Project Harpoon Moves Onto A New Target
A controversial fat-shaming group moves on to a new group of women to troll
Project Harpoon is striking again, and this time the controversial group is aiming its efforts squarely at sex workers.
After the online community received widespread scorn last week for mocking and photo-shopping images of plus-size people without permission, which critics denounced as fat-shaming, the group turned their sights on a new batch of targets.
One of the group’s community board owners, who goes by the name Harpooner, published a fresh trove of images on Tuesday to Project Harpoon’s online forum on 8chan and said “here’s some new ones” in the thread that calls for photo alterations. Vocativ’s analysis confirmed that each of these women have profiles on platforms such as backpage.com and escortsintexas.com, which are popular sites used by American sex workers looking for clients. As of Tuesday morning, there are 25 active users on the forum, which is frequently relocated because of bad press.
Project Harpoon, similar to the self-proclaimed ethics movement Gamergate, rose from online platforms like 4chan and Reddit. Converging conversations about video game heroines grew into a distinct collective. The loosely affiliated and non-hierarchical group organized digital media campaigns, which critics say targeted bloggers, actresses, models and activists with sexist cyber bullying. Project Harpoon’s Facebook page amassed nearly 12,000 likes before it was removed. The group’s Tumblr and Instagram accounts were also deleted, The Independent reported on Monday.
Negative press prompted some supporters to re-brand the movement as a health campaign with a less derogatory tone, using the group’s second alias Thinner Beauty, which was already in use on their Reddit forum. This forum, with over 2,400 subscribers, has long had a more positive focus and lists rules explicitly forbidding both harassment and fat-shaming. Meanwhile, the same group’s less public channels started circulating photos of sex workers for their next collaboration.
It appears that Project Harpoon was not implemented by Gamergate or any other official group. However, Vocativ’s Twitter analysis found that, similar to the controversial Sad Puppies crusade, many Gamergate members are involved in Project Harpoon. There are also ideological and structural similarities between them, including the way some contributors use anonymous accounts to circulate personal attacks and hate speech.