The Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz wrote a piece on Tuesday in which she revealed the identity of the woman operating the popular “Libs of Tik Tok” Twitter account. Lorenz is now being accused of doxxing.
“Doxxing” is a term used to describe posting someone’s private or identifying information online, usually with malicious intent.
The Libs of TikTok Twitter account has amassed over 925,000 followers by reposting videos from various platforms that Lorenz described as “primarily from LGBTQ+ people, often including incendiary framing designed to generate outrage.”
Libs of TikTok emerged in early 2021 and can be found across multiple social media platforms. It is currently banned from posting on TikTok (though the TikTok account still exists) and has been suspended from Twitter numerous times for violating its “hate speech policies.” Nonetheless, it has garnered a vast following.
Fox News has interviewed the account creator anonymously multiple times and routinely sources stories from the videos posted by the account. Media Matters called the account a “critical piece of infrastructure in the right-wing media machine.”
In February, The New York Post interviewed the woman behind the account for a story about how she exposes “lefty lunacy.”
“I don’t do this for money or fame,” she told the Post. “I’m not some politician or blue-check journalist.”
Criticism aimed at Lorenz ensued after it was revealed that she went to the houses of the woman’s relatives to inquire about her.
The Libs of TikTok account posted an image of a woman, said to be Lorenz, outside the home of one of her relatives.
“Which of my relatives did you enjoy harassing the most at their homes yesterday?” read the caption attached to the photo.
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) April 19, 2022
Lorenz defended visiting the homes of the woman’s relatives as part of being a good journalist.
“Reporters make phone calls, send messages, show up places, and knock on doors when reporting out a story,” she tweeted.
Reporters make phone calls, send messages, show up places, and knock on doors when reporting out a story. I reported this story out extensively, using every tool I had, to ensure I had the correct woman https://t.co/p5dNT7Li1B
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) April 19, 2022
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, directed more criticism Lorenz’s way when she tweeted a screenshot of an email she allegedly received from the journalist.
According to the screenshot, Lorenz had contacted Pushaw to say she was working on “a story exposing the woman behind the ‘Libs of TikTok’ account.”
The alleged email offers Pushaw the opportunity to comment, citing the press secretary’s “many interactions” with the account. A recent Media Matters report noted that Pushaw and Libs of TikTok “have interacted with each other at least 138 times since June 2021.”
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) April 19, 2022
In a subsequent tweet, Pushaw wrote that Libs of TikTok “incurred the wrath of WaPo’s Taylor Lorenz” because it reposted videos showing how progressives “have sexually explicit conversations with minors.”
“Oligarch-owned State Media, the [Washington Post], is being wielded to push Biden Regime / Pentagon / FBI talking points, defend left-wing degenerates… and now, intimidate & dox private citizens who try to protect kids from left-wing degenerates,” Pushaw wrote.
So, oligarch-owned State Media, the @washingtonpost, is being wielded to push Biden Regime / Pentagon / FBI talking points, defend left-wing degenerates… and now, intimidate & dox private citizens who try to protect kids from left-wing degenerates.
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) April 19, 2022
Lorenz responded to accusations that she had doxxed or harrassed a private individual by arguing that the social media user “isn’t just some average woman [with] a social media account” but rather a “powerful influencer operating a massively impactful right wing media shaping discourse around LGBTQ+ rights.”
Lorenz may also not have been the first to reveal the identity of the woman behind Libs of TikTok. Earlier this month, Twitter user Travis Brown, a software developer, was able to uncover the previous usernames of the account. One of the earlier usernames was the actual name of the account owner.
An April 18 piece by Daily Dot reporter Claire Goforth used the discovery of the previous usernames to link the Libs of TikTok account to the Brooklyn-based realtor who operates the account.
An appearance on MSNBC by Lorenz two weeks prior to the release of her story also made her the target of criticism after it was published, with some labeling her a hypocrite. In the interview, Lorenz said she suffers from “severe PTSD” due to harassment she has received online.
“I have had to remove every single social tie. I had severe PTSD from this. I contemplated suicide. It got really bad,” said Lorenz.
“You feel like any little piece of information that gets out on you will be used by the worst people on the internet to destroy your life. And it’s so isolating. It’s horrifying,” Lorenz said through tears. “It’s overwhelming. It’s really hard.”
Earlier in the month, Lorenz railed against those who would dox, stalk, try to hurt, smear, or threaten others in a tweet saying, “it’s not ok in any situation.”
I know ur joking, but doxxing, stalking, trying to hurt and smear ppl’s loves ones, threatening them, it’s not ok in any situation. Ppl on here who constantly stoke these politicized outrage campaigns want to dismiss it, but it shouldn’t be dismissed. Has very real consequences
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) April 3, 2022
Conservatives in the political sphere have blasted Lorenz for revealing the name of the Libs of TikTok account owner after speaking out about being the victim of cyberbullying and condemning people who bully.
Meghan McCain drew a comparison between Lorenz going to the homes of the account owner’s relatives and her MSNBC interview about being harassed.
“Is she a sociopath?” she asked. “This right here — is why the vast majority of the American public hates the press.”
Taylor Lorenz is knocking on doors of relatives and trying to doxx anonymous figures from twitter but will cry on tv about being harassed and how it’s impacted her life.
Is she a sociopath?
This right here – is why the vast majority of the American public hates the press. https://t.co/AeaR0nZaDo
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) April 19, 2022
In the tweet Lorenz posted to announce her story, she summarized, “I wrote [about] the account, the woman behind it, and why it matters.”
Editor for Reason magazine, Robby Soave, replied, “I ask this in genuine good faith: How do you square this sort of reporting with your stated position that doxxing is never okay? It seems you are likely to direct no small amount of harassment toward this woman as a result of exposing her.”
A reporter for Verge, Corin Faife, had an answer for Soave, however.
“In good faith, naming someone isn’t the same as doxxing,” she wrote. She noted that journalists use their real names because they “should be accountable for shaping public discourse,” implying that the owner of the Libs of TikTok account should be held to the same standard.
In good faith, naming someone isn't the same as doxxing (posting phone, address etc online). As journalists we operate under real names because it's understood we should be accountable for shaping public discourse. Social media is still new and conventions haven't caught up.
— Corin Faife / still in UK (@corintxt) April 19, 2022
However, The New York Post noted that the original story reportedly included a link to a page featuring a previous professional address for the woman. The link has since been removed.
The Washington Post later said it had taken the link down because the news agency “ultimately deemed it unnecessary.”
The outlet then released a statement in support of its reporter.
“Taylor Lorenz is a diligent and accomplished journalist whose reporting methods comport entirely with the Washington Post’s professional standards,” said the news company’s senior managing editor, Cameron Barr.
Barr added that the woman, “in her management of the Libs of TikTok Twitter account and in media interviews, has had significant impact on public discourse and her identity had become public knowledge on social media.”
“We did not publish or link to any details about her personal life,” he said.
Whether Lorenz intended to incite harassment against the woman who owns the account, her story has reportedly resulted in the harassment of a woman who shares the same name.
The woman, an Instagram influencer from the UK, said on Instagram that she was being relentlessly bullied online. After receiving a slew of messages from people attacking her because they thought she ran Libs of TikTok, she demanded Lorenz do something to stop the abuse.
Lorenz tweeted a clarification that the Instagram influencer was not the woman behind the account. Both Lorenz and the influencer noted that the shared name was a common one.
The actual owner of Libs of TikTok spoke with Fox News about Lorenz’s reporting on Tuesday night, calling it “humorous” but reflective of Lorenz’s “narcissism” and “cruelty.”
“I think that what I’m doing is very effective, and I think that a lot of people wanted to shut me down. They wanted to intimidate me into silence. And unfortunately for them, that’s just never going to happen,” she told Tucker Carlson after assuring him that she was safe.