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Board Game Designer Eric Lang Suspended From Twitter [Update]

Board game designer Eric Lang
Board game designer Eric Lang
Photo: Eric Lang

Eric Lang, one of the most famous board game designers on the planet, has been suspended from Twitter after what he says was a targeted campaign by a “scumbag serial harasser”.

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Lang, designer of stuff like Blood Rage and the Star Wars and Game of Thrones card games, has worked with everyone from Fantasy Flight to CMON. If you ask most board game fans to name the most popular and prominent designers in the business, Lang’s name will usually be pretty near the top of the list.

Like many of us in these trying, shitty times, Lang has been using his Facebook and Twitter presence to speak up about social issues, including his own experiences as a black man facing police harassment. He was also one of the most prominent names distancing themselves early from the board gaming industry group’s refusal to support Black Lives Matter.

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Recently, Lang says he has become the target of “thousands” of basement-dwelling reactionary shitheads, which he believes are fans of “a scumbag serial harasser (to whom I refuse to give free publicity).”

Here’s Lang’s full account of what’s happened, from a statement released on his Facebook page earlier today:

A couple of weeks ago, my Twitter account was locked (“restricted” is the term) shortly after I blocked thousands of followers of a scumbag serial harasser (to whom I refuse to give free publicity).

I used a chain blocker app (the same one that several people I know have used without issue), because there were a lot of followers to block, and I made a tactical error: I tweeted about the blocking action in advance to give my followers time to unfollow if they didn’t want to be blocked.

I appealed the restriction several times over the course of the last two weeks, getting zero response from Twitter. And two days ago was suddenly suspended without notice.

Question One: Why did I chain block the harasser’s followers?

The account in question is notorious for harassing and dogpiling left-leaning public figures on Twitter - particularly women and POC (people of colour). They know how to exploit weaknesses in social media, and can claim plausible deniability if confronted - but in several well documented cases, when that account targets a personality, that personality is dogpiled by endless trolls quoting south park and other edgelord trash.

Recently, the scumbag targeted John Boyega (the black stormtrooper from Star Wars and loud activist), and the dogpiling was a tragic sight to behold. I noticed then that I had started collecting some of scumbag’s followers, and immediately recognized the pattern. I decided quickly, mostly for the sake of denying these assholes access to my friends and followers, that I would simply chain block the entire account.

Question Two: Why was my account locked?

Your guess is as good as mine. Twitter has given me zero communication about the reasons for blocking. I know exactly what the public does, no more. Furthermore, I found out about my subsequent suspension from a friend who tried to view my account.

Of course I have opinions about why, and I’ve seen enough abusive reporting in the past to recognize the pattern. Can it be proven? Nope. Does it matter? I don’t think so. This is not about trolls, really. It’s not about scumbag serial harassers, it’s about an easily exploitable system that encourages abusive behaviour by omission of vigilant oversight.

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Twitter, as is common in these situations, has said nothing about the suspension.

Hey Twitter: give Eric back his Twitter account.

UPDATE 12:49am July 12: He’s back:

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

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DISCUSSION

I won’t name him, but one of the people leading the harassment campaign was banned a few years ago from Magic the Gathering after, among other things, targeting a prominent cosplayer and causing her to leave the community (she has since returned, to much rejoicing).