A troll originating from 4chan impersonated gay travel bloggers Karl Krause and Daan Colijn on Twitter in an effort to associate the LGBTQ+ community with pedophilia, per NBC News. Krause and Colijn see their blog as an important tool to identify safe places to travel for fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community. That’s why their fans were appalled when they saw photos of Krause and Colijn promoting pedophilia as an acceptable sexual orientation.
Around Christmas Day, the bloggers began seeing emails from their Twitter followers alerting them of what was going on. To make the fake account seem legitimate, the troll behind it began retweeting content and accounts that supported the LGBTQ+ community. Once it had done that, it went off the deep end.
Created in December, the account went by the name Alex and the Twitter handle @vaceyi. It caught fire with a tweet that read, “pedophilia is a sexual orientation you bigots,” which garnered over 16,000 replies. With its Alex Jones-ian logic, the tweet caught the attention of right-wing commentator and former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling, and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, who proceeded to respond, “they are actually trying to argue that pedophiles are an ‘oppressed minority,” along with screenshots of @vaceyi’s tweets. “Many warned this day would come.”
Twitter, proving its incompetence, repeatedly demanded that Krause prove his own identity before taking action against @vaceyi. The fact that Twitter would not ban the account on the grounds of promoting pedophilia alone is problematic in itself, but the account was permanently suspended only after a request for comment from NBC News. That reluctance to punish @vaceyi paints the picture that Twitter only acted to save its own hide after realizing the story was going viral.
Associating pedophilia with the LGBTQ+ community is a disgusting but commonplace tactic for the homophobic ilk of 4chan, the poorly regulated meeting place of bigoted alt-right conspiracists. Forum posters there previously created a fake gay pride flag including a ‘P’ for pedophilia in the LGBTQ+ acronym. These outright false claims arise in spite of years of research proving the opposite. Thomas G. Plante, a psychologist and professor at Santa Clara University who’s studied the psychopathology behind pedophilia for more than 30 years, said in an interview with NBC News:
The critical thing is that sexual orientation in and of itself is not a risk factor for psychopathology for anything, let alone pedophilia. The majority of people who are pedophiles are step-fathers, older brothers, next door neighbors, or others like that. It has to do with access, impulse control problems, and other kinds of psychopathology. You’ve got plenty of people out there who are experts in this stuff, who treat and evaluate people. All of that gets discarded because there’s someone out there who has an anonymous Twitter account who’s much louder.
But the anti-science rhetoric continues. Conservative site The Federalist Papers, for instance, fell for the troll job, posting an article with the headline “Resistance Member Says Pedophilia Is Sexual Orientation, Claims Bigotry.” The site has yet to post a correction to the article calling the claims false.
This act of hate, unfortunately, proves the work Krause and Colijn do is necessary. Krause told NBC News, “We see our work as activism. People should know about this part of our work. Don’t fall for this other thing. We try to tell people that we just want to be treated equally.”