by Mary Harrington
Wednesday, 20
April 2022
Dark Web
11:10

Why Taylor Lorenz can dox whoever she wants

Progressives are determined to keep control of the narrative
by Mary Harrington
Taylor Lorenz’s story featured on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show

The ethics of online anonymity were back in the news this week, as the Washington Post caused uproar by publishing the real identity of the anonymous woman behind the popular and influential Libs Of TikTok Twitter account.

Much has been said in the ensuing 24 hours by outraged conservatives, about the hypocrisy of the article’s author, Taylor Lorenz, who recently and tearfully described the “severe PTSD” she experienced as a consequence of online harassment, and her own need to conceal all personal information online.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, defended the doxxing, arguing that Libs of TikTok is a sufficiently influential player in the political landscape that her identity is a matter of public interest.

And it’s true that the account has had a significant impact on US conservative politics since its inception a year ago. Christina Pushaw, press secretary to Florida governor Ron DeSantis, said the account “truly opened my eyes” to what LGBT campaigners call sex education and opponents call “grooming”. The outrage the account has generated in turn fanned the political flames that saw Florida’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passed into law.

But perhaps the lesson here is not really about consistent treatment of friends and enemies online (which no one really sticks to), or even the justice of exposing anonymous internet users to harassment you yourself have acknowledged to be unpleasant.

Libs of TikTok was, as Lorenz’s own article makes clear, exposed by the collaborative efforts of several progressive institutions. Why the concerted effort? Arguably the account’s principal crime was to aggregate online content according to a deprecated narrative.

Lorenz describes Libs of TikTok as “finding new characters for the right-wing outrage machine”. This is accurate, in the sense that the videos shared there do regularly go viral, but it’s the content itself which creates the outrage — content created by progressives themselves.

Judge for yourself, but to my eye the aggregate impression received from scrolling the account is that American primary schools are entirely staffed by twenty-something females with heavy ‘LGBTQ’ styling, all hellbent on pumping little children full of queer theory, no matter what their parents think.

This is doubtless not objectively the case, given the millions of teachers out there; but narratives can be powerful. Accordingly, progressives are increasingly and openly enthusiastic about shaping those available: another Washington Post writer, Max Boot, recently argued that “we need more content moderation, not less” in order “for democracy to survive”.

Along with propagating such a range of opinions, it’s fanned progressive calls for censorship because the sheer volume of internet content out there is so overwhelming that a great deal of internet-age journalism involves simple curation. That is, not reporting ‘out there’ in the material world but noticing patterns, collating content and providing minimal commentary. A curator compiles a narrative for those who don’t have the time or filtering skills to do so, and people who do this effectively can be significant players in real-world politics.

In this context, the offence committed by Libs of TikTok becomes clearer. The account didn’t so much create hateful content as violate the progressive consensus edict that its members alone may curate and narrate the internet, and thus shape real-world politics. For this, a private individual has had her identity exposed, potentially subjecting her to the attentions of all manner of eccentric and possibly vengeful individuals.

Somehow I doubt this will be the end of Libs of TikTok, who seems to have come back fighting. But her exposure represents an escalation in the war for who controls the stories that percolate out of the maelstrom of online discourse.

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Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
5 months ago

The name of the bill is Parental Rights in Education. Using the patently false propaganda term is disappointing from this author. And why put quotation marks around groomer and not sex education?

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
5 months ago

The more people who get wise to the fact that the left is off the radar, the better. We’re far past the days when the left/right divide was an honest disagreement between people of goodwill. It’s all out war now. These people are not opponents, they’re enemies, and the Dinesh D’Sousa model of not being above doing it to them is increasingly looking like the only option left.

Warren T
Warren T
5 months ago

I say, regrettably, that your comment is a very scary, but true statement. I have said over the years that the difference between a conservative and a liberal is that the conservative would lay down his life for the protection of the liberal’s free speech, but the liberal would stand on my throat if given the chance. It is even worse today.

Michael K
Michael K
5 months ago

Unfortunately this is correct. Complacency is literally what led to this situation. Evil can only exist if good people stand idly by. (That last part is obviously hyperbole, just trying to make a point.)

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
5 months ago

I’m seriously beginning to think Senator McCarthy had a point.

Jesper Bo Henriksen
Jesper Bo Henriksen
5 months ago

The videos that appear on “LibsofTikTok” represent the leftiest of the left, in a sexual identity sense if not necessarily in an economic sense. They don’t make the left look good. I’m not surprised that their puppet masters (to borrow Elon Musk’s term for Jeff Bezos at the Washington Post) don’t want those videos to find a wider audience.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
5 months ago

The irony is that what Libs of TikTok does is straight out of the MSM playbook. Go find the most deranged example of a conservative supporter and then paint the entire group that way. The convoy supporters being described as racists on the basis of literally one confederate flag is a current example. The reason Obama is on an anti ‘misinformation’ tour is because they realize they are losing control of the narrative in the US. They want to make dissent illegal.

Last edited 5 months ago by Gunner Myrtle
D Oliver
D Oliver
5 months ago

Many liberals like nothing more than believing that they are smart and that their political enemies are morons. Libs of TikTok challenges that core perception and was always going to be a target as a result. Ridicule is the best way of taking on those with cultural power and hopefully the account bounces back.

Paul Sorrenti
Paul Sorrenti
5 months ago

Although vastly different in style, for me Libs of Tik Tok is up there with South Park as one of the most important journals of the day, if any future historians are reading

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul Sorrenti

Excellent observation!

Warren T
Warren T
5 months ago

“we need more content moderation (censorship), not less” in order “for democracy to survive”.
Can there be anything more hypocritical or insane than this sentence? (emphasis mine)

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
5 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

You actually think we live in something resembling a democracy?

Francis Turner
Francis Turner
5 months ago

Travis Brown who appears to be one of those behind Taylor Lorenz’ doxxing of LibsOfTiktok appears to have forgotten to obfuscate the whois data for his personal domain
I think everyone can see this – https://whois.domaintools.com/plasm.us

Registrant Organization: Travis Brown
Registrant Street: 2513 San Gabriel St.
       Apt. C
Registrant City: Austin
Registrant State/Province: TX
Registrant Postal Code: 78705
Registrant Country: us
Registrant Phone: 15122039539

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
5 months ago
Reply to  Francis Turner

Can you post the same data for Taylor Lorenz?

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
5 months ago

Maybe I’m just dim but I’m going to guess that a lot of Unherd readers are not avid readers of the ‘popular and influential Libs Of TikTok Twitter account’. Do I have to read this stuff to understand the point of the article?

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
5 months ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

It’s worth being familiar with, irrespective of your political leanings and/or appreciation of parody by curation. Simply because it has such a big influence on the political debate.

Sheryl Rhodes
Sheryl Rhodes
5 months ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

A video is worth a thousand words, and that’s the bulk of the Libs account. It’s worth it to take a look at some of these videos because it’s otherwise too easy to gloss over the tactics of indoctrination being inflicted on our kids by their teachers. Primary (even pre-K!) teachers have taken to posting videos of themselves on TikToc where they openly display their enthusiasm for promoting various kinds of Queer theory to their students. They also routinely proclaim that they don’t care what parents think or what school or government policy actually is. Note: they don’t want to groom kids into allowing teachers to reach into their pants; they want to groom kids into allowing teachers into their heads and into their most basic personal identities. They want to persuade kids to trust the teacher’s views over that of the child’s own parents. Like all proponents of movements derived from Marxism/Critical Theory, their ultimate goal is to create little revolutionaries.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
5 months ago
Reply to  Sheryl Rhodes

That is the sad truth – that LibsOfTikTok exposes extreme examples of people intent on brain washing young children. Their advocacy for their cause strikes at traditional family values. They have a mission. Few typical parents were aware, now they are.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
5 months ago
Reply to  Sheryl Rhodes

But this is a news and discussion site – I shouldn’t have to join TikTok to find out wtf this writer is talking about.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
5 months ago
Reply to  Sheryl Rhodes

Forgive my petty point, we’ll, not really people but 6 or 7 year old children are not students.

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
5 months ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

I don’t follow it myself, but sometimes aggregator sites I visit will embed one of its videos. They truly are wild. Here’s the thing: Libs of TikTok does not make its own content, nor does it provide any commentary on the videos it links. It simply collects some of the insane videos that progressives put on TikTok. The catch is that while these were put on a public forum where anyone can view them, the creators probably assumed that only people who agreed with them would actually watch them, while the Libs of TikTok account provides a convenient place for them to be seen by conservatives. And now, thanks to this recent blowup, they will probably get noticed by some people who don’t consider themselves either progressive or conservative, but will probably be disturbed or grimly amused by the stuff progressives are saying. In a sense, it’s almost like if someone went through a message board like this collecting up crazy posts by left-leaning commenters and put them on special forum within UnHerd dedicated just to viewing them.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
5 months ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

I just don’t want to be on these different social media channels as I don’t trust ‘em. Email and comments on news sites suffices for me.
I think there are many like me, so it would have been helpful for the writer not to assume we know what this libs of TikTok thing is by providing a bit more context.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I’ve seen Libs of Tik Tok referenced enough times that I looked it up to understand the influence it is having. You have a choice… keep up with what is going on out there or scroll past news you don’t understand.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
5 months ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

A description I heard was a typical video from the site is a person with purple hair and face piercings who makes a video to furiously complain that a 5 year old mis-gendered her at the grocery store.

AC Harper
AC Harper
5 months ago

The doxer being doxed is yet another delightful example of karma. Another example is politicians being held to account for breaking the laws they initiated – although I note that not all politicians are treated with the same severity. Strange that.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
5 months ago

Best description I have yet to read on the internet for why the ‘narrative’ is so important to modern journalism.
Of course, UnHerd is also fighting stoically in the narrative game. It is my belief that this particular forum – or at least, the model for content production it represents – is our best bet for curbing the most outrageous excesses of internet culture.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
5 months ago

It’s not always easy to dox someone. It often takes serious effort and more often ends up getting data from a corrupt insider at an ISP. The person behind LibsOfTicTok wanted to hide their identity for obvious reasons of privacy. Lorenz was well aware of the loss of privacy despite her very public job which seems related to ridicule of others. The politics of personal destruction seems the method of the left when they are exposed. Rules for Radicals – Mockery.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
5 months ago

Jeez Googling this Lorenz journo I was shocked to see how she exploited Kellyanne Conway’s 15 year old daughter’s provocative social media through reporting on the Washington Post – when it was clearly the wild output of a rebellious teenager. (Maybe I live under a rock as I wasn’t previously aware of this story.)
That’s what democrats are reduced to? Exploiting rebellious kids – grooming is too nice a word for this perversion.

William Hickey
William Hickey
5 months ago

It is unusual to read a Mary Harrington piece and think, “Thanks, MOTO (Master of the Obvious).”

In 1957 Ayn Rand described the men and women working for the press in her novel “Atlas Shrugged” as the regime’s “Morale Conditioners.”

1957.

More accurate even than luginpresse.

Last edited 5 months ago by William Hickey
Graham Stull
Graham Stull
5 months ago
Reply to  William Hickey

Lugenpresse. Not to nitpick. Just for clarity’s sake.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
5 months ago
Reply to  William Hickey

Well I suspect quite a few of us on here are hardly aware of what ‘doxxing’ is – so – not ALL that obvious!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
5 months ago
Reply to  William Hickey

William, didn’t you used to write a column in the Daily Express in the olden days?

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
5 months ago

So the publisher of ‘Libs of TikTok ‘is pulling a Borat on the Left but with no manipulation like ‘Borat’ engaged in. I recall when whose on the Left cheered such mockery as a window into the soul of Middle America…

…now, with less manipulation, they are banning the new versions of Borat that shows a number very accepted and valid Leftist views.

The irony is not lost on anyone.