A network of men who work in French media has been accused of using a secret Facebook group called the “LOL League” (Ligue du LOL in French) to plan ways to ridicule and harass women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community, according to BuzzFeed News. Hundreds of victims of the group recently came shared their stories via Twitter.
A videographer named Florence Porcel accused one of the Facebook group members of pretending to be an editor-in-chief and interviewing her for a fake position at a “prominent” French news organization. He then posted audio of the the interview on SoundCloud. David Doucet, editor of Les Inrocks, has admitted to being the member in question.
Slate France contributor Lucile Bellan accused the group of “systemic harassment that undermined her confidence as a journalist,” according to BuzzFeed News. Bellan later wrote a piece outing another LOL League member, the current editor of Slate France Christopher Carron.
“Over the years, the LOL League has become a terrifying kind of hydra,” Bellan wrote. “If we decided to never collaborate with people who had been connected to all of this, it would have been easier to just change jobs.”
Another journalist, Mélanie Wanga, tweeted “that she was chased off Twitter by the ‘LOL League’ in 2013.” She also accused a group of “cool girls” in the French media who protected the group and facilitated a progressive public persona for the group.
La Ligue du LOL, c'est ce qui m'a poussée à quitter cette appli en 2013. C'est quoi ? A l'époque, une team de fringants journalistes qui s'adonnaient au harcèlement comme à un sport, avec pour cibles des féministes, des personnes LGBTQ et racisées. https://t.co/bp9cB9gViG
— Mélanie Wanga (@babymelaw) February 8, 2019
French marketing manager Benjamin LeReilly wrote a Medium piece accusing the group “of anti-gay and anti-feminist harassment that started eight years ago and has gone on for years.”
Most of the news organizations the LOL League men belong to skew liberal, including the Libération, Les Inrocks, Slate France, and Télérama.
The secretive group was publicly outed when Slate France journalist Thomas Messias tweeted about a “model reporter” who “used to have fun in a pack of feminist stalkers,” according to BuzzFeed News. Apparently many in the French media had been aware of LOL League’s existence since the beginning, and many knew Messia’s subtweet was referring to the group.
Libération journalist and LOL League member Alexandre Hervaud replied to Messias’ tweet to say he didn’t know who Messias was referring to, calling it a “brave subtweet.”
Pas sûr de qui vise ce courageux subtweet, mais il illustre bien l'aigreur paradoxale de certains militants zélés : ils veulent changer la société, mais ne digèrent pas qu'une personne en particulier puisse vraiment changer – forcément trop suspect, trop tard. https://t.co/mvDK0q20QD
— Alexandre Hervaud (@AlexHervaud) February 5, 2019
Twitter user @IrisKV then tweeted to Hervaud, accusing him of harassment and citing the “LOL League” by name.
BuzzFeed News reports the group was created in 2009 by a now-Libération journalist Vincent Glad and began as a “shitposting space for people in French journalism and advertising who were popular on Twitter.” Glad on Monday posted a statement on Twitter, apologizing for the group and calling it “a monster that he had lost control of.”
Je vous dois des explications. Et surtout des excuses. pic.twitter.com/UajOC0bi0h
— Vincent Glad (@vincentglad) February 10, 2019
In the wake of LOL League’s exposure, three journalists were suspended, one resigned, and one was fired, according to BuzzFeed News. The existence of similar groups that include men who work for Vice France and HuffPost France has also been revealed.
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H/T BuzzFeed News