A few weeks ago, Oliphant brought on five mods and one co-admin to oliphant.social. I was one of the mods, and we were all of us a diversely intersectional marginalized bunch of people, most of us who have our own established safe space instances, all of us who hang out in Fedimins (the fedi admins Discord group). His intent was to help build oliphant.social into a safe space instance, to have a diverse mod team who could catch the kind of things he'd miss as a white guy, and (this may have been the main factor of Oli bringing on a bunch of mods) to help him moderate the harassment and abuse AnarchoNinaWrites would get from randos in her mentions.
Nina had moved over from mastodon.social because of the harassment she was getting being on the biggest instance. Oli offered her a safer space on an instance that utilised both individual account-level blocks and instance blocks to maintain safety and assured her that he would do his best to protect her from that kind of harassment/abuse.
He told all of us individually, and expressed to us as a group, that we should moderate the instance as if it were our own, with our full discretion. I asked him myself what kind of moderation style he expects from me and explained that I'm pretty strict on .art, and he said that's exactly what he was looking for. Others asked if we should be moderating the internal users as well as external and he said again that we should moderate it as we moderate our own instances, so yes.
While some of us used our 'known' names (I was on there as WelshPixie) and some of us linked from our profiles there to our 'known' handles, others set up anon identities because they've been targeted in the past and didn't feel comfortable with being fully exposed on an open instance. This becomes relevant later.
Now that that's set the scene, here's what happened, as neutrally as I can:
Nina made a post in which she said 'with dicks' to imply men. We noted the transmisic phrasing (Oli had previously mentioned she's trans, and Nina has posted publicly since then that she is trans). One of the mods (who has given me permission to say she's trans) sent her a very VERY polite, friendly message – not an official warning, just a message – pointing out how this could be interpreted, asked if she'd mind changing the phrasing.
Nina deleted the post (for other reasons) and brought up to Oliphant that she thought she would be protected from this kind of thing on his instance.
You can see the mod DM she was sent here:
By Nina's own admission in that thread:
“I did however, once again, pull my admin friend, the person who had started the sever aside and say “look I can't go forward like this right? If I'm publishing stuff that might just get deleted, I should go back to my website.” I was assured that nobody had it in for me (see above) and that the old admin themselves would prevent anyone from banning my account without talking to them; because again, at this point I think it's weaponized reporting from randos. I dunno that the co-admin hates me.”
The next day, Nina made a bunch of posts using the phrase 'Pig Empire' – and this next part is important – in the context of globalism and bankers, which is further important in the context of Nina already having a bad reputation with the Jewish community on the fedi after several prior events (her account is banned from multiple Jewish instances), with her website co-opting the word 'pogrom' for non-Jewish use, with loads of posts on her site being tagged 'holocaust' while not being holocaust related – individually small things, perhaps, but there was a larger picture to consider.
Here's why 'globalist' and related concepts are a rallying cry for fascists and traumatising for Jews: https://forward.com/community/412627/globalism-anti-semitism/
Here's a deep dive on 'pig' and antisemitism: https://jewishjournal.com/commentary/opinion/346381/jews-romans-and-pigs-an-impossible-history/
Here's an overview of economic antisemitism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_antisemitism
Individually, those things might not have been concerning. Together, they paint a more problematic picture that could be easily avoided by some re-wording to clarify meaning without playing into antisemitic tropes. We thought, hey, Nina's antifash. She's one of us. Being made aware that you're using words that harm marginalized groups is good, right?
So far, we had just been discussing this internally, but agreed that we should bring it up to Nina. Oli wanted to message Nina himself to talk about this with her in the context of his promise to provide her a harassment-free space on his instance, and the mod team was fine with that (if not disgruntled at someone seemingly getting special treatment that was in direct contradiction to the team being brought on in the first place to help make the instance a safe space), until someone sent in a report with the same concerns about antisemitic dog-whistles. Taking Oli's earlier assurance with us that he did want us to moderate the instance as we'd moderate our own, one of the mods sent a message – again, not a warning, but a DM – just opening a conversation about dog-whistles, and again, polite and friendly in tone. The DM opened with bringing up 'Pig Empire' with the intention of broadening the conversation to include the greater problematic context of globalism and bankers, but Nina stopped responding to the conversation before that could happen, and again, went to Oli.
You can see screenshots of that DM and Nina's response in the same archived link above (https://web.archive.org/web/20230830062801/https://jorts.horse/@AnarchoNinaWrites/110975605323099983).
At this point, Nina made an account on jorts.horse where she had started subtooting about the two moderator DMs and the situation in general, and was doing the same from her account on oliphant.social. I spoke with Oli about what the situation was and whether Nina was migrating fully to another instance or was waiting on hearing from Oli about anything, anxious about wanting to minimise harm and blowback on the mods who were just doing what they'd been brought to the instance to do. Oli conveyed that we could limit her account if we felt it would help, and impressed on me how important Nina's posts are to her and that she wouldn't want to lose any of her content. I passed this to the mod team, who in an effort to minimise damage (and again, to moderate the instance as we'd moderate our own), Nina's account was frozen by the co-admin and the posts with antisemitic dog-whistles were archived, deleted, and the archived posts linked to Nina in the moderation report so that Nina had copies of everything and wouldn't lose them.
Nina used her account on jorts.horse to start ramping up a dogpile of the mod team and the co-admin. Oli had told her himself that 'turns out, the co-admin doesn't like you', which Nina posted a screenshot of ( https://web.archive.org/web/20230830073509/https://jorts.horse/@AnarchoNinaWrites/110975428887021296 ), as well as linking to the oliphant.social /about page which had all of the mods and co-admin accounts listed, and THAT is why it was relevant that some of the mods stayed anonymous. People in Nina's thread have already started up the violent rhetoric, and the co-admin took the oliphant.social instance offline as an emergency response to protect people from getting targeted by Nina (it's back up now, with the mod info on the /about page removed).
TLDR? Two mods tried having polite conversations with Nina about problematic language that we thought she would be happy to be called out on, and Nina has escalated it into a huge tirade about how unfairly she was treated by a bunch of incompetent mods:
“The six weeks, it was just me posting on his server, without a small army of mods who I sincerely believe couldn't run a Church's Chicken, I am not saying that to be mean, these folks are not suitable at all to positions of authority”
Yeah, hi, I'm the mastodon.art admin. The other mods and co-admin you interacted with all run respected safe space instances on fedi. I understand you're upset, but you do not get to turn this around as an attack on the bunch of underprivileged marginalized people who incredibly politely called you out on some bad wording in an effort to protect the marginalized identities of both themselves and the other people on the fediverse who are exposed to your posts. They should not have to suffer a tirade of abuse from you or your rallied followers as a response to them putting in the voluntary work to make fedi safer and more inclusive.