Response to the Change.org petition about me
April 21, 2020
I’m pleased to write that Change.org has come to a decision on my report and removed the petition as a violation of their community guidelines:
I will leave this post in place, as I do think it provides useful background into this issue with Epik, which appears to be ongoing.
For anyone who is reading this page and is not familiar with me, I am Molly White, and I have been a Wikipedia editor for over thirteen years. My account name there is “GorillaWarfare”. Although those who have found themselves on this page may have been led to believe that my specific goal in editing Wikipedia is to write a negative article about the company Epik, I have been editing since long before I created that article, and have devoted thousands of hours to volunteer Wikipedia editing over the years. Some examples of articles I am proud to have made substantial contributions to include the article on Mary Jackson, a NASA mathematician; I have also contributed to the article on The Satanic Bible, after finding it to be in terrible shape some years ago (this is how the article looked before I began contributing to it). Since it apparently needs to be said, no, I am not a Satanist—I simply wrote the article because someone needed to. That is one important goal of Wikipedia, after all—to provide coverage of topics like that one without them being slanted by those who are affiliated with the topic. Recently I have been active in helping to maintain the articles related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic and 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Massachusetts. Outside of my article writing, I am an administrator on Wikipedia, and I also help resolve disputes as a member of the English Wikipedia Arbitration Committee, on which I have served for over five years in total.
A year or so ago I created the Wikipedia article on Epik, a domain registrar that was in the news a fair bit due to its willingness to provide services to far-right organizations that had been dropped by other registrars. Some of my interests when editing Wikipedia include technology (due to my professional background and education), and radical political groups such as the alt-right. Therefore, Epik was a natural subject for me to write about, after discovering it in the news. I also created the article about the company’s CEO, Rob Monster, when during my research on the company I realized he had also received a fair amount of media coverage, qualifying him for a Wikipedia article. Since then I have received intermittent complaints and harassment directed towards me by said CEO, who believes the article is not fair to Epik. He, and others who support him, claim that the article is defamatory or libelous.
Defamation (sometimes known as calumny, vilification, libel, slander or traducement) is the oral or written communication of a false statement about another that unjustly harms their reputation and usually constitutes a tort or crime.
Mr. Monster and his supporters have yet to identify to me which statements they believe are false. I have always been very open to correcting errors in Wikipedia articles I write, and a review of the article’s talk page archives demonstrate me repeatedly engaging with users who were concerned with the reliability of statements in the article, going to great lengths to show them specifically where the statements were coming from.
I have many times attempted to engage with Monster in good faith, explain Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, and explain that Wikipedia articles are meant to reflect what is reported in reliable, independent sourcing, and that in this case because the reliable sourcing is largely critical of Epik, the Wikipedia article reflects that. Unfortunately Mr. Monster is a bit conspiracy-minded,2 and he and his supporters have chosen instead to believe that I am out to get him—they have made wild accusations against me including that I’m Satanic,3 that I’m being paid by George Soros to write a negative article about Epik,4 that I’m in cahoots with a handful of journalists who have reported negatively on Gab,5, etc. etc.
After a period of quiet, this harassment has recently resurged in the form of a thread on the niche domain registrar forum NamePros, titled “Epik Wikipedia battle is full-on right now” The thread was started by Mr. Monster shortly after a Wikipedia user by the name “Intelliname” repeatedly tried to remove swaths of sourced content from the Epik page. I will note that I was not involved with reverting that user,6 nor was I the one to eventually block him, nor was I the one who eventually removed their access to editing their talk page after they were found to be misusing their talk page to “pursue content arguments, make threats, anything BUT making a reasoned request for an unblock”.7 The NamePros thread has included further accusations against me and a threat that a user would show up at my home if they were in the United States (from a different commenter, not Mr. Monster).8 Some of it has moved on-wiki—a well-meaning member of the NamePros forum engaged me via Twitter DMs to ask how to discuss the content of the page constructively, and I pointed them to the Wikipedia article talk page. They began a section at “Proposal to change the lead paragraph for Epik” (permalink), but when they suggested to various other NamePros members that they weigh in at that section it resulted in additional attacks and false accusations on-wiki9 as well as some fairly serious legal threats.10
The same person who made the comment about showing up at my house created a Change.org petition, titled “Demanding Action against Corrupt Editor of Wikipedia Ms Molly White , admin of wikipedia”. It includes further absurd claims about me (that I’m trying to extort money from organizations, that I am blocking people related to Epik, etc.) The petition has been signed by Mr. Monster, and he has said that he shared it on his Facebook page.11 I reported the petition to Change.org as a violation of their policy against “Bullying or harassment”, and received the following reply:
Form reply from Change.org
We’re sad to hear that you’re having a negative experience with a Change.org user’s petition, and we appreciate you contacting us.
Change.org merely provides a technology platform for our users to create and publish petitions and comments -- we do not produce or monitor our users’ content. You should share your claim with the petition starter directly if you are able to contact them. This is a much more effective way to resolve claims, particularly because such content may also appear on other platforms.
However, we may be able to take action in response to your claim, but we require further substantiation of your allegations that the content is defamatory. You might like to send us one or more of the following:
- A court order
- Another court document, that indicates that content in this petition is false
- A restraining order that specifically prohibits the petition starter from posting content online about you
- A police order that indicates that the petition starter has been harassing you
- A detailed letter that highlights the specific portions of the petition that is defamatory, explanation or evidence as to why they are untrue, and details the harm that the statement/s have caused or will cause to your reputation.
Our team will review your claim in accordance with our policies and applicable national laws, and will respond to you accordingly. Please know that they will have to inform the petition starter of this claim, as it is our policy to be transparent with our users about legal claims that relate to their content, wherever possible.
We hope this email has provided useful information. Please let us know if you have any questions.
From US Office/Help Desk
I am not a litigious person, and I have no interest in trying to pursue a court order against the creator of the petition. There is a global pandemic, I am self-isolating in my home, and am not going to go try to hire an attorney to pursue legal action against some person who seems to live halfway around the world. But I do wish for the Change.org petition to be taken down, as it is false and insulting. I have prepared the following reply to try to satisfy the “detailed letter” option Change.org extended me, and am publishing it here because I would like a chance to present my side of the story. The only changes I’ve made to it are formatting for the footnotes and links:
What follows is my “detailed letter that highlights the specific portions of the petition that is defamatory, explanation or evidence as to why they are untrue, and details the harm that the statement/s have caused or will cause to your reputation.” For your convenience, this is again the link to the petition.
The petition begins by saying:
There has been continuous attempts and instances by Ms Molly White who goes by the handle @gorillawarfare on wikipedia and @molly0xFFF on twitter to defame Epik Registrar of domains and its CEO Mr Rob Monster. She is continuously writing hateful , vengeful articles against Epik and its Ceo on public forums such as wikipedia and Twitter out of her personal frustration.
I do indeed edit Wikipedia as the user GorillaWarfare. I have been an active Wikipedian for over thirteen years, and I am a member of the site’s administrative group as well as a member of the dispute resolution organization called the Arbitration Committee there. I also edit Wikipedia articles, including the Wikipedia articles about Epik and Epik’s CEO Rob Monster. As with any Wikipedia article, I am not the only editor—they are a group effort, and there are natural checks and balances in place to ensure the articles are fair and accurate. There are Wikipedia policies against defamation and libel, which are enforced swiftly and harshly. However, these articles are not defamatory—all of the text of those Wikipedia articles is carefully sourced to reliable sources including Wired, The New York Times, and other publications. Although some of the claims in the article may reflect negatively on Monster or Epik, they are not untrue. You can also peruse my Twitter presence at molly0xFFF. I have not written anything hateful or vengeful there—on the contrary, I have tried to be helpful to Mr. Monster and his colleagues even when they have attacked and threatened me. This is our most recent interaction, to illustrate. It is Mr. Monster who has repeatedly attacked me on Twitter, including calling me “Satanic”3, and making remarks implying I have multiple personalities.12
If some one questions her , she immediately blocks them on wikipedia.
Again, this is not true. The person who created this petition claims to have been blocked on Wikipedia, as they have written here.13 As you will see in the post directly following him, someone has pointed out that his Wikipedia account is not blocked (see the user block log — as of the time of writing this email, there are no blocks in that log).14 You can also look at the public log of all blocks I have placed on Wikipedia. As of the time of writing this email, I have not made any blocks on Wikipedia since April 13, multiple days before that thread began. I know that the world of Wikipedia is a bit hard to understand for people who are not active members of the community, but if needed I can demonstrate further that I have made no blocks relating to the articles on Epik or Mr. Monster.
Was the wikipedia founded to give a non profit knowledge sharing platform to the internet users and to promote neutrality or was it founded to give a platform to corrupt people such as Ms Molly White who can try to extort money from global organizations by intentionally creating a false narrative on the basis of shady 1 -2 articles on the internet written by their secret peers.
This is perhaps the most libelous claim in the petition. The author is claiming that I am writing false Wikipedia articles to extort money from companies. I have never extorted anyone, nor do I take any monetary compensation for any of the work I do in any way with Wikipedia. It is a volunteer community, and editing for pay (or extorting someone using Wikipedia) is strictly against the rules. As I mentioned above, I am a respected member of the Wikipedia community, and would not risk my reputation there. Wikipedia editing is a hobby for me—I make my money in an honest career (software development) and not via extorting anyone. The author of this petition has made these wild claims with no proof, because he has no proof, because there is no proof of something I have not done.
She intentionally choose to overlook 100s of good articles praising Epik.com Domain Registrar and when we questions her " madam why are you doing this ", she immediately abuses her power of being wikipedia admin to block anyone and to restrict him/her from wikipedia.
There are not 100s of good articles praising Epik.com. I have looked for reliable sourcing about the company, and the vast majority of it is critical of the company (you can google the company yourself). I have also instructed Mr. Monster and others about how to suggest any sources they think are reliable and positive: (Twitter, Wikipedia, etc.) but they have not done so. This is, in my opinion, because such sources do not exist. As for the claim about me blocking people to do with the Epik article, please see my comments on that claim further up in this email.
This above page about Epik contains unbalanced, past facts which can't be verified.
Every single claim in the Epik Wikipedia article is supported by at least one, if not multiple, reliable sources.
Ms Molly White is extremely corrupt , arrogant and a biased lady. She do not deserve to be on the wikipedia team as she is the dirty fish who will pollute clean pond of Wikipedia.
These are just insults.
She acts like a wikipedia owner and we have also heard that its her job to extort money from big global organizations who do not pay her and she will then get involved in defaming , mud sludging of global corporate leaders.
Again, this is libelous. I have no monetary interests with respect to my activities of Wikipedia, nor have I defamed or slung mud at anyone on Wikipedia. These are completely unsupported claims.
The person provides links at the bottom of the petition that they claim are being ignored by Wikipedia editors. Editors aside from myself have already explained why these exact links cannot be used on Wikipedia: explanation.
As for the harm that these statements are causing to my reputation, I think that is pretty clear: they are accusing me of very serious crimes that I have not committed. My photograph, full name, and social media links are being posted publicly on this petition which claims I am extorting “global organizations”. I have already been a target of internet harassment in the past, and do not wish to endure more.15
Thank you, – Molly White
“Defamation.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. April 18, 2020. Web. April 18, 2020. en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Defamation&oldid=949709274 ↩︎
This is not an insult against Mr. Monster, but rather a fact that has been stated in reliable sources such as this Huffington Post article which writes, “[Monster is] quick to cling to disinformation and conspiracy theories.” ↩︎
“Those edits would have been people trying to unwind the catalog of nonsense populated by ‘Gorilla Warfare’ which of course is none other than YOU – Molly White – with your warped obsession about unpersoning anyone who does not fit your Satanic worldview. #Busted #CaseClosed” – Rob Monster, Twitter, August 11, 2019 (link, archive link) ↩︎ ↩︎2
“The timing is also bizarro: https://wikimediafoundation.org/news/2018/10/15/george-soros-invests-future-free-open-knowledge/, https://variety.com/2019/digital/news/vice-media-250-million-debt-funding-george-soros-1203205076/ Do you think just possibly people might follow the money?” – Rob Monster, NamePros, April 17, 2020 (link, archive link</a) ↩︎
“Within a week everyone will know of your correspondence with Taylor Soper, Monica, the coordination by the Southern” Intelliname, Wikipedia, April 17, 2020 (diff) (note the sentence was cut off—I assume they are referring to the Southern Poverty Law Center, but I have no idea. I also don’t know who “Monica” is.) ↩︎
Page history of the Epik article, showing I was not involved with the edit war with Intelliname, and did not edit the article until hours after they were blocked. ↩︎
“If I would have been in usa I have definitely asked this question from gorilla after finding him in his house” – barybadrinath, NamePros, April 17, 2020. Preserved in a screenshot here, comment itself edited after the commenter was called out by others on the NamePros thread. ↩︎
“It seems a deliberate attempt to defame epik and it’s owner through paid means…. I request honest leadership of Wikipedia to stop this paid witch hunting against Epik.” – Barybadrinath, Wikipedia, April 18, 2020 (link); Comment too long to quote here, by 220.127.116.11 (signed “XXX”), Wikipedia, April 18, 2020 (link) ↩︎
“At this point a $200 million dollar lawsuit will be the least of Wikipedia’s worries as it relates to public exposure… By Tuesday, Wikipedia’s foundation will find millions of dollars in support cut off, and beyond that the scales of justice will have their legal say. Nice job Molly.” – 18.104.22.168, Wikipedia, April 18, 2020 (link) ↩︎
“Signed and shared to Facebook:” – Rob Monster, NamePros, April 18, 2020 (link, archive link, archive Facebook screenshot link) ↩︎
“It is from your own Wikipedia editor profile so I guess you will have to ask your other personality about that one.” – Rob Monster, Twitter, (link, archive link) ↩︎
“It seems they banned my ip. I am not able to answer further to gorilla there on Wikipedia with more links” – barybadrinath, NamePros, April 17, 2020 (link, archive link) ↩︎
“Retry your post – you haven’t been blocked on the block log.” – NameShiba, NamePros, April 18, 2020 (link, archive link) ↩︎
This is fairly easily verified, including in a talk given by the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation in October 2016 (transcript) ↩︎