Thursday, December 16, 2010

Full Report: HuffPost's facilitation and protection of Community Moderator "foxinretreat"

Continued from the introduction to, and summary of this report, here


(1) March 2010: HuffPost's early enabling of user "foxinretreat," to engage in vile hate speech based on race, sexism, homosexuality, etc. --- and its censoring and banning of users who complained, and attempted to object


HuffPost's facilitation and emboldening of "foxinretreat" did not start with the open threats and solicitations of murder that it consciously decided to publish, starting in October 2010.

Like wayward children who are subject to no limits for their errant behavior, "foxinretreat" learned that not only were there no negative consequences for his egregious, vulgar, clearly disturbed, pathological violations of HuffPost's Comment Policy. To the contrary, the only ones who paid a penalty were other users who complained, or attempted to object to or mock him --- whom HuffPost routinely censors and bans.

Since September 2009, HuffPost has allowed this him t
o violate its Comment Policy and Terms of Service at will. Note that its rules claim:
"We do not tolerate ad hominem attacks of any kind... or speech that is otherwise vile....we do not allow off-topic comments... hate speech... racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, or other intolerance... comments that criticize others based on physical appearances or mental characteristics... comments that celebrate the death, illness, or personal loss of any person..."

In fact, many if not most of the "comments" that HuffPost
reviewed, approved and decided to publish from "foxinretreat" at this time (and since) involve vile attacks on other users and public figures based on race, homosexuality, ethnicity, etc. The screencap at right is representative of hundreds of his comments during this time, against conservative women --- calling Sarah Palin "a lowlife white trash skank."

Yet no matter how many times one hits the "Flag as Abusive" button under such posts, and no matter how many times one writes complaint emails to HuffPost, it does nothing to stop users such as "foxinretreat."

This stands in sharp contrast to the fact that in a test we conducted, that proved that when a conservative attempted to post the same the exact same words that HuffPost allows allows radical leftists to post against conservative women, HuffPost almost instantly banned him.

Here is one example of how HuffPost protects and emboldens "foxinretreat," and bans users who attempt to challenge him, from March 2010.

HuffPost was once again deciding to publish "foxinretreat's" ad homimen attacks on Liz Cheney. At 9:31am, it reviewed, approved and decided to publish his "comment" calling her a "lying skank."
At 9:33am, another user, "TholianWeb," questioned whether "foxinretreat" would have the courage to voice such vile ad hominem attacks to Liz Cheney's face:

By 9:36am --- three minutes later --- HuffPost had removed "TholianWeb's" comment, but left "foxinretreat's" ad hominem attack posted:

And within a few more minutes,
HuffPost banned "TholianWeb" altogether. This is probably one of the reasons why, on March 7, 2010 --- one day later --- "foxinretreat" openly thanked HuffPost's management for enabling him to engage in such abusive behavior, and for getting rid of "trolls" who speak out against him:

As is documented below, this is the pattern that has continued throughout 2010.

At this time, in March 2010, HuffPost had reviewed, approved and decided to publish 9,619 "comments" since September 2009, on average, more than 1,500 per month:

As you'll see below, however, over the next seven months, HuffPost:
  • Promoted "foxinretreat" to become a "Community Moderator"
  • Allowed "foxinretreat" to post another 12,000 "comments"
  • Repeatedly reviewed, approved and decided to publish "foxinretreat's" open threats against, and calls for the murder of notable public figures --- and even protectees of the U.S. Secret Service
  • Continued to censor and fast-ban users who complained, or attempted to attempt to speak out against "foxinretreat"


(2) September 2010: HuffPost promotes "foxinretreat" to be a Community Moderator


Comment Policy states:
"The responsibility of each of our staff moderators is to publish appropriate comments and delete inappropriate comments."

At some point between March and September, HuffPost decided to elevate "foxinretreat" to be a Community Moderator. This is demonstrated by the following ad hominem attack against Sarah Palin that HuffPost allowed "foxinretreat" to post on the page dedicated to commemorating September 11:
"Sarah Palin is a 9/11 grifter whore skank..."


(3) October 2010: HuffPost begins allowing "foxinretreat" to repeatedly threaten, and solicit the murder of notable public figures --- while censoring and banning users who complain, and attempt to speak out against him


By October 1, 2010, HuffPost had allowed "foxinretreat" to post another 9,000 "comments" in the previous six months (right). According to numerous HUFF-WATCH sources, "foxinretreat's" comments were becoming increasingly violent, and HuffPost was allowing him to practically "live" on its site for 8-14 hours a day, every day, posting 80-150 comments.

On the evening of October 1, we were able to capture significant evidence of these facts. But to fully appreciate their gravity, one must view them in the context of three things:

  • HuffPost's Comment Policy claims:"(W)e do not allow... speech that advocates or supports hatred or unlawful violence (or) threats of violence or threats to anyone or any group's personal safety..."
  • It is a felony to use the Internet to threaten the president, vice-president, or other protectee of the U.S. Secret Service (18 U.S.C. 871), to threaten another person (18 U.S.C. 875), to do these things while hiding behind a fictitious identity (47 U.S.C. § 223), and to solicit others to commit a crime of violence (18 U.S.C. § 373).
  • It is also a felony to knowingly allow one's website to be used for the commission of other felonies (47 U.S.C. § 223(a)(1)(C), 2006)

    See details of federal law in Sections 3, 4 and 5 here.

As shown at right, at 11:10pm on October 1, 2010, HuffPost was holding back six other comments in "Pending" (where it reviews and decides whether or not to publish them). Yet HuffPost reviewed, approved and decided to publish "foxinretreat's" open urging for the murder of the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, Jamie Dimon:
"Time to hang Jamie Dimon"
(JP Morgan Chase is a major HuffPost advertiser. Do you think Mr. Dimon knows that JPMC's advertising dollars are going to help facilitate this madness? You might consider letting him know about this, and the other outrageous things JPMC helps to facilitate at HuffPost. See more of what JPMC is visibly linked to supporting, and learn how to contact Mr. Dimon, here.)

Eleven minutes later,
at 11:21pm, HuffPost reviewed, approved and decided to publish "foxinretreat's" open urging for someone to disclose Karl Rove's home address, and murder him and Vice President Cheney:
"Time to reveal Karl Rove's home address, and take down the Cheneys.

"I'm serious, as radical as I sound."

Interestingly, as documented in Sections 4 and 5
here, the federal courts have determined that the government does not need to prove that the person issuing the threat had either the means or intention to carry it out, to win a conviction. Yet "foxinretreat" made it clear that his threats are "serious" --- and HuffPost decided to facilitate them.

A HUFF-WATCH operative, "NoShanSC," began repeatedly flagging "foxinretreat's" threats --- meaning that he hit the "Flag As Abusive" button beneath them:

Note that HuffPost's
Comment Policy states:
"We also invite our community members to flag inappropriate comments. Our staff moderators pay close attention to our community's flags."

As shown in the bottom left frame, at 11:21pm, "NoShanSC" notified "foxinretreat" and other users that he was flagging him. In response, another "Community Moderator," "ClevelandChick," notified "NoShanSC" that he was being flagged in return. What's interesting to note here is that HuffPost began blocking "NoShanSC's" comments --- starting with his response that he wasn't the one who'd openly threatened to murder Rove and Cheney (right frame):

At 11:34pm, HuffPost reviewed, approved and decided to publish "foxinretreat's" claim that as a result of his postings against Cheney over the past several days, his computer had been compromised --- and that in response, he's going to "destroy" Rove. Note also that in response, "NoShanSC" indicated that "foxinretreat" is insane:
"I've posted a lot of anti-Cheney stuff over the past few days and my computer has been compromised.

"F U Rove, I'll destroy you. I'll destroy you Rove."

Within a few minutes of these posts being published, HuffPost
banned "NoShanSC," but continued to review, approve and decide to publish more and more threats and urgings of violence by "foxinretreat" on the evening of October 1, 2010, as shown in the his archive PDF:
"The banksters are going to die, good!"

"Pulseless Cheney is still alive. Why?"

"Grover Norquist
and Karl Rove days are numbered."

By 3:45pm on October 2, as shown in "foxinretreat's" archive PDF, HuffPost surgically removed a few of his threats and urgings of murder --- but decided to leave the rest intact.

HuffPost's facilitation of "foxinretreat's" urgings of violence against others continued, unabated, throughout October --- as did its efforts to censor and ban users who stood against him.

At 10:06am On October 26, HuffPost
reviewed, approved and decided to publish:
  • "foxinretreat's" claim that any conservative ("teabagger") who attempts to distribute political literature on private property should be assaulted
  • Another "Community Moderator's" response, that such a conservative should be subject to "second amendment remedies"

Having observed this, a few minutes later, a HUFF-WATCH
operative created a new account as "BO Knows," and at 10:36am, he responded to another "foxinretreat" open justification of physically assaulting peaceful conservatives, by asking, "Been insane long?"

As shown below, by 10:57am, HuffPost banned "BO Knows" --- but left "foxinretreat" free to continue posting his calls for violence.

According to our evidence and sources, "foxinretreat's" comments and behavior was becoming more and more violent and erratic throughout October and November, yet HuffPost continued to facilitate all of it, while continuing to censor and ban users who complained, and attempted to speak out against him.


(4) December 1-8, 2010: HuffPost facilitates "foxinretreat's" escalating threats and solicitations of murder


By December 2, as shown in the screen at right (sponsored by Godiva Chocolates), HuffPost had reviewed, approved and decided to publish 21,743 "comments by "foxinretreat."

Apparently, due to the protection that HuffPost provides him, to violate its policies (and possibly federal law), "foxinretreat" seriously ramped up the frequency and severity of his threats and urgings of violence against numerous public figures, who now included:
  • Presumed Speaker-elect John Boehner (who, in January, will begin receiving Secret Service protection, as he'll be two heartbeats away from the presidency)
  • Charles & David Koch
  • Glenn Beck
  • Vice President Cheney
  • Karl Rove

Also, note that the picture that appears at the side of "foxinretreat's" comments (called an "avatar" at this point, from an indistinguishable photo, to a picture of a woman. This means nothing to us, because a user can put up any picture they want --- and it is for this reason that we will still refer to the user as a "him."

Here are some of the open threats and solicitations of murder that HuffPost knowingly permitted "foxinretreat" to post, over at least a six-hour period*, on December 2
(*see PDF below for more examples and permalinks):
“Time to cut Bohners knees to the bone, destroy him [...] kill the drunk before he destroys us.”
(Do you think the CEO of Weight Watchers is aware that it appears as if her firm is supporting these threats? You might contact her and ask.)

“Time to kill the Kochs and Boehner,
before they destroy us.”
(Do you think the CEO of Nikon is aware that it appears as if his firm is supporting these threats? You might contact him and ask.)

"Off them now. Time to take down the Kochs.
They are a cancer on society. Here's where you can find them..."

(Do you think the CEO of CapitalOne is aware that it appears as if his firm is supporting these threats? You might contact him and ask.)

I support this post. Civil unrest now!!"
(Do you think the CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods is aware that it appears as if his firm is supporting these threats? You might contact him and ask.)

"KILL others
cause hell is too hot to run. Brothers because we can. Let's off them now!!!"
(Do you think the CEO of Discover Cards is aware that it appears as if his firm is supporting these threats? You might contact him and ask.)

Below is the PDF of part of "foxinretreat's" archive from December 2, containing his most recent 25 comments --- many of which were direct and indirect threats, and solicitations of murder. This all occurred on HuffPost's top threads at the time --- where the attention of its army of staff moderators is primarily focused at any time.

02Dec10 FIR murder Boehner etc - 6 hrs -

As shown in the screencap below, at 3:56pm on December 3, HuffPost had 62 comments in
meaning it was reviewing them prior to publication or rejection, on this thread --- about employers:

At about the same time (3:00-4:00pm), on the same page
HuffPost decided to once again begin publishing "foxinretreat's" open calls for civil violence --- starting with the murder of one of the Koch brothers:
[...] "An offed Koch brother might get their attention."

And when another user warned "foxinretreat" that if he acts on his threats, that he may be the one on the receiving end of violence, "foxinretreat" responds that he
"can't wait for the opening shots being fired":

On December 8, HuffPost continued posting "foxinretreat's" open calls for the murder of Vice President Cheney the Koch brothers:
"I think Cheney and the Koch brothers are guilty of worse, and should be taken out." "The Koch brothers are going down."
(Do you think the CEO of Nationwide Insurance is aware that it appears as if his firm is supporting these threats? You might contact him and ask.)


(5) December 9-14, 2010:
HuffPost continues facilitates "foxinretreat's" threats and solicitations of murder --- then bans another user who complained, and attempted to speak out against him


On December 9, a HUFF-WATCH operative, "GOPtakesover2011" began attempting to confront "foxinretreat" over his incessant threats, and solicitations of murder. The following exchange took place on a thread dedicated to a thread dealing with a group of billionaires who are committed to giving away large portions of their wealth. Apparently, "foxinretreat" felt so confident that HuffPost would protect him, that he openly challenged "GOPtakesover2011" to try to stop him from making such comments:
foxinretreat: "Class warfare and citizen unrest is here... no stopping it now."

GOPtakesover2011: "Sure there is. Just gotta get people like you to stop calling for it."

foxinretreat: "Try to stop me, child."

GOPtakesover2011: "You realize that if you'd stop boycotting your haldol-lithium-thorazine cocktail, you might be able to rejoin society someday, right?"

Over the next few days, GOPtakesover2011 got into several more skirmishes with "foxinretreat." Whenever he saw another threat or solicitation of murder, GOP would flag the post. HuffPost did nothing to "foxinretreat," but instead decided to ban "GOPtakesover2011":

(Do you think the CEO of Staples is aware that it appears as if his firm is supporting HuffPost's policy of publishing these threats --- and banning users who object? You might contact him and ask.)


(6) Was this all an isolated incident? Did all these egregious violations of HuffPost's "policy" --- if not the law --- "accidentally slip through," as it likes to claim when other outrages are exposed?


To the contrary, we have a mountain of proof that shows that since late 2007, HuffPost has consistently
enabled, protected and emboldened users (all radical leftists) ---- some of whom it later made "Moderators" --- to post threats against:
  • Other users and their children
  • Notable public figures
  • Secret Service protectees, including a sitting president

We've compiled deep profiles of many of these incidents in this previous special report:
HuffPost's protection of the most egregious violators of its "policies" --- and its banning of non-violators, on a minute-to-minute basis

"Highlights" of this report include:
"kevenseven" HuffPost allowed this user to repeatedly brag that he was interviewed in his home by the Secret Service for his repeated threats against its protectees, on HuffPost. Yet instead of banning him, after innumerable complaint emails and flags, it enabled and protected him to post at least 20,000 more "comments" over eighteen months. At the same time, it repeatedly banned other users --- some, instantly --- who dared voice opposition to his stalking, threats against their children, obscenity, etc. See a summary here, and a detailed report here.

"postman606" HuffPost allowed this user to claim that President Bush "should be put up against a wall and shot" (right), and make innumerable other threats and racist comments. Although it eventually banned him, within hours it allowed him to return as "postman66," and in less than a year, it had allowed him to post another 35,000 comments --- while it banned users who dared speak out against him. HuffPost then made him a Moderator. See detailed report here.

"OnTopicOffTopic" (aka "rampage") For at least the past three years, HuffPost has been allowing this user to (a) openly threaten other users, (b) post graphic homophobic insults and descriptions of sexual acts, (c) essentially "live" on the site for 10-16 hours a day, every day, and (d) obsess over other users. On numerous occasions --- including on the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion --- it also allowed him to "hijack" "news" threads, in order to challenge other users to fist-fights, and to claim that he was going to put the other user in the hospital. In several instances, this included identifying the specific place and time to meet. HuffPost's reaction to innumerable complaints and flags? In April 2010, it made him a Moderator. See a detailed report here.




Aside from the feeling of shock and revulsion you may feel after reading all this, the situation at HuffPost is actually far worse than this isolated snapshot would indicate. Because it isn't simply a matter of a few users (and now, Moderators) whom HuffPost allows to poison the "civility" that it publicly claims it strives to nurture.

To the contrary, to know HuffPost is to know that there are approximately 80-100 radical leftists that it allows to "live" on the site, day in and day out, violating its "policies" at will. And if it were merely an environment akin to children acting out without any parental supervision, that would be bad enough. But in this regard, it's actually worse, too --- because HuffPost knowingly, deliberately and pathologically rewards and protects the worst-of-the-worst. In doing so, this sets the bar progressively higher, for which one of them can exceed the previous one's outrageous behavior --- while they erupt in glee at the fact that HuffPost will censor/ban any user that dares to speak out or mock them.

Apparently, HuffPost believes it can continue to engage in this behavior because so far, the public --- and its advertisers --- have remained unaware of what it is really facilitating on its "comment" pages.

Part of the reason why we've researched and documented this in such great detail is because we're deeply concerned that if HuffPost is allowed to continue facilitating and protecting its environment of hate, threats and solicitations of violence, its actions (and inactions) are eventually going to lead to someone getting hurt, or killed.

If you share our concerns, we urge you to do three things:
(1) Make your voice known to HuffPost's senior management and investors here

(2) Write or call one or more of HuffPost's top advertisers, to let them know your thoughts on what their ad dollars are enabling. You might start with the advertisers who appear to be supporting HuffPost's culture of threats, specifically pertaining to "foxinretreat":
  • CapitalOne, Richard D. Fairbank, Chairman & CEO, (703) 720-1000; The Capital One EthicsLine: 866-785-9735,
  • Dick's Sporting Goods, Edward Stack, CEO, 724-273-3400, General inquiry form here
  • Nationwide Insurance, Steve Rasmussen, CEO, 614-249-7111, Nationwide's Office of Ethics and Business Practices page, phone: 1-800-453-8442;
  • Staples, Ronald L. Sargent, Chairman and CEO, 508-253-5000, General inquiry form here

(3) Forward the link to this report to others that you think should be aware of it

You should also read our special report on "Online Threats and Stalking," and if you witness or are victimized by either on HuffPost (or elsewhere), immediately contact the appropriate law enforcement agency.

As for us, after publishing this report at HUFF-WATCH, we will be forwarding it to the F.B.I. and Secret Service (info here). Perhaps one or both of these agencies will find sufficient cause to read HuffPost's management "the riot act," and advise them of what legal consequences they may face if it's found that they're in violation of 47 U.S.C. § 223(a)(1)(C), 2006 rev. (knowingly allow one's website to be used for the commission of other felonies).


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