The “New Paws” Hoax: How alt-right trolls piled on a disabled man to boost their failing careers.
by Patch O'Furr
Read to the bottom to see how this hoax keeps getting deleted from forums when admins realize they’re spreading fake news.
4chan started a conspiracy theory that PretzelCollie used dry ice on his hands because he wanted them to be amputated and replaced with paws.
Hands-down one of the most depraved harassment campaigns I've ever seen. And it's of course blatantly untrue too. https://t.co/rC2pzgITL1
— Mythic (@MythicalRedFox) August 31, 2019
A shocking accident.
In 2015 I met a furry who joined furmeets I organize in Northern California. He’s bright, enthusiastic and fun to host. It was a shock when he posted on Facebook about suffering an accident. There were graphic medical photos of extreme frostbite caused by dry ice.
Welp, I’m in the hospital with a life changing situation. It was my own damn fault. Been pushing myself so hard for so long, sleep deprived, pushing myself with arthritis in my wrists. Basically I fell asleep while icing my wrists last night. Woke up 6 hours later, hands were frozen. Went to the hospital, they care flighted me to a burn center in California. It was too late, damage had been done, it’s resulting in a bilateral hand amputation so things are about to get very interesting in my life. I’m doing ok, remaining optimistic. Honestly I’m anxious to get it over with and move on with my life.
To help with costs of hand amputations, one of his co-workers started a crowdfund. I shared it on Twitter, and added a light-hearted comment about helping him to get “new paws” with an article I wrote 6 years ago: Scaly, feathery alternative limbs leap the uncanny valley into the future of prosthetic design (2013). It was about improving the lives of amputees. Instead of hiding prosthetics, they can be featured, like transforming scars with cool tattoos.
I commented about “new paws” before I saw anyone else say it. The crowdfund was his co-workers idea. Those ideas didn’t come from him.
EDIT: My comments were found again after deletion. They’re from 3 days post-accident. HE NEVER SAID HE WANTED PAWS.
Cooking up a fake attack.
Soon a rumor began spreading on social media. He was accused of causing the amputations on purpose for a fetish. There are cases of people doing self-harm with “body mods” or BIID (Body Integrity Identity Disorder), so the idea has non-zero plausibility. It’s a dysmorphia issue like anorexia. On rare occasions it crosses with furries. Examples include the 2018 “Noodles and Beef” story that was on the cover of The Stranger in Seattle. The writer consulted me for his story based on my tweets about it – I report on the issue without bias.
This situation was concerning. Did I help to spread false money appeals to the public, or contribute to the risk of media glorifying self-harm? Even if it was very unlikely and it was spread from dubious places, the risk was worth taking seriously just in case. I looked in with an open mind about issues I already cover, so this can’t be accused of bias. I checked both sides, but found that only one was real. Not everything has sides.
Meanwhile the target spent energy to answer trolls while he couldn’t even easily type. With a stylus in his mouth (or speech-to-text), and nothing to hide, he challenged them to show evidence. They had nothing to show but posts unrelated to him, and fake screenshots with no source.
He explained that he worked with dry ice, and used it after a busy day because he didn’t have regular ice packs ready at the moment. It would have a powerful effect. He’d been overworked, and slept through the harm. (I use melatonin or a weed gummy to pass out sometimes).
He’d never posted anything about intentional amputation — that would be a drastic result of long-term obsession, not a sudden impulse. He did have a history of pain management and motorcycle accidents.
This was a sadistic hoax to torment an innocent guy in a time of need. And the hoaxers didn’t even know that they were piling on someone who was hurt for more than medical reasons. The next part could bring more harassment, but I think it’s important to reveal how they’re even more malicious than they look (and help you decide what responses to give their agenda.)
Pouring salt on the wound.
The victim wasn’t out as gay, and that made a problem about getting home care. He wrote on Facebook:
You know what sucks the most about this situation I’m in? The fact I can’t tell my family. Sure they will find out eventually, but I have to stall that as long as possible. I cant rely on my own parents for support through something like this like I can all the rest of you.
Then a visit from a parent outed his relationship with a partner who was caring for him. Coming out as gay led to losing a parent (at least for the time being.) It’s more evidence that there’s no intentional self-harm here. After the sudden disability, and losing a parent, he told his friends:
Reading the responses and messages just makes me smile and give me that fuel I need to keep pushing on… You all truly are family to me.
I felt bad about unintentionally feeding the hoax with my 2013 prosthetics article. There were a few hundred retweets on my posts. I deleted them, and he posted about a break from social media to let the hoax wither away.
For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding this last tweet I made. As many of you are well aware, my situation got a lot of attention and the internet trolls latched onto it and took off with it. I was so relieved to see the majority of furs arent buying into their bullshit. Honestly I’ve got bigger problems to worry about than what some pathetic basement dwelling teenagers want to speculate, but it was really starting to get out of control. Everything I said and did was being used against me, I just got tired of it. I deleted all of my furry content because people were taking my past posts and manipulating them, in addition to straight up photoshopping fake posts. It was getting bad. I figured the best thing for me to do was to take a break from Twitter altogether.
Selfish trolls grabbed attention by kicking an easy target while he was down. But it wasn’t just simple clout-chasing.
A scapegoat for a hate agenda.
The rumors were spread by washed-up pseudo-celebrities tied to hate groups and “Gamergate”, the conspiracy theory/harassment campaign. Their following has nothing to do with furry fandom and only targets it for views. These are grifters who bounce from target to target sourced from chanboards and troll sites, to capitalize on their most gullible followers. (I won’t make that easier by linking their accounts.) These are frontline trolls with 5-figure followings (and not the helpful Frontline that gets rid of fleas.)
(Last screen) Milo’s channel
A machine greased with hate to strip-mine the truth.
This hoax is just one example of gaming the algorithms of platforms. Faking a controversy has a goal to move merchandise, subscribers, and donors, at the expense of a newly disabled man in a time of suffering. They’ll say or do anything for clout. You can tell they’re lying if their lips are moving.
The last screen above comes from a familiar face. Milo is the Gamergate grifter who built a following by:
- Mocking gamers as “unemployed saddos.“
- Getting paid by propaganda outlet Breitbart to turn them into a troll mob, and “red-pilling” them as tools for neo-nazis of the alt-right.
- Getting fired by Breitbart for praising pedophilia, going bankrupt and being deplatformed by Twitter for hate attacks.
- Recently trying to mobilize hate groups behind a so-called “straight pride parade.”
When he isn’t spreading transphobia, he’s teasing views at the expense of furries, like the other trolls shown above. It isn’t coincidental, it’s coordinated. Like when an admin of The Daily Stormer (the neo-nazi blog) tried to get “altfurries” out to neo-nazi events coordinated with trolling on their blog. Milo even did get help from a few furries. Dreamkeepers artist David Lillie drew a fursona for him (that he’s been sharing lately) and boosts the “Comicsgate” troll campaign. If you like furry fandom, these trolls inside will use your tolerance to ruin it for you. But you don’t have to let them.
Throwing a wrench in the gears.
This was written with permission to help the victim. But there’s a bigger point to a story of how simple trolling isn’t so simple. They can target me about it to grab their clout, but I personally don’t give a shit about them (or any breed of clout-chaser) because it’s not about me. It’s about what you can do.
Outside of fandom, these trolls are more and more desperate. Their games stopped working thanks to platforms cutting them off from abusing their service.
Deplatformed alt-right personalities Milo, Jacob Wohl, and Based Dragon are all having a collective meltdown together about how their Telegram audiences have stalled at extremely low numbers right now and it's glorious.
Sweet, sweet nazi tears. pic.twitter.com/9GlXcrKqg0
— Gwen Snyder is uncivil (@gwensnyderPHL) September 8, 2019
Milo Yiannopoulos says he is broke. The disgraced right-wing troll is complaining that the major social media companies have effectively cut off his alt-right audience and crushed his ability to make a decent living.#thoughtsandprayers https://t.co/e2JFcbH8cB
— Stone 🥶 (@stonecold2050) September 9, 2019
Alt-right furries had the same fate after Furaffinity kicked out a few and the fandom showed the door to the rest. Altfurries have no real presence except for being corralled in little hate groups on Telegram where they just wither away now. https://t.co/gP9fqwjXpe https://t.co/MrgPX8Dzxy
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 9, 2019
Deplatforming WORKS! No person nor platform is obligated to provide a soap-box for these hatemongers. Sure, sunlighting is important, but both sunlighting and deplatforming are valid and complementary strategies to protect communities from alt-right recruitment tactics. https://t.co/aYCu57aQ3W
— Echoen (@echoenbatbat) September 9, 2019
The hoax about “a furry amputated his hands to get new paws” comes from termites eating away at what makes furry fandom special. It’s a place where a newly disabled LGBT man finds support he needs. Spreading this kind of bullshit hurts the weakest people who need help the most. If you see anyone jump on board with it, abate the misinformation. And if they keep doing it, block them, kick them out of your groups, and cut off their funding, because hate doesn’t belong here. Don’t let them in until they stop making scapegoats out of people who truly deserve support. It’s like a little treatment of the Frontline we need.
UPDATE — Hoax keeps getting deleted by admins.
This hoax keeps getting posted to large audiences with thousands of shares, then gets deleted when admins see this article and realize it’s fake. It never had any main source evidence, nobody ever posted about wanting to lose their hands, it all came from false claims about an accident. But there is proof to show I posted about prosthetics 6 years ago, and I was the first one to make a sympathetic “new paws” comment.
Don’t spread fake news. Link this article if you see it.
That’s one fake news story on just one website, not counting chanboards, Twitter and more. I haven’t seen one Reddit repost fail to get taken down. I’m actively doing watchdog comments whenever it shows up.
It's crazy how much life a stupid chanboard hoax has. It keeps going and going. Getting spread by Milo etc gave it the attention. People like that have as much power as CNN over the fandom sometimes. Furries all share each others stuff and make it feel bigger than it really is.
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) January 28, 2020
Here's a picture of the power of negative/fake news. Incoming site traffic started with a spike of thousands of views for a positive article last week: https://t.co/xzjhNqyKqu Today the hoax was linked. ALL traffic profits social media corps, they don't care if it's real or fake. pic.twitter.com/mPBUH6aeAy
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) January 28, 2020
3/14/21: This guy gets it.
And even “Cringe” groups won’t run with it.
"Lies fly around the world while the truth is getting its shoes on".
Blowups inside a community that get a lot of views can be smaller than stuff you don't see. Trolls, hate groups and misinformation need counteracting. I'm glad many reposts of the hoax get knocked down.
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) March 15, 2021
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A warning to anyone who clicks on “See Echoen’s other Tweets” as my profile is filled with a LOT of fetishy furry porn.
Could you speak more deeply into what Deplatforming is, how and why it works, how to do it correctly and what happens when its done incorrectly?
Deplatforming doesn’t work, being an absolute tardo with money works. Jones, Mike Rivero, Matt Heimbach, and Alex Linder have never come close to being “voiceless” and have remained steady for over a decade
It’s pretty amusing Milo of all people mocks furries for “thousand dollar suits” with so much effort put into them when the moron dropped nearly five digits on that fancy $20 bangladeshi Gucci blazer he wore on the SPJ panel. Milo was always going to be broke, it was only a matter of WHEN
Also funny he mocks women for utilising sex appeal for a “sugar daddy” when that is his basic MO there too. And he spends just as frivolously.
Or rather, let me modify that, deplatforming only works ‘IF YOU KNOW YOUR TARGET’, and only then. If you see them posting their new video cards and bragging about what their donos are buying for them, yea THOSE you can “break” because they, like DSP and Boogie, are already in the process of breaking themselves. For others, it actually HELPS them in removing their worst sins, and giving them the ability to say that others are lying/conspiring against them and it’s all Fake, which is how a convicted molester like “Mad Thad” remained able to find work, as the chan kids who busted him accidentally vaped the evidence against him during the exposure. And since GG was brought up, a similar thing happened there with Nyberg.
Basically a figure’s own actions are what you need to study to determine if it will work. For someone like Candace Owens, it has only backfired and given her MORE reach and MORE opportunities. So be careful with that shit!
Another contrast example: Linder and Anglin both speak the same way, both spread hate the same way, but only Anglin can be deplatformed. Man wasted his money on SO MUCH Madoka merchandise over the years. Linder Diamond’d $500k on bit coin back in 2008 instead, then held until it was $70k a coin. He’s as impregnable as Fort Notch. You can’t get rid of Spencer either, no matter how many bad ideas he buys into that fail. Not only will Papa Taki always bail him out but he pulls about 2 mil off his cotton farm (haha what a stereotype). His multiple media sites ARE NOT his income.
If the fact is this was done with dry ice there’s no other explanation other than it was done on purpose for this result. Dry ice isn’t meant for physical contact with human beings, period. Ice water is dangerous enough as it is and prolonged exposure to that can still give you frostbite as well. Nobody who “ices” their limbs does it with ice water. That simply causes pain and can result in frostbite relatively eaisly. Most people can’t handle the pain for more than two minutes.
So I mean… You can try to pass it off as some alt-right stuff if you want. The edgelords are definitely jumping on this because they love the cringe and they’re going to run with it. But I can tell you from some personal experience… He’s not a stable guy to begin with. I wouldn’t put it past him that this was intentional and he overdosed on his pain meds so he couldn’t feel it. (Frankly you’re going to feel that crap even if you’re on a reasonable dose of hydrocodone.)
This comment is an example of speculation piled on speculation, and nothing but.
The victim had a history of motorcycle accidents and was known to have problems with his hands. It wasn’t directly applied to skin. Accusing someone of intentionally overdosing on pain meds is adding extra stretching, while someone just falling asleep from overwork (or normal medication) doesn’t need any. Yes, this is alt-right trolling, you fell for it, and it won’t be tolerated here. Anything else that is accusation without substance will get deleted.
How was it applied? If it wasn’t touching his skin, how did it cause that much damage?
Skin contact is not needed for frostbite. It’s also super rude to question someone’s personal health issue. Imagine walking up to anyone with a life changing amputation and demanding to know how it happened. Not your business, and it never should have needed a debunking article because of a sick hoax. Further comments like this will be sent to spam.
Did you miss LITERALLY the first paragraph, showing the google results for all the other people who have tried using dry ice for pain relief? Just because something is dangerous, doesn’t mean people won’t try it. That is NOT, even remotely, proof that they were attempting self-harm.
I initially did fall for the whole speil about this tragedy just being Stalking Cat Pt. II (not to say that the original Stalking Cat saga wasn’t sad too), but the reality is much different.
It hits close to home for anyone who’s gone through hand injuries such as RSI or carpal tunnel. It also hits close to home for the rapidly growing number of people who’ve dreaded going to the doctor for a problem they can’t afford to treat.
You did a great job explaining what people fabricated. Thank you! Hope he’s doing well!!!!
Since this keeps coming up and getting deleted after thousands of views —
CLAIM: There was “amputee fetish shit” found in the man’s social media history.
TRUTH: Like every other part of this hoax, that was an invention of trolls who cooked up their story and retroactively tried to put him in it. Real amputation fetish is an intense obsession that has to leave a long trail of activity. There was none whatsoever by this guy, just fake claims on chan boards. There WAS an amputee-fetish person found on his friend list … AFTER the accident, because he friended people on support groups and you can’t check the histories of every new person you meet in a big group. That was deleted when he found out.
CLAIM: Nobody uses dry ice for medical purposes. No doctor recommends dry ice. And who even HAS dry ice when they have no real use for it?
TRUTH: There are many uses on this list from a company that sells dry ice: http://the-iceman.com/dry-ice/dry-ice-uses/ Notice chemotherapy, skin treatment, welding and car repair uses (the man in this story works in the car industry.) People saying “not a medical treatment” are conveniently ignoring the fact that he’s not a doctor. People self-medicate and use home remedies for all kinds of things whether its a good idea or not. Especially in these times when medical care is inaccessible to so many people.
So to understand this all, because a friend told me about this when we were discusting about Body Integrity Identity Disorder, the furry who lost his hand just
lost his hands because it was an accident. But then trolls decided to turn it into a fetish hoax? And this hoax keep getting posted and posted again and again, but the truth is, the guy just had an accident that led to his hands having to be amputated?
(I just want to inform my friend about the actual truth of this story)
There was no BIID, and every detail you can gather from online rumor sources is cooked up to make a hoax. You can know by putting details on a timeline. They’re all connected to my original 2019 comment on Twitter (3 days after his accident) that shared my 2013 story about custom prosthetics.
That tweet was the source, and I didn’t write a story in 2013 to cause an event with someone I didn’t meet until 2015.
There’s no history of obsessive behavior that comes before such extreme acts. No “I want paws” ever. While BIID is real, the hoax rises up in the reposting of faked/distorted/ahistorical screenshots and the like.
Remember I didn’t just look back and piece together an ahistorical story (like every rumor spreader did), I wrote a story in 2013, met the guy in 2015, posted the tweet in 2019, and watched the hoax created in real time.
This isn’t a close friend, but a nice guy I spent some time with who doesn’t know me that well. I’d report the facts like I was a source for this BIID-related story if there were any.
For the medical stuff you’d need to be a doctor to know, it’s not my place to speculate. I believe there was chronic pain and fatigue circumstances for an unusual accident, but don’t look for BIID in a hoax. They said it was about paws. It was not, that was my 2013 story. Basically sadistic people are just picking on a disabled guy.
Reading this from your links in tweets about the recurring traffic from the hoax rebounds, and I’m quite baffled by how much a fake story live disconnected from time when the real ones get forgotten in a few days…
Really make me think again about the theories studying hoax and how they behave significantly different from the real one at the point where an algorithm can identify them by their anarchic spread over long times
(Albeit not proving at all that non-epidemic spread of stories are true though)
All I hope is that the guy living his life with a hard handicap can get some quality life now after some rehabilitation and away from all those recurring trolls
Hope he’s with loved ones and family too