Joshua Scott Albert likes to kick the proverbial hive, except he does so with the click of a mouse.
He’s best known as the creator of Kill Mitt Romney, a short-lived Facebook page that caused national headlines late last month. But that’s far from the first inflammatory content posted by the 26-year-old blogger.
"I try to get a reaction out of people, and I try to push boundaries and make people kind of question things, and the reaction has been insane,” Albert told the Daily Dot.
Albert first gained online notoriety via his blog, Staphmeal.com, which he used to anonymously and profanely call out restaurants in the Philadelphia area that allegedly mistreated their employees. In one such post, Albert accused restaurateur Stephen Starr of “rap[ing] his employees” by taking a portion of their tips.
In September 2011, Georges Perrier— another restaurateur in the Philadelphia area— filed a lawsuit against the site after he was accused of being a racist. As a result, Albert stepped forward publicly in an interview with Eater, but that didn’t stop his exploits. It just changed his focus.
Albert started trolling the Philadelphia Police Department, creating a Facebook page in support of Chancier McFarland and Rafael Jones, two individuals who reportedly shot and killed Philadelphia Police officer Moses Walker, Jr. on Aug. 18. According to Albert, he created the page after noticing that several individuals were leaving hateful and racist comments on a Facebook post on the Philadelphia Police Department’s page.
“I saw how much money had been thrown at them, at the reward money,” Albert said. “And I saw how fast they had a lead on these two guys. The city was just in an outrage. They valued one life over another.
“I made this page as a joke. It was naturally made to piss people off.”
The response against Albert was overwhelming and immediate. A counter page, Remove the Cop Killers Support Page, was created on Aug. 25. It garnered 20,000 likes and prompted Facebook to take down the Albert’s page. (Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities prohibit the post of content that is “hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.”)
Before that happened, a couple of police officers broke the golden rule for dealing with online harassers: Don’t feed the trolls. Their threatening remarks on Facebook were promptly published as screenshots on Staphmeal.com.
Then Albert celebrated by posting a picture of his penis on the site.
His real coup, however, came with Kill Mitt Romney, a barebones Facebook page Albert created that contained nothing more than an image of the Republican candidate and a one sentence description. It started as a joke, but when he posted a link to it on the now-defunct page, I Support Chancier McFarland & Rafael Jones, the blowback was undeniable.
Like his previous effort, a counter Facebook page quickly emerged and prompted action by Facebook, which pulled the plug on the account. Albert chalked it up as another victory.
“Every piece of white trash Republican has really shown their hand on this matter,” he said
Following the surge of media exposure, Albert published a post proudly highlighting the articles written about him. He also added fuel to the fire by revealing that in addition to Kill Mitt Romney, he had also created pages advocating for the murder of Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and—wait for it—baby seals.
Traffic for his site has skyrocketed from the attention. Prior to creation of his first Facebook page, Staphmeal.com’s averaged between 1,000 to 2,000 unique visitors a day. Since then, those figures have jumped to 10,000 to 15,000 visitors.
But the end goal isn’t pageviews, Albert claimed.
“It has nothing to do with attention,” he said. “If you’re going to print anything, I would like that. It’d be nice.
“I do like bringing attention to police brutality and police misconduct. I am a rather liberal person, so why not make fun of some Republicans?”
When I suggested via email that he was trolling people just for lulz, Albert didn’t necessarily deny it.
“ You say ‘troll’ like it’s a bad thing,” he wrote. “I personally think trolls are pretty fucking cool.”
Photo via Joshua Scott Albert