When the Android Community Gets Personal

Those of you who’ve spent any significant time on any Android forum knows there are occasionally conflicts between individual developers or themers, development teams, and even their followers. While most of these conflicts end up resolved out of the public eye, they do occasionally spill out in a very public and messy manner. Even more unfortunate is when these conflicts become personal enough that threats are made and private information is made public solely to encourage harassment. This is unacceptable for any reason, and we all have to play our part in making sure these situations end quickly and without putting a person – or their family – in harm’s way.

When Online Conflicts Turn Into Offline Threats
Of course, online bullying is nothing new to the social networking world, as stories in the news have abounded more and more recently, many attacks even leading to physical beatings posted on YouTube or suicides over bullying by one’s classmates on Facebook. Sometimes online harassment carries over into the Android community in the form of threats against against a person’s identity in real life and against that person’s family.

Such is the case of cyberstalking perpetrated by the owners of a fake AOKP Facebook page (since taken down), who resorted to threatening Roman Birg, lead developer of Team Kang and author of the popular AOKP ROM, as well as his family. While apparently no threats of physical violence were made, attempts were made to post Roman’s phone number on Facebook and to post a relative’s number on 4Chan, as shown on this screenshot (thanks, Just_Reboot)

Attached Image: Screenshot from phony AOKP Facebook page.png

Such invasions of any person’s identity are absolutely unacceptable, and when a valued member of the Android community is threatened, we take this very seriously.

Sadly, this is only the latest case of cyberstalking in the Android community. Last year someone threatened another developer to the extent of mailing mysterious packages to his home, thus putting his family at risk. The conflict between these two didn’t originate on Rootzwiki, but I personally know the person who was targeted and I know the online identity of the stalker, though I will not post those particular identities here out of respect for the victim.

If you encounter any examples of people misrepresenting, posing, or making threats, either against you or against someone you know, you should report this conduct to the proper authorities. Both Facebook and Twitter have procedures for reporting inappropriate conduct and pages that impersonate you or your friends, as shown in the screenshots below.

report page on Facebook.PNG
report user on Twitter.PNG

Editor’s addition: Phones and tablets are serious business to all of us, otherwise we wouldn’t frequent forums and follow developers and themes on the various social networks they use to interface with their followers. Unfortunately, situations such as the one experienced by Roman and Team Kang are all too easy to reproduce by people who – for one reason or another – feel entitled to reward developers’ hard work with misinformation, slander, and threats. This is unacceptable, not just by RootzWiki but by the greater Android community as a whole.

In addition to the steps Jeff listed above, community members should use the Report Thread/Post button if they see any of these types of misrepresentations or attacks on any forum they visit. If you see similar drastic changes in behavior or tone in what appears to be a developer’s account on a non-community social network such as Twitter, Facebook, or Google +, then please verify the information through official sources (such as the developer’s official web site, or the forum they frequent most often) and let the developer know through reliable and verifiable channels that it appears their account has been compromised or that someone else is impersonating them.

Developers, you may wish to consider this despicable episode as a call to lock down your identities. It is good practice to secure your individual names, team name, ROM / Theme series names, etc. on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ even if you have no plans on using those accounts at this time. ]]>

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