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‘This message is not a confession’: Was this notorious troll network led by teenagers?

'Being a trans person in the U.S. is so scary right now.'

 

Claire Goforth

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Posted on Feb 8, 2024   Updated on Feb 10, 2024, 9:42 am CST

This article has been updated.

Even when it was Twitter, X was one of the more toxic places on the internet. It’s only gotten worse since Elon Musk opened the floodgates to bigots, trolls, and hate mongers—many of whom had been suspended under previous management.

For much of last year, many transgender and nonbinary people on the platform were systematically terrorized by a group led by an account known as ValidLs. The anonymous account was dedicated to denigrating trans people, including by mocking the deaths of transgender teens. At its height, ValidLs had over 100,000 followers. It was monetized and the accountholder claimed to have made thousands from the platform.

ValidLs led a dedicated following who would go after anyone they posted about. Trans and nonbinary people said they were doxed, swatted, and slandered by what they describe as a network of trolls. There were reports of accounts getting hacked by ValidLs’ supporters. One even made a site on the dark web offering bounties for personal information about one of their targets.

Was all this the work of teenagers?

Multiple sources told the Daily Dot they believe that ValidLs themself and many of their most ardent acolytes are teenagers. Some of their targets are teens, too, which supports the theory that ValidLs’ network was a bunch of kids, as bullies tend to go after people in their age group. In years past, bullies smeared their victims on bathroom walls or targeted them with petty acts of vandalism and assault (think wedgies and spitballs), so it makes a certain kind of sense that the youth of the digital age would weaponize the internet instead.

Nineteen-year-old Jade is a YouTuber who goes by Blue Folf or simply Blue. On YouTube, she describes herself with a bit of wry humor as “a dumb furry just trying to make funny content.” She often posts video and images of her fursona and shares about her life as a trans woman.

The joy and openness that characterizes Jade’s content has made her popular online, particularly on X, where she’s currently closing in on 100,000 followers.

Malicious attacks by people in ValidLs’ orbit nearly made her quit the platform last year.

In November, Jade told the Daily Dot that the network began targeting one of her friends last February. She recalled waves of trolls posting cigarette emoji as code for a homophobic slur. Neither thought much of it initially, she said. After all, trolls are part of the online experience, particularly for LGBTQ people and their allies on Musk’s X.

“At the time we ratioed them,” Jade said.

The attacks continued for months. Jade said her friend decided to quit X in April to escape the abuse. By then, she was also being targeted by the group.

“They got this person to create fake screenshots of me grooming a minor on Discord, Discord messages I never sent,” Jade said. “None of my followers believed it and I called ValidLs out.”

It escalated from there, she said. She was doxed. Then the network contacted her parents and told them the lie about her grooming a minor.

In the following months, Jade said her Discord was hacked, someone pretended to be her in an email to the cops threatening to blow up FBI buildings, and photoshops of intimate photos of her that they somehow attained through nefarious means started circulating online.

“It was f*cking terrifying,” Jade said.

People urged her to sue or contact the authorities about ValidLs or whoever was behind the attacks. She would ultimately pursue both options. Neither option worked out, in part because of the anonymity of ValidLs and their followers.

ValidLs celebrated the attacks on Jade.

In Body Image

Jade was far from the only person targeted by the network of trolls.

Shreds the wolf (@edgyfox99) is a transfem furry in her mid-twenties. Last fall, Shreds told the Daily Dot that someone she believes is affiliated with ValidLs had spent months harassing her.

“ValidLs has mentioned me before a few times but not as often as @killuahyper she has [been] non stopped harassing me and making up lies about me for over 2 months,” Shreds said via direct message. “She’s doxxed several of my online friends and swatted 3-4 people.”

The account, @killuahyper, no longer exists.

After publication, one of ValidLs’ purported associates, Rose, said that the killuahyper account was run by a 15-year-old named Kasey.

Another transfem furry told the Daily Dot that they were viciously targeted by ValidLs and their network. The teen, who requested anonymity out of fear of further abuse, said it began after she spoke out against ValidLs. She was just 17 at the time.

She said ValidLs’ supporters doxed, harassed, and falsely accused her of having illegal content.

“After I turned 18, I posted inappropriate media of myself online. Unfortunately, someone had saved it before I deleted it. This fell in the hands of ValidLs’ associates,” she said.

Someone created a website to dox her and other trans people, as well as spread rumors about her that were a blend of fact and fiction, she said. It was accessible on the surface web and she had to contact the web host “multiple times” to get it taken down.

“They also wrote about the time I did fake my death to try to get someone to think I died so they would stop harassing me because they would think I was dead,” she admitted.

“That unfortunately didn’t work and only made the whole group harass me more. It was all a big mess.”

ValidLs goes down

In October, ValidLs was suspended after the Daily Dot reported that they’d mocked the death of a trans child who’d died by suicide. They were reinstated that same day.

On Telegram, ValidLs bragged that they they knew someone at X via their friend Rose, implying that this employee intervened to get them unsuspended. Via email, a person who identified themselves as Rose told the Daily Dot that it was actually ValidLs who had a friend at X. She did not provide any proof to substantiate this claim.

Being once bitten for trolling the child’s death did not make ValidLs twice shy.

Weeks later, they urged their followers to attend their funeral.

That day, X suspended them again. This time it stuck.

Following publication, Rose said that ValidLs was suspended for impersonating other accounts and violating X’s policies against distributing explicit content involving minors.

Since then, multiple similar accounts have popped up on the platform. Most have been quickly suspended. Some believe ValidLs has been behind the accounts, others that their followers are simply trying to fill the void left in the account’s wake.

The suspension may have inspired ValidLs to give up on being a troll.

Just after they were suspended, a person who said they were Rose posted as ValidLs on Telegram to claimed that ValidLs was “taking a break” for an indefinite period of time.

Minutes later, the same account posted in the first person, “I might be facing an arrest and probably pretty long jail time,” adding, “This message is not a confession.”

In Body Image

They also claimed police were looking for evidence against them for laundry list of crimes including tax evasion, cyber crimes, identity theft, inciting violence, and possessing, distributing and manufacturing schedule I and II controlled substances.

They wrote that their lawyer estimated they “might be facing 10 years in jail, more specifically in Northeast Correctional Complex in Tennessee.” Due to the investigation, ValidLs said they’d turned the reins over to Rose.

Once again, they bizarrely concluded by noting that the post was “not a confession.”

In Body Image

News of ValidLs’ possible arrest sparked a celebration among the many people who reviled the account. “A ValidLs L is a Valid W,” wrote one. Another said, “Lmao he got ROLLED.”

A few urged caution, however, and for good reason. ValidLs had a reputation for posting bait for engagement and trolling. Many of their claims also didn’t make much sense. For instance, they urged their followers and foes to turn their mugshot into a meme—but no one knew their real name or even what they looked like, so how would anyone be able to get the mugshot?

The amount of prison time they claimed to be facing was another obvious hole in their story. Several of the many crimes ValidLs said police were investigating them for can be penalized by 10 years or more apiece in Tennessee, where they said they might be incarcerated. If convicted on all or even just multiple charges, they’d likely receive a significantly longer sentence than 10 years. And it’s pretty unlikely that a lawyer would offer an estimate of how much time a client may serve before charges have even been filed.

It’s also practically unheard of for police to inform the subject of an investigation that they’re looking for evidence against them because it could compromise the case.

Further, because inmates aren’t assigned to a correctional facility until after they’re convicted, there’s no way that ValidLs could know where they’d serve time in the event of a conviction.

Via direct message on X, a person believed to be Rose said that ValidLs was in fact arrested, but said it was in Texas, not Tennessee. Rose declined to provide any evidence to confirm this.

Irrespective of whether a ValidLs mugshot meme party is forthcoming, one thing remains certain: They’re gone or their reach is so thoroughly diminished as to render them irrelevant. Either way, this feels like a win to the many people who say they were hurt by ValidLs and their network.

A week before they were suspended, Shreds told the Daily Dot, “What they’ve been doing has to stop. It’s literally disgusting they’ve been getting away with everything they do.”

The mystery remains

ValidLs may be gone, but questions remain. Most importantly: Who are they? Many have tried to figure out who was behind the account without success.

Most believe that two things are true about ValidLs: They have some tie to Kiwi Farms, as a member or passive consumer of content, and they’re a teenager. Neither has been confirmed.

Last year, ValidLs posted victoriously about making it to the front page of Kiwi Farms, so they were obviously aware of the site, even if only as a passive consumer of content. It may surprise some to learn that users of the notorious doxing and trolling site, which also frequently targets trans people, weren’t overly impressed by ValidLs.

Archives of posts show that a few Kiwi Farms users thought ValidLs was amusing. More thought the account was a cringy ripoff.

“ValidLs skims kiwifarms for content to regurgitate as their own,” a user wrote on the site last year. Another said they were “honestly f*cking pathetic” and “would never be a true Kiwi Farmer.”

Some even felt that attacking deceased trans children was a bridge too far. One said urging people to attend the funeral of the trans teen was “unfunny, disrespectful, and plain evil.”

Of the drama ValidLs instigated online, another user wrote, “It’s children fighting other children.”

Jade believes that ValidLs was part of a “huge network” that’s “definitely on the younger side.” She said that one of the key players in ValidLs’ orbit was a minor.

“They were apparently only 17 and their parents learned about this and they haven’t been on the internet since,” she said.

This individual’s handle matches a username associated with a dark web doxing site that offered bounties for private information about her.

There are rumors as to ValidLs’ real identity, and it’s widely agreed, though not confirmed, that the account was run someone who is male. No one has definitively uncovered their identity, however. And some of the rumors are believed to have been started or encouraged by ValidLs themself as red herrings.

Their name may remain a mystery, but most do believe that ValidLs and much of their network were a bunch of teenagers.

ValidLs’ associate Rose is also reportedly a minor. Rose, which also may be a pseudonym, has alleged in recent months that ValidLs blackmailed her into doing their bidding. She declined to evidence to verify this claim. The person who runs the X account believed to belong to Rose told the Daily Dot that she is 16 and said that her association with ValidLs began when she was 14.

“I was pretty much the only doxer involved, I have had a background in cybersecurity since I was 12,” Rose said. She said ValidLs also worked in cybersecurity. She said that following his arrest, she refocused her efforts on going after known predators. Rose declined to provide information to confirm the arrest or contact information for ValidLs or their lawyer. “I’m not willing to share it since I do not want him to be martyred,” she wrote via email.

In the months since ValidLs was suspended, multiple knockoff accounts have popped up on X. Most just as quickly were booted from the site, changed handles, or simply vanished. None have amassed anything approaching the kind of following that ValidLs had before their suspension.

No one may ever know who ValidLs really is or what led them to quit trolling.

Perhaps being a transphobic troll was just a phase they’ve since outgrown. Maybe their grades were slipping and their parents took their phone away and disabled the Wi-Fi. It’s at least possible (though much less likely) that the cops showed up, as ValidLs claimed, and they decided the thrill of abusing strangers on the internet isn’t worth the price of potentially going to jail or a juvenile delinquent detention center.

No matter what caused their prolonged absence, one thing is true: No one seems to miss them.

When ValidLs was permanently suspended in November, one person wrote, “The kid is a heartless scummy coward.”

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*First Published: Feb 8, 2024, 10:00 pm CST