By Agence France-Presse
A group of young French media executives was condemned Monday for running a macho “boys’ club” that harassed female colleagues online.
Their closed Facebook group “League of LOL” — made up mostly of men in their thirties — ridiculed women journalists for years, sometimes using pornographic memes to attack them.
Women seen as feminist were the group’s favorite targets.
The founder of the group, journalist Vincent Glad, was suspended Monday by left-wing daily Liberation after an investigation by the newspaper’s own fact-checking unit exposed its existence.
The revelations also led to the suspension of the newspaper’s online editor Alexandre Hervaud and his opposite number at France’s trendiest music and culture magazine, Les Inrockuptibles, David Doucet.
The affair is being dubbed the “French media’s #MeToo”, with Liberation referring to the group as a “boys’ club” which bullied women online and cracked off-colour jokes about rape culture.
Victims of the group recounted how the attacks and pranks had pushed one woman to quit journalism and left another suicidal.
League of LOL targeted science presenter Florence Porcel, seeking to humiliate her by getting group members to pose as the producers of a prestigious television programme offering her a job, then posted the recording of the fake interview online.
Other women had their heads grafted onto pornographic images.
Set up in 2009, the League of LOL also had members in public relations, graphic design, and media education. It had been much less active in recent years.
The head of a porn culture website, Stephen des Aulnois, stepped down Monday and suspended his Le Tag Parfait (The Perfect Tag) blog, apologising for his part in the activities of the group that gets its name from the acronym for “laugh out loud”.
In a separate development, Le Monde newspaper said Monday that three journalists from the French edition of the Huffington Post news site, in which Le Monde has a stake, had been fired for making “unacceptable remarks in a work context”.
Le Monde’s editor-in-chief Jerome Fenoglio and publisher Louis Dreyfus said the three were fired over their posts on a closed Facebook page, without revealing the nature of the remarks or whether they were linked to the League of LOL.