After an epic two week struggle, an explosive final day seems to have brought an end to the most bizarre and controversial net saga for some time. Boxxy’s Youtube was hacked.
Now I’ll warn you that this blog entry is at various times confusing, pointless and contains much more conjecture, speculation and opinion than the first entry. If you think the author of this blog has too much time on their hands, then you’re absolutely right. If you don’t have a basic grasp on this situation and the websites mentioned, this will all sound like nonsense. Hell, even if you followed the whole thing this will still sound like nonsense.
The particulars of this final event took place over 2 days (17th-18th Jan) on several threads on 4chan, which often ran simultaneously so were hard to follow, with the real crux occurring in private chat rooms beyond the view of this writer, thereby creating much confusion and the need to speculate.
This entire case demonstrates some rather brutal realities of current internet culture, with lessons for all of us.
The seemingly cold case was blown open not by /b/‘s failed ‘Operation Valkyrie‘, but by ‘Operation [Removed]’ - perpetrated by a group of at least 11 people under the banner ’Center for Boxxy Control and Restriction’ (CBRC), who appeared to have splintered from /b/ and retreated to a private chatroom in order to carry out their plan away from the frequent bans and nonsense on 4chan.
Boxxy is now a meme
This group apparently contains remixer of Boxxy’s videos gastricpenguin - namedropped in her Jan 9th video, who appears to have gone undercover as a friendly face, to act as a go between linking her to the CBRC.
He even divulged some of the (admittedly harmless) private messages Boxxy sent to him on Youtube, which were posted on /b/, tut tut! After her Youtube account was attacked, a CBRC file was leaked onto 4chan by a defector, containing much of their research.
An apparent moderator lapse this past Sunday allowed Boxxy threads to populate /b/ again and remain active for longer than usual before deletion. A sudden new burst of information appeared. This meant /b/ and CBRC were working simultaneously, with /b/ about a day behind in terms of known information.
Boxxy’s downfall was in the failure to effectively cover up the trail of accounts she has used over the years. The discovery of a much earlier Youtube account was the breakthrough. This account contains a video from December 2006, showing a girl with a strong resemblance to Boxxy, who calls herself ‘Catie’ - one of the first names mooted by /b/ as a possibility way back on ermm…January 5th. The account has not been logged into for a year.
Boxxy in December 2006
Anyway, initial doubters that this more reserved, eyeliner free girl was indeed Boxxy were quickly dismissed with a CSI style visual match that virtually confirmed it. Click to see.
From the information on the old Youtube, a Myspace account was found. The current version of the account seems to be wiped clean, with the username changed to keyboard gibberish. However, Boxxy was caught out again, this time by the Google cache which stored the page as it appeared in November 2008, as well as the first page of photos. The photo page was filled with art relating to Gaiaonline - including the user MoldyLunchboxx. A direct match.
These pages also suggest, with a high certainty, that Boxxy - for two solid weeks the target of constant sexually orientated comments, death threats and general aggressive unpleasantries posted all over 4chan and Youtube, is not the variously quoted 22, 21 or 18, but only 16 years old.
An unfortunately prescient statement from Boxxy's old Myspace
To add to the confusion, there are at least 2 more Myspace accounts belonging to Boxxy, all of them locked out with radically altered info. One of these was last visited January 6th, which matches the date she posted her own photos on 4chan. However the final knockout blow was not in these cached Myspace pages, but another website (I will not be specific) which allowed those tracking her to find her full name, from which the hackers presumably deduced her email address.
Whilst these snippets of info were filtering through to /b/, some strange activity was seen. A thread appeared, with Boxxy’s full name, and a previously unseen, high resolution photo, followed quickly by another. The OP claimed to be at the same school as her, but in Collierville, Tennessee, in the face of substantial ties to California. Instructions were given to ‘ruin her life’.
One of the suspicious posts
Accusations began to fire. Just who would want to try and throw people off the trail and confuse them, and who would have a new, large photo of her? Boxxy herself, or a close accomplice was the consensus. They must have caught wind of her full name being found, and merely be attempting to mitigate the damage by stirring the pot with false leads.
It sounded semi-plausible, but, unbeknownst to the vast majority of /b/ at that moment, the CBRC had long since uncovered a photobucket account which was later seen to contain the same photos, so the implication is obvious, members of the CBRC were trolling /b/ with the photos in a attempt to throw them off, as they themselves were close to breaking into her accounts and did not want Anonymous to do it first.
Multiple alleged addresses and phone numbers were posted on a thread. I am unaware of what the poster was basing his claims on. There then followed some absurd and disturbing posts by people who claim to live nearby, saying they were going to drive over and take a look. We have no way of verifying if they were telling the truth, or if any of the claimed locations were in any way accurate but the mere possibility of this is shocking indeed. Thankfully, these were almost certainly fake - one of the addresses was a mall, one of the phone numbers was for a chiropractor.
Yes, this actually happened....
Within a couple of hours, CBRC had breached her Youtube account, via successfully guessing the secret answer for her email account, deduced from the stack of information they uncovered. Or phishing her with a fake email, depending on who you listen to. They then made her videos private, uploading a video warning her to never post another video again. This attracted 1000 comments within an hour and became the most commented video of the day on Youtube. So that brought it to an end, in theory. They had removed the ‘cancer’.
Rapidly, the comments for their video began to fill with alleged lists of the IP’s of CBRC members. The claimed source is a ‘4chan admin’. Vengeance is promised. (Tip: nothing will happen.) For some reason, the hackers videos were then removed, with the original videos restored. On January 20th, the boxxybabee account was suspended.
They probably won't
So after all that, was the ‘chemo’ even effective? No, not really. A look at /b/ will reveal Boxxy threads are still being posted. By essentially martyring the Boxxy meme, CBRC have simply created a new groundswell of people willing to troll with her image, as well as genuine resentment at their actions.
The actions of CBRC present some moral conundrums. Their methods could be construed as either harmless net detective work to eliminate the account of someone that was being used as a means of ruining the online experience of many people, or flat out highly invasive stalking.
At the end of the day, it’s just the internet. It is taken far too seriously. A girl made some videos for her friends on Gaiaonline, which became popular through no fault of her own. She then did what most people would do, and responded to this intense interest with another innocent and harmless video. What could go wrong?
Now she has her name, age, dozens of photos, school, internet accounts, alleged phone numbers, and alleged location available online, along with the details of several uninvolved friends. Nobody could have predicted she would create so much chaos, not least Boxxy herself. She had no idea what she was getting herself into by posting a response video.
This entire debacle ultimately stems from those who spammed /b/ with her image and pissed off so many people. CBRC, in attacking the ‘cancer’ had no choice but go to for the head of the snake, as it were. But then we must ask, so what? 4chan is just an image board. Is it really that important? What right does Anonymous, CBRC or anyone else have to dictate what Boxxy can do online, or what other people post? Again, the internet is taken too seriously, by all parties (especially me).
The CBCR warning
It all boils down to this: a 16 year old girl had the details of her life published online, because some people didn’t like how often other people posted pictures of her. That is bullshit. That is ludicrous. There is no way to justify it.
Will Boxxy return? Not likely, if she has any sense. While CBRC members can be seen gloating and goading about their victory over a teenager on Youtube, the entire episode has a sad end, as Boxxy is intimidated, effectively blackmailed, to never post another video. If she does, she will likely cause herself substantial unnecessary hassle.
The lesson for all of us here, obvious as it is, is to think about what you divulge online. Is your Myspace secure? Is your Facebook account private? What forum accounts contain your details, and can they be traced and linked to each other? Everything you write online can potentially be linked, as if it were a jigsaw, and a profile of your life built up. I know plenty of people who have publicly viewable Facebook accounts containing their D.O.B, phone numbers, emails, addresses, places they work, go to college and so on. This is lunacy. This is asking for trouble. Boxxy didn’t do this, yet was still tracked down.
We could commend the CBRC for this statement, in which they acknowledge that Catie was naïve about what might happen and just what 4chan/the internet is capable of, and that their threats are ‘empty and psychological’, as opposed to the specific threats seen on 4chan. They go on to say ‘no one has any actual reason to ruin her personal life’.
We could commend, but it looks like little more than empty gesture on their part. It’s all well and good saying that in hindsight, but the fact is, they failed to secure their own clique, and their little dossier of information about her is now online. Realistically, they have to say that, to appear rational and humane in the face of a situation they explicitly helped develop. It is the following quote from their statement that lays it out:
“First, we, CBCR, pretty much made all the breakthroughs in the investigation. I don't care if it sounds arrogant, but if you look through our now-leaked dox, you can see that everything that was found on 4chan was found by us beforehand.”
There is much scope for speculation here. In my view, CBRC were the only people who had enough interest left to want to pursue information on Boxxy. The fact that they allowed a document to leak, combined with the suspicious posts trying to mislead /b/, leads to the conclusion that the majority or all new leads that made it onto /b/ came from consistent leaks from the CBRC. If so, the sad conclusion of this episode is entirely their fault. They say there is no reason to ruin her personal life, but if someone does, they facilitated it.
/b/ summed up in one post
Yes, it is possible that Anonymous would have uncovered all of her information on their own, but much less likely, owing to the number of bans being handed out for discussing her, the waning interest in her, and the overall lack of organization of Anonymous. If she had simply not released any more videos (and CBRC state they did not believe she would release any more, based on the reaction to her Jan 9th video), and CBRC had done nothing, interest would have taken its natural course towards the exit, and she would have retained her privacy.
Give people anonymity, and they become de-individuated, whether it be on an image board or in a rioting mob. The same internet machine that could propel you to the top of the Youtube charts and hand you online fame will happily chew you up and spit you back out just as quickly, with zero remorse or consideration for the consequences. This is the reality of the internet today, this case is not the first, and surely not the last. Catie, at least, well and truly learnt the power of the world wide web. Somehow, I doubt that will be of much consolation to her.
P.S. There are a succession of imposter accounts on Youtube. Not a single one has a shred of authenticity, don’t be fooled.
A few examples of fakes:
And of course:
P.P.S Some distasteful and blatantly fake photoshopped news items are being posted on /b/ claiming Boxxy is dead. The fakes are very poorly written and contain numerous flaws. Again, don’t be fooled.