Public shaming gaining traction in the political arena, but there are different ways of going about it. Some are OK, some are not. It is legitimate to calmly and politely ask public figures to leave restaurants because they work for a morally abhorrent administration that puts children in cages. (It is also consonant with the conservative belief that people shouldn’t have to serve patrons if doing so violates sincerely held beliefs, but apparently, some people think that applies only to lesbians who want a wedding cake.)
Similarly, it seems fitting and proper to reveal the identity of Nazis who participate in a fascist protest where someone died. America’s survival as a republic hinges on remaining a nation where Nazis are afraid to be Nazis in public. Or, as one of the best tweets of all time put it, “We literally fought a war against Nazis. The whole world was involved.”
But journalists should be extremely wary about publishing the personal information — physical address, email, phone number — of people with whom they might disagree, however vociferously. And they should never use guilt-by-association logic to doxx that person’s friends and family, too. Yes, anonymity on the internet is the sharpest, most serrated blade of all the double-edged swords out there. But apart from being cruel and capricious, you’re inviting hordes of unaccountable trolls to descend on hapless people who never saw it coming and never took steps to defend themselves from the consequences. It’s simply not good for journalism, which requires a measure of trust in order to function. Lastly, if you get it wrong — something that can be as easy as mistaking one Jane Kim for another — you can’t cram the toothpaste back in that tube.
— The Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) July 17, 2018
That said, Peter Hasson from The Daily Caller doxxed the founder of Sleeping Giants, the campaign that sought to convince U.S. companies not to advertise with Breitbart, the alt-right site Steve Bannon edits that’s known for such headlines as “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews” and “World Health Organization: Trannies 49 XS Higher HIV Rate.” At one point in 2017, they managed to get 90 percent of Breitbart‘s advertising dollars pulled, and their campaign was so successful that billionaire bankroller Robert Mercer sold his interest because it was becoming too much of a headache.
His name is Matt Rivitz and he lives in San Francisco.
Hey everyone. It’s Matt Rivitz. Founder of Sleeping Giants here.
And, curiously, a tweet I wrote to Ikea customer service. Which is weird. pic.twitter.com/DVhJt1p90L
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) July 17, 2018
As the Next Web states, Hasson didn’t just out Rivitz. He “also included the founder’s wife’s name, the name of one of her Facebook friends, their location, former employer, and a former school: everything a bad actor needs to wage a harassment campaign.” They knew
Further, The Daily Caller — which Fox’s Bill O’Reilly replacement Tucker Carlson founded — framed this as if it were just some tit-for-tat in the endless Manichean struggle of left-against-right, without so much as acknowledging that Sleeping Giants is a group of people working for free on principle. We’re subjected to endless self-congratulatory palaver about how this or that brand stands up for equality, and all they do is confront them with a simple question: Does Breitbart‘s type of hate-filled sensationalist journalism comport with your corporate values? In almost every case, the answer is a straight-up no. It’s probably not a hard sell, really.
Who’s really to blame, then? Very few people and institutions want to be associated with garbage like that, and it doesn’t mean the whole corporate universe consists of co-conspirators picking on a little old website. And while we shouldn’t be too free with praise for companies that do the right thing — and also, corporations aren’t people — doing the right thing isn’t risk-free. I pity any low-level social-media manager who’s called into the CEO’s office after shrieking right-wingers start destroying their Keurigs.
But The Daily Caller simply equates liberalism with evil. Seeing an ally hurt, Hasson just took Rivitz’s anonymity as inherently nefarious and ran with it.