A campaign of homophobic cyber attacks has been launched against this month’s Pride celebrations, with a major LGBT+ event forced offline by a swarm of spammers.
Users of Internet board 4chan plan to disrupt the month-long programme, much of which is being held online as pubs and clubs remain closed by coronavirus laws.
A 4chan thread railing against the “degeneracy” of LGBT+ activism users to flood the social media platforms of gay venues, Pride sponsors and supporters with spam and alt-right memes under the name Operation Pridefall.
On the eve of Pride Month, an attack on London venue The Eagle forced its popular Sunday night fundraiser Horsemeat Disco offline.
Mark Oakley, the club’s owner, said its Facebook livestream was inundated by more than 110 spam bots and that a Mixcloud set up to allow thousands of regulars to enjoy the event from home was simultaneously forced down.
“Having done several dry runs with everything working perfectly well we ran into immediate difficulties when everyone tried to join,” he said.
“This was a fundraising event for HIV charities and there were multiple links posted to fake donation sites.
“This won’t stop us and we hope to be up and running again on Sunday as long as we can make sure people can join in without being ripped off.”
He added: “It is a kick in the teeth, both for gay venues that are already struggling at the moment because we can’t open, and for Pride.”
Metropolitan Police last week warned venues about the campaign.
“We’re concerned about this planned 4chan attack, as well as online safety right through Pride season, and wanted to flag it as an important issue to be aware of and prepared for,” it said.
Two of Britain’s biggest Pride events — Pride London and Pride Manchester — have already been cancelled as gatherings are outlawed by coronavirus restrictions.
In their place, a virtual celebration dubbed Pride Inside has been launched for a series of online events involving DJs, artists and activists, running from 28 June until 5 July.
A 4chan thread, now archived but seen by PinkNews, says: “Every June, hundreds of massive corporations band together to smother social media with posts in favour of ‘Pride Month’, a code word for the degeneracy that is LGBT+ activism.”
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for LGBT+ issues, deputy chief constable Julie Cooke, said: “Homophobic abuse and harassment of any kind, whether online or in person, is not acceptable.
“We have robust plans to respond to any unlawful behaviour targeting online pride events and we take this very seriously. I strongly encourage anyone who thinks they may have experienced any hate crime to report it to the police.”