New world. The “Pessi”, these vigilantes of Twitter


A Twitter user on his smartphone (illustration), May 12, 2020
A Twitter user on his smartphone (illustration), May 12, 2020 (FRANKHOERMANN / SVEN SIMON / SVEN SIMON)

It’s a funny phenomenon that appeared on the social network Twitter at the end of last year. Internet users attack personalities by flooding them with messages. They call themselves “Pessi”.

Why Pessi? It’s the penalty contraction and Messi. An allusion, for football fans, to the penalties, it seems famous, of the player Lionel Messi. Behind this word, used as a pseudonym, hide users, quite young a priori, who play the vigilante by leading digital raids. They are relatively harmless kind of “gentle trolls”. Though.

Recently, they flooded the Twitter profile of the Minister of Citizenship, Marlène Schiappa, to the point that she preferred to suspend her account. They also “attacked” far-right politician Jean Messiha. More recently, they attacked journalist Pierre Ménès, accused of sexual assault. They were also the ones who had Twitter shut down an account belonging to Mila, the girl harassed by Islamists, by reporting her profile en masse. In short, each time, they attack divisive, high-profile personalities that they dislike.

The Pessi seem to know the law and the rules of Twitter well, as they never cross the line. No insults, no calls for violence, so as not to risk having their messages deleted. They are content to post messages sometimes without tail or head, song lyrics, or photomontages with the face of Lionel Messi with a shaved head. Whenever a cause feels right, a public appeal is made on Twitter and the Pessi take action. They act in packs.

Several times, these “raids” have led to the trending topics of certain hashtags, like, recently, #PessiLivesMatter. These concerted actions are meant to be good-natured but they could however fall under the law against cyberstalking, which would then be much less funny for the Pessi.


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