SPC Series Part II: Purpose & The Rules of Engagement

(Before reading this, check out SPC Series Part I: Introduction to Stop Porn Culture! Conference)

So what was I, a porn-positive, pro-sex-worker rights individual, doing at an anti-porn conference? I wanted to:

  • Listen. I wanted to hear about anti-porn thought straight from the horse’s mouth. Or, in this case, horses’ mouths; there were many presenters and their views were not 100% aligned with each other’s. I not only wanted to learn what they thought, but how they presented it, and why they thought that way. What better way to gain insights into all this, and what type of people attended this type of conference than by attending the conference myself? What better way to understand “their” tactics and thought processes than by walking among them and taking notes? What better way to address their concerns than to know exactly what those are, and the nuances of their production and dissemination? SPC promotes something similar from their end (though it obviously sounds less interest in dialogue than just learning about “the enemy,” but still)
    • “This isn’t for everyone, but it can be helpful to surf some porn sites every now and then to stay up on the pornographers’ latest tricks. Reading Adult Video News online (avn.com) and other news sites about the industry (xbiz.com) is helpful in understanding pornography.” 
  • Humanize “my side” and present at least one good face of sex/porn-positive activists and activism. Similarly, I wanted to humanize the anti-porn activists, because too often there is intense mudslinging at faceless enemies and we forget that, at the end of the day, these are all PEOPLE–individuals with lives, ambitions, and pressures. Need I remind people about the hate-mongering and vicious bulletins Donna M. Hughes (one of the presenters), Margaret Brooks, and Melanie Shapiro (both in attendance at the con) put out about Maymay and my/our events? They dehumanized us, and it was also easy to dehumanize them because all we could see was that they were The Bad Ones. I think if we all actively thought about our humanity more often, we would feel more empathy and there would be less douchebaggery out there from BOTH sides. Once someone can connect faces to a movement, faces they might relate to on some level, it makes it harder to easily and blindly spread hate + vitriol (not that it doesn’t happen, OF COURSE). It’s not about respecting other’s hatred; it’s about respecting others as human, and respecting their positive aspects (because no one is 100% bad). And if someone calls me naive for saying this, I will fucking scream; being respectful and realistically optimistic is not naive, so stop being an asshole kthxbai. Also, again, SPC has a “tip” regarding presentation-etiquette that I find relevant regarding this (emphasis mine):
    • “For the discussion after the slide show, come into the audience if possible so that you can stand near the questioner, looking the person in the eye and acknowledging them. Listen attentively to each question, even if you’ve heard it a thousand times.”
  • Ask insightful questions and correct factual inaccuracies if I spotted them & had the info to back it up. I wanted to make people at the conference THINK, and at the very least be slightly jolted if I asked a question they hadn’t thought about before. This purpose wasn’t entirely fulfilled because I only attended the second day, which was less lecture-heavy and apparently less tense, but I did speak my mind a few key times.
  • Give some semblance of a voice to pro-porn ideals in the midst of all the anti-porn people by speaking up. I wanted to show them that there were people who disagreed (& how), but were nonetheless interested in learning, interested in dialogue, interested in fostering some sort of understanding while still having their own agenda, values, and goals. Maybe some would even be inspired to attend OUR events as well! One can only hope.
  • Find the places of convergence and swim through the sludge to get at the ACTUAL concerns being clouded by thoughts of “porn is evil” so we could somehow address those and hopefully effect change regarding them. What concepts did both sides talk about most? What ideas did we share? Where could we build bridges? And at the same time, where did we have seemingly irreconcilable splits (and why)? Between this and listening, I think those were my main goals because they would be the most effective later.

What did I NOT do at the conference?

  • Try to radically change the minds of seasoned, extremely-anti-porn activists. 
  • Be rude! I didn’t name-call, glare at, condescend, or otherwise mistreat anyone.
  • Get into heated arguments.

To elaborate upon these points:

Some folks accused me of wasting my time trying to change the views of “leading anti-sex-worker extremists,” but that wasn’t my point. I wasn’t there to somehow magically & forcefully change their minds, especially when so many of the most “notable” presenters at the Stop Porn Culture! Conference have made careers out of their anti-porn stance. I was there for the MODERATES, for the audience, for those who have little information. (Sure, if you’re already attending this conference, it’s more likely that you’re leaning in the anti-porn direction, but still. There were definitely people there seeking information, who weren’t hardcore anti-porn folks) Y’see, this is another place where the pro/anti-porn people converge as well: we’re all out to get the moderates. It sounds predatory, but it’s true.

I’ve heard it countless times in both camps; we are not going to sway the loudest, most intense people from the opposition, but we can definitely sway those in the middle, or those seeking information. We may not be able to change the views of “leading anti-porn activists,” but the thing is MOST PEOPLE AREN’T LEADING ANTI-PORN ACTIVISTS. Most people are normal folks, who may or may not yet have opinions on “the porn debates,” but haven’t devoted their entire lives to it. These are the people we can inform and “win over” through mature activism instead of blind fury that only serves to alienate others and give credence to the anti-porn extremists who vilify us.

How do we engage with these people, though? The first thing we have to do is NOT BE ASSHOLES. I fucking hate it when people are rude and condescending. Thus, I strive to NOT do that to other people, and call them out if/when I see them doing it to others. If I’m ever condescending, it’s because I’m purposefully trying to be cruel, and I’m not particularly proud of that. Anyway. At the con, I firmly stood my ground, looked at people in the eye, smiled, and engaged. It’s bizarre to be in a room where most people have some views that are radically different from one’s own (esp. when they regard one’s entire LIFE and even personal safety), yes, but it’s not an impossible thing to tackle, especially with a support network. I had the fortune of not being personally disrespected (aside from 2 incidents with Donna M. Hughes, which I will blog about later, but that wasn’t surprising at all), and I found no excuse to be anything but respectful back (not that I was looking for one in the first place).

It’s not about “turning the other cheek” and taking violence with a smile, just begging for more. It’s instead about not resorting to the shady tactics of those we consider our enemies and STILL acting positively to further our goals. It’s about not being rude, about not debasing oneself to the practices we revile in others. It’s about minimizing harm and striving for ideal situations of engagement. Again: it’s not about being NICE or KIND or FRIENDLY; it’s about *NOT* being an asshole. The first demands an action; the other demands that one restrains from an action. 

To those that CAN be friendly with “the enemy,” more power to you. Like Rachel D. said, those who can be kind, should, but not everyone is required to do so. I, personally, am on the fence re: how I deal with “my enemies.” First of all, I don’t draw such neat lines, boxing some people as “enemies” and others as “allies.” I usually just draw big Venn diagrams, where everyone is a circle, and I can find our places of overlap/difference and then act based on those, not the entire circles, y’know? (Sounds kinda like “hate the sin, not the sinner.”) Secondly, I’m torn because I find pleasure in being kind to “mostly enemies” because I feel it’s a slap in the face to them and their ilk, and that it’s embarrassing for them in the eyes of other people. However, at the same time, I don’t want to even engage with them sometimes, because it’s hard to be positive and optimistic when people are threatening your life, livelihood, and entire…well, everything! Still, I usually strive for positive engagement and know that being a hostile little fuck won’t get me anywhere with them.

On the SPC website, I found a particularly pertinent tip. While they’re giving the tip so people can effectively present one of their antiporn slideshows, I think it applies to any person giving a presentation about which they feel passionate (emphasis mine):

It is important not to come across as overly hostile or aggressive, both while narrating the slides and when answering questions. It’s understandable that we feel angry and sad when we see these images, and it’s OK to let the audience see that. But remember that audience members (especially women) are in a very vulnerable place seeing these images for the first time. They need to feel like you have things under control. Also, by keeping your own emotions in check, you allow them more space to experience their own feelings and reactions.

I repeat: it’s understandable to feel angry and sad. Heck, it’s understandable to feel so utterly outraged and upset that you want to smash things/people with a hammer. However, it is my belief that we should strive to channel strong emotions (as they are definitely important catalysts!) into more practical and useful weapons for change. Furthermore, to quote Emma: “We need to be strong, mature advocates of our viewpoint. Disagreement doesn’t mean we can take others lightly.

Once again: I’m not against ANGER or people’s personal feelings, but I *am* against letting that anger result in vicious attacks that don’t do anything but alienate others, both on “our side” and “the other side.” I think it’s useless to go into a conference (or general situation) swinging the battle-axes. We need to listen and engage first so we can properly educate, demystify, and ACTUALLY create some positive change. We need to make our “enemies” respect us as people too, and hopefully get them to engage in the same way with us.

I think it DOES harm our causes of promoting a healthier sexuality, more open communication, sex-workers’ rights, gender-justice, size-positivity, anti-racism, and all other such worthwhile movements when we act with condescension, disrespect, and immaturity. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for humor, but  that we cannot wave away other people’s concerns or comments with sarcasm and jokes. I’d feel insulted if someone dismissed MY points of view and didn’t engage with them, so I strive to avoid making others feel that way as well.

Finally, we must simultaneously remember our insignificance AND our power. Our actions have the potential to ripple off into many individual people’s lives, and that’s definitely not something to be underestimated. Also, that just because we don’t engage with “the enemy” doesn’t mean they magically disappear. Just because we close our eyes or turn our backs, it doesn’t mean their opinions go away. Thus, instead of ignoring them (for whatever reason), I feel we have the imperative to face them head-on.

Stay tuned for Part III!

P.S. More on this later, but I want to highlight early on that we DID find spaces for dialogue. One of the presenters commented–not just to us, but on her Twitter and the Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation Facebook–that she “also had the chance to sit and speak to the folks from yesterday who were live tweeting. really productive and positive conversations and hope that it helped in keeping options for dialogue open. Understand alot more how they felt as individuals in a room full of people where they were unsure of how they would be treated. nice to see the tweets today taking a different tone.”

Edenfantasys Fucks Up

So this post by my dear friend maymay basically speaks for itself.

The short short short summary? Edenfantasys is trying to skew its ranking on the Internet by using shady practices. This is not good, especially from a company with the tag-line “the sex shop you can trust.” You should read up on it and reconsider your support of their business. Personally, I still plan to use their website to learn about toys, since they have THE best website re: toys and specs and user-friendly info, but I’m definitely buying my things elsewhere. A good alternative for purchases? Fascinations! Or Good Vibrations. There are probably more, too, so do your research. It’s also a great idea to reach manufacturers directly, too. 🙂

As one of the people who went over maymay’s post before publication, I highly stress the importance of checking it out. There have been other controversies with Edenfantasys recently (and not-so-recently), so for more information on those, check out the following links:

Now, onto the show:


Edenfantasys’s unethical technology 
is a self-referential black hole


A few nights ago, I received an email from Editor of EdenFantasys’s SexIs Magazine, Judy Cole, asking me to modify this Kink On Tap brief I published that cites Lorna D. Keach’s writing. Judy asked me to “provide attribution and a link back to” SexIs Magazine. An ordinary enough request soon proved extraordinarily unethical when I discovered that EdenFantasys has invested a staggering amount of time and money to develop and implement a technology platform that actively denies others the courtesy of link reciprocity, a courtesy on which the ethical Internet is based.

While what they’re doing may not be illegal, EdenFantasys has proven itself to me to be an unethical and unworthy partner, in business or otherwise. Its actions are blatantly hypocritical, as I intend to show in detail in this post. Taking willful and self-serving advantage of those not technically savvy is a form of inexcusable oppression, and none of us should tolerate it from companies who purport to be well-intentioned resources for a community of sex-positive individuals.

For busy or non-technical readers, see the next section, Executive Summary, to quickly understand what EdenFantasys is doing, why it’s unethical, and how it affects you whether you’re a customer, a contributor, or a syndication partner. For the technical reader, the Technical Details section should provide ample evidence in the form of a walkthrough and sample code describing the unethical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) techniques EdenFantasys, aka. Web Merchants, Inc., is engaged in. For anyone who wants to read further, I provide an Editorial section in which I share some thoughts about what you can do to help combat these practices and bring transparency and trust—not the sabotage of trust EdenFantasys enacts—to the market.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Internet sex toy retailer Web Merchants, Inc., which bills itself as the “sex shop you can trust” and does business under the name EdenFantasys, has implemented technology on their websites that actively interferes with contributors’ content, intercepts outgoing links, and alters republished content so that links in the original work are redirected to themselves. Using techniques widely acknowledged as unethical by Internet professionals and that are arguably in violation of major search engines’ policies, EdenFantasys’s publishing platform has effectively outsourced the task of “link farming” (a questionable Search Engine Marketing [SEM] technique) to sites with which they have “an ongoing relationship,” such as AlterNet.org, other large news hubs, and individual bloggers’ blogs.

Articles published on EdenFantasys websites, such as the “community” website SexIs Magazine, contain HTML crafted to look like links, but aren’t. When visited by a typical human user, a program written in JavaScript and included as part of the web pages is automatically downloaded and intercepts clicks on these “link-like” elements, fetching their intended destination from the server and redirecting users there. Due to the careful and deliberate implementation, the browser’s status bar is made to appear as though the link is legitimate, and that a destination is provided as expected.

For non-human visitors, including automated search engine indexing programs such as Googlebot, the “link” remains non-functional, making the article a search engine’s dead-end or “orphan” page whose only functional links are those whose destination is EdenFantasys’s own web presence. This makes EdenFantasys’ website(s) a self-referential black hole that provides no reciprocity for contributors who author content, nor for any website ostensibly “linked” to from article content. At the same time, EdenFantasys editors actively solicit inbound links from individuals and organizations through “link exchanges” and incentive programs such as “awards” and “free” sex toys, as well as syndicating SexIs Magazine content such that the content is programmatically altered in order to create multiple (real) inbound links to EdenFantasys’s websites after republication on their partner’s media channels.

How EdenFantasys’s unethical practices have an impact on you

Regardless of who you are, EdenFantasys’s unethical practices have a negative impact on you and, indeed, on the Internet as a whole.

See for yourself: First, log out of any and all EdenFantasys websites or, preferably, use a different browser, or even a proxy service such as the Tor network for greater anonymity. Due to EdenFantasys’s technology, you cannot trust that what you are seeing on your screen is what someone else will see on theirs. Next, temporarily disable JavaScript (read instructions for your browser) and then try clicking on the links in SexIs Magazine articles. If clicking the intended off-site “links” doesn’t work, you know that your article’s links are being hidden from Google and that your content is being used for shady practices. In contrast, with JavaScript still disabled, navigate to another website (such as this blog), try clicking on the links, and note that the links still work as intended.

Here’s another verifiable example from the EdenFantasys site showing that many other parts of Web Merchants, Inc. pages, not merely SexIs Magazine, are affected as well: With JavaScript disabled, visit the EdenFantasys company page on Aslan Leather (note, for the sake of comparison, the link in this sentence will work, even with JavaScript off). Try clicking on the link in the “Contact Information” section in the lower-right hand column of the page (shown in the screenshot, below). This “link” should take you to the Aslan Leather homepage but in fact it does not. So much for that “link exchange.”

  • If you’re an EdenFantasys employee, people will demand answers from you regarding the unethical practices of your (hopefully former) employer. While you are working for EdenFantasys, you’re seriously soiling your reputation in the eyes of ethical Internet professionals. Ignorance is no excuse for the lack of ethics on the programmers’ part, and it’s a shoddy one for everyone else; you should be aware of your company’s business practices because you represent them and they, in turn, represent you.
  • If you’re a partner or contributor (reviewer, affiliate, blogger), while you’re providing EdenFantasys with inbound links or writing articles for them and thereby propping them up higher in search results, EdenFantasys is not returning the favor to you (when they are supposed to be doing so). Moreover, they’re attaching your handle, pseudonym, or real name directly to all of their link farming (i.e., spamming) efforts. They look like they’re linking to you and they look like their content is syndicated fairly, but they’re actually playing dirty. They’re going the extra mile to ensure search engines like Google do not recognize the links in articles you write. They’re trying remarkably hard to make certain that all roads lead to EdenFantasys, but none lead outside of it; no matter what the “link,” search engines see it as stemming from and leading to EdenFantasys. The technically savvy executives of Web Merchants, Inc. are using you without giving you a fair return on your efforts. Moreover, EdenFantasys is doing this in a way that preys upon people’s lack of technical knowledge—potentially your own as well as your readership’s. Do you want to keep doing business with people like that?
  • If you’re a customer, you’re monetarily supporting a company that essentially amounts to a glorified yet subtle spammer. If you hate spam, you should hate the unethical practices that lead to spam’s perpetual reappearance, including the practices of companies like Web Merchants, Inc. EdenFantasys’s unethical practices may not be illegal, but they are unabashedly a hair’s width away from it, just like many spammers’. If you want to keep companies honest and transparent, if you really want a “sex shop you can trust,” this is relevant to you because EdenFantasys is not it. If you want to purchase from a retailer that truly strives to offer a welcoming, trustworthy community for those interested in sex positivity and sexuality, pay close attention and take action. For ideas about what you can do, please see the “What you can do” section, below.
  • If you’ve never heard about EdenFantasys before, but you care about a fair and equal-opportunity Internet, this is relevant to you because what EdenFantasys is doing takes advantage of non-tech-savvy people in order to slant the odds of winning the search engine game in their favor. They could have done this fairly, and I personally believe that they would have succeeded. Their sites are user-friendly, well-designed, and solidly implemented. However, they chose to behave maliciously by not providing credit where credit is due, failing to follow through on agreements with their own community members and contributors, and sneakily utilizing other publishers’ web presences to play a very sad zero-sum game that they need not have entered in the first place. In the Internet I want, nobody takes malicious advantage of those less skilled than they are because their own skill should speak for itself. Isn’t that the Internet and, indeed, the future you want, too?

TECHNICAL DETAILS

What follows is a technical exploration of the way the EdenFantasys technology works. It is my best-effort evaluation of the process in as much detail as I can manage within strict self-imposed time constraints. If any of this information is incorrect, I’d welcome any and all clarifications provided by the EdenFantasys CTO and technical team in an appropriately transparent, public, and ethical manner. (You’re welcome—nay, encouraged—to leave a comment.)

Although I’m unconvinced that EdenFantasys understands this, it is the case that honesty is the best policy—especially on the Internet, where everyone has the power of “View source.”

The “EF Framework” for obfuscating links

Article content written by contributors on SexIs Magazine pages is published after all links are replaced with a <span> element bearing the class of linklike and a unique id attribute value. This apparently happens across any and all content published by Web Merchants, Inc.’s content management system, but I’ll be focusing on Lorna D. Keach’s post entitled SexFeed:Anti-Porn Activists Now Targeting Female Porn Addicts for the sake of example.

These fake links look like this in HTML:

And according to Theresa Flynt, vice president of marketing for Hustler video, <span class="linklike" ID="EFLink_68034_fe64d2">female consumers make up 56% of video sales.</span>

This originally published HTML is what visitors without JavaScript enabled (and what search engine indexers) see when they access the page. Note that the <span> is not a real link, even though it is made to look like one. (See Figure 1; click it to enlarge.)

Figure 1:

In a typical user’s browser, when this page is loaded, a JavaScript program is executed that mutates these “linklike” elements into <a> elements, retaining the “linklike” class and the unique id attribute values. However, no value is provided in the href (link destination) attribute of the <a> element. See Figure 2:

Figure 2:

The JavaScript program is downloaded in two parts from the endpoint at http://cdn3.edenfantasys.com/Scripts/Handler/jsget.ashx. The first part, retrieved in this example by accessing the URI at http://cdn3.edenfantasys.com/Scripts/Handler/jsget.ashx?i=jq132_cnf_jdm12_cks_cm_ujsn_udm_stt_err_jsdm_stul_ael_lls_ganl_jqac_jtv_smg_assf_agrsh&v_14927484.12.0, loads the popular jQuery JavaScript framework as well as custom code called the “EF Framework”.

The EF Framework contains code called the DBLinkHandler, an object that parses the <span> “linklike” elements (called “pseudolinks” in the EF Framework code) and retrieves the real destination. The entirety of the DBLinkHandler object is shown in code listing 1, below. Note the code contains a function called handle that performs the mutation of the <span> “linklike” elements (seen primarily on lines 8 through 16) and, based on the prefix of each elements’ id attribute value, two key functions (BuildUrlForElement and GetUrlByUrlID, whose signatures are on lines 48 and 68, respectively) interact to set up the browser navigation after responding to clicks on the fake links.

var DBLinkHandler = {
pseudoLinkPrefix: "EFLink_",
generatedAHrefPrefix: "ArtLink_",
targetBlankClass: "target_blank",
jsLinksCssLinkLikeClass: "linklike",
handle: function () {
var pseudolinksSpans = $("span[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksSpans.each(function () {
var psLink = $(this);
var cssClass = $.trim(psLink.attr("class"));
var target = "";
var id = psLink.attr("id").replace(DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix, DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix);
var href = $("<a></a>").attr({
id: id,
href: ""
}).html(psLink.html());
if (psLink.hasClass(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass)) {
href.attr({
target: "_blank"
});
cssClass = $.trim(cssClass.replace(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass, ""))
}
if (cssClass != "") {
href.attr({
"class": cssClass
})
}
psLink.before(href).remove()
});
var pseudolinksAHrefs = $("a[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksAHrefs.live("mouseup", function (event) {
DBLinkHandler.ArtLinkClick(this)
});
pseudolinksSpans = $("span[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksSpans.live("click", function (event) {
if (event.button != 0) {
return
}
var psLink = $(this);
var url = DBLinkHandler.BuildUrlForElement(psLink, DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix);
if (!psLink.hasClass(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass)) {
RedirectTo(url)
} else {
OpenNewWindow(url)
}
})
},
BuildUrlForElement: function (psLink, prefix) {
var psLink = $(psLink);
var sufix = psLink.attr("id").toString().substring(prefix.length);
var id = (sufix.indexOf("_") != -1) ? sufix.substring(0, sufix.indexOf("_")) : sufix;
var url = DBLinkHandler.GetUrlByUrlID(id);
if (url == "") {
url = EF.Constants.Links.Url
}
var end = sufix.substring(sufix.indexOf("_") + 1);
var anchor = "";
if (end.indexOf("_") != -1) {
anchor = "#" + end.substring(0, end.lastIndexOf("_"))
}
url += anchor;
return url
},
ArtLinkClick: function (psLink) {
var url = DBLinkHandler.BuildUrlForElement(psLink, DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix);
$(psLink).attr("href", url)
},
GetUrlByUrlID: function (UrlID) {
var url = "";
UrlRequest = $.ajax({
type: "POST",
url: "/LinkLanguage/AjaxLinkHandling.aspx",
dataType: "json",
async: false,
data: {
urlid: UrlID
},
cache: false,
success: function (data) {
if (data.status == "Success") {
url = data.url;
return url
}
},
error: function (xhtmlObj, status, error) {}
});
return url
}
};

Once the mutation is performed and all the content “links” are in the state shown in Figure 2, above, an event listener has been bound to the anchors that captures a click event. This is done using prototypal extension, aka. classic prototypal inheritance, in another part of the code, the live function on line 2,280 of the (de-minimized) jsget.ashx program, as shown in code listing 2, here:

        live: function (G, F) {
var E = o.event.proxy(F);
E.guid += this.selector + G;
o(document).bind(i(G, this.selector), this.selector, E);
return this
},

At this point, clicking on one of the “pseudolinks” triggers the EF Framework to call code set up by the GetUrlByUrlID function from within the DBLinkHandler object, initiating an XMLHttpRequest (XHR) connection to the AjaxLinkHandling.aspx server-side application. The request is an HTTP POST containing only one parameter, called urlid, and its value matches a substring from within the id value of the “pseudolinks.” In this example, the id attribute contains a value of EFLink_68034_fe64d2, which means that the unique ID POST’ed to the server is 68034. This is shown in Figure 3, below.

Figure 3:

The response from the server, shown in Figure 4, is also simple. If successful, the intended destination is retrieved by the GetUrlByUrlID object’s success function (on line 79 of Code Listing 1, above) and the user is redirected to that web address, as if the link was a real one all along. The real destination, in this case to CNN.com, is thereby only revealed after the XHR request returns a successful reply.

Figure 4:

All of this obfuscation effectively blinds machines such as the Googlebot who are not JavaScript-capable from seeing and following these links. It deliberately provides no increased Pagerank for the link destination (as a real link would normally do) despite being “linked to” from EdenFantasys’s SexIs Magazine article. While the intended destination in this example link was at CNN.com, it could just as easily have been—and is, in other examples—links to the blogs of EdenFantasys community members and, indeed, everyone else linked to from a SexIs Magazine article or potentially any website operated by Web Merchants, Inc. that makes use of this technology.

The EdenFantasys Outsourced Link-Farm

In addition to creating a self-referential black hole with no gracefully degrading outgoing links, EdenFantasys also actively performs link-stuffing through its syndicated content “relationships,” underhandedly creating an outsourced and distributed link-farm, just like a spammer. The difference is that this spammer (Web Merchants, Inc. aka EdenFantasys) is cleverly crowd-sourcing high-value, high-quality content from its own “community.”

Articles published at SexIs Magazine are syndicated in full to other large hub sites, such as AlterNet.org. Continuing with the above example post by Lorna D. Keach, Anti-Porn Activists Now Targeting Female Porn Addicts, we can see that this content was republished on AlterNet.org shortly after original publication through EdenFantasys’ website on May 3rd at http://www.alternet.org/story/146774/christian_anti-porn_activists_now_targeting_female_. However, a closer look at the HTML code of the republication shows that each and every link contained within the article points to the same destination: the same article published on SexIs Magazine, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5:

Naturally, these syndicated links provided to third-party sites by EdenFantasys are real and function as expected to both human visitors and to search engines indexing the content. The result is “natural,” high-value links to the EdenFantasys website from these third-party sites; EdenFantasys doesn’t merely scrounge pagerank from harvesting the sheer number of incoming links, but as each link’s anchor text is different, they are setting themselves up to match more keywords in search engine results, keywords that the original author likely did not intend to direct to them. Offering search engines the implication that EdenFantasys.com contains the content described in the anchor text, when in fact EdenFantasys merely acts as an intermediary to the information, is very shady, to say the least.

In addition to syndication, EdenFantasys employs human editors to do community outreach. These editors follow up with publishers, including individual bloggers (such as myself), and request that any references to published material provide attribution and a link back to us, to use the words of Judy Cole, Editor of SexIs Magazine in an email she sent to me (see below), and presumably many others. EdenFantasys has also been known to request “link exchanges,” and offer incentive programs that encouraged bloggers to add the EdenFantasys website to their blogroll or sidebar in order to help raise both parties search engine ranking, when in fact EdenFantasys is not actually providing reciprocity.

More information about EdenFantasys’s unethical practices, which are not limited to technical subterfuge, can be obtained via AAGBlog.com.

EDITORIAL

It is unsurprising that the distributed, subtle, and carefully crafted way EdenFantasys has managed to crowd-source links has (presumably) remained unpenalized by search engines like Google. It is similarly unsurprising that nontechnical users such as the contributors to SexIs Magazine would be unaware of these deceptive practices, or that they are complicit in promoting them.

This is no mistake on the part of EdenFantasys, nor is it a one-off occurrence. The amount of work necessary to implement the elaborate system I’ve described is also not even remotely feasible for a rogue programmer to accomplish, far less accomplish covertly. No, this is the result of a calculated and decidedly underhanded strategy that originated from the direction of top executives at Web Merchants, Inc. aka EdenFantasys.

It is unfortunate that technically privileged people would be so willing to take advantage of the technically uneducated, particularly under the guise of providing a trusted place for the community which they claim to serve. These practices are exactly the ones that “the sex shop you can trust” should in no way support, far less be actively engaged in. And yet, here is unmistakable evidence that EdenFantasys is doing literally everything it can not only to bolster its own web presence at the cost of others’, but to hide this fact from its understandably non-tech-savvy contributors.

On a personal note, I am angered that I would be contacted by the Editor of SexIs Magazine, and asked to properly “attribute” and provide a link to them when it is precisely that reciprocity which SexIs Magazine would clearly deny me (and everyone else) in return. It was this request originally received over email from Judy Cole, that sparked my investigation outlined above and enabled me to uncover this hypocrisy. The email I received from Judy Cole is republished, in full, here:

From: Judy Cole <luxuryholmes@gmail.com>
Subject: Repost mis-attributed
Date: May 17, 2010 2:42:00 PM PDT
To: kinkontap+viewermail@gmail.com
Cc: Laurel <laurelb@edenfantasys.com>

Hello Emma and maymay,

I am the Editor of the online adult magazine SexIs (http://www.edenfantasys.com/sexis/). You recently picked up and re-posted a story of ours by Lorna Keach that Alternet had already picked up:

http://kinkontap.com/?s=alternet

We were hoping that you might provide attribution and a link back to us, citing us as the original source (as is done on Alternet, with whom we have an ongoing relationship), should you pick up something of ours to re-post in the future.

If you would be interested in having us send you updates on stories that might be of interest, I would be happy to arrange for a member of our editorial staff to do so. (Like your site, by the way. TBK is one of our regular contributors.)

Thanks and Best Regards,

Judy Cole
Editor, SexIs

Judy’s email probably intended to reference the new Kink On Tap briefs that my co-host Emma and I publish, not a search result page on the Kink On Tap website. Specifically, she was talking about this brief: http://KinkOnTap.com/?p=676. I said as much in my reply to Judy:

Hi Judy,

The URL in your email doesn’t actually link to a post. We pick up many stories from AlterNet, as well as a number from SexIs, because we follow both those sources, among others. So, did you mean this following entry?

http://KinkOnTap.com/?p=676

If so, you should know that we write briefs as we find them and provide links to where we found them. We purposefully do not republish or re-post significant portions of stories and we limit our briefs to short summaries in deference to the source. In regards to the brief in question, we do provide attribution to Lorna Keach, and our publication process provides links automatically to, again, the source where we found the article. 🙂 As I’m sure you understand, this is the nature of the Internet. Its distribution capability is remarkable, isn’t it?

Also, while we’d absolutely be thrilled to have you send us updates on stories that might be of interest, we would prefer that you do so in the same way the rest of our community does: by contributing to the community links feed. You can find detailed instructions for the many ways you can do that on our wiki:

http://wiki.kinkontap.com/wiki/Community_links_feed

Congratulations on the continued success of SexIs.

Cheers,
-maymay

At the time when I wrote the email replying to Judy, I was perturbed but could not put my finger on why. Her email upset me because she seemed to be suggesting that our briefs are wholesale “re-posts,” when in fact Emma and I have thoroughly discussed attribution policies and, as mentioned in my reply, settled on a number of practices including a length limit, automated back linking (yes, with real links, go see some Kink On Tap briefs for yourself), and clearly demarcating quotes from the source article in our editorializing to ensure we play fair. Clearly, my somewhat snarky reply betrays my annoyance.

In any event, this exchange prompted me to take a closer look at the Kink On Tap brief I wrote, at the original article, and at the cross-post on AlterNet.org. I never would have imagined that EdenFantasys’s technical subterfuge would be as pervasive as it has proven to be. It’s so deeply embedded in the EdenFantasys publishing platform that I’m willing to give Judy the benefit of the doubt regarding this hypocrisy because she doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a search query and a permalink (something any laymen blogger would grok). This is apparent from her reply to my response:

From: Judy Cole <luxuryholmes@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Repost mis-attributed
Date: May 18, 2010 4:57:59 AM PDT
[…redundant email headers clipped…]

Funny, the URL in my email opens the same link as the one you sent me when I click on it.

Maybe if you pick up one of our stories in future, you could just say something like “so and so wrote for SexIs.” ?

As it stands, it looks as if Lorna wrote the piece for Alternet. Thanks.

Judy

That is the end of our email exchange, and will be for good, unless and until EdenFantasys changes its ways. I will from this point forward endeavor never to publish links to any web property that I know to be owned by Web Merchants, Inc., including EdenFantasys.com. I will also do my best to avoid citing any and all SexIs Magazine articles from here on out, and I encourage everyone who has an interest in seeing honesty on the Internet to follow my lead here.

As some of my friends are currently contributors to SexIs Magazine, I would like all of you to know that I sincerely hope you immediately sever all ties with any and all Web Merchants, Inc. properties, suppliers, and business partners, especially because you are friends and I think your work is too important to be sullied by such a disreputable company.

What you can do

  • If you are an EdenFantasys reviewer, a SexIs Magazine contributor, or have any other arrangement with Web Merchants, Inc., write to Judy Cole and demand that content you produce for SexIs Magazine adheres to ethical Internet publication standards. Sever business ties with this company immediately upon receipt of any non-response, or any response that does not adequately address every concern raised in this blog post. (Feel free to leave comments on this post with technical questions, and I’ll do my best to help you sort out any l33t answers.)
  • EdenFantasys wants to stack the deck in Google. They do this by misusing your content and harvesting your links. To combat this effort, immediately remove any and all links to EdenFantasys websites and web presences from your websites. Furthermore, do not—I repeat—do not publish new links to EdenFantasys websites, not even in direct reference to this post. Instead, provide enough information, as I have done, so visitors to your blog posts can find their website themselves. In lieu of links to EdenFantasys, link to other bloggers’ posts about this issue. (Such posts will probably be mentioned in the comments section of this post.)
  • Boycott EdenFantasys: the technical prowess their website displays does provide a useful shopping experience for some people. However, that in no way obligates you to purchase from their website. If you enjoy using their interface, use it to get information about products you’re interested in, but then go buy those products elsewhere, perhaps from the manufacturers directly.

  • Watch for “improved” technical subterfuge from Web Merchants, Inc. As a professional web developer, I can identify several things EdenFantasys could do to make their unethical practices even harder to spot, and harder to stop. If you have any technical knowledge at all, even if you’re “just” a savvy blogger, you can keep a close watch on EdenFantasys and, if you notice anything that doesn’t sit well with you, speak up about it like I did. Get a professional programmer to look into things for you if you need help; yes, you can make a difference just by remaining vigilant as long as you share what you know and act honestly, and transparently.

If you have additional ideas or recommendations regarding how more people can help keep sex toy retailers honest, please suggest them in the comments.

Sex Panic!: When Educators Are Censors

Sex Panic!: When Educators Are Censors
a panel and Q&A session moderated by 
Brown Professor of History and Brazilian Studies Jim N. Green,
author of Beyond Carnival: Male Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Brazil

Free and open to the public!
Tuesday, May 4th @ 6:00 pm
in Smith-Buonanno Hall, Room 106 (View Map)
95 Cushing Street, Providence, RI 02906

This event is co-sponsored by: SHEEC and QCC

Panelists:
  • Aida Manduley: SHEEC Chairperson (that’s me!)
  • Megan Andelloux: Certified sexologist and sex educator
  • Reid Mihalko: Brown alum and presenter on sex and relationships 
  • Meitar Moscovitz: Community organizer and technology professional
  • Ricky Gresh: Senior director for Student Engagement at Brown University

What would you do if your organization were criticized for following through with its mission statement? What if you were publicly denigrated, misrepresented, and harassed for your work? What if educators themselves were trying to hamper your attempts at education

Finally, who should have a say in a college student’s sex education?

——————————————-

This panel has been born out of a need to discuss the role of students, educators, and institutions in regards to censorship, free speech, and the right to organize.

More specifically, this panel has been born out of one group of incidents that have spanned this entire semester. SHEEC: the Sexual Health Education & Empowerment Council, an organization which I not only chair, but CHERISH, has come under vicious attack due to some (if not most) of the events it has been sponsoring, coordinating, and organizing. Who have been the attackers? Primarily, Donna M. Hughes (Prof. of Women’s Studies at the University of Rhode Island) and Margaret Brooks (Brown alum and Prof. of Economics at Bridgewater State College). Other folks who have been involved? Melanie Shapiro, co-founder (along with Donna M. Hughes) of “Citizens Against Trafficking” and folks from the “Foundation for Intellectual Diversity,” a non-profit that is dedicated to funding the “underrepresented” ideas on the conservative end of the spectrum at Brown University.

We will briefly explain this ordeal at the panel, in the spirit of full transparency, and then we will delve deeper into other instances of censorship and moral panic so we can have a productive conversation about these issues. It’s an event that shouldn’t be missed, honestly. (If you’re curious and want to check out some back-story right now, though, feel free to peruse my SHEEC-tagged posts in this blog, which explain the matter/s and link to other sources of information.)

The event will focus on discussing censorship as it relates to sexual education and programming around sexuality issues because of the reasons why this panel came into being and because we hope to use the panelists’ experiences as “case-studies,” BUT we highly encourage EVERYBODY to attend, especially those who have had similar scary experiences with censorship or those who are curious because they don’t want to have it happen to them.

Come join us in our dialogue!

Though it’s open to the public, Brown students are especially encouraged to attend because we’ll discuss what Brown can do for YOU, and how Brown can protect your rights to hold events. This is CRUCIAL information, especially if you do any sort of “controversial” work on campus.

Also, in the spirit of bridge-building, communication, honesty, and all that good stuff, I personally invited the folks who have gone after me and my friends to the panel (and I’ve attached a copy of the email at the bottom of this post). So far, I haven’t received any sort of reply, which is very disappointing, although not terribly unexpected. Based on their track-record, it seems these people are not interested in any sort of conversation; they’re just out to bash individuals, censor comprehensive sexual education that acknowledges diversity, and shut down the things with which they don’t agree.

Perhaps they’ll surprise me on May 4th and attend the panel. It would be fascinating to finally see them in person, for once, and maybe have a chance to talk to them. All of this has gone on without them EVER asking me anything or directly contacting me–just paying eerily close attention to my online presence & SHEEC events and then criticizing, bashing, and lying about them behind my back. It seems they don’t acknowledge my humanity, or the humanity of the other people they have attacked and hurt with their mean-spirited campaigning, and that is really sad.

The worst part is, while we could ALL be spending time actually learning about and addressing the issue of trafficking & forced labor (because “sex-trafficking” is NOT the only issue here, or the only one affecting women; it is only ONE of the subsets of forced labor and human trafficking), we are instead caught in a web of animosity that distracts us from the REAL issues, confuses the public, and spreads inaccurate information. My friends and I are trying to make positive change in the world by educating and empowering people, while at the same time having to defend ourselves against harsh attacks by “educated” folks who conflate sex-work with sex-trafficking, equate kink and BDSM with slavery and abuse, purposefully lie and misrepresent those they see as “the enemy,” and deny women’s agency to make informed decisions because they somehow “know what’s best for them.”

Personally, based on the things I just highlighted, I think there are way more issues here than solely sexuality education and morality, don’t you think?

In short, I hope that if you CAN, you attend the panel.
I think everyone would benefit from hearing what we have to say and taking part in this discussion.




——————————————-


Open Letter to Melanie Shapiro, Margaret Brooks, and Donna M. Hughes:

Date: Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 11:38 PM
Subject: Invitation to Event at Brown University
To: melanieshapiro4@gmail.com, mbrooks@bridgew.edu, dhughes@uri.edu, dhughes71@cox.net

Dear ladies, Since you have shown persistent interest in the events I have coordinated and facilitated at Brown University through SHEEC (the Sexual Health Education & Empowerment Council), as the organization’s Chairperson, I cordially invite you to attend the next one: “Sex Panic!: When Educators Are Censors” on May 4th, 2010, at 6:00pm in Smith-Buonanno Room 106. I hope you will take this opportunity to constructively converse with myself and the other people whom you have publicly denigrated and misrepresented, as I feel it is deeply saddening and highly unfortunate that you are so eager to attack my organization and its events while refusing to engage with me or even do basic research about what it is that I do and promote.

Sincerely,

– Aida Manduley

KinkForAll Providence: Clarified [Updated]

While I was planning KinkForAll Providence, I was contacted by Brown officials because a community member was emailing the University with concerns about the event. Though, as I found out, most of these concerns were alarmist and visibly laced with prejudice and ignorance about the event and many of the sexuality topics that we hoped to address, the University heard this individual out and I met with various Brown officials to discuss the points that had been raised. After speaking with me and making sure I was following the appropriate protocol (which I was already doing because I’m a very experienced event organizer at this institution), the Brown officials did not find a reason to cancel the event or do much else, other than closely review my plans and tell me to keep in communication with them before, during, and after the event.

That, however, was not the end of the saga. After KinkForAll was held on February 6th, and after Get Your Heart On: Sex Educator Showdown with Reid Mihalko (a Brown alum) and Megan Andelloux (a certified sex educator) happened on Valentine’s Day (co-sponsored by SHEEC, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Students for Choice, Queer Alliance, Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, and Brown Health Education), the emailing continued.

As I eventually found out, thanks to the Internet, this community member was someone by the name of Margaret (Barber) Brooks, none other than a Brown alum and professor of Economics at Bridgewater State College in MA. I was deeply saddened that a professor and Brown alum would go to the lengths she did to shut down a student event (or two, really), especially one aimed at creating a space where information about sexuality could be shared, a space where people could feel safe and empowered to discuss these issues without being judged. I appreciated her concerns and her desire to maintain Brown students and community members safe, but the overall manner in which she approached the situation was appalling. 

Aside from the emails, she and Donna M. Hughes, a URI professor, posted and widely circulated a bulletin about the event. The bulletin, however, was more about bad-mouthing my friend Maymay (the co-founder of the KinkForAll unconference model), spreading inaccurate information about KinkForAll Providence, and fear-mongering than actually addressing any real issues.

Did Margaret ever reach out to me, the event organizer? No.


Instead, she chose to contact Brown multiple times, even after the University officials responded with their final decision to allow SHEEC to make the events happen.

Did Donna ever reach out to me? I’ll give you one guess.

Neither of these individuals have engaged with anyone directly related to the events’ organization. Instead, they have paid eerily close attention to our blogs, Twitter accounts, Google-groups, and online presences and have then twisted the information found there to fit their agendas. They have spread inaccurate information (heck, they have spread flat out LIES) and incited other individuals to call us horrible things, such as sex-traffickers.

Because of this, and because I believe in what I do (and I want to be as transparent as possible), I wish to clarify certain things about KFA Providence. Though most (if not all) the information in this post is easily available on the Internet, I will attempt to make a concise summary of concerns and my responses/clarifications.



1. KinkforAll–model or organization?


KinkForAll is a conference model, not an organization. Simple as that. There are no “members” or general KFA “presidents.” Each KFA event is specific to that time, place, and set of organizers. As far as KinkForAll Providence goes, I can’t claim ownership of the MODEL, but I can claim responsibility for the drive and organization of that event.
2. KFA’s relation to Brown and who organized it

I was the main organizer, and my community co-organizer was Emma Gross. The sponsoring group was SHEEC. It’s insulting to hear people like Margaret (Barber) Brooks and Donna M. Hughes credit Maymay with organizing the event, because that was not the case. Personally, while I think May is an AMAZING human being (a-may-zing? wow, I just went there) and I appreciate his founding the KFA model, I feel my work is being invalidated and dismissed by these two women. Furthermore, I feel that one of the organizations I lead at Brown University, the one dearest to my heart, is being disparaged. This is all very unacceptable.

The idea that “No one is apparently in charge; therefore no one is responsible” is, again, insulting, because I was clearly in charge and SHEEC was the group responsible. If anything had gone wrong, it would have been our responsibility. 

Throughout the conference, we stated that the sponsor for the event was SHEEC, and that Brown was giving us access to the venue through that. This was said a few times, and in multiple rooms, and also during the live-stream. I also know that in CarnalNation, the language used was “held AT Brown,” which is accurate. Also, there were signs in the building explaining what the content was, where the livestream was, that the sponsor was SHEEC, and so on. Everything was carefully labeled.

In regards to us using Brown’s Wi-Fi and facilities, and arguments that these conditions make Brown a sponsor? By that logic, it would mean that ANY and EVERY event held on campus is “officially sponsored” by Brown University. This makes no sense, and is NOT aligned with Brown’s definition of sponsorship. In our communications, we weren’t using Brown’s name to make it sound “more legitimate” or anything; we merely had to use Brown’s name so that people would know where the conference was being HELD. Finally, GuestIDs are given to people who stay at the Brown Inn and people coming in for conferences, so this, again, was within their/our right to pursue.

3. Safety issues and children

This particular event would have never resulted in children being “approached, propositioned, or molested.” We took specific safety precautions to ensure the comfort of all our participants and to make sure that everything going on at the event was legal, consensual, safe, and in accordance to Brown’s policies and regulations, as evidenced by my meetings with Brown officials and the ridiculous amounts of signs and posters stating what was going on and what rules the attendees and presenters had to abide by. Furthermore, no minors were allowed at the conference unless they were there with a legal guardian or parent.
4. Extra rooms and “one Brown female undergraduate at the conference” that “appears to have engaged in a sexual activity at approximately 2:20 pm” 

Extra rooms, yes. I reserved them to make sure that all the people on the first floor were people we WANTED there, and who were explicitly coming for the conference instead of merely wandering in. We also had greeters at the door, time-keepers in the rooms, and people flowing in and out of presentations making sure things were going according to plan. In regards to small groups of participants going off by themselves into the extra rooms—I wandered around and people were always in rooms where presentations were actively going on; otherwise, the other rooms were empty. The only time when presentations were NOT going on was during lunch, from 1 to 2 pm, and we were on break. 

A Brown undergrad “engaging in sexual activity” at approximately 2:20…? What does that even mean?

There were NO SEXUAL ACTIVITIES TAKING PLACE AT OUR EVENT (unless you count DISCUSSIONS about sexuality) and we made it clear at the beginning of the event and on the venue rules in each room that no sex/nudity/play was allowed. 
5. Credentials of presenters
The public is welcome, and thus, we don’t require people’s credentials in, say, sexology or psychiatry when they want to present about a topic they’re passionate about. This conference is a place for people to speak candidly about sexuality from their own perspectives, and that is how we describe it. We do not in any way misrepresent who is attending and what they’ll be doing at KinkForAll.

6. Videos and livestream 
All the people who were videotaped either personally asked us to record them OR specifically chose to use Room 102, with the livestream. NO ONE was taped that did not consent to being taped; we had our sticker system (orange dot = do not tape), time-keepers, and organizers helping enforce this in every room. We made everyone who was going to take pictures be identifiable on their name-tag, and the people taking pictures were basically me and Meitar. There was a huge sign explicitly stating that there was a live-stream in room 102 and what that meant (for those people who were unfamiliar with the term “livestream”). Furthermore, there were signs ON the computer that was recording and all around it cautioning people that it was taping, so no one would accidentally walk into its line of vision (another reason why we angled it in such a way that it wouldn’t capture the doorway).
7. Meitar, KinkForAll, KinkOnTap podcast, and money

Meitar is the co-founder of the KinkForAll conference/model. He has organized some KFAs, but not all of them. Re: KinkOnTap podcast, Megan Andelloux and I were on as guests the day after KFAPVD, and a) this podcast is NOT personally making Meitar money at all because whatever donations they receive are for the funding of the program itself and b) the podcast is a separate entity that is not seeking to make money off KFA Providence. The podcast is separate and, yes, we mentioned KFAPVD, but that’s because we were talking about recent events and news items (such as the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy articles that have been floating around). The footage shot at KFAPVD is NOT being sold and is NOT being used commercially at all. In fact, quite the opposite. The mission statement of the KFA model is to make all this information FREELY available to everyone. That’s also the reason why the conference ITSELF is free; it’s one of the most important parts of the model! 

8. “Illegal sadist practices,” NELA’s Fetish Flea Market, and KFAPVD
As far as I know, discussing “illegal practices” is not illegal itself, or else no one could ever talk about, say, underage drinking. This conference is a place for critical analysis and discussion, where these topics can and SHOULD be addressed, especially when it comes to talking about their legal ramifications. Again, I invoke our right to free speech. As far as NELA goes, yeah, I HOPED to get BDSM advocates from across the country. The presenters at the Fetish Flea are highly respected in the community and have a lot of things to say, so they would’ve been more than welcome at our event. Also, for those of you who don’t know, NELA is  “an incorporated non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the support, education, and political organizing of the leather/fetish/SM/bondage communities in New England.”

Open Letter to Slanderers

Dear Margaret Brooks and Donna M. Hughes,


I’m making this short, sweet, and easy to comprehend:

  • Get your facts straight before you bash KinkForAll and the people involved.
  • Stop spreading lies about, well, a LOT of things.
  • Have some courage to speak to anyone involved DIRECTLY instead of contacting everyone BUT the organizers and attendees. Especially since you KEEP citing KFAPVD as an example, and you are obviously very misinformed as to how that event ran, who ran it, and how it all went, TALK TO ME ABOUT IT and stop making assumptions.
  • Stop spreading lies and rumors. Did I mention that already?
  • If you’re going to quote things, quote them in FULL and IN CONTEXT.
  • GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT.
  • And oh, get your facts straight.
Love,
Aida


P.S. A direct response to this infuriating and deeply saddening bulletin will be coming soon.