AtlanticA magazine comes up with a funny, yet creative way of defending extreme doxxing. Washington Post writer Taylor Lorenz, who once was a staff writer at their periodical. They have tried to expand the meaning of “doxxing” in order to allow liberals to use it. According to them, Atlantic‘s semantics game, what the Libs of Tik Tok did by presenting unedited videos uploaded by liberals to the very public TikTok platform was somehow “doxxing;” but when Lorenz exposed the name and other personal information of the creator of Libs of TikTok that wasn’t really doxxing at all.
If this is what you’re thinking, it might be worth a second look. AtlanticKaitlyn Tiffany, Friday’s article editor on Doxxing, admits that it does. Subtitle “Doxxing Means Anything You Want It To” dives even deeper into the world of surrealists. It now expresses emotion.
The Twitter account @libsoftiktok has gained a significant and influential following by reposting TikTok videos of LGBTQ teachers and suggesting that they may be guilty of “grooming” or other forms of sexual predation. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Taylor Lorenz, a reporter for the account @libsoftiktok identified Chaya Raichik, a Brooklyn real estate salesperson. (Lorenz is an ex-Atlantic staff writer.
Raichik’s identity is in the public interest, given the account’s political goals; it was also easily discovered via a domain-registration website. Yet, as soon as the story was published, Libs of TikTok and its right-wing fans, including the Trump-endorsed Senate candidate from Ohio, J. D. Vance, began tweeting and accusing Lorenz and The Washington Post of “doxxing”—a term that comes out of early-internet hacker circles and generally refers to the uncovering and deliberate weaponization of private, personal information. The conversation has continued since, thanks in part to Raichik’s Tuesday-night (voice-only) appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, during which she referred to Lorenz as “a known hypocrite” who is “known to dox people.”
Doxxing can be defined as the release of an individual’s personally identifiable information online. This information could include, but not be limited to, their full name, address and phone number as well as government identification numbers such social security numbers.
Now Tiffany is playing the ridiculous semantics game to defend Lorenz
You can twist the meaning of words with the internet. The internet is a powerful tool for changing the meaning of words. It allows subcultures to push a new word through their networks, and then it is out to wider audiences who will take it up in whatever way they hear. Doxxing is a special example, in that it originally referred to somewhat specific, dangerous, and unethical behavior—“dropping documents,” or making private information public and calling unfriendly attention to it. The internet’s emergence allowed the creation of common norms to combat this behavior by naming it. But doxxing has since then been used to describe so many different situations—with varying degrees of sincerity and fairness—that its original utility has faded. The term used to be used to describe a group, but it is now used as a way of expressing an emotion. Doxxed people will say they were doxxed.
…In the case of Tuesday’s Washington Post story, fans of Libs of TikTok fixated on Raichik and her right to privacy, rather than on the people whose videos Libs of TikTok had plucked out of obscurity and served up for scrutiny. The Washington Post story could be called an instance of doxxing if you wanted. However, Libs of TikTok could also be called a doxxing operation for a long time. Any time a person’s information is “purposefully moved, lifted, and repurposed in other spaces” without their consent, that could be called “doxxing,” according to Stine Eckert, an associate professor of communication at Wayne State University who has written about the history of doxxing. There is “usually an element of bad intentions,” she told me. In his book, Kosseff goes further in advocating a “broad interpretation” of doxxing, saying that it can happen with or without “malicious intent.”
Finally, it turns out that @LibsOfTikTok has a selective definition of “doxxing” and Lorenz is simply performing journalism.
In the case of Tuesday’s Washington Post story, fans of Libs of TikTok fixated on Raichik and her right to privacy, rather than on the people whose videos Libs of TikTok had plucked out of obscurity and served up for scrutiny. The Washington Post’s story could be called doxxing. However, Libs of TikTok could also be called a doxxing organization. Any time a person’s information is “purposefully moved, lifted, and repurposed in other spaces” without their consent, that could be called “doxxing,” according to Stine Eckert, an associate professor of communication at Wayne State University who has written about the history of doxxing.
This is it. Creative definitions of “doxxing” make Libs of TikTok guilty of that practice while Lorenz gets a free pass if you so desire thanks to very convenient semantic tricks.