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A popular information security Facebook group called illmob is splintering after news detailing sexist comments led members to begin reporting one another to their employers.
The closed Facebook group made headlines late last month after some members blamed certain activists and women for the cancellation of hacking conference DerbyCon.
In a statement on the shuttering, the DerbyCon team partially blamed the growing need “to police people’s beliefs, politics, and feelings” as opposed to focusing solely on hacking. Illmob members argued that the statement confirmed their suspicions, although the hacking conference has denied the claim.
After Motherboard’s Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai highlighted numerous remarks disparaging specific women, Will Genovese, who founded the illmob hacking group that inspired the Facebook group’s name, released a lengthy response criticizing the coverage.
“This was never about illmob being misogynists,” Genovese wrote. “They wanted to twist it to make it seem like posts about the few women who caused drama and fake the funk in the scene were us including all women.”
Genovese further argued that illmob was focused mostly on infosec-related news but admitted that the group also “talked shit” about people who members felt caused drama or were “frauds.”
Since the fallout, the group has started to fray as members argue over how to deal with the incident. Twitter account @illm0b, which sprung up a few days after the scandal erupted, has been tweeting the names of members and screenshots of their comments to their employers.
The campaign from @illm0b has led at least one company to reply, stating that an investigation would begin after an official complaint was filed. It’s unknown whether or not any company has taken disciplinary action thus far.
According to Motherboard, the Facebook group included employees from companies such as Facebook and Intel as well as former Amazon and Uber workers.
The @illm0b account has also released a member list of the closed Facebook group. The list, however, has led to even more disagreements among current and former group members. In a Facebook thread on the issue, one former member argued that merely belonging to the group does not imply involvement or support for the troubling behavior. Others responded by arguing that those who did not speak up were guilty of helping to perpetuate the issue.
Those in the thread noted though that they had yet to see a case where a member who did not actively participate in the group was targeted.
The illmob Facebook group has since seen its numbers drop as members leave or are purged by administrators. Whether the debacle will lead to change—either positive or negative—remains to be seen.
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.