Stolen – Monetizing Online Harassment

People are always looking for the next big way to make money out of the Internet. It doesn’t surprise me that someone is trying to make money out of online harassment.

Stolen is a new online game that allows players to “steal” the Twitter accounts of others, to buy and sell the people that they now “own” and to make comments on the game pages of the people they “own”. Of course they can’t give you access to someone’s actual Twitter account. They describe the game as more like collecting trading cards. Except they don’t just have trading cards of famous people, they have cards for everyone on Twitter. The potential for abuse is phenomenal.

In this interview with Holly Brockwell at The Gadgette the CEO of the company behind Stolen makes pretty-sounding noises about how they won’t be bad guys like Twitter and will ban people who use the site for abuse. I don’t believe a word of it.

Firstly I can’t believe that anyone could have been so stupid as to design a game like this and not realize that it would be a magnet for trolls. Heck, their own Twitter profile currently describes their product as, “literally the worst app”. They know what they are doing.

And second, even if they do start off trying to rein in the worse excesses, as soon as they find out just how much money people are prepared to throw at online harassment they are not going to be able to resist taking that money.

So, if you are not a straight cis able-bodied white male, and possibly even if you are, send them a DM and ask to opt out of their game. I did, and I have got a DM back assuring me that my account won’t be included. I’ll now be doing the same for every other Twitter account that I own.