Culture

World Dispatch: Trolls tried to flood this queer project with Trump spam

The founder of the Queering the Map project says the LGBTQ memories site was inundated with pro-Trump messages.

Culture

Dispatch

Culture

World Dispatch: Trolls tried to flood this queer project with Trump spam

The founder of the Queering the Map project says the LGBTQ memories site was inundated with pro-Trump messages.

Every Monday through Thursday, The Outline World Dispatch brings you stories about Power, Culture, and the Future. We guarantee you’ll feel smarter and more hydrated. Hosted by Aaron Edwards.

Queering the Map, the delightful digital crowdsourced mapping project we fell in love with last week, is currently down. Over the weekend, creator Lucas LaRochelle said the project was spammed by Trump supporters, forcing LaRochelle to take it offline. Today, LaRochelle speaks to The Outline World Dispatch about the vandalism and their efforts to rebuild the site, which began in Montreal and grew quickly to mapping memories of queer experiences and landmarks all over the world.

After a few days of the website’s traffic steadily increasing, LaRochelle woke up on February 9 to messages from people who spotted points on the map reading “Make America Great Again” and “Donald Trump best president.” The mystery spammers had also added bitcoin mining code into Queering the Map’s PHP file. “[It] was a huge bummer,” said LaRochelle. They quickly took the site down and replaced it with a message asking for help on how to get rid of and stop the spam. “I got an incredible amount of response. People were phoning me, giving me advice on what I could do. People were offering to help.” Finally, a group of coders united on GitHub and are slowly fixing the project, turning it into a more secure database.

“It was just sort of running on trust because of the scale that it was and the communities it had been running in previously to the past couple of days,” said LaRochelle. They plan for the newly updated site to be better equipped to filter out spam and hateful content while also allowing anyone to “queer” a point on the map, adding to the project’s wider goal of understanding what queer space means to different people. In the meantime, LaRochelle plans to create an Instagram account where people can enjoy different points that had been added to the map before the spamming began.

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