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Monday, October 9, 2017

The Rise of ‘Weaponized Autism’

If tracking the general whereabouts of a stranger sounds like a creepy way to kill five minutes, well, that’s part and parcel of 4chan’s “autism” brand: awkwardly unaware of, or indifferent to, accepted manners. Despite the forum’s anonymizing format, prevalent examples of “autism” usually do correspond to invasions of privacy; a legendary instance saw one user obsessively cyberstalk another, seeking out his personal information, even publicly planning the poor guy’s abduction and funeral. When the harassment came to an end at last, “the archiver” posted a 97-page dossier of everything he had collected on his target, leading a stunned observer to remark that his relentlessness “transcends all levels of autism into some new dimension of psychotic.”
In this were hints of a dark meme that was destined to become a tactic: “weaponized autism,” the notion that the irregular rhythms and affect of autistic consciousness could deliver political gain if set loose on a specific problem or enemy.