles.
And another journalist from Libération that belonged to the Ligal from LOL, Alexandre Hervaud, explained in a message: "The initial and only vocation of this private group, like so many others, was to exchange links cool, gossip and plans of march between journalists, communicators, graphic artists, photographers, authors, etc. "
"Cyberbullying is very close to bullying," he says. Brut another journalist, Léa Lejeune. "They are the same mechanisms: the 'cool' people in the school yard who look at the person they consider weakest."
"The members of the League of LOL collectively an image of 'cool guys', funny, bright people were built. Thanks to this masculine collective spirit today they hold the position of power that they occupy today, "said Franc Info Aude Lorriaux, spokesperson for the women journalists' group. Prenons joins her (Take the cover)
The editor of the newspaper, Laurent Joffrin, announced in an editorial the provisional suspension of two of its journalists, pending a more detailed investigation. He also promised to open an internal debate to regulate the use of social networks by his employees.
"All this," he adds, "does not exonerate from a reflection on this 'culture' of shock, invective, permanent insult, cruel parody, attack below the waist, obsessive frenzy that infests networks and in particular Twitter, often masked behind pseudonyms of dubious humor. "
The French law condemns cyberbullying with penalties of 45,000 euros in fines and up to three years in prison. The cases linked to the League of LOL they would have prescribed. "Nothing prevents studying the extension of the limitation period, we just extended it 10 years for the violation of minors," said the Secretary of State for Equality, Marlène Schiappa.