An anti-abortion Twitter bot set up to generate names for aborted fetuses was trolled to the breaking point.
Here's what the 50 Million Names project's website describes its purpose as:
'50 Million Names' is a grassroots campaign to collect names for the now-more-than 50,000,000 children aborted in our country. Naming these children helps heal the wounds of family members, abortionists, and of our nation. Honoring them acknowledges the reality of their short lives, and connects Namers to their prayer intentions – for their mothers, fathers, siblings and family members, and for the abortionists and witnesses who are now intimately connected with these babies.
OK, that didn't sit too well with a lot of people, who discovered a great loophole in their execution. The bot was pretty much auto-publishing every name people submitted. You already know where this is going, but let the Daily Dot demonstrate:
The merry pranksters of the Internet (some of them apparently from 4chan's notorious /b/ imageboard) sniffed out the site immediately and set to barraging it with "names" that would presumably annoy anti-abortion activists. But somehow, they got away with it for five months, even as they caused the bot to spout the lyrics to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" and threaten American Airlines.
This went on for awhile until the admins for the Twitter account finally started to try and stop this. As the Daily Dot points out, the question marks are an effort to censor the word "fuck."
According to the Daily Dot, it's pretty much impossible to submit a baby name now and the Twitter account has been inactive for most of the day. The website and the project are still in full swing.
I'm not going to lie—I think this is mostly funny (threats to blow up planes are not cool no matter what, though). But I'm not a big fan of the whole trolling/dog piling phenomenon that seems to be the instinctual impulse in situations like this. I am horrified when I see people whose opinions and values I respect get trolled or dog piled by Internet brigaders who want to "shut down" opinions they don't like. The tactics are gross and unfair. A lot of times they are used to silence women (or "angry feminazi bitches") who are speaking out about issues such as abortion or reproductive rights.
I've been on the receiving end of such attacks plenty of times (like many, many of my colleagues and friends) because I dared express an opinion on the Internet. So I would be a huge hypocrite if I said I thought doing it to other people was A-OK. Yes, I think it's great to make a point about how dumb this project is but I'd rather do that in other ways, like debate or intelligent discourse.