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French media circles are reeling from the revelation that a group of 30 male journalists had created a secret group on Facebook dubbed the “Ligue du LOL” which they used for years to harass female journalists.

The group was exposed late last week, and a handful have already been fired. According to reports, the group formed in 2010 and mocked women, in some cases using pornographic memes, according to France 24.

The journalists were registered there under anonymous accounts. But an investigation by Liberation, a left-leaning newspaper, revealed the group’s existence and the names of its members, including one of its own journalists, Vincent Glad, who was one of the founders of the group.

The original Liberation story is here (in French). Targets of the group told how the harassment led one woman to quit and another to become suicidal.

In some cases, the group discussed women in the Facebook group, and then began to spread memes about them publicly on Twitter. Daria Marx, a well-known feminist author, told Liberation:

For many years on Twitter, me and other feminist girlfriends, we were the target of these little Parisian guys who did not care about us … I was fat, so I did not have the right to speak.

One day, I had the misfortune to create a fundraiser for my birthday, to buy me a scooter. This was not public, but they managed to find it, to take it over by insisting that a fat woman a scooter was very funny. Then my phone number was put on Leboncoin (the French Craigslist), with a scooter sales ad. People were calling me and wondering if I was selling my scooter, calling me ‘Madame fat’, the name in the ad.

One day, one of the members of this league took a porn picture of a fat, blonde girlfriend who could vaguely resemble me and started spreading the image on Twitter, saying that he had found my sextape.

Naturally, some of those involved have taken to Twitter to express remorse in some cases, but also to defend the group as being focused on making fun of everyone, not just women. But over the past few days, those arguments haven’t been well received.

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