- - Thursday, April 21, 2022

In mythology, harpies are a race of half-human, half-bird creatures with pale faces and long claws who descend on prey as fast as the blowing wind. In these disenchanted times, we have, instead of those shrill hybrids, the liberal journalist.

A good example is found in Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz. She recently used data gathered by a far-left activist named Travis Brown, whose activities are subsidized by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, to shred the privacy of an American citizen.

On April 19, Ms. Lorenz published private and identifying information — also known as “doxing” — about the owner of a Twitter account called Libs of TikTok, supposedly because they had stoked hatred against LBGTQ people. The account shares videos and social media posts uploaded to public channels that often show teachers introducing children to sexual content and concepts behind parents’ backs. Ms. Lorenz linked to the name, address and employer of the account owner and visited a house that belonged to someone in their family. Ironically, she previously complained about doxing in a TikTok video, criticizing reporters who put the full name of a private person in print.

Cameron Barr, the Post’s senior managing editor, defended the paper’s decision to run the story in a statement amid scathing criticism. “We did not publish or link to any details about her personal life,” Mr. Barr wrote. But that’s not true. The Wayback Machine shows that the Post initially linked to a website containing the owner’s name and address and then quietly removed that link before issuing a public statement, which was tweeted by Kristine Coratti Kelly, the Post’s chief communications officer. The change undermines claims by the Post that it did nothing wrong. If that were true, it wouldn’t have covertly removed the link.

Ms. Lorenz’s article draws heavily on Mr. Brown’s work. She wrote that “Brown (who is working on a project with support from Prototype Fund, an organization that backs open-source projects) unearthed the account’s Twitter history and posted a thread detailing information about its profile changes.” Over the weekend, Mr. Brown helped reveal the identity of the person behind Libs of TikTok by digging up an old handle that used their name. In a private message, the owner told me that Ms. Lorenz “started harassing people” around that time. Whether Mr. Brown actively helped Ms. Lorenz is unclear, but she wrote her article using his research.

Mr. Brown’s project, the “Hatespeech-Tracker,” tracks millions of tweets that an army of “antifascist” trolls use to harass and dox people. It’s supported by the Prototype Fund, an Open Knowledge Foundation Germany initiative, which the BMBF funds. The Open Knowledge Foundation also partners on tech initiatives with the National Endowment for Democracy, which is intimately connected to the CIA. Leftists think they’re underdogs, but they’ve got powerful institutions behind them.

Mr. Brown denies accusations of cyberstalking and doxing. Instead, his approach is to design and provide tools to others who do the dirty work, maintaining degrees of separation. He credited Twitter user “KΛЯMΛ,” an anonymous account run by a self-described “Antifascist researcher & archivist,” with helping put him “on the trail” that led to Brown discovering information about the owner of Libs of TikTok. The accounts that use Mr. Brown’s tools and with which he has interacted on Twitter to facilitate their use against mutual enemies include various far-left groups, like Salish Coast Antifa.

Twitter’s privacy clause prohibits “the use of Twitter data in any way that would be inconsistent with people’s reasonable expectations of privacy.” Having one’s name and address published in a major paper due to Mr. Brown’s use of that data should cross the line. He knows that because, according to his LinkedIn, Mr. Brown worked as a Twitter “Open Source Advocate.” The official Twitter Open Source account still features several pictures of Mr. Brown speaking at events.

Ms. Lorenz’s source harbors a deep hatred for conservatives and law enforcement specifically. “Nice to see Berlin trying out positive, actionable alternatives to ‘all cops are bastards,’” Mr. Brown commented on graffiti that read, “ALL COPS ARE TARGETS.” Last April, he wrote, “Like I have no idea who’s going around writing ‘dead Cops don’t kill’ everywhere but I feel safer and happier knowing that they’re here.” Charming stuff.

But it wasn’t anarchists or loons dreaming of dead cops who used Mr. Brown’s work this time. It was a reporter for a major U.S. newspaper. Ms. Lorenz claims that she acted to protect LBGTQ people from a lone activist who took it upon themselves to show parents what happens after they drop their kids off at school and head to work. The left’s enemies are always Goliath, and they wee but fierce David.

In reality, Ms. Lorenz deployed the firepower of Media Matters and the ACLU, whose combined assets and resources are immense, to smear someone in a paper owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos. She used the work of a far-left activist whose vendetta against civilization is subsidized by a foreign government and who the Post elevated for the same — and real — reason Ms. Lorenz wrote that story: They hate normal Americans. It’s impossible to draw any other conclusion from people so upset about parents wanting to protect their children from predation and exploitation.

Ms. Lorenz is ultimately nothing more than a regime harpy who oozes crocodile tears when challenged by her victims. Indeed, the prospect of them fighting back, as Libs of TikTok has, is terrifying. It should be, because it threatens the chokehold they’ve held over society and culture for too long.

• Pedro L. Gonzalez is the associate editor at Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

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