Commentary: Don’t judge Garo too fast. The results can be deadly

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I have paid attention to the controversy around Garoshadowscale for quite a while now. You can read my in-depth coverage here.

What I see are furries throwing around the same thing over and over again.

  • “Garo is creating a cult!”
  • “Garo is exploiting minors!” or
  • “Garo is violating YouTube TOS.”

As a curious alien wolf, I always ask if these are claims, assumptions or facts. Staying true to GFTV’s News Guidelines and Ethics booklet – now publicly available – the holy Bible of GFTV’s news reportage.

I covered numerous controversies before. Fluffy fandom, Don’t Hug Cacti and many others … those aside.

Each time I visit Twitter, I always facepalm in shock and at times disappointment. Why are furries gripping on unverified allegations so easily?

I want to offer my personal perspective on the Garoshadowscale controversy. Specifically, on the claims passed around.

Where media literacy dies on social media, news ethics, now I choose you!

    First, context.

    Garoshadowscale is a furry content creator on Twitch and YouTube. He was slammed over his controversial Patreon memberships and Discord rules. He reportedly mistreated other people.

    In response, Garo releases a video addressing concerns as a public apology. But furries called it a ‘fake’ apology, pointing out Garo did not fully address things.

    GFTV contacted Garo for comment. Until now, he has not replied to us.

    1. Factual or subjective?
    2. Dissecting six claims about Garo
    3. Critics voice out
    4. What do Garo’s supporters think about him?
    5. So what am I getting, or am expected to get out of this?
    6. It’s not the first time furries did this.
    7. For justice, or offence?
    8. Social media, food for ‘furry drama’
    9. Clout-chasers exploit furries’ need for belonging.
    10. Should we worry more now?
    11. This perspective is one of many.
    12. After so much typing, is Garo bad? Tell me!

    Factual or subjective?

    As we speak, furries are embroiled in anger towards Garo. Across furry social media, furries and even non-furries weighed in on the issue.

    But let’s look at what furries are passing around. Ask ourselves, is it based on facts (factual), or opinion (subjective)?

    • “see his audiences as cashcows”
    • “making a cult”
    • “censors critics”
    • “has mostly under-18 audiences”
    • “preys on socially awkward people”
    • “uses subscription bots to inflate subscriber count”

    Are these claims even real? Do they reflect what Garo and his audience really think and feel?

    Read on – let’s first examine the claims one by one.

    Claim 1 and 2: Garo “sees his audiences as cashcows” and is “making a cult”

    This is something a lot of furries are throwing around online. But exactly what part of Garo’s acts fit into ‘cult’?

    According to the Free Dictionary by Farlex, one of the meanings of ‘cult’:

    Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.

    Furries may have pointed this definition to Garo’s strong feelings about retaining his audiences around him. But the word includes the ‘obsession’ part.

    In this case, it implies to me as: Garo’s audiences obsess over him.

    • But are his audiences really obsessed with him?

    This tweet links Garo’s ‘cult’ with his Patreon membership prices. It claims, Garo “sees his audiences as cashcows”. They quote tweeted another user called @DisturbedDem0ns.

    The pictures @DisturbedDem0ns posted are among the many circulating online. Furries described these pictures as proof of Garo’s ‘narcissistic’ behaviour.

    Now, we ask:

    • How do furries know Garo has a “cult following?”
    • Or rather, how does Garo’s audiences really feel about this system in place?

    Furries, including those who claim are close to Garo, say he got more ‘paranoid’. That refers to Garo’s reportedly strong feelings about losing his audiences.

    On Nov 4, 2021, @Fulcrum_Falcon posted a picture, purportedly showing a chatlog between him and Garo. Garo claims he was “backstabbed” by content creators before.

    However, on Nov 15, 2021, @SnadlCookieDerg commented on GFTV’s in-depth report:

    The thing about his ”being backstabbed by established and startup content creators” statement, the first time this happened, Garo’s followers left his server and joined someone else’s out of free will.

    Garo thought I would try the same, as I befriended most of the core members and some moderators at the time, which I’m still in touch with today, therefore he banned me after we talked it out rather peacefully in fact.

    @SnadlCookieDerg

    Snadl also claims they were Garo’s friend before. Now, a few questions:

    • Are those ‘followers’ content creators?
    • So this means Garo saw people leaving his server as a ‘backstab’?
    • What else did Garo consider as ‘backstab’, done by the supposed content creators?
    • How does that contribute to his ‘egoism’?

    To me, this looks like Garo wants to tightly maintain his audience base. For some reasons, he doesn’t want a single bit lost – kind of a ‘one person lost, is one too many’ policy.

    But does this answer the question of obsession – that word being, the critical meaning of the word ‘cult’?

    • How is Garo “making a cult?”
    • Is his audiences really obsessed with Garo?

    Claim 3: Garo has “mostly under-18 audiences”

    One question:

    • How did furries know Garo has mostly under-18 audiences?

    We traced the earliest instance of this claim. We found this tweet.

    This tweet says: “I’m having a horrible suspicion that his fanbase consists mostly of minors who are probably stealing their parents’ credit cards”.

    First, this is a “suspicion” as the Twitter user pointed out.

    Second, we ask:

    • How did furries know most of Garo’s audiences are minors?
    • How did furries know the minors are ‘stealing their parents’ credit cards’?
    • Where are your evidences?

    The items used as evidence? Three screenshots of Garo’s YouTube video list.

    • Is that all?
    • Which part of them points to Garo’s ‘majority minors’ audience?
    • Which says the minors are stealing parents’ credit cards?

    Is it another ‘you see it, you know it’ kind of thing? Nothing pointed out.

    The user posts the images. Then leaves the audience to guess what it means. Nothing proven.

    The notion of “Garo has a lot of minors in his audience” became furries’ catchphrase.

    Claim 4: Garo “preys on socially awkward people”.

    This tweet points to that. @TactiCAT_ claims Garo prey on “socially awkward people”.

    Now we ask:

    • How did furries know Garo does that?
    • What did Garo do to “prey”?
    • Who are the “socially awkward people”?

    I asked them, how do they think Garo is “preying on socially awkward people.” They did not reply.

    Claim 5: Garo “censors critics”

    Another tweet claims Garo apparently deletes messages criticising him. Twitter user @leniovias releases two pictures purportedly showing his YouTube comment.

    We cannot prove if the comment exists in the first place. However, we matched this user’s pictures with Garo’s video’s comment section. This user’s purported comment is not present in the comments section.

    But are the comments are purposely deleted or moderated automatically by YouTube? We don’t know. Furries insist on the former.

    Furries even claim Garo used bots to post positive comments on his video. We cannot confirm that. But is his social media audiences real?

    Claim 6: Garo “uses subscription bots to inflate subscriber count”

    Furries have been posting pictures showing a graph of Garo’s subscriber count. Many assumed he is using bots to boost subscriber counts.

    That is because of his reportedly consistent subscriber growth count. They point to differences of 100 between each month.

    We verified this claim. What we found: inconsistent subscriber growth.

    Weekly changes go up and down – but in multiples of 100. Daily changes wise, yes, differences of 100.

    At publishing time, in the last 30 days, Garo lost 400 subscribers. Check statistics platform SocialBlade’s data for Garo’s YouTube channel here.

    • Is Garo’s channel really using bots?
    • How can furries tell?

    Many people point to fixed subscriber growth as proof of this. That said, Garo’s channel does seem suspicious.

    Because the differences are always in multiples of 100. But they are still assumptions.

    I consulted HypeAuditor, another statistics platform like SocialBlade. They claim to use artificial intelligence (AI) to assess social media performance.

    Studying their data needs me to first sign in – no money needed to pay.

    According to HypeAuditor, across all of Garo’s channels, he got 86/100 on the Channel Quality Score. The Score measures a content creator’s channel on four metrics: creator, audience, credibility and engagement.

    I want to focus on ‘credibility’. This section checks if a channel’s subscribers and audiences are real or fake. Garo’s channel receives 5/5 on this metric.

    Screengrab as of Dec 3, 2021.

    Through HypeAuditor’s support box, I asked them to clarify if the ‘credibility’ section does tell me if audiences are fake or real.

    Iren, a support officer, replied yes. An exported support chat log is available here.

    I want to know how their audience authenticity metric works. This article is one of them. HypeAuditor describes how their metrics work. But they don’t explain much how they work.

    Critics voice out

    There are furries criticising the community’s reaction towards Garoshadowscale.

    One Twitter user, @AtmanRyu, posted a tweet. It has a picture purportedly showing @TemporalAlpha criticising furries for the “hate and drama” towards Garo.

    @AtmanRyu says the account is a bot account. We cannot verify if it is so.

    The original tweet was deleted. We cannot verify if the tweet was real, because so far, we cannot find it on web archive sites like web.archive.org.

    Counter critics claim @TemporalAlpha was a minor, and is apparently Garo’s supporter.

    We cannot verify the first claim. The second one however, does seem to be true. @TemporalAlpha sent many positive tweets to Garo. They drew many fan arts for Garo.

    Furries were also blasted for harrassing Garo’s audiences.

    User @DeVoutNumelran says, though they doesn’t support Garo’s system, they oppose harrassing those who joins Garo’s memberships.

    Another user, @burnixart, echoed the sentiment. They also pointed out, it is their choice to support him.

    What do Garo’s supporters think about him?

    One of Garo’s supporters is Twitter user @JohnHall2021. They occasionally draw fan art for Garo and even engages with him on VRChat.

    • Furries say most of Garo’s supporters are minors. Really?

    John is middle-aged, at 31. They even are interested to join Garo’s US$500 tier on Patreon.

    • But importantly, how do they feel about Garo?

    John expressed discontent towards his sceptics in light of Garo’s controversy.

    On Nov 10, 2021, John tweeted, saying they stopped supporting Garo. But 14 days later, on Nov 24, 2021, they drew a birthday fan art for Garo.

    Curious, I contacted John on Discord.

    They tell me descriptively, they supported Garo since Sept this year. They are on Garo’s ‘Butt’ (US$25 a month) membership tier, and has Garo’s ‘regular role’.

    The ‘regular role’ is a role on Garo’s Discord server. When earned, members can play games with him.

    • PAWSRY (GFTV): What do you like about Garo?
    • JOHN: I think Garo can play some games with his friends including “Among Us” (which that I got it on Nintendo Switch because it’s much better that way.). However, I could play that game every Friday when I watched his stream on Twitch.
    • PAWSRY (GFTV): To you, is it worth supporting Garo with so much money?
    • JOHN: First, I paid $5 for the Paw Patron tier. Then, I paid $25 for the Butt Patron tier. But as soon as I gained the hours of my weekly watchtime on the regular status channel, Garo can unlocked my Regular Role achievement on his Discord server.
    • PAWSRY (GFTV): So from what I understand here, ya like Garo because he games with friends? And now with you getting the regular tier, it lets you game with Garo more and that makes ya happy?
    • JOHN: That’s right

    John says this is proof that Garo is not a ‘narcissist.’

    Earlier, we saw John saying he stopped supporting Garo. He seems to be back in Garo’s supporters’ club – why?

    • PAWSRY (GFTV): I also am curious about one thing tho. Ya mentioned earlier this month, you stopped supporting Garo. What made ya change your mind, if ya did, to continue supporting Garo?
    • JOHN: Garo told me that it’s ok. Patreon is 100% optional.
    • PAWSRY (GFTV): If I understand you correctly, you stopped supporting him via Patreon; however Garo tells you it is optional; you can support him even if you don’t do Patreon?
    • JOHN: That’s correct

    John is not direct enough in their answers. I need to clarify with them often. I want to understand their perspective as much as I can.

    How do I feel after this interview? It seems for this Garo supporter, he doesn’t care about the money, but the fun.

    They want to interact and have fun with Garo. So where is the ‘cult’ mentality towards Garo?

    Of course, John is a recent supporter. Compared with long-time supporters, they may not know much about him.

    As of now, I don’t know any other long time supporters of Garo to talk with.

    So what am I getting, or am expected to get out of this?

    Furries want me to think of Garo like this: “Cult-building, exploitative and all-baddie. His audiences are suffering under him!”

    If I don’t, I may be blacklisted by furries. Or ‘cancelled’.

    For the six big claims we saw earlier, do you realise they are assumptions – subjective personal opinions that may not be fact?

    They appealed emotionally. But that doesn’t mean they are factual. So what are furries doing?

    • Digging for items to use as evidence?
    • assuming things they don’t know?
    • (or even) chasing clout?

    Our organic sources; the people purportedly close to Garo? We only have claims from them.

    • Are they really close to Garo before?

    If Garo is that ‘exploitative’, shouldn’t we ask:

    • How do his supporters really feel?
    • Are they suffering like what furries said?
    • Who are we to judge his audiences?

    Furries also pointed out, Garo had a character arc in the past few years. He apparently was not the same person before.

    • So what happened, Garo, what made you like this?
    • What motivated you to make this system?

    I mean, I honestly don’t know 100% about what Garo and his so-called ‘cult following’ are thinking. I still ask all of these:

    • How
      • did his audiences cope with Garo’s engagement system?
      • did his audiences cope with Garo’s Discord policies?
      • does Garo tightly track audience engagement?
      • does Garo maintain tight control over audience retention?
    • What:
      • appealed to his audiences, to pay for even the most basic of socialising?
      • are his audiences looking for in Garo by accessing his services and content?
      • is Garo looking for with this system in place?
      • does Garo want to achieve in the end?
    • Why all of this mess?

    And so much more unanswered questions. They are hard to answer. We can only assume and speculate.

    So what’s the conclusion now? Uncertain. Just like the Don’t Hug Cacti controversy.

    It’s not the first time furries did this.

    In the Chinese language, there is an idiom called “得意忘形”. It means someone losing control and composure.

    That describes social media controversies – including those in furry fandom – so well. In a few weeks or months, claims will go from “They are accused of” to “They are”.

    Do you see the difference?

    In other words, furries first accuse something, then treat accusations as if fact. Furries done this before, as YouTuber Kabba Blah Blah pointed out.

    “No one should be in the middle or neutral! Be with one side, or else! Bahaha!”

    This is called tribalism. Us versus them. That is an issue today.

    To add, furries and content creators all tell me the same thing. They are neutral.

    That means they are not siding with anyone. But, they cannot look like they’re ‘with the enemy’.

    Else, strong public pressure may destroy them. Especially when strong activist sentiments prevail in the fandom, this is vital.

    For justice, or offence?

    I quote the Pew Research Center: are people rushing to judge or trying to be helpful?

    ‘Public pressure’ is also called ‘furry drama’, or ‘cancel culture’.

    But some furries may call it as ‘consequence culture’ instead. These people say it helps maintain one’s public accountability.

    Either way, they fall under online shaming. Done right, yes, it ensures accountability. But there are people who abused it, for selfish and sinister gains.

    Now, I cannot discern which really serves justice, or offence. Online shaming dangerously scrapes cyberbullying, and at times even doxxing.

    In response, Internet platforms and governments smashed harder to counter its harm. But free speech and privacy concerns rose too, complicating the issue more.

    Social media, food for ‘furry drama’?

    So how do furries think about it, then?

    The fandom did face contentious issues before. Among them, politics. Crime committers were convicted. Abusers were brought to justice. Furries expelled them.

    But critics highlighted the forces driving furry ‘cancel culture’.

    YouTuber Arenthio says furry fandom’s popularity “power dynamic” worsened furry ‘cancel culture’. Another YouTuber, RL Furry Productions, says the “standards have gotten ridiculous”.

    Furscience is a scientific research group focusing on furries. In 2013 and 2014, they found ‘furry drama’ is one of the most contentious topics in furry fandom.

    Furries grew on the Internet. The fandom is decentralised, yet is one community. But this started to backfire on them.

    “Follower count is my wealth; engagement is my currency.” In social media, some popular figures, including some popular furries, stuck to that quote. As if it is a Holy Bible verse.

    What we also see: they do not want to lose that.

    Back to furry fandom. Every time there is a controversy, there are popular furries capitalising on disputes.

    Putting popular claims and narratives forward. Weaponising their communities against others. Then, they were crowned as ‘heroes’ and got more popular.

    In other words, clout-chasing.

    Clout-chasers exploit furries’ need for belonging.

    And why is clout-chasing so easy to do in furry fandom?

    I have a theory.

    According to Furscience, furries strongly want to belong to a group. Many furries were badly bullied prior.

    They don’t want to be left alone again. To make sure that ostracised past does not repeat, they move with the crowd.

    Furry fandom gave furries social support. Where friends are made; knots are tied; people are bonded.

    Clout-chasers exploit those needs. When they start making public stances, they use social support to threaten other furries.

    “Support me, I’ll love you!” or “Oppose me, I’ll block you!”

    Popular furries often lead big communities in the fandom. Applying this formula: your friendship, reputation and stand in the fandom is at stake, every single second.

    This worsens the tribalism problem we already have. Political folks, this is not all about you.

    But we talk about furries getting bullied and harrassed before. If we apply that to all furries, including those clout-chasers … then I express my empathy here.

    I came from that kind of background too. I understand the social desperations we have at our hearts. And how it feels to be ostracised and left out.

    Furry fandom ‘cancel culture’: brutal, lethal, catastrophic.

    The messengers: Clout-chasers and mob mentality.

    The silent killer? Our past.

    Should we worry more now?

    I went from Garoshadowscale’s controversy to all about ‘cancel culture’ and tribalism. But I feel it is relevant in today’s furry fandom and the world.

    So should we worry about this? You answer it.

    We now see what furry controversies do. Claims truimphed over facts.

    Now, our community is turning into battlegrounds for war, instead of flowerbeds for friendship and opportunity.

    This perspective is one of many.

    Before I end, I must say this is my personal perspective.

    This is how I saw Garo’s controversy from my standpoint. Other people may not have the same viewpoint as I do.

    I’m not trying to attack whoever, or just defend Garo. I just want to make sense of facts from assumptions. Furries upheld assumptions so much, I cannot even tell what is context or fact.

    They are mostly, if not all seasoned with clickbait, inflammatory and brain-eating content. Not healthy for my mental health.

    After so much typing, is Garo bad? Tell me!

    I showed you my perspective – now you decide.

    I’m sorry I cannot tell you a straight answer. Things are not clear and confirmed yet.

    I can only say, there seems to be deep seated issues here. Things we don’t know. Things we need to first understand before judging.

    I know what Garo did here don’t make sense to us. To me too! As the lead admin for four online communities, I never saw something this controversial, detailed and strict.

    But so far, their audiences seem to not mind. It looks like it worked for them. For Garo himself, I cannot say much. I cannot go “Voila! This is what he thinks and feels.”

    Again, I can only guess. I can only analyse and observe. My closing words?

    Things are unclear yet. Don’t judge too fast.


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