One misguided tweet takes on a life of its own

March 25, 2013
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You never know what's going to happen in the land of Twitter. Adria Richards's story is a prime example of that. At the PyCon Technology Conference last week, Richards decided to publicly shame two developers who were bothering her with their sexual jokes. The developers were sitting behind her, and were talking to each other about "big dongles" and "forking someone's repo", and yes, while they were acting immaturely, Richards's actions took things a bit too far.


Richards snapped a picture of the two developers, and tweeted their photos to her followers, as well as everyone following the PyCon hashtag. She tweeted, "Not cool. Jokes about forking repo's in a sexual way and "big" dongles. Right behind me #pycon." Her tweet instantly went viral. The PyCon staff got in touch with Richards (through tweets and text messages) and escorted the two developers out.

Richards then made a blog post explaining the entire situation, and how she achieved justice for herself as well as all of the women in the tech industry. But it wasn't really justice that she achieved. One of the developers was fired from his job at PlayHaven. He stated, "As a result of the picture she took I was let go from my job today. Which sucks because I have 3 kids and I really liked that job."

Many women in the industry supported Richards's actions, while many other women stated that Richards's actions weren't a representation of feminism, but just her way of satisfying her own ego. Redditors were outraged by the entire situation and even started a "Feminist Victims Fund" for the fired developer. The issue even got Anonymous's attention. The group threatened SendGrid, Richards's employer at the time, to fire her, and they launched a DDOS attack against the company to show just how serious their threats were.

SendGrid shortly terminated Richards's position after the attack, and stated, "We have taken action that we believe is in the overall best interests of SendGrid, its employees and our customers." So while Richards believed that she was achieving justice by sending out that tweet, she inadvertently started an online war. She ended up damaging someone's reputation and career, the companies that they worked for, PyCon, and herself. So the moral of the story is, be careful what you send out on your mobile devices, and if you can solve an issue by directly confronting those involved, take that route. Everything could have easily been solved if Richards had just turned around and asked the two developers to ease up on the jokes.


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  • Lotsandlotsofwhores

    Oh god, this has nothing to do with Android and is last week’s click-baity, pot-stirring non-news. Cut it out, you total whores.

  • Lotsandlotsofwhores

    I would like to ask, respectfully, that the owners and operators of Android Community refrain from posting articles like this one. They have nothing to do with Android and only serve to drum up old gossip from last week. With respect, as an avid Android Community reader, I would like to not read about stories like this here.

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

      While I somewhat agree with you, stupid shit like this is a growing and growing part of the world we live in. While we weren’t trying to dig up old gossip, we wanted to share the story. You never know what could happen when you’re publicly posting anything and everything on social sites.

      We’re glad you are an avid reader, and sorry you didn’t enjoy this one of many articles today. We’ll keep it in mind.

      • http://silverfang77.tumblr.com/ Silver Fang

        Agreed. The more the Internet becomes a seamless part of our lives that we can access from literally anywhere, the more aware we need to be of things such as etiquette and consideration for others so we can avoid gaffes like in this article.

    • Carlos

      Well don’t read it

  • meh

    Jesus. What’d you guys do, run out of baseless rumors to post?

    You have no idea what you’re getting into by posting this. You’re just inviting drama.

    Though I guess you need the click revenue.

    Pathetic.

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

      and when we post about the X-Phone people get mad for the article too. No way this is real. faaaake. haha. It goes both ways buddy. Time to mix it up!

      • meh

        Because we all know the so-called “X-Phone” is a rumor. The Android blogs are too stupid to figure this out.

        Google themselves have stated they’ve inherited a backlog of phones they’re not interested in. They need to get through that first BEFORE any Google+Motorola phone comes out.

        But, again, Android bloggers refuse to listen to reason.

      • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

        Just because they have backlog doesn’t mean they aren’t already working on what’s next. Most manufactures already have more than a few devices in development long before previous devices get released. I can guarantee you Motorola and Google are hard at work on current, and future devices. Oh and that rumor wasn’t from anyone, it was from the Wall Street Journal.

  • Guest

    Wow.. All that for a few immature jokes?

    Good job kids.

    And the moral of this story is, people are stupid. Also, think before you act.

  • wer

    Retard

  • Gary

    Thank you for sharing this with us Android Community… I for one appreciated it. Dont listen to the haters and just keep doing what you are doing guys.

    • vegiisan

      I’m also glad they posted this. I only follow Android blogs really, so I never heard of it till now. This is related to the internet techish field so I found it relevant and amusing to read. :-D

      • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

        In a way, yes, it is relevant and that’s why we covered it.

      • TheBlackCat13

        I strongly advice you to read some other sources. This is an extremely one-sided summary and leaves a lot of the relevant issues here. Try reading the links ewichern posted above.

  • flickclickorstick

    …and Anonymous is what judge and jury?

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

      they play by their own rules. yes.

  • ewichern

    I think I’ll be terminating my AC feed subscription. Not because I care about the reposting of last week’s click-bait story, but because the commentary here reveals a writer entirely out of touch with women’s issues in the modern world. Just keep reinforcing the status quo – women clearly aren’t welcome in the tech world according to AC. Or are women welcome…? unless they stand up for themselves, confront unacceptable behavior, and attempt to hold misogynistic pigs accountable when they explicitly violate codes of conduct (https://us.pycon.org/2013/about/code-of-conduct/)?

    For another take, see: http://jezebel.com/5991792/woman-in-tech-tweets-about-sexist-dudes-in-tech-dude-get-fired-internet-meltdown-ensues

    Also, Ms. Richards’ blog outlines the encounter pretty well. I don’t know how anyone who actually *read* her blog post could find serious fault in her actions.

    Stay classy AC.

    • TheBlackCat13

      Good overview, I liked this part in particular:

      Richards didn’t call for anyone to be fired, she wasn’t hostile or irrational, she wasn’t outraged over one shitty dongle joke—she was expressing an accumulated frustration at the persistent difficulty of carving out space for women in the tech community. Men, if you don’t get that, it’s because you don’t have to get it. You are not qualified to be dismissive of a lifetime of microaggressions until you have personally experienced a lifetime of microaggressions. So if you don’t get it, be thankful. Now pick some of this shit up—it’s heavy.

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

      So one writers random post represents AC as a whole? That makes sense.

      • ewichern

        Absolutely. By publishing his commentary, the editorial staff at AC (you included) have chosen to allow Mr. Sin represent your organization. You have given tacit approval to his opinions, and you’ve repeatedly defended the article here in the public comments.

        To me, it makes a lot of sense that I wouldn’t support or patronize a media outlet that feeds into the culture of male-superiority that seems to smother the tech world. I don’t even have to visit AC to post this reply. Disqus dashboard saves the day!

      • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

        I haven’t defended his articles stance on the situation ONCE. Instead I defended the reason for us posting it. That being because we are a site that covers mobile news, and this is relevant to the mobile world we live in. Anyways… Have a nice day!

  • Mayank

    @Brian: would you suggest the same if the girl in the above case was your daughter, sister or your wife?if we are talking about netiquettes then what happened to the etiquettes of the real world?

  • TheBlackCat13

    Yes, of course. No mention of the countless rape and death threats Richards received. No mention of the fact that the behavior was explicitly in violation of the code of conduct of the conference. No mention that the tweet was actually directed at the conference organizers, asking them to enforce their own code of conduct. No mention that the jokes were in the middle of a talk that included attempts to make women feel more welcome in the community. No mention that Richards was against him being fired.

    Apparently the victims here are the guys who clearly violated the code of conduct, while the one at fault was the woman who dared to speak up against such violations. In what twisted world is the one who broke the rules the victim, and the one who reported the violation the perpetrator? In the world of women in male-dominated industries.

    The message this incident has spread, and the message you are helping spread, is that women need to keep in line and take the abuse. If they dare to try to speak up about it, dare to try to make a difference, dare to try to make things more welcoming for other women, they will be the subject of massive amounts of abuse, threats, and probably lose their job.

    Do you really think this would have gone any differently if she had privately brought the attention to the conference organizers and the guys had still gotten kicked out? Of course not. The problem here isn’t that she tweeted it, it was that she dared to invoke the code of conduct at all. This happens to any woman who “gets out of line”.

    • http://twitter.com/belgianatheist Hugo

      This should have been the post, well said!

    • Tristram

      “women need to keep in line and take the abuse”

      She wasn’t being abused. The jokes had nothing to do with women. The jokes weren’t being said to a woman.

      The rape and death threats are terrifying and disgusting, but do not change the nature of the incident. The cyber-bully being cyber-bullied is still a cyber-bully.

      The problem is that she tried to publicly shame and humiliate a complete stranger. The tweet may have been directed to the event organisers (it wasn’t), but Twitter is very, very public. Especially when you have 10k+ followers. I’d imagine her victim has a fairly solid defamation case on his hands.

      Women need to be encouraged to speak out and not to tolerate abuse, harassment, and discrimination. Unfortunately for Miss Richards, she experienced none of these things, but chose to destroy the career of someone regardless.

      • TheBlackCat13

        First, she didn’t “choose to destroy the career of someone”. Unless you can provide some evidence that she expected that sort of response, that was not her choice at all.

        Second, the conference organizers agreed with her that the behavior was inappropriate and in violation of the code of conduct. So by arguing that she shouldn’t have spoken out you are arguing that women should not speak out about violations of the code of conduct.

        Third, whether it was explicitly directed at her is not the issue. The issue is whether it was creating an atmosphere that made women feel unwelcome. She thought so, and the conference organizers thought so. You may not think so, but who are you to tell other people how they are allowed to feel?

      • Tristram

        She posted his picture without his consent in a public forum, and then publicly annihilated him on her blog. She has a large following, she knew her words would get a degree of exposure. You don’t do something like that without intending to publicly shame someone. Whether she intended him to lose his job or not is irrelevant.

        If the words made her feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, she should have either told them to cut it out or had a quiet word with the conference organisers. As it was, she herself violated the code of conduct and destroyed the livelihood of a complete stranger while she was at it.

        Feeling alienated by a dongle joke and being sexually abused, harassed, and discriminated against are vastly different things. You do all women a disservice by conflating the two.

    • blume

      Dumb. It was just a dick joke, not even directed at her. Her action to be a raging bitch cost someone his job, and then it cost her her own job. I hope she spends her nights crying.

      • TheBlackCat13

        Again, it is not her fault that they chose to break the rules.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sy2pie Simon Tompkins

    Maybe she tweeted through android lol

  • http://twitter.com/belgianatheist Hugo

    I cannot believe you are seriously attempting to silence and shame Richards. Whatever actions taken by the employer are the decision of the employer. Richards did the right thing in exposing one of the many reasons why I do not have many women colleagues and I’d like that to change. We need to make women feel welcome in our industry and such “jokes” are not the way to do it.
    (but I do appreciate at least making the post even if I don’t agree with the sentiment of it)

  • Johnnytucats

    If a man complained about overhearing lewd jokes made by women he would probably be socially castrated by his male peers. That is, if he isn’t already a social eunuch.

  • Justin Bassett

    I guess there was something to those cheesy old ‘sexual harassment’ videos they made us watch in the Navy all the time — the first thing they drill into your head is to try solving the problem at the lowest level possible, which usually starts with confronting the individual(s) directly; if that doesn’t work, then escalate as necessary from there.

    I agree with the article though, she only did that to be snarky and satisfy her own ego…not to legitimately solve a problem.

  • DeeVeloper

    It’s interesting that the author chastises Ms. Richards for attempting to publicly humiliate the two developers, but does the same thing by posting her picture here. Looks like EVERYONE is in the wrong.

  • Gigi Drummond

    The article does not acknowledge how Richards initially reacted. While I do believe that confronting them first would have been more appropriate, she was not required to do so. The facts constitute sexual harassment – were they not aware of the inappropriateness of the comments/jokes they were making. Had either one of them been thinking of the wives and children they are supporting would they be so inclined to make those same jokes then? Or better yet how would they react if their wives, daughters, sisters, and/or mothers told them that men were making those same comments to and or around them? Hard for me to fathom how the company could explain letting Richards go, however, as an African-American I am not surprised. I have found that no matter how preposterous the situation, it usually doesn’t end well for the African-American female. Rest assured, Richards will go on to do bigger and better things, those who harassed her, however will (most likely) remain…idiots at large.

  • S

    Seems like there were a lot of bad decisions taken due to this incident and things got pretty out of hand. There will always be someone somewhere who will find some of your opinions offensive. That’s the way the world works and it’s good to have varied opinions and takes on matters. But the problem on the internet arises when there are a lot of people who react in an extreme manner to things other people say. The biggest reason for that is the anonymity the internet provides.

    From my perspective and what I’ve read so far, even if Adria was concerned about the behaviour of the men at the conference, she could have approached them after the conference or approached the management at the conference privately. That is, since she did not wish to directly confront the men. The men involved perhaps didn’t think much about their environment, who was listening and that their opinions might be considered offensive. It happens to the best of us. From what I’ve read, the conversation seemed to be taking place privately between a few people and the comments were spontaneous. The management at the conference could have handled it differently as well. They could have resolved the matter privately with both parties making statements that there are no longer any issues. The boss of the man who got fired also made a harsh decision to fire his employee. If it was based on internet heckling, that was wrong on his part. Similarly, the employer of Adria was wrong to give in to threats and punish Adria for expressing her concerns and letting her go. The company should have looked into the people threatening them.

    All in all, the situation escalated unnecessarily all because of the involvement of the internet. Because now you’ve invited the entire (so to speak) online world to be a part of it.

  • Daniel Miles

    Oh, huge thumbs-down. We need more tweets like hers, not less. This wasn’t a misguided tweet, it was necessary. The moral of the story is not to be careful what you tweet, it’s to avoid turning a professional space into a gender-toxic space.