I’ve published quite a lot about how Resisting Hate evolved from an online opposition group to an anti hate organisation but what I haven’t touched on much is my own origins as an anti hate activist and how I came to be the public founder of what has become one of the most contentious anti hate orgs in the UK.
I first came to Twitter in 2013. At the time I was writing my first novel and launching my first website. Twitter for me was a promotional tool to drum up some interest in my website and get my writing to a wider audience.
I was pretty shocked at the stuff I found on Twitter. Back then I hadn’t really thought much about racism or prejudice, I kind of presumed these were things we had left behind in the seventies along with flared trousers and orange wallpaper. It was a seriously rude awakening for me to realise that thirteen years into the new millennium people were still being abused for their race, their religion, their skin colour and their sexual orientation.
As any aspiring writer knows, the lure of social media can be a tempting procrastination. So during those long nights while I struggled with my reckless Tudor heroes and heroines I started to spend more and more time on Twitter.
And the more time I spent, the angrier I became. I encountered prejudices I’d never even heard of. I was astonished to find that 70 years after six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust anti-Semitism was still rife. I was appalled to see people trolled for admitting they had mental health issues. And I became aware of a growing movement who were stoking up resentment and hate toward the country’s Muslims.
Not being the best at having an unspoken opinion, I soon started to tackle some of these idiots and to challenge why they held these dated and abhorrent views. At that time the primary source of all this hate seemed to point toward an online group called Bluehand. I soon became acquainted with the leader of ‘Bluehand’ and we had a fair few public debates. One memorably lasting nine hours.
Oblivious as I was to the organisation behind online hate I was equally naïve in understanding that there was a strong and equally passionate opposition to the hate. I was entirely unaware that my debates with Bond from Bluehand had got me noticed. But as time went on and I started publicising my website less and less and started logging on daily to see what racist drivel had been posted since the night before, I started to make friends with anti hate activists. And I liked these people. They believed the same way I did about why equality and diversity are so important. These were people who shared my goal of a fairer and equal society.
Initially I was privately frustrated by how disorganised the anti haters were (This was before I had even heard of Antifa). There was no cohesive movement that drew together antifascists, activists and the political left. There were many small sub groups and some outstanding individuals but there was no cohesion. And back then it didn’t really feel like my place to point that out.
I first got my opportunity to do my bit for anti hate when a small informal group of us formed an online group called New Bluehand. None of us had ever met in person and even among our small trusted circle I don’t think we all knew each other’s real identities, at least not back then in the beginning. But what we did share was a mutual disgust at the antics of Bluehand and an understanding that a bunch of dedicated individuals could make a difference.
New Bluehand worked on the basis that the best way to fight hate is to mock it. And we had the right team for that. We caused carnage. At one point Halal Kitty was running over eighty different Twitter accounts, intended to break up and disrupt the recruitment of Islamophobic Bond. We also made a website and started to write some articles exposing who we saw as the key figures of hate on Twitter.
I discovered an aptitude for going undercover and got three accounts in succession into Bond’s inner circle. My Belle account, infamous to this day among both friends and foes remains one of my most treasured memories of that time.
New Bluehand came to an end a year or so later. Our tactics, while imaginative and certainly very effective, were frowned upon by Twitter. And we got a bit fed up of buying sim cards! We were also starting to notice that the world was changing. In the year of the Brexit referendum and the appointment of Donald Trump we realised that Islamophobia was no longer the only prejudice gaining widespread traction and we wanted to reframe our group to take that into account.
So one brainstrorming session later (and after 48 hours of me trying the patience of our poor tec guy) Resisting Hate was born. We had formed a cohesive structure and we were on track to get ourselves known as people who didn’t just ‘expose’ the far right but who were more than happy to go head to head with them as well.
At this point we realised that for anyone to take us seriously we needed at least one of us to go public. As someone with no kids, who enjoys confrontation and who crucially hadn’t been very good at keeping my private details private anyway, I was the obvious choice. It is sometimes assumed that as the public founder of RH I am the head of it, but actually we were a united team with a single vision and an equal say in the evolution of our new organisation.
I’m not sure to this day if I actually knew what I was letting myself in for when I co founded RH. Certainly I had expected some conflict, however the sheer obsessive trolling and harassment I have received almost constantly since our rebranding was possibly more than I anticipated. But the reason for that is Resisting Hate was all about taking action. We weren’t just sat behind our screens talking about how horrible racists are, we were challenging them, exposing them and mass reporting them.
There’s a lot of negative publicity about Resisting Hate, namely that we are primarily a doxing group but doxing has never played much of a role in what we do. Yes we would pass on details of real extremists to employers if they presented a serious and genuine threat to the public (think a nurse who hated black people who could be putting innocents at risk in her profession) but such cases are few and far between. The main focus of our work is to de-platform haters across social media. We want to take away their ability to spread hate.
And we have been successful. I think this is why we have attracted so many haters. We have been responsible for the suspension of over 10,000 accounts on Twitter alone (our most famous being Tommy Robinson) and countless more on other platforms. We have established contacts across Antifa, the Police, other anti hate organisations, the Media, Trade Unions, Universities and even (through third parties) in Parliament. Recently I was asked to contribute to a government think tank on hate crime and I’ve been interviewed by a few individuals writing doctoral theses on the subject too.
Our email network has grown to a substantial audience and this has been a real key to our success in deplatforming big names.
It’s been quite the rollercoaster ride but I’ve met some great people, done a lot of good work and have no plans to give up anytime soon.