A Statement on Malicious Email Attacks Against OTW Volunteers

Since May 3rd, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) — the nonprofit behind AO3, Fanlore, and other projects — has been dealing with malicious attacks aimed at the organization and its volunteers. We wanted to share with you some of what’s been happening, as well as what we’re doing to contain it, and how it may affect our response times to your inquiries and our workload in general. Above all, we need to ask for your patience, because these are complicated times for all of us at the OTW.

An unknown attacker has been sending our volunteers threatening emails with illegal child sexual abuse material (CSAM), which has been reported to several law enforcement authorities.

These attacks have not affected AO3 user accounts or accounts on any other OTW projects, or OTW donor data. At this time we have no reason to believe that emails or other private user data whatsoever associated with AO3 or any of our other projects have been exposed to any external bad actors.

We’ve already alerted the relevant authorities, and we’re seeking legal advice on how best to proceed. Protecting our volunteers and safeguarding this investigation is our top priority right now, which means we’ve shut down a number of internal tools necessary to do our work effectively. This was done to better protect our volunteers from further threats.

As a consequence of this, changes and announcements that had been planned for the next few weeks are likely to be delayed. You can expect delays in response times for all OTW teams. Please note:

  • AO3 Tag Wrangling‘s planned changes for Dream SMP fandoms will be delayed. New tags will not be wrangled until a later time.
  • AO3 Support, Open Doors, and Policy & Abuse responses are all likely to take much longer than usual. The same applies to Fanlore teams.
  • Responses to queries sent to OTW Legal, including DMCA Takedown Notices, may be delayed.
  • OTW donation gifts may be delayed.
  • OTW recruitment is suspended until further notice.
  • The OTW’s social media posting schedule will be reduced for most outlets.

There have been no changes to the following:

  • The OTW election timeline will remain unchanged.
  • AO3 invitations for new users are being sent out normally.

Please be patient with us at this time. We are trying our best to keep our projects running as smoothly as possible while also keeping our volunteers — without whom none of these projects would exist — safe. Thank you so much for your understanding and support.

(One final note: we’ve disabled comments on all our news posts for the time being for security reasons. If you need to get in touch with us, please use the Support and Feedback form, but bear in mind that responses will likely be delayed.)


Comments are closed.