Users on the notorious troll home 4chan appear to have targeted a nonprofit organization that focuses on suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth.
As noted Tuesday by Alex Kaplan, senior researcher at the progressive media watchdog Media Matters for America, users from 4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” imageboard claim they’ve purposely flooded a crisis hotline operated by The Trevor Project with fake self-harm claims.
A post announcing the plan refers to The Trevor Project as “groomers,” a term often used by the far-right to falsely equate LGBTQ people and their supporters with pedophilia.
The user who launched the campaign openly states that the goal is too overwhelm the nonprofit’s crisis hotline in order to cause LGBTQ youth to “commit suicide due to being unable to receive assistance.”
The post, which is filled with racial and homophobic slurs, also encourages users to waste The Trevor Project’s resources by providing false location information.
The original thread on 4chan appears to have been deleted or removed, although it’s unclear whether that was by the user or by 4chan. A second thread on the harassment campaign was recently archived and no longer accepting new posts, but is still visible online.
In a statement to the Daily Dot, the Trevor Project said that “The act of attacking a crisis services line intended to prevent suicide among young people is egregious. Our crisis counselors work around the clock to be there for LGBTQ youth who feel like they have nowhere to turn, and it’s harrowing that anybody would attempt to compromise our lifeline or encourage suicide.”
However, 4channers were attempting to do just that.
“Go on the chat, phone or type lines and say you are going to commit suicide or are being bullied etc,” the post reads.
Numerous users responded in kind, sharing screenshots of their conversations with crisis hotline workers. Many of the chats include racist comments.
Another screenshot showed a notice on The Trevor Project’s website shortly after stating that “wait times to reach a counselor are higher than usual.” Users on 4chan reacted to the possibility that their effort had bogged down the nonprofit by celebrating.
One user, using an anti-transgender slur, even stated that they would “be pleased” if the campaign had caused a single transgender person to be unable to get help.
“LGBTQ youth are at significantly increased risk for suicide—not because of anything inherent about their identities, but because of the stigma, bullying, violence, and discrimination that they face,” The Trevor Project said in response to the campaign. “The incident of users on 4chan who maliciously planned to overtake our crisis lines today is exactly the kind of mistreatment and abuse that contributes to heightened suicide risk. Alarmingly, our research has found that every 45 seconds, an LGBTQ young person attempts suicide. Every second counts when you work in suicide prevention, and we strongly condemn this intent to obstruct our lines and create even more barriers for LGBTQ people who rely on our help. We are working diligently in the face of this disruption to protect our counselors and those youth who need us.”
The incident comes just days after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was swatted twice at her home by individuals who claimed to be transgender. The claims appear to be linked to an online trolling campaign from another notorious message board aimed at harassing the transgender community.
4chan, though, isn’t alone in demonizing The Trevor Project. Prominent far-right Twitter accounts, like Libs of TikTok, have also claimed the organization was “grooming” in its efforts to help LGTBQ youth struggling with suicidal ideation.
Other posts from Libs of TikTok have also inspired previous harassment campaigns. This past month, children’s hospitals around the nation were targeted with threats in the wake of claims from the far-right Twitter account.