Ligue du LOL: Secret group of French journalists targeted women

Several senior French journalists have been suspended or fired for allegedly co-ordinating online harassment through a private Facebook group.

The largely-male Ligue du LOL (League of LOL) mocked women, including other journalists, with rape jokes and photoshopped pornographic images.

Dozens of women have spoken out since the group was uncovered by the major French daily Libération.

Libération’s online editor Alexandre Hervaud is among those suspended.

People in the League of LOL set up anonymous Twitter accounts in order to harass prominent journalists, writers and activists – predominantly targeting women.

Vincent Glad, a well-known freelancer who also worked for Libération, admitted founding the group in 2009. He has also been suspended from the paper.

He apologised on Twitter (in French), saying that he now realised that “such practices were unacceptable and ‘LOL’ was not funny at all when it is done in a pack”.

Mr Hervaud also tweeted out an apology for his involvement, but in a later post went on to attack “those who jump with joy” at his suspension.

Libération is now carrying out an internal investigation into both Mr Hervaud and Mr Glad.

Journalist Nora Bouazzouni, Slate France reporter Lucile Bellan, and podcaster Mélanie Wanga have all described being targeted by the group.

In a tweet, science presenter Florence Porcel said that a man had called her phone, posing as an editor of a “prominent” news programme. He interviewed her for a non-existent job and publicly posted the audio of their conversation online.

“When the recording was made public, I cried of shame for three days,” Ms Porcel said.

David Doucet, editor of French magazine Les Inrockuptibles, confessed to being behind the fake interview and publicly apologised to Ms Porcel.

Others implicated in the scandal include senior journalists and executives from major outlets including Slate France and public relations firm Publicis.

France’s minister for digital affairs, Mounir Mahjoubi, has described members of the “League of LOL” as “losers”.

“It is a group of guys high on their power at being able to make fun of other people. Except that their mockery had an effect in real life,” Mr Mahjoubi said.

This story was originally published on BBC Technology News