A wave of mass sack of male journalists accused of bullying women online, including female journalists, is taking place in France.
The male journalists were said to have operated a secret facebook group described as a macho online ‘boys’ club’ which they used to reportedly harass female and minority ethnic journalists for years.
Several prominent French journalists have been suspended and another could lose his job for taking part in the private Facebook group that allegedly encouraged the online harassment of women, Independent UK report’s.
The closed group, which called itself “Ligue du LOL”, is accused of harassing female and minority ethnic journalists for years.
The group, which has been described as a macho online “boys’ club”, is believed to have had about 30 members – an overwhelming majority of whom were men. Media professionals in Paris are part of the group.
It is said to have spread pornographic memes online and doctored photos to demean its victims. Content which group members claim began as questionable humour in private conversations appears to have quickly worsened and spread predominantly via Twitter across the internet.
French newspaper Liberation and cultural magazine Les Inrockuptibles announced they have suspended four journalists – including the creator of the group.
One more journalist and two other group members were also suspended by their employers and two more quit.
Liberation last week reported that some members of the group – whose actions have sparked anger – allegedly harassed other web users with sexist, homophobic and racist insults. This mostly took place between 2009 and 2012.
In recent days, several people including female journalists have publicly accused group members of cyberbullying.
The publishing director of Liberation, Laurent Joffrin, said in a column that the “shameful” allegations made him nauseous.
He denounced “harassment, insults, salacious pranks – all kind of digital aggressions”.
Journalist Vincent Glad, who began the group in 2009, said he “owes apologies” to all those who have been harassed. He has been suspended by Liberation.
“We spoke of trolling, it was harassment,” wrote Mr Glad, who is a regular freelancer for the paper, in a statement posted on Twitter.
“I did not see that we had silenced, with our jokes, the first feminist words that appeared on social networks,” he said. “By creating this group, I created a monster that got out of my control.”
Mr Glad wrote that he now feels “horrified to see one of my tweets from 2013 where I joked about rape culture”. He added: “I am ashamed.”
David Doucet, editor-in-chief of Les Inrockuptibles’ website, acknowledged on his Twitter account that he was the author of two prank phone calls to a science video maker, Florence Porcel.
Ms Porcel says she was the target of a pornographic photo montage and a phone call in which group members made her believe they were prominent TV producers offering her a job, before posting the recording online to humiliate her.
In a post on Twitter, she said she “cried from shame, humiliation and fear” when the recording became public.
Other Twitter users said they had been repeatedly insulted with tweets and photo montages from the group mocking their ethnic backgrounds, physical appearances or political and feminist opinions.
Feminist activist Daria Marx wrote in a blog post that for years she has felt she was “running away from a sniper” and escaping “virtual bullets of an army gone crazy”.
She said: “With each tweet, with each photo that was shared, I feared I was going to be taken down. I knew that I was going to pay the price of my freedom of expression.”
France’s minister for gender equality, Marlene Schiappa, voiced her support for those affected on Monday.
“All my support and solidarity to bloggers and journalists who have had to suffer the sexist harassment of #LigueDuLol especially Florence Porcel,” she tweeted.
Ms Schiappa added: “It’s not the ‘internet’ that’s cruel, it’s what we do with it.”
Source: Independent UK