PyCon Incident: Two People Fired, DDOS Attack Launched Against SendGrid Site

Things escalated quickly after Adria Richards posted a tweet

By on March 22nd, 2013 08:21 GMT

An incident at the recent PyCon Python developer conference has gotten way out of proportions, resulting in two people getting fired by their companies and distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks being launched against two websites.

It all started when two of the developers present at the conference started making jokes that were deemed inappropriate in nature by Adria Richards, a SendGrid developer evangelist.

After becoming tired of the “dongle” and forked repository jokes, Richards took a picture of the two developers and posted it on Twitter.

“Have you ever had a group of men sitting right behind you making joke that caused you to feel uncomfortable? Well, that just happened this week but instead of shrinking down in my seat, I did something about it,” Richards wrote in a blog post she published after the conference.

However, some people didn’t like the fact that she “did something about it” and the way in which she did it – she posted the picture and reported them to the conference’s staff (their post on the incident is here) –, so things escalated quickly.

One of the developers from the picture posted by Richards was fired from his company.

“Hi, I'm the guy who made a comment about big dongles. First of all I'd like to say I'm sorry. I really did not mean to offend anyone and I really do regret the comment and how it made Adria feel. She had every right to report me to staff, and I defend her position. However, there is another side to this story,” the developer, who identified himself as mr-bank, wrote.

“Adria has an audience and is a successful person of the media. Just check out her web page linked in her twitter account, her hard work and social activism speaks for itself. With that great power and reach comes responsibility. As a result of the picture she took I was let go from my job today. Which sucks because I have 3 kids and I really liked that job,” he added.

“She gave me no warning, she smiled while she snapped the pic and sealed my fate.”

In response, hackers claiming to be part of Anonymous stepped in.

“As you may have known, the outrage over the petty and malicious conduct of your employee, Adria Richards, is about to erupt in an explosion of lulz and collateral damage over anyone and anything that had the misfortune of being in contact with this individual,” the hackers wrote.

Then, they launched DDOS attacks against Richards’ personal blog and the official site of SendGrid, her employer.

“Unfortunately we're the recipients of a DDOS attack,” read a message posted on SendGrid’s support page on Thursday.

On the same day, Jim Franklin, the CEO of SendGrid, announced in a blog post that Richards had been fired.

“In light of the events over the last 48+ hours, it has become obvious that her actions have strongly divided the same community she was supposed to unite. As a result, she can no longer be effective in her role at SendGrid,” Franklin explained.
The tweet that triggered the unfortunate chain of events
   The tweet that triggered the unfortunate chain of events
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