On #OverweightHaters Ltd

You can’t have spent any time on Twitter in the last couple of days without seeing reference to #OverweightHaters, an organisation which is apparently going up to overweight people and handing them cards calling them fat, lazy porkers (I paraphrase).

haters

I’m writing this as someone whose BMI is in the overweight range, and thus probably qualifies to receive one of these cards (note for anyone that tries it, I hope you’re not too attached to your fingers).

At the moment, I’m convinced it’s either a one-off by a thoroughly nasty individual, or some sort of publicity stunt, guerrilla marketing campaign, or similar. It’s all a bit, well, odd. Circumstantial, circular references abound.

Only one person has actually posted about receiving one of these cards. A second person has tweeted about seeing someone else being given one of them, but if it were a sustained campaign of fat-shaming, I think Twitter/Facebook would be full of “some bastard gave me one of these cards,” posts, rather than circular references to the same person being given a card.

The person who tweeted about receiving the card last tweeted in 2012, and hasn’t tweeted since, despite half the world trying to get in touch with her. It seems unlikely to me that your first action on receiving a card calling you names would be to post about it on a social platform you’ve hardly ever used before. Maybe I’m wrong, but…

OverweightHaters Ltd has no internet presence that I could find. No Twitter account, no Facebook page, no website. I ended up on page 17 of Google results looking for anything other than a link to news stories about this one event, and we all know that page 17 of Google is the pit of desperation. [The website overweighthaters.com was registered by someone with no purported connection to this group whilst I was drafting this]

The name of the website the images are being hosted on seems a bit to coincidental for someone who’s saying they’ve been fat-shamed. Slimg? Really? And that background image on the home page…

slimg2

slimg

The website seems mainly to be used as an image hosting service for things posted to Reddit and similar sites, for what it’s worth.

The card has no contact information on it, and is full of grammatical and spelling mistakes. If it were an actual entity, you’d hope somebody in it could spell and proof-read. If the organisation had any web presence, this would be listed on the card, if only so they could get off on the messages telling them how horrible and upsetting they are. Bullies rarely bully in a vacuum, they bully to get a result. If you don’t leave any way for your victims to get in touch with you, how do you know how upset they are?

This one’s a bit of a stretch, but there is no entity called “Overweight Haters Ltd” listed on Companies House.

overweight

If this organisation is real, they’re probably not paying attention to the finer points of company law, but you can’t call yourself “Ltd” unless you’re a Limited Company and registered as such on the Companies House website. Yes, if that was my only bit of evidence, I’d be on distinctly thin ice, but taken in conjunction with everything else, it’s making me think it’s some sort of publicity stunt, a wind-up from a site such as 4Chan, or some other exercise in watching the Twitter mob work itself into a fury and let rip over nothing.

That is, I think, the great weakness of Twitter – that if most people in your Twitter bubble are saying how terrible something is, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the mob because it’s easy to miss the dissenting voices saying “um, hang on a second.”

I know there are a lot of ifs, buts and maybes in this post, and very little that’s concrete, but then it seems to me that there are an awful lot of ifs, buts and maybes in the whole story, with very little that’s concrete.

If it is true, it’s properly awful and I’m really sorry for any innocent person that it’s happened to, and I hope everyone who thought it was a good idea gets septic paper cuts, but, at the moment, it all seems circumstantial, vague and unconvincing.

8 Comments

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8 Responses to On #OverweightHaters Ltd

  1. I am inclined to think you are right about it being a wind-up. It struck me as odd yesterday that there was no proper description of the person (or persons) supposedly handing the cards out. Not hard to think of a few potential offences, apart from the use of Ltd, but if this is for real then the good old Victorian railway bye-law ‘interfering with the comfort of passengers’ has been breached. (Nowadays: “No person shall molest or wilfully interfere with the comfort or convenience of any person on the railway.” TfL Railway Bye-Law 6(8) )

  2. Like you, I think far too many things don’t add up about this.

    All of the mainstream media have republished it as “fact” without stopping to conduct even the slightest of checks (“ooh look, it’s on the interwebs so it must be true and I can’t risk getting told off for not covering something that’s on a rival site”).

    In between researching recipes I did a bit of digging last night.

    I suspect something along these “a wind-up from a site such as 4Chan” lines. My investigation last night led to a site (that I’m not going to name on here) that seems to be a refuge for all the people who were so bad they even got banned from Reddit. Coincidentally (?) that site also happens to use sli.mg for image hosting.

    The other thing that crossed my mind (though I didn’t keep a note of it as Pimm’s punch had been partaken of by then) was that the complainant appeared to have a background in psychology. Which made me wonder if they were conducting some sort of “experiment”.

    The Met are supposedly investigating. If anyone has contacts with their press office it would be worth asking whether they’ve received a crime report or whether they are just “investigating” in response to the media frenzy.

    Even if the protagonist was a lone individual, I doubt that this would have been a one-off. All of the publicity should, surely, have unearthed other people on the receiving end of something similar.

    One more thought to add to your last paragraph. If this event does turn out to be a “stunt” I wonder how many people will stop to consider that their rush to repost things has actually helped spread it. Not many I fear.

  3. Jeannine

    Whether the occurrence in fact happened is largely irrelevant, I feel. That it *could* happen is very much true, and every larger woman knows it, which is what makes it so believable. This kind of hatred, this eliminationist putrid language, is a form of misogyny and is a direct result from the moral crusade/epi-panic known as the “war on obesity”. It isn’t about health. You cannot tell a person’s health status by the size of their backside, and “health” comes in all shapes and sizes. Nor is it about resources as, guess what, fat people pay taxes too. It becomes whether some entitled douchebro finds a woman “f@&kable”, as if she cares. Women are casualties.

  4. To add to the mystery:
    The company that set up the web site sells clothes for over sized people
    The person they say they heard about it from is a reasonably successful author
    The time frame for a (notationally Sheffield based company) to go from seeing a tweet, to having their response cards designed, printed and being handed out around central London is rather quick. Not impossibly quick (1st tweet 1pm, response 2pm, design 3:20pm, cards printed 4:30pm, giving them out 15 mins later) Same company registered domain seemingly at midnight, had the wordpress based website up at 00:16 and graphics etc posted by 01:24. None of these are impossible time lines just very efficient

    • Also googling “djbrkr@gmail.com” who is the person who registered the domain “OVERWEIGHTHATERS.COM” is quite interesting seems they’re a “user journey” SEO marketing specialist. Going from the whois information for that domain to what else Dan Baker has been invovled in is quite interesting. Of course this may just be proof at how good he is at his job and having seen that horrible card got right on with doing soemthign about it in conjunction with one of his clients.
      (Did a whois lookup of the domain, the googled the registrant e-mail and phone number).

  5. Pingback: Haters or marketing? | Anonymong