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League of LOL targets French feminist journalists

SENIOR male journalists at the French newspaper Liberation are among those suspended after the discovery of a “boys’ club” on Facebook which was used to harass feminist reporters.

The discovery of the male-orientated Ligue du LOL, an abbreviation of “laugh out loud,” has been described as France’s “Me Too” moment, with one journalist so distressed she became suicidal.

The group was accused of co-ordinating online abuse predominantly targeted at women for many years. It was reported to have had members in public relations, graphic design and media education.

Content was found mocking several women with rape jokes, photo-shopped pornographic images and the creation of anonymous Twitter accounts used to harass prominent journalists, writers and activists.

The group was uncovered by the major French daily Liberation, which also found some of its workers to be involved in the group. Liberation’s online editor Alexandre Hervaud was among those suspended.

Freelancer Vincent Glad, who also worked for Liberation, founded the group in 2009. He has also been suspended from the paper.

He has apologised, claiming he now realised “such practices were unacceptable and ‘LOL’ was not funny at all when it is done in a pack.”

Journalist Nora Bouazzouni, Slate France reporter Lucile Bellan and podcaster Melanie Wanga were said to be among the victims of the group.

Science presenter Florence Porcel was targeted after a member posing as a producer of a prestigious TV show offered her a job and posted the recording of a fake interview online.

“When the recording was made public, I cried of shame for three days,” Ms Porcel said.

Digital Affairs Minister Mounir Mahjoubi labelled the League of LOL “losers,” adding: “It is a group of guys high on their power at being able to make fun of other people — except that their mockery had an effect in real life.”

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