aylor Lorenz is at it again. The job of the “technology and online culture” reporter for the Washington Post seems to consist entirely of targeted harassment of individuals and, occasionally, organizations. Now, in an article co-bylined with Elizabeth Dwoskin and Peter Jamison (“Twitter account Libs of TikTok blamed for harassment of children’s hospitals”), she seeks to weaponize hate mail to get the speech of the Libs of TikTok Twitter account suppressed. This is asymmetrical information warfare and should be treated as such.
Is free speech too dangerous? Should we allow reporting on the conduct of individuals or institutions? The rules should be the same no matter who is doing the reporting. The situation that Lorenz is writing about is a common enough one in journalism, whether it is practiced by prestige outlets or by rougher-edged citizen journalists on blogs or social media:
- Person A engages in conduct that is controversial and possibly an abuse of public position or the rights of others.
- Person B, engaging in journalism, exposes that conduct to a broad audience.
- Person C in the audience engages in abusive or harassing behavior towards Person A.
- Person D, a second journalist, directs anger against Person B, blaming them for Person C.
In several past public controversies, the woman who runs the Libs of TikTok account has acted as Person B in this scenario, while Lorenz has been both Person B and Person D, all the while changing her position on who should be silenced, based on where she stands in any particular controversy.
The Libs of TikTok account exists to expose sexually deviant ideas and conduct posted publicly on the Internet by people in a position to influence young children. The focus of the account is not on exposing private information; the bulk of the content is created by the users themselves and posted publicly on social media for the world to see. The core of Libs of TikTok is, literally, just re-posting things from TikTok, without editing or commentary, onto Twitter. The targets of Libs of TikTok’s journalism frequently tout their own positions as public-school teachers, employees of public hospitals, or other holders of positions of public trust, many of them taxpayer-funded and enjoying the coercive authority of the state — an authority that Libs of TikTok’s proprietor, who works in real estate in Brooklyn, does not enjoy. Often, her targets volunteer info in their videos about how they use their positions of trust, confidence, and public power to propagandize young children with their ideologies about sex and gender.