If you’ve spent any time on social media during the last 15 years, you’ve probably heard the term doxxing, and you probably know what it means, but for the few who don’t, it’s defined as the act of searching for and publishing the private or personally identifying information about a particular individual on the internet. Its early usage specifically referred to publishing information like the individual’s home address, phone number, their employer’s business name and contact information, names of family members, and other, similarly personal information. Today, it’s used to refer to anything from publishing all of this type of information, to simply tracking down and making public the real name of an anonymous account against the wishes of the individual being exposed.
When describing it as something that might be done to them, social justice ideologues have always treated it as a form of harassment, referring to their fears related to the behaviors they expect to encounter if people who oppose their political perspectives were to learn any of their private information. When describing it as something that might be done to those political opponents they fear so much, however, we hear a different story; it’s no big deal, then. If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear from people knowing who you are… or perhaps if you do have something to fear, you deserve to be afraid.
This is the story that was told to a number of A Voice For Men writers several years ago when we were targeted by a twitter account using the oh, so creative and original name of AVFM dox.
The self-titled identity hacker wasn’t able to do anything but post information that anyone can obtain using a paid background checking site, but it was still at least an annoyance to those of us whose information was published. Worse, even though doxxing was already a violation of Twitter’s terms of service at that point, the company did not take the information down when it was reported. Even when they were informed that the information published included the physical address of a kindergarten (because one target’s child was a student there) they did not take it down. It remained visible to anyone who wanted it until the targeted parent had law enforcement make contact through the site’s help system on his family’s behalf.
For the most part, we all just ridiculed the ineptitude of the doxxer and pointed out that this kind of behavior would never have been tolerated if we did it. However, we did also point out that in some circumstances, this can be dangerous, and we did receive the kinds of communications that the fragile personalities on the feminist side of the political fence like to call threats; messages stating what bad things our detractors thought should happen to us, and why we deserved them. Someone even sent a beheading video to a few of the guys at AVFM. Granted, such messages are not actual threats. Skeptics have coined the term “threatoids” to describe such aggressive efforts at intimidation without making overt threats, and outside of the delicate sensibilities of the woke population, they’re widely dismissed as artless, bush-league trolling.
On the other hand, we have seen doxxing lead to far worse repercussions when the target has angered the wrong progressive aggressors. Targets find themselves the subject of not just a public information dump, but a campaign to dismantle every aspect of their public life. Their business, financial, and even personal relationships may come under attack until the social media mob is distracted by some other outrage fodder. Some have found themselves suddenly and shockingly raided by police in the middle of perfectly ordinary, innocent activities because a troll called in a false report of a life-threatening emergency situation, a practice known as swatting. This is an extremely dangerous action that has resulted in at least one shooting, and one heart attack. With the knowledge that doxxing is a first step which can lead to such terrible outcomes, it certainly cannot always be dismissed as innocent or harmless; it is definitely an attack on the security the target gains from anonymity or privacy.
That broad variety of potential outcomes is the weapon that Washington Post writer Taylor Lorenz pointed at the previously anonymous individual behind Libs of TikTok, a popular twitter account with over 800,000 followers, which mostly featured clips from TikTok videos of woke ideologues expressing their woke ideology. Lorenz published an exposé on her target that included a link to a site containing her personal information, including her home address, and according to images published on Libs of Tik Tok’s twitter account this past Tuesday, even showed up at the homes of some of her family members. In addition to that image, Libs also posted a screenshot from a private message Lorenz sent to another account with a similar name, in which she attempted to intimidate that individual into responding by claiming they would be “implicated as starting a hate camplaign against LGBTQ people.” In other words, “Talk to me, or I’ll defame you as a homophobic, transphobic bigot.”
Interestingly, Lorenz has a history of condemning exactly this type of behavior, having posted statements to the effect that “online harassment is a huge problem because… it’s a tool to silence people, especially women and people of color, people from marginalized identities, from speaking out,” and “doxxing, stalking, trying to hurt and smear people’s loved ones, threatening them, it’s not ok in any situation.” She has previously been featured in a tearful interview describing her own experience with being doxxed, and how fearful she was for her safety during the ordeal. Between the popularity of the account she targeted, and the hypocrisy of her actions, the name Taylor Lorenz trended on twitter as her critics roasted her for engaging in behavior she has previously condemned.
In response the Washington Post deleted the link, and Lorenz proceeded to gaslight her target, claiming to have never posted the information and playing victim of the backlash she faced, despite all available evidence contradicting her. Ultimately, her argument seems to be that it’s journalism when she does it, and how dare the rest of us not know the difference.
As always in the great society of woketopia, the law of the land is “rules for thee, but not for the woke elite.” And stalking and harassment are bad, M’kay? Unless, of course, Taylor Lorenz is mad at you.
This week, HBR Talk will discuss how woke crybully media personalities use victim narratives to get out of accountability for their social aggression. You can find a link to the stream, running at 7:30PM EST on several platforms, at honeybadgerbrigade.com.
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