LGBTQ+ suicide helpline ‘inundated’ by far-right 4chan trolls in ‘appalling’ attack

Close up of the fingers of a man dialing out on a land line telephone pressing the number keys on the keypad in a communications concept.

Users of right-wing online forum 4chan have overwhelmed an LGBTQ+ suicide hotline.

A spokesperson for The Trevor Project told Buzzfeed its helpline was “inundated” on Tuesday (30 August) after a co-ordinated attack by 4chan users.

The attack was organised on a thread titled “Operation Gomorrah” – appearing to reference the bombing of Hamburg in World War II.

The initial “declaration” that instigated the mass raid used several anti-LGBTQ+ dog whistles against the charity, including calling staff “groomers” and “sodomites.”

Several of the board’s messages included various racist slurs, anti-LGBTQ+ language, and updates on the waiting times. 4chan users claimed those had climbed above 10 minutes long in some instances.

Media Matters senior researcher Alex Kaplan screenshotted several of the posts in a Twitter thread where he outlined how the trolls aimed to “clog up the hotline.”

The Trevor Project called the actions, which stopped vulnerable people accessing vital mental health support, “appalling”.

Spokesperson Kevin Wong told BuzzFeed News: “They inundated our crisis service – the crisis services that are meant for LGBTQ+ young people to connect with a trained counsellor so that they can talk through some of the stuff and get support through some of the things that they’re finding challenging.

“It’s appalling – that’s the word I would use – that anyone would want to stop someone from finding services to prevent them from attempting suicide.”

Kaplan also mentioned that The Trevor Project had suggested it could take legal action over the raid.

The controversial 4chan forum is built on the concept of universal anonymity for every user.

It has been accused of hosting radicalised neo-Nazis who stage online attacks on marginalised groups, including former police officer Benjamin Hannam who was arrested by Met Police for membership of terror group National Action.

Several attendees of the January 6 US Capitol insurrection were believed to have congregated on 4chan to plan the storm, especially on its political board, /pol/.

Additionally, members of /pol/ have staged several online attacks on LGBTQ+ activists and organisations. In 2020, a group of alt-right users had planned to hijack Pride Month in a plot they called “Operation Pridefall.”

Receipts of the plot’s existence stem as far back as 10 May, 2020, where archived threads reference planned cyber attacks where a swarm of fake accounts would flood social media sites with a swam of anti-LGBTQ+ content.

Targeted companies included Starbucks, Amazon, Coca-Cola. Local law enforcement that expressed pro-LGBTQ+ sentiments were also targeted.