A controversial Washington Post article exposed the woman behind the viral “Libs of TikTok” account.
The Washington Post published a report on the viral Twitter account “Libs of TikTok” that quickly engendered controversy online as right-leaning news sources accused the Post of “doxxing” (disclosing a private individual’s identity online) and left-leaning sources defending the Post’s reporting.
- The Post’s article, from “social media reporter” Taylor Lorenz, described the account as a “powerful force on the Internet, shaping right-wing media, impacting LGBTQ+ legislation and influencing millions by posting viral videos aimed at inciting outrage among the right.”
- The account has 648,000 Twitter followers and “has become an agenda-setter in right-wing online discourse,” and thus the Post decided to investigate and reveal the private individual behind the account (her identity will not be disclosed here).
- The account owner claimed she remains anonymous for protection and believes her account is under attack because “once you see what these people [leftist teachers] are saying, they discredit themselves.”
- The Post justified its reporting because the woman behind Libs of TikTok has given anonymous interviews to The New York Post, Ruthless Podcast, and Tucker Carlson Tonight, and the account was praised by Joe Rogan on his popular podcast.
- The Post was accused of “doxxing” the account creator for disclosing her real estate license before correcting their article and going to the creator’s home and her family’s home to verify her identity. The Post stands by its reporting.
- Newsweek’s explanation for why this “expose has outraged conservatives” accused conservatives of “lashing out” to defend an account it described as “one of the most influential accounts in the conservative landscape on social media.”
- The Forward described Libs of TikTok as “fueling anti-LGBT panic” and highlighted unconfirmed reports that she was at the January 6 Capitol riot.
- The Daily Beast attacked Tucker Carlson for slamming the Post’s article as a “foreign intelligence operation designed to silence and intimidate an American citizen” without clear evidence.
- The fellas at the Ruthless Podcast “variety progrum” torched the Washington Post’s “basically posing as a zoomer, as a boomer” reporter Taylor Lorenz for “doxxing” “Twitter hero @libsoftiktok.”
- Fox News reported the Post uncovered her identity through an online research firm funded by the German government and primarily based their reporting off research from the hard-left organization Media Matters for America.
- Reason asked, “when is it unethical to publicly identify an anonymous speaker?” and explored the ethics behind The Washington Post’s reporting.
Satire site The Babylon Bee may have summed this social media controversy up best: “Liberals raise concerns about account that’s making them look bad by just sharing their actual words.” For those with the self-control to stay off social media, there are plenty of anonymous Twitter, Instagram and TikTok accounts about various types of people (“libs,” conservatives, women, men, virtually anything) “posting their L’s” – i.e., the accounts share posts from others so the accounts’ audience can mock them. “Libs of TikTok” may have the largest following out of any of these – aided by Joe Rogan, Tucker Carlson, and other right-wing media stars.
That’s not to say Libs of TikTok is perfect or merely reposts liberal TikToks without commentary. I can report firsthand that Libs of TikTok has shared at least one video it didn’t realize was satire. That video set an outrage mob against a school that had nothing to do with the satire, but the account owner never apologized. In another incident, the woman behind the account said, “any teacher who comes out to their students should be fired on the spot.” So gay teachers can’t wear their wedding rings to school? Or have a picture of their spouse on their desk? The notion that only straight teachers can mention their families, but gay teachers should be fired for doing the same is pure bigotry.
Sharing misleading information, mistaking satire for reality, and posting bigoted or ignorant things is the norm on social media, not the exception. Several teachers have been fired after their posts were reshared – but one wonders why they were posting on TikTok in the first place.
All things considered, it’s still not clear to me why exposing the account owner is newsworthy, especially considering the Post did not consider the Hunter Biden laptop story newsworthy. Libs of TikTok makes progressives look bad by sharing progressives’ own words – and that is why the account owner’s identity is newsworthy.
© Dominic Moore, 2022