A Rare Federal Indictment For Online Threats Against Game Industry

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California has sought and obtained an indictment against a young man named Stephen Cebula for sending online threats to Blizzard Entertainment, the freakishly successful powerhouse behind the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo games as well as many others. The case is notable because it's so rare: there's so much threatening behavior online, and so little of it is addressed by the criminal justice system.

Stephen Cebula seems overtly disturbed. The search warrant for his home and subsequent criminal complaint tell a tale of him engaging in bigoted trash talk with other players on the Blizzard game "Heroes of the Storm," ranging from racial epithets to comments like "I will kill your family bitch" and fantasies about raping a child at Disneyland. Blizzard suspended Cebula's ability to communicate with other players. Cebula — perhaps tutored in law and political theory on Reddit, or by Milo Yiannopoulos — saw this as an outrageous violation of his freedom. He used his Facebook account "tedbundyismygod1" to send two threatening messages to Blizzard:

Careful blizzard … I live in California and your headquarters is here in California …. You keep silencing me in Heroes of the STorm and I may or may not pay you a visit with an AK47 amongst some other "fun" tools.

You keep silencing people in heroes of the storm and someone who may live in California might be inclined to "cause a disturbance" at your headquarters in California with an AK47 and a few other "opportunistic tools" …. It would be a shame to piss off the wrong person. Do you not agree blizzard?

Thus Cebula stood up for all the depraved manchildren of the internet who believe they have a moral right to squat on other people's property and yell "nigger" at passers-by.

Anyway, Blizzard reported the threats to the FBI. Since it was mega-corporation Blizzard calling — and not any one of the hundreds or thousands of Americans without lawyers and IT departments and security teams who get such threats every day — the FBI investigated, and quickly found Cebulba through his Blizzard account information at IP address. They discovered records of a 2015 incident in which he surrendered to Sheriff's deputies after making threats to kill someone at a park and to kill his sister, overweight people, and "various others that did not meet his specific views." He was committed for a 72-hour period then. The affidavit also suggests that he was in the system as a juvenile for threats.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint linked above — which is a brief addendum to the search warrant affidavit — notes that the FBI found Cebula at home, Mirandized him, and questioned him. Cebula admitted, among other things, that he intended to scare the people at Blizzard he had threatened and that he had looked things up like Blizzard's location in order to make his threats more credible. He also talked about his fantasies of violent assaults on children and of sexual assault of his five-year-old niece who lives in his home.

After his first appearance, Cebula was detained without bail based on the court's finding that he's a flight risk and a risk to others and bail conditions can't manage those risks. The court particularly took into account his suicidal and homicidal ideation. He's represented by the Federal Public Defender, who will likely do a good job for him. They already launched a creative and aggressive, if futile, attack on the indictment on the grounds that Cebula and Blizzard were both in California and thus the threats did not involve interstate commerce as required by the federal threat statute.

Cebula is charged with making threats under Title 18, United States Code, section 875. That's the same statute that was at issue in the Supreme Court's Elonis decision last year. Elonis concerned the intent the government must prove to convict someone under Section 875. Everyone agrees that a threat — to be outside the protection of the First Amendment — must be objectively threatening. That is, the government must be able to prove that a reasonable person would take it as a genuine expression of intent to do harm. The remaining question is whether the defendant must intend for the statement to be taken as a real threat — that is, whether there is also a subjective test. The Supreme Court didn't fully resolve this, suggesting that the government must prove at least that the threatener was reckless as to the impact of his or her threats, but not deciding whether there must be specific intent to threaten. In the meantime, most federal prosecutors are proceeding on the assumption that they must prove subjective intent.

Both subjective and objective intent can be more challenging to prove in the context of the internet, where insincere trash talk is so common. Here the prosecution has the benefit of Cebula's statements to the FBI admitting the elements of the offense by admitting that he intended to scare people at Blizzard. That statement makes even an insanity defense very difficult, because it suggests he understood the nature and quality of his acts and the impact they would have on people.

This is an ugly case. It's ugly because it's about untreated mental illness. It's ugly because for every corporation like Blizzard that gets federal law enforcement attention in an incredibly rare threats prosecution, thousands of individuals without such power and influence live in fear of Cebula's moral and intellectual ilk. It's ugly because I guarantee you that Cebula has fans. That's what online culture is like.

Edited to add: Naturally most media covering this reports that he's facing "up to five years in federal prison," which is indeed the statutory maximum. As I often discuss, the statutory maximum has very little relation to the actual probable sentence. The recommended range under the United States Sentencing Guidelines — which will be the starting point for the judge, who may go above or below — is likely about 10-16 months before any credit for a guilty plea.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. Fluke Hawkins says

    While small comfort to those already passed over, it's a start. Hopefully not a one-off.

  2. Mercury says

    I don't know that Milo Yiannopoulos has ever threatened anyone online or otherwise.

    Also, has there ever been an instance of a video game player following through on a threat of physical violence? That might have some bearing on Title 18/875 enforcement.

    That said, I have no problem with Blizzard (or Twitter) booting pretty much anyone off their platforms as they see fit. In case there is any confusion maybe some part of the criminal justice system should clarify this perogative to private enterprise (and that the system has their back) and also to the public generally that full-metal, 1st ammendment protections don't necessarily extend to private venues, actions that are technically "editing" are not censorship etc.

  3. Argentina Orange says

    Ah yes, a mentally ill individual with years of criminal behavior IS JUST LIKE MILO amirite?

    Class. Act.

  4. says

    @AO:

    No, he's just like people — in fact he is people — who mock, minimize, and apologize for such conduct.

    Imagine this scenario: I ban this dude from the Popehat comments. The dude sends those messages to me. I post about them.

    What are the chances that Milo and his followers are supportive and sympathetic, as opposed to calling me a pussy and that's the internet and get over it and I'm a censor?

  5. Lewis Baumstark says

    To be fair, a threat against Blizzard is a threat against the several thousand people they employ (around 9000, if you believe Wikipedia). I'm not saying this *isn't* a case of the FBI fawning over Big Company (because it probably is), but it does make a certain amount of sense, when you look at the numbers, to favor a case that protects that many potential targets.

  6. BecomingAndi says

    Thanks for covering this; I was hoping it would cross your desk.

    It made me wonder about this: We know that most threats on the internet are just bluster. We also know that some are not. How does that play into objective intent? I mean, sure, any given threat is probably not an actual threat, but it might be and there's no way for the threatened party to know.

    The last sentence in the paragraph beginning "The affidavit in support…" is odd.

  7. arity says

    So the long and short is that he made an effort to make his threats credible and then was mad when the law man determined that his threats were credible? That's real special right there. That is quite an individual is what that is.

  8. Argentina Orange says

    @KW, Esq.

    Here's the thing: you linked the two people. You did that. Unlike the Ted Bundy thing, which was just this guy leaving sticks lying around for other people to beat him with.

    This is not the first time you've gone explicitly guilt by association, not by a long shot. Heck didn't you write out in black and white that GG = Roosh V = GG?

    Milo and his followers

    Oh, I'm sure that for a carefully selected definition of "Milo and his followers" (especially the "and his followers" part) you could make that case. I'm sure that we could make a long and unflattering comparison between you and Mike Nifong. I'm sure that by only vaguely-carefully selecting from your commentariat and twitter BFFs we could paint you as a horrible guy desperately living out his childhood dream of being a playground bully.

    Has Milo threatened anyone at twitter? I know you're on a first name basis with at least a couple of members of the Trust and Safety Committee, so you might be in a position to know.

  9. says

    @AO: Your reading comprehension about what I was comparing is poor, and I think this discussion is unlikely to be productive. But to the extent you think I hold Milo and his fans in contempt, you're right.

  10. Argentina Orange says

    @KW Esq.

    No, I understand what you are claiming you are trying to compare.

    But I was pointing out that the prejudicial aspects of your comparison were vastly greater than your probative.

    And that you really like saying "this thing I don't like is similar (in a partial way) to this thing that is orders of magnitude worse."

    That last part is probably ungracious of me.

  11. says

    @AO:

    Really?

    Okay.

    So. When I noted that Cebula was upset that he was banned from communicating on the game for racist trash-talk and (in that context, probably) mock threats, and I suggested that Milo would sympathize with that sentiment, you think that's unfair?

    If, immediately after being banned for racist trash talk, Cebula posted something complaining, do you think that Milo would support and sympathize, or not?

    Do you think it is unreasonable to read Milo and his supporters as suggesting that Cebula's conduct on Blizzard (as opposed to his later deliberate threats) were no big deal, part of the internet, something people should shrug off, not something that should lead to bans?

  12. Argentina Orange says

    @KW Esq,

    to be more clear:

    Thus Cebula stood up for all the depraved manchildren of the internet who believe they have a moral right to squat on other people's property and yell "nigger" at passers-by.

    Is something you make up completely out of whole cloth. Did this guy declare "Blizz silencing me is like Twitter silencing Milo!" Did he set himself up as a symbol of free speech and anti-corporate resistance? No he did not. The idea of him "standing up" for anything is a creation entirely of your own.

    You are drawing a connection between two things you dislike — a connection that does not exist outside of a particular ideology.

  13. says

    Yes, it was a rhetorical flourish, not literal.

    If he had expressly complained online, do you think Milo followers would have supported him, or shunned him?

  14. Argentina Orange says

    So. When I noted that Cebula was upset that he was banned from communicating on the game for racist trash-talk and (in that context, probably) mock threats, and I suggested that Milo would sympathize with that sentiment, you think that's unfair?

    If, immediately after being banned for racist trash talk, Cebula posted something complaining, do you think that Milo would support and sympathize, or not?

    Do you think it is unreasonable to read Milo and his supporters as suggesting that Cebula's conduct on Blizzard (as opposed to his later deliberate threats) were no big deal, part of the internet, something people should shrug off, not something that should lead to bans?

    One of these things is not like the other…

    For the parts that are similar, I am not sure about how Milo would react. I'm not sure what he really believes in, other than luxury hair care products and as many lage black penes as he can fit inside himself at any give time. But as far as his current persona, Blizzard silenced wacko guy (that is, removed his chat channel) they didn't close his account, did they? I think Milo2016 would be a little more politically savvy than to champion an overtly racist guy. He doesn't retweet Stormfront, does he?

    As for that last part, yes he'd probably say "The internet is rough, wear a helmet." Or perhaps "use your ignore list."

  15. tweell says

    Mr. White, you're being called out on tarring Milo with the same brush as Cebula. Are you claiming that Milo Y. has written such things as killing families or raping children? That's what I find unreasonable, and as you noted, that was before his threats against Blizzard.

  16. Argentina Orange says

    Yes, it was a rhetorical flourish, not literal.

    It was a rhetorical flourish to make someone you don't like seem even worse than he really is. You do this sort of thing for a living.

    If he had expressly complained online, do you think Milo followers would have supported him, or shunned him?

    I think "Milo followers" is a hopelessly reductive concept, and not a category that actually exists as a unified entity in real life.

    Also: bad formatting on the last response, my people, proofreading, etc.

  17. says

    @tweel: No, I'm not saying that Milo has made threats like that (though it wouldn't surprise me if he had). I'm saying that, to make money, he's an apologist for a broad range of such conduct and a mocker of anyone who complains about it.

    Jesus Milo fans are delicate.

  18. Argentina Orange says

    Long live you to think so.

    It is statements like this that make me wonder just how subtle you really are.

  19. C. S. P. Schofield says

    "It's ugly because I guarantee you that Cebula has fans. That's what online culture is like."

    OK, hold it. It isn't as though people pouring undeserved adulation over repulsive pustules was limited to the internet, or even rare elsewhere. What about academic idiots wearing "Che" shirts, the continued career of Al "If I were White and this racist, I'd be a Grand Dragon" Sharpton, or a hundred other revolting cultural phenomena? And that's sticking to OUR culture.

  20. Argentina Orange says

    I'm not generally associated with subtlety. Could you be thinking of Patrick?

    Pish Tosh.

    Saying that you could be confused with Patrick is like saying Debbie Wasserman-Schultz could be confused with Angus.

  21. Mercury says

    @AO & KW

    The day after Milo was banned from Twitter he was on CNBC agreeing that Twitter had every right to ban him (2:20) although he also didn't have much of an answer RE: a quote from his own Op-Ed written a few years ago claiming that the internet was not a human right and that "trolls" should be banned from Twitter (which may or may not have been delivered with a certain amount of tounge in cheek). http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/20/

    Here's a follow up interview on CNBC yesterday: http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/07/27/milo-cnbc-twitter-battleplan/

    I see Ken's point about Milo but generally I think that on balance, Milo is a force of Good particularly for highlighting out how gays are now subordinate to muslims in the Left/Democrat victim hierarchy, the idiocy of the SJW movement and the increasing insanity surrounding Europe's response to muslim violence.

    That said it would behoove Milo to realize that when you get in the mud with pigs, you typically end up soiling yourself one way or the other.

    It's hard for me to parse the difference between "tweets" and "retweets" with a straight face but I think Milo also has a point that retweeting an ugly remark isn't quite the same thing as tweeting an ugly remark and far worse behavior than his has been tolerated by Twitter (and the MSM in general) in the past – more or less in relation to the person's position on the abovementioned victim hierarchy.

  22. Agammamon says

    Thus Cebula stood up for all the depraved manchildren of the internet who believe they have a moral right to squat on other people's property and yell "nigger" at passers-by.

    A man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth yell at black people on the internet.

  23. Cactus says

    This comment thread is a great example of why Milo was banned, while he isn't a threat to anyone he sure as hell manages to inspire people to make annoying sovereign citizen esque treatises about him. He encourages people to send messages that are just grey enough that we can argue all day over intent while someone undeservedly wonders if some nut is actually about to kill them / swat them or just has become obsessed enough to try and drive them out of their job.

    Unless he ever gets arrested (which I doubt), there is nothing conservative or pro-free-speech about defending him.

    On the main story though, I still don't quite get the "subjective test" part, surely the "objective threat" is enough? If you email in an imminent bomb threat to an airport the damage is done as soon as they believe it's real. If they think it's a joke, then it's not an objective threat in the first place. If it is an objective threat then surely by that same average Joe standard it's intended as one?

    I don't understand how there could be a situation in which a jury could see a message being received as credible, but not see sending that message as credible.

    The other way round is an issue too. Suppose someone sent a message that wasn't taken as an objective threat at the time, but then actually did kill that person, could they then be charged with it?

  24. says

    Yikes. I hope he gets the help he needs. And I hope he gets it somewhere where he's not a danger to anybody else.

    If he's really got the kinds of mental issues that he seems to, then a prison stint isn't going to help him (inasmuch as it helps anybody). It may well be that he needs to be locked up for reasons of public safety, but I wish our system was better-equipped to handle cases like his, and the challenge of long-term rehabilitation in general.

    ETA: Wow, a couple of commenters are sure upset about a parenthetical aside briefly mentioning Milo (as well as Reddit), in the limited context of questionable understanding about what "silencing speech" actually means. Aren't comments sections fun? Comments sections are fun.

  25. Agammamon says

    Cactus says

    surely the "objective threat" is enough? If you email in an imminent bomb threat to an airport the damage is done as soon as they believe it's real. If they think it's a joke, then it's not an objective threat in the first place. If it is an objective threat then surely by that same average Joe standard it's intended as one?

    In that case there's no ambiguity on the part of 'objective'.

    But what if you're talking to a third party on the internet and one of you says that you'd like to feed so-and-so into a woodchipper and that so-and-so finds out? Would she be reasonable or unreasonable in taking it as a threat?

    This is where the subjective requirement comes into its own. Its not enough that someone *feels* threatened, your intent is important (so important that most judges assume that there's a proof-of-intent requirement in every law unless its explicitly stated otherwise).

  26. Brian Z says

    You do this sort of thing for a living.

    WTF, Ken! I thought you were a working lawyer who blogged occasionally. I demand a refund.

  27. Mercury says

    @Cactus

    I suppose the ultimate conservative position in this context is to simply demand more civility and better manners as traditionally defined (something that Milo is at least capable of when he wants to).

    That and bringing back dueling as an acceptable practice for defending one's personal honor and restraining the besmirchment of others'.

    Pistols at dawn bitchezz!!!….I mean,…my good sir, and the choice of weapons shall be yours….

  28. En Passant says

    Ken wrote:

    Everyone agrees that a threat — to be outside the protection of the First Amendment — must be objectively threatening. That is, the government must be able to prove that a reasonable person would take it as a genuine expression of intent to do harm.

    What a relief! I can't be prosecuted for my ongoing threat to activate my pentaneutronium-neutrino collider to squeeze the universe into a ball and roll it toward some overwhelming question.

  29. SlimTim says

    They already launched a creative and aggressive, if futile, attack on the indictment on the grounds that Cebula and Blizzard were both in California and thus the threats did not involve interstate commerce as required by the federal threat statute.

    I assume CA has laws against true threats. What is the advantage in charging him under federal law? Does it have a harsher sentence?

  30. Bob says

    Naturally, En Passant, since pentaneutronium doesn't exist, and the Supreme Court's longstanding precedent of judging objectivity by the reaction of your average reasonable particle physicist.

  31. Paradigm Spider says

    I've long since grown tired of trying to distinguish between threats and "rhetorical flourishes", for all the minimal fucking difference there actually is.

    As far as I'm concerned, anybody who feels the need to inject that sort of shit with their presence online deserves to deal with the dogs of the law on their heels. Perhaps a modicum of suffering would suffice to inculcate civility.

  32. Jack B. says

    You know, Ken, the Popehat offices are in California, so you had better watch what you say about Milo. Someone might show up with… hurt feelings.

  33. Aaron G. says

    I don't know man. Blocking him from Blizzard services is more than fair but I'm still iffy on the law being involved in online communications of any type. I'm not even worried about any sort of "Slippery Slope" style argument, I just want a magical virtual playground where any speech is free (even what probably shouldn't be).

    But times are changing, whatever, I guess I'm just an old fogey.

  34. says

    I stopped reporting bigotry on video games years ago. Typing in racial/homophobic/anti-Semitic epithets and yelling them in voice chat is the norm these days. At any given time on Team Fortress, I have half the players muted. These types of douche-bags usually have multiple Steam accounts, so banning them doesn't seem to work. It takes much of the fun away from gaming.

    So, I applaud justice coming to visit the worst of the worst.

  35. says

    If people would only interact on the internet with others as if they were in a face to face conversation.

    There are some people who don't understand this principle and are the type who would go into someone's home and shit on their couch…just sayin'

  36. Southern Radical says

    I used to assume that Mr. White was probably a pretty decent fellow, but now that it seems obvious that he's somehow captured the Argentinian Orange and forced them to post here against their will–well, I might have to rethink my position.

    I mean, why else would someone subject themselves to something that obviously makes themselves so unhappy?

  37. BadRoad says

    @Cactus

    On the main story though, I still don't quite get the "subjective test" part, surely the "objective threat" is enough? If you email in an imminent bomb threat to an airport the damage is done as soon as they believe it's real. If they think it's a joke, then it's not an objective threat in the first place. If it is an objective threat then surely by that same average Joe standard it's intended as one?

    I don't understand how there could be a situation in which a jury could see a message being received as credible, but not see sending that message as credible.

    The other way round is an issue too. Suppose someone sent a message that wasn't taken as an objective threat at the time, but then actually did kill that person, could they then be charged with it?

    Years ago, Cartoon Network placed Lite-Brites (or similar devices) in several major metropolitan areas to promote their show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force". The transit authority for one city (I forget which) mistook them for bombs. Clearly they were not intended to be perceived as bombs, since that's a terrible way to promote a television show. Then there was that kid with the clock last year, who told everyone who would stand still for two seconds that it was a clock. The school administration thought he intended for it to resemble a bomb, but it seemed to a lot of people that he intended for it to resemble a clock. So that's at least two real cases that might be able to pass the "objective threat" test but not the "subjective threat" test.

  38. MelK says

    "the Government need only provide facts showing probable cause that the threats were in fact transmitted in interstate commerce. " and "The representative performed these functions using a Blizzard computer, in Texas …"

    but "… a Blizzard computer-service representative and company Facebook moderator, based in Austin, Texas, received a complaint ticket generated from the video game…."

    This would indicate that Blizzard was the party that invoked "Texas", rather than Cebula. If this is sufficient to invoke "Interstate Commerce", would it not also be sufficient – were the customer service rep in, say, Iceland – to invoke jurisdiction in Iceland? Why would there be any special Interstate Commerce magic just because the company retransmitted the threats across state lines? Like if my neighbor Joe threatened me and I asked my niece one state over to look into it for me?

    Isn't that as tenuous as simply declaring "because internet"?

  39. Argentina Orange says

    Isn't that as tenuous as simply declaring "because internet"?

    I believe the preferred phrasing is "because Wickard." Sometimes abbreviated as "FYTW."

  40. SJE says

    Can the state drop criminal charges and pursue mandatory hospitalization and treatment?

    You are right that the underlying problem seems to be mental illness or a social-cognitive disorder such as autism. Autism spectrum often shows up with social blindness, and lack of a full understanding of the real consequences of actions. Treatment takes time, and structure that it not going to be solved by jail.

  41. Trent says

    Yet another example of why you don't talk to the FBI. The kid is a jackass but the beauty of Form 302 is that it doesn't matter what he meant, what the FBI interprets he said is religiously documented on Form 302 and will be used against him in court.

    See the beauty of Form 302 is that just like the internet it doesn't get sarcasm, innuendo or meaning beyond that physical words. They gleefully transcribe words onto paper without any context and suddenly you said something you didn't actually say.

    Ken you should use this as a prime example why you should never ever talk to the FBI without a lawyer and a "tape" recorder running (the FBI will refuse to interview with a recorder running because you can't use innocent statements against someone when the context is preserved along with the bad behavior of the interviewer). This kid is quite the jackass and probably deserves some involuntary psychological assessments and maybe even another involuntary commitment but he doesn't deserve what the court and FBI is going to do to him.

    Remember folks, don't ever talk to the FBI.

  42. Paradigm Spider says

    Au contraire. Shitbiscuits like this guy and his ilk deserve exactly what the court is going to do to him, and they deserve it to happen more often.

  43. says

    Also, has there ever been an instance of a video game player following through on a threat of physical violence? That might have some bearing on Title 18/875 enforcement.

  44. MelK says

    Au contraire. Shitbiscuits like this guy and his ilk deserve exactly what the court is going to do to him, and they deserve it to happen more often.

    The lawsuit against the shitbiscuit of today is the precedent against Mother Innocent tomorrow. Don't let your disdain of horse apples blind you.

    Even if horse apples ARE the product of The Pony.

  45. SJE says

    @ParadigmSpider: I'm no bleeding heart, but whether we think this guy "deserves" serious punishment, what is the long term result and solution? If, as we suspect, he has serious cognitive and/or psych issues, a criminal charge will only make his permanently unemployable and more likely to hold a grudge, and will not address the underlying problem. There is an epidemic of undertreated psych issues in the USA, so lets try to fix that. It would be cheaper than jail.

    For me, the tell is that he appears to recognize what he did, but may not recognize its broader social context. Classic autism, and treatable.

  46. tehy says

    Ken's hateboner is really showing.

    I am a Milo fan, and I don't defend just about any of the conduct of this guy. My one reservation is that I prefer more freedom of chat, but I fully understand why anybody running an online game would feel the need to shut down people who behave in this fashion, and after all they only muted him from speaking. I think Milo would ultimately side with you if that guy posted stuff like that, real, credible-sounding threats with knowledge of your location and an AK-47.

    A few other points: BadRoad, not that it's relevant to the point you were making, but you can take a look at Maher's explainer of why that kid was clearly doing something more than just "making a clock" ; he basically bought a clock and reassembled in in a suitcase, then put on a timer. In my eyes, he was trying to scare people, and maybe be all defiant like "you thought it was a bomb just because I'm a Muslim and it looked like a bomb BUT IT WASN'T" and as much as I kind of get that, firstly I think he's reacting to something that doesn't exist nearly as much as he would think, and secondly it was still a really, really stupid thing to do.

    I'm torn on whether or not he deserves it. It's tough to say if he is, as one person so eloquently put it, a "shitbiscuit", or if he's just severely mentally disturbed. (Clearly, he is to some extent mentally disturbed, just saying though.)

  47. Jacob H says

    @Luckypatcher

    Yes – "swatting". There have been dozens of instances. I know it's not exactly what you mean, but I think that sending assault teams to a person's house in the hopes that they get killed by an officer with an itchy trigger finger fits the definition of violence.

  48. Anon Y. Mous says

    Blizzard suspended Cebula's ability to communicate with other players. Cebula — perhaps tutored in law and political theory on Reddit, or by Milo Yiannopoulos — saw this as an outrageous violation of his freedom.

    If you are really interested in analyzing Milo's legal maneuvers, here is your chance: Milo Files Legal Claim to Get Twitter to Release Data About His Banishment from the Network

    Probably won't be as much fun as taking offhand snarky swipes at him in stories that have nothing to do with him, though.

  49. Scott Jacobs says

    If you are really interested in analyzing Milo's legal maneuvers, here is your chance: Milo Files Legal Claim to Get Twitter to Release Data About His Banishment from the Network

    Facebook has, to my knowledge, no obligation to release any such data. Milo will be left to sit and sputter.

    And, thankfully, he'll not be doing it on any parts of the internet I frequent.

  50. Southern Radical says

    I'm somewhat confused about how what Cebulus said isn't considered a credible threat–it's like out of a bad mob movie. If someone where to leave a message like that on your answering machine, would that be more credible? Just because it's "on-line" it's less threatening?

    He essentially said, "I'm going to get a gun and shoot up Blizzard headquarters." In a country where it is very easy to get a gun, and where shootings are fairly common. I don't see how an employer of a large number of people would be able to ignore something like that. It would be irresponsible.

  51. pharniel says

    @Luckypatcher Gamers going batshit is a very old tale. Richard Garriot in the Days of Yore had a dude break into his house. Most people are too lazy to do anything but it only takes the one to ruin your life. And that's the crux of the issue for the victim – there's is no way to distinguish between "read a gater piece, saw a milo article and decide to engage in a little harmless crowdsourced internet terrorism as part of the 'op' instructions on pastebin" and "took the time to lookup addresses, plan an assault route and secure a weapon."

    Given what the threats entail you only need to be wrong once to not be, or in the case of a company to lose people who work for you.

  52. Anon Y. Mous says

    @Scott Jacobs

    Facebook has, to my knowledge, no obligation to release any such data. Milo will be left to sit and sputter.

    Reading, it's fundamental. You didn't click the link, did you?

    Milo Yiannopoulos has formally requested that Twitter supply the personal data the company has on him as the fallout over his ban from the social network intensifies.

    The conservative provocateur has invoked Subject Access Request, a European law obliging Twitter to release the data the company has on him in its office in Ireland, within 21 days of the request being filed.

    Oh yeah. We are talking about Twitter, not Facebook.

  53. A.Nagy says

    Okay a few differences between Twitter/HoTS. Twitter is a platform for people to speak their minds, HoTS chat is a platform to help facilitate teamwork. You don't even have to be doing death threats to get chat banned, if you are a toxic shit head enough times you will receive a temporary chat ban but Blizzard allows you to still communicate though pings(various effects on the map to signify things like run away/on my way/look over here). By Blizzard doing this it makes the game more enjoyable to play overall, which is the point of the platform to play a game. Most of Milo's fans are younger people like me who have played games like this extensively before and generally unless they are the ones that are getting repeatedly chat banned they are fully aware of the necessity of these actions and that HoTS is not a political platform.

  54. AH says

    A.Nagy

    To be honest, something akin to the 'pings' you mention is how you can communicate with your opponent in hearthstone. after seeing the effect it has, which is to make everything seem… nicer… (even when someone is razzing you, it comes off as more good-natured) I think I'd push everything toward that, if I could. It may not work as well with a more complex game like WoW, but I have to admit, I did like it in hearthstone.

  55. M B says

    @luckyPatcher has there ever been an instance of a video game player following through on a threat of physical violence?

    Elliot Rodgers made multiple internet threats and rants before he killed 6 people and injured 14, all because girls weren't paying attention to him.

  56. Dmitri says

    Also, has there ever been an instance of a video game player following through on a threat of physical violence? That might have some bearing on Title 18/875 enforcement.

    There have been a few gaming-related murders in China, at least. One had to do with cheating, and there was another where the victim had stolen some loot in an online RPG.

  57. A.Nagy says

    Elliot Rodgers made multiple internet threats and rants before he killed 6 people and injured 14, all because girls weren't paying attention to him.

    But those weren't follow-throughs from gaming arguments. I don't see how posting threads about girls ignoring him has anything to do with him playing videogames.

    To be honest, something akin to the 'pings' you mention is how you can communicate with your opponent in hearthstone. after seeing the effect it has, which is to make everything seem… nicer… (even when someone is razzing you, it comes off as more good-natured) I think I'd push everything toward that, if I could. It may not work as well with a more complex game like WoW, but I have to admit, I did like it in hearthstone.

    *Mashes Well Played while holding onto the card that will win the game until just before the turn timer runs out.

  58. Omnifrog says

    Is the RSS feed for Popehat broken? When I update the feed all I get is posts from 2015 :(

  59. tom rogers says

    I'm a retiree and PC gaming zealot. My only online gaming experience was solo'ing a Warrior to level 80 in WoW. Nowadays I just play open-world RPGs. Anyway, that is some scary stuff. I cannot fathom what goes through that guy's mind.

  60. tehy says

    To be honest, something akin to the 'pings' you mention is how you can communicate with your opponent in hearthstone. after seeing the effect it has, which is to make everything seem… nicer… (even when someone is razzing you, it comes off as more good-natured) I think I'd push everything toward that, if I could. It may not work as well with a more complex game like WoW, but I have to admit, I did like it in hearthstone.

    https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2016/04/29/escape-is-impossible

    If all I could say is "Nice", I would mean it ironically.

  61. Encinal says

    Ken, you wrote

    @AO:

    No, he's just like people — in fact he is people — who mock, minimize, and apologize for such conduct.

    You didn't quote bother including a quote of what you were responding to, which was

    Ah yes, a mentally ill individual with years of criminal behavior IS JUST LIKE MILO amirite?

    Class. Act.

    Following the standard rules of English grammar, the "he" in your post refers to the most recent subject, which is Cebula. So we can conclude that either you indeed were saying that Cebula is just like "people — in fact he is people — who mock, minimize, and apologize for such conduct", OR you instead meant to say that Milo is just like "people — in fact he is people — who mock, minimize, and apologize for such conduct", in which case criticizing other people for lack of reading comprehension when you are failing to follow basic rules of English grammar is quite odd. In addition, you seem to be completely ignorant of the concept of parallelism, as the most immediate parsing of "mock, minimize, and apologize for such conduct" is that it is shorthand for "mock such conduct, minimize such conduct, and apologize for such conduct". And again, just in case your try the stratagem of pretending that I am simply nitpicking, this is not a nitpick. This is pointing out that you are failing to clearly express yourself while accusing others of poor reading comprehension.

    When I noted that Cebula was upset that he was banned from communicating on the game for racist trash-talk and (in that context, probably) mock threats, and I suggested that Milo would sympathize with that sentiment, you think that's unfair?

    You didn't merely suggest that Milo would sympathize, you suggested that Milo would say that his rights had been violated.

    Jesus Milo fans are delicate.

    Has there ever been anyone that you didn't like, but you saw an attack on them that you thought was unfair, and so you objected to the attack? If so, isn't it rather hypocritical for you to refer to people as “Milo fans” based on apparently no evidence other than that they are objecting to an attack that they think is unfair?

  62. Sinij says

    So when corporate actor gets butthurt over online shittalking, armed men with guns show up. When regular proles get butthurt, business as usual.

    Not sure who is a good guy in this story, but I am 100% certain it isn't Blizzard.

  63. AH says

    I'm 100% certain Blizzard is the good guy.

    When you threaten to go get a real gun and start actually killing people, including posting the address of their offices and noting how close they are to you, that's not "online shit talking" that's "making a real threat." It's Illegal and you should go to jail for it.

    If you think that's normal, acceptable behavior, please seek help.

  64. David Lee says

    Let's try that again…

    Can somebody tell me WTF this is supposed to mean?

    "I see Ken's point about Milo but generally I think that on balance, Milo is a force of Good particularly for highlighting out how gays are now subordinate to muslims in the Left/Democrat victim hierarchy, the idiocy of the SJW movement and the increasing insanity surrounding Europe's response to muslim violence."

  65. Guy who looks things up says

    Milo is a force of Good particularly for highlighting out how gays are now subordinate to muslims in the Left/Democrat victim hierarchy, the idiocy of the SJW movement and the increasing insanity surrounding Europe's response to muslim violence.

    Hey, maybe this Milo guy should be Trump's Secretary of State. So much Goodness, Gooder than anybody else's Goodness except Trump, who, as we all know has the more Gooder Goodness than anybody else. Everybody says so. And it's all going to waste. So (all together now) sad.

  66. anne mouse says

    Sure, I've done plenty of freelance translation work, and I'm somewhat proficient in Internet-Ideologue.

    "I like Milo, because he says three things I agree with:

    – Leftists like to have a victim group they can defend against other groups. Recently this was usually gays, now it's usually muslims.
    – Social Justice Warriors are idiots
    – …

    The third is something about Europe's response to muslim violence, or about somebody's reaction to Europe's response? Always hard to know in political discussions, people often get worked up about about a response, or a response to a response, until the starting facts don't matter. Anyway, Milo said [according to Mercury, anyway] that something "surrounding" this situation [exactly who or why is not specified by Mercury, but I'm assuming Milo was more clear] was increasingly insane.

  67. David Lee says

    These "leftists" in the alt-right's head, are oppressing gays, because they care more about Muslims? Is this the new talking point? Something similar with "leftists keep blacks on the plantation with social programs" it appears. The delusions of grandeur from the alt-right knows no limits.

  68. Czernobog says

    @David Lee

    I'm guessing this is in keeping with an argument I've been hearing more and more recently, which is that since the culture of Muslim immigrants is tainted with homophobia, and the left aren't actively challenging them on these grounds, the left therefore exposes itself as being hypocritical.

  69. David Lee says

    What is the left not challenging? Is the left silent with (non existent) Muslim protests for restricting the rights of the LGBT community in America and Europe? Or is the left supposed to demand foreign countries like in the Middle East that are Muslim and not tolerant of many things, start changing their policies to be left-friendly to LGBT, or else? I do not see anyone on the right supporting the rights of LGBT either in the west or in the Islamic world. I see human rights groups supported by "the left" as the only groups calling out the restrictions of human rights of any regime that is anti-someone. It is like the right wing once again pretends to support some persecuted group, blacks, or now LGBT, and lectures them at how "the left hates you, come support our side, even though we do not see you as actual human beings worthy of any rights."

  70. Czernobog says

    Don't be childish. Of course Muslims aren't protesting to restrict the rights of the LGBT communities. What they do is simply restrict the rights of LGBT individuals within their communities.

    Just as the more extreme Jewish and Christian communities do, except it's mostly the Christian communities who get any stick for it.

  71. Moishe says

    Meanwhile, Obama's FBI did nothing about specific threats to George Zimmerman, which included, time, a means, and a place.

    Because I know Zimmerman personally, I reported some of these on-line threats myself, so I can vouch for the threat and the fact the FBI was notified.

  72. Curtis says

    That bit where you write about a man standing on somebody else's property shouting the n word struck me as profound because I suspect 100,000 lawyers would leap to sue ….wait for it……. The property owner.

    Wherever you stand on the question I don't doubt but that it happens everyday and now the property owner needs to hire a lawyer. What a flicked up legal system.