by Anne R. Allen:
Over the years I’ve written quite a bit about the dangers of author-on-author cyberbullying.
A few years ago, a group I called “Mean Girls-meets-Lord of the Flies” terrorized authors on Goodreads and Amazon. A lot of us left Goodreads and never went back.
The ringleaders were mostly unsuccessfully self-published authors who harassed established stars as well as newbie writers. They criticized successful authors for their “greed” in charging money for their work and gamed Goodreads for free hard-copy books, which they’d give bogus one-star “reviews,” then sell unread on ebay.
Newbie authors who didn’t know the group’s unwritten “rules” were punished with sadistic glee.
They attacked victims with swarms of one-star “reviews” on Goodreads and Amazon that contained character assassination lies, personal attacks, rape threats, and even death threats — what I call “weaponized” reviews.
They swarmed buy pages, Goodreads entries, and blog comments to intimidate, control, and defame whistleblowers or wayward members.
I got death threats from this group myself for the crime of witnessing their rape threats against a naive teenager before the dozens of perpetrators had the sense to delete the incriminating evidence.
Their shenanigans inspired my comic novel So Much for Buckingham, where both reviewers and authors suffer from the dark side of online reviews. I even copied some of their threats word for word — which made for some hilarious comic scenes.
But when you’re the target, they’re anything but funny.
I think the group could have been called a cult. It ticked a lot of the boxes on the following list — a condensed version of a list by Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. at the International Cultic Studies Journal