Tuesday, May 17

Eight members of an antivax group soon to be tried for online moral harassment

The national center for the fight against online hatred had been investigating since the spring the cyberbullying suffered in 2021 by two parliamentarians and a French doctor. The investigations finally led to the arrest of eight members of an anti-vaccine group called “VV” or “Vivi”, this Tuesday, January 18.

Originally from Moselle, Rhône, Seine-et-Marne, Hauts-de-Seine and Finistère, these six women and two men, aged 40 to 54, are accused of having carried out digital raids aimed at LREM MP Isabelle Rauch, PS Senator Nicole Bonnefoy and a department head from the Amiens University Hospital. These online “attacks” consist of drowning the victim in a flood of insults sent en masse and repeatedly through electronic means of communication.

Thus, the Paris prosecutor’s office indicated that these eight individuals would soon be tried for online moral harassment. Justice accuses them of having carried out these harassment campaigns in a concerted manner, between the spring and the end of the summer of 2021. For these facts, they risk up to two years in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros.

According to Jean-Philippe Reiland, the boss of the Central Office for the fight against crimes against humanity (OCLCH) who coordinated this dragnet, the group “V_V” has around 300 sympathizers in France. Among the eight arrested is also a Moselle considered to be a French leader of the “Vivi” in France.

Originally from Italy, this group takes its name from the Italian verb “vivere”, “to live” in French. Its logo, a red double V in the center of a circle, is inspired by the one seen in the comic book adapted for the cinema, “V for Vendetta”. As in the work, the members of this anti-vaccine entity hide behind the Guy Fawkes mask, popularized by Anonymous hackers and become an emblem of the defense of freedoms.

More than 1,400 hate messages in three hours

According to Facebook’s director of emerging threat investigations, Mike Dvilyanski, the “Vivi” coordinated in particular via Telegram messaging. They were trained to evade the automatic detection of the social network and had lists of people to target in their attacks.

Their technique was therefore to flood the victims with messages in a short period of time. The remarks are often similar, denouncing “vaccination blackmail”, “the suppression of rights” and accusing “the government and the system”, “the real virus”, of “killing people and destroying society”.

For example, in June 2021, the newspaper Le Parisien had been the victim of a digital raid after devoting an article to them. “More than 1,400 hateful comments” had been posted on his Facebook page in just three hours. Similar treatment was reserved for the parliamentarians and the doctor concerned.

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