John Edwards’ Virtual Attackers Unmasked

The attackers have been identified — and they're alive and gloating.

"Guess what: we're not Republicans. In fact, I'm one of the most hard-core liberals I know."

A post on the John Edwards blog claimed credit for an attack on his campaign HQ in Second Life — saying that "We simply did it for the lulz... The fact you were so bent out of shape to make a blog post on the OFFICIAL JOHN EDWARDS BLOG about how some people placed a bunch of shittingdicknipples on your lawn is mighty telling."

The post was deleted from Edwards blog. (Its last line was "Enjoy your AIDS!") But the poster used the name Mudkips Acronym, which also turns up in a January entry on Encyclopedia Dramatica, identifying him as a member of a longstanding Second Life "invasion group." Its name is given as "Patriotic Nigras: e-terrorists at large," and Saturday the entry was updated to claim credit for the Edwards attack.

This would make the Edwards attack just the latest installment in a longer history of random assaults. The page describes the group's first attacks as griefing pranks on Second Life's "Gay Yiffy" virtual nightclub — blocking the exit doors on a disco's private rooms, and filling its dance floor with an annoyingly large box. They returned to build a wall with a swastika of American flags, and eventually acquired a "Doomsday" weapon that creates endlessly replicating cubes.

The group also claims weapons like "the Dong Popgun" (which fires a barrage of penises), and the "Cosby Block" (a profilerating posters of the Jell-o pudding pops spokesman). One Second Life blogger accused the group of distributing the infamous Goatse picture, a tactic confirmed by a Second Life newspaper. And the group's ultimate weapon — the "Mario mosh pit" — even floods an area with images of Nintendo's Mario character.

YouTube footage apparently captures the attacks, set to musical soundtracks like "America: Fuck Yeah", or the soundtrack to Star Wars. A climactic January attack targeted another night club in Second Life, according to their Wiki page — followed by a permanent ban of the group's members. (They believe Second Life had successfully identified their computer hardware, according to the web page.) It claims the group is now armed with an "unbanning" tool, and having grown to at least 15 members, now hides in a secret base somewhere in Second Life's virtual sky.

On the Edwards blog, Mudkips Acronym also posted that "we had something much bigger planned, and the actions of a few in the organization sort of spoiled it." Even then, he was amused by the online coverage and wrote that "If this sort of hilarity is getting out after something rather routine, we can only dream of what would happen later."

John Edwards had been running a flawless online campaign, with a web site promising Edwards will "ensure America's greatness in the 21st century." The candidate assembled an impressive online outreach effort, with pages on all the major social networking sites. (Although his LiveJournal site still sports embarrassing ads for cheap flights to Las Vegas because the campaign didn't pay the $2.00 a month for an ad-free account.) Last month an Edwards volunteer decided to create a campaign headquarters in Second Life — prompting mixed reactions. ("Edwards To Pin Down Crucial Techno-Savvy Shut-In Vote," joked Wonkette.) But other Edwards volunteers were clearly excited. "Excuse me, your netroots are showing!" gushed a poster on the Edwards site. "The Edwards campaign once again proves its Web 2.0 credentials..."

It was barely more than two weeks before the attackers struck — setting off an interesting discussion about the state of the online world.

"This is the modern-day equivalent of hippies freaking out the squares," wrote a blogger at Wired. "You see countless news stories about this, over and over again: the gray humorless drones of political parties or corporations rushing to establish a presence in Second Life because it's the thing to do, only to find themselves staring directly into the collective of the Internet's soul."

One of the attackers struck the pose of a manifesto writer. "[T]he truth is, there is something terribly wrong with Second Life, isn't there...? [W]here once you had the freedom to object, think, and speak as you saw fit, you now have IP bans and hypocritical labelers coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission."

But their real motivation seems to be the thrill of griefing. "You don't have to have furries to be a target," notes another comment, "all you have to be is so full of yourself that you freak out over an attack. Freak out once and they'll come back because the more you struggle and complain, the funnier it is."

And one poster goes even further. "The thing is... griefing is pretty much the only way to make Second Life fun if you aren't a furry or a pedophile or something."

Second Life's creators, Linden Labs, were compelled by the incident to issue a middle-of-the-road response ("At Linden Lab we do the utmost to ensure the protection of creative expression, within certain bounds. Ultimately, instances in which residents engage in vandalism will have to be taken on a case by case basis according to our terms of service.") And Second Life boosters had already been sharing their tips for dealing with griefers. But perhaps the best summation came from a comment at the Game Politics site.

"Why does everyone think that this was political? This is what happens in Second Life."

According to the Second Life Herald, the Edwards virtual HQ had already been targeted by a pesky next door neighbor who insisted on touting the presidential candidacy of John Edward — the psychic host of TV's "Crossing Over."

Q: Will Edward be making a visit to SL?
A: He's already here. He's inside all hour hearts and minds. Because he can read them.
Q: how can he concentrate?
A: I imagine he just squints his eyes really hard

In an unpredictible online environment, political campaigns will face situations that are new and unexpected. (The Huffington Post went to the trouble of pointing out that while Edwards had a virtual headquarters, there were "scantily clad vixens nearby.") One observer even found their way to Edwards' blog and posted "John, welcome to the internet. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen, but if you are willing to laugh at the insanity you'll find many friends there."

As a kind of confirmation, the online pranksters themselves updated their Encyclopedia entry with a link to an apparently-related web page. Accessing the page plays the dramatic finale to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture while showing a picture of a giggling anime girl — and a five dollar bill with John Edwards' face.

"Sorry we broke your intertube campaign, Mr. Edwards," it says.

"So here's 5 bux."

See also:
Who Are Second Life's "Patriotic Nigras"
Steve Wozniak v. Stephen Colbert — and Other Pranks
Craigslist Sex Troll Gets Sued
Is Yahoo/Flickr DMCA Policy Censorship?

26 thoughts to “John Edwards’ Virtual Attackers Unmasked”

  1. “John Edwards had been running a flawless online campaign” You’re kidding, right?

    He hired 2 bloggers to run his site who had such a history of putrid hate speech towards Catholics and others they disagree with that they were basically forced to resign – after Edwards publicly supported them.

  2. Lol, thanks for quoting us.

    People have been reading far too much into us and our actions for so long.

    In a world filled with people ready to kill each other over religion and political views; ready to end their own lives due to bullies they’ve never met or just being grounded from watching their favorite TV show; a new group has seemed to rise out of the filth left behind.

    I’ve taken some courses in sociology, and from that standpoint, griefers like PN and the rest of Anonymous are a really interesting case if you’re willing to look deep enough.

    If you take yourself too seriously, in any way, they will rise up to knock you back down to earth. Unfortunately, these people never do fall down, but thrash and flail in order to stay on the high pedastal they’ve put themselves upon.

    Perhaps we’re a new form of social evolution on the internet, shielded by our anonimity, allowing us to say and do the things that most people wish they could do when confronted with someone too stuck up, arrogant, full of themself, or just plain foolish.

    …Or, maybe we are just jerks.

    Either way; we exist, our numbers constantly grow, and we find more and more things to laugh at as people just get stranger and stranger.

  3. Ah, the PNs didn’t actually make the Doomsday. That weapon’s a relic of ages past on 2L – they were hooked up wif’it early on in their Second Life experience.

    Since then, the smart guys in the PN have occasionally worked on modding it; but all reports I’ve heard of were pretty much nil success in making something truly awesome.

    ~*The more you know!*~

  4. The best article I’ve seen yet. I responded to your e-mail, as well. I wasn’t sure when you sent it due to my confusion with G-Mail, but I hope it’s not too late. I’ve been busy with real-life and have had barely any chance to follow what’s going on.

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  6. I think what we actually learned from all this is that people who use the word “lulz” are consistently surprised when the grown-up world isn’t very impressed by them, and that’s both very funny and very sad — especially when they try to pretend it’s some kind of therapeutic favor they’re doing for the rest of us, to get us over our repression. But pretending that nothing at all, anywhere, deserves a little solemnity… isn’t that a little fucked up in the head, too?

    Yeah, you’re just jerks. Sorry.

  7. I salute Second Life spammers. People who actually consider that software as a serious way to communicate with potential voters are only leading us down a path of destruction in which reality mirrors the bad 1980’s sci-fi movies we all used to laugh at.

    Shame on you John Edwards, shame on you.

  8. I cannot help myself but giggle when I read the article and some of the comments. I find that furries are quite often mentioned, and wonder if this repeated mentioning or referring to them comes from a secret admiration for them or something similar.
    As a matter of fact I had often the questionable joy of seeing avatars in Second life that refer to psycho-horror childmolester charakters ( Like that guy with the paperhead and the exaggerated male organ ) bump into the middle of a group of furries working on large scale objects such as a tree-house highrise and insisting that his generic avatar was same as “good” as, for example, a dragon avatar that was uniquely build by it’s owner and that included some more than 500 hours of design and scripting.

    It is really fun, in my opinion, that there are so many people out there that try to match their preference for immature, pretty much uneducated, sexist and actually law abiding behaviour with people that put a lot of effort and love into recreating the charakters from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Reineke Fuchs”, or Aesop’s fables, or other world literature of age and quality.

    It is not that there is any interest group in the world that can be sure to have no morons amongst them – aside of, say, nazis, for they are actually proud of being morons, so you can be sure to ONLY find morons amongst them, but that is a different story I think – but it is funny that, at least looking at the USA, seemingly furries and liberal politicans attract the weirdos like honey attract the bees. As to my personal political opinion I cannot check if republican politicans have the same problem – for I would be biased in judging their situation.

  9. I don’t know what I feel about this, not knowing many facts about it all. But one thing I do know is that causing ‘grief’ to people, online or not, politicians or not, doesn’t feel good to me.
    OK, so I laugh at sarcasm and warped humour with the best of them, and have been known to throw a few punches myself, and I definitely don’t take things or myself too seriously, either. Maybe it’s the terminology, I don’t know, but I don’t like the sound of causing ‘grief’ to anybody, no matter what lies behind it.

    Some of that stuff does sound funny, I admit, but I still don’t think you should go around hurting feelings for the hell of it. FInd another way to draw attention to things, if you feel that strongly about it, rather than embarrasing people. It’s not kind. Kindness should be the measure of our activities, in my opinion.

    I dunno, maybe I got out of the bed the wrong side this morning or something? ;-)

    Anyway, I hope they keep doing whatever they’re up to, so long as people know it’s funny and not malicious.

  10. If the doomsday machine in question is a wooden crate with red biohazard signs on the side, that created an unlimited amount of small cubes that fired off rockets…

    Then i was the one who created it about a year ago, back then atleast it could take a 1500fps sim down to 3fps in a matter of seconds.


  11. Nope :)

    Also, 1500fps is a lot. Like, more than any graphics card could do. I think you mean 150fps.

  12. “Perhaps we’re a new form of social evolution on the internet, shielded by our anonimity, allowing us to say and do the things that most people wish they could do when confronted with someone too stuck up, arrogant, full of themself, or just plain foolish.”

    My friend, you are not the only one I have seen who perceives himself as some sort of “evolution.” In the long run, the only evolution worth mentioning is the end of evolution itself. And, of course, that means that the strong will no longer be willing or able to prey on the weak. How you can detest arrogance and yet assume that everyone else is worse than they perceive themselves to be, I have no idea.

    On a different note, I find it ironic that trolls and griefers use hacking technology, and yet are blatantly unable to see how much potential for good hypermedia and wireless global communication actually have.

  13. Someone tell me how to make griefers. I wanna get revenge on SL for banning my account because some jackass thought i was really 11 when i was doing an rp. someone plz tell. Oh, when i find out, don’t be in the same place as revenger tigerpaw at the same time >:D D:

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