More from "why has this comment been removed"

7 posts / 0 new
Last post
Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Joined: 14-01-04
Oct 13 2017 11:19
More from "why has this comment been removed"

My post #466:

Agreed the way this was initially brought to our attention was somewhat heavy-handed. Nevertheless, the "official" libcom response has been poor. Steven and Mike Harmon are doing their best but others who were on Dr J's defence most seem not to be around now. As for the rest of us, for fuck sake, we're still redacting JD's name, even though we now know for sure he is a copper's nark.

admin: doxxing comment removed

I didn't know what doxxing meant so looked it up and found the definition "search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent".

I did not search for the information which is already well known and there is no malice. The jury's no longer out on this and the JD person I named is a known nark and repeated use of the JD redaction is both tragedy and farce (especially given that JD's identity is already firmly in the public domain). The "official" Libcom response has just gone from poor to piss poor in defending the indefensible.

My following post, #473, which asked whether Libcom would now start referring to Michael Schmidt as MS was also removed. I'll take that as a no... and nor should it but the hypocrisy is clear.

Mates, eh. Seriously folks, this fails the smell test by a long chalk.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Joined: 14-01-04
Oct 13 2017 11:39

Ignore the above... Sorry, I must be losing my memory. I've just dug out an earlier message from an admin back from when I raised the MS/JD point before. Their point was that Schmidt was publicly "out" as an "anarchist" (so not doxxing to name him) whereas JD is not publicly "out" as a communist, anarchist, whatever and it would be doxxing to name him. So in those terms, I guess it's a fair cop (oops). However, the admin also said that if someone were to start a thread about JD's public research, then Libcom would have no issue with that.

So, I've done just that - see new thread on the Crowds and Identities Research Group.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Joined: 9-02-06
Oct 13 2017 11:43

I don't see why you were told to start a new thread to discuss admin decisions as that whole thread was discussion of admin decisions.

I think they said that as he wasn't a public figure it was considered doxxing at the time, I thought they had stopped redacting the name, but it seems not. Don't know why that is happening, seeing as the name is completely in the public domain and the admins have agreed that at the very least he is currently helping police

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Joined: 14-01-04
Oct 13 2017 11:50

Well, quite. Surely this JD character should now be completely beyond the pale and to dox or not to dox shouldn't really be an issue?

Khawaga's picture
Joined: 7-08-06
Oct 13 2017 13:36

Well, doxxing is technically illegal in the UK (or will be soon) so I can understand why the admins generally don't allow that. But from what I understand, doxxing is more than just a name: home address, work address, private telephone number, social media accounts etc. That hasn't been the case at all with Dr J. and especially since it is so easy to figure out who he is by just visiting a couple of the links that was posted in the original thread. Who he is is an open secret. To me, it just seems silly to keep removing the real name of Dr J at this point.

Mike Harman
Joined: 7-02-06
Oct 13 2017 13:52

It was me who posted about Schmidt, I do think the cases are different. Before that though:

Doxxing in practice can mean several things:
- sign up/e-mail lists for events get snatched by the far right then posted on the internet.
- online petitions set up as honeypots to collect private information.
- a tabloid or similar right wing website picks up on something you've said (or a protest you were involved with), figures out who you are, then does a hit piece.
- your name and address get posted all over social media by fascists to encourage people to target your work or home address
- online campaign starts to get you fired from your job (or chucked off a university course)
- people find out personal details of your family members and harass them too.
- in the worst cases getting arrested, there are online funding platforms specifically for taking out 'bounties' on protesters in order to find out their details and feed them to the police.

This is a very, very common tactic that if anything has escalated dramatically in the past 3-4 years (via gamergate and similar online fascist movements, and a lot of political discussion moving onto fb and twitter where a single statement can quickly be picked up and transmitted across opposing political communities on those platforms) and it's happening to everyone from middle aged communists to 20 year old liberals. Also gets used the other way against fascists of course.

If you didn't know what doxxing meant and had to look it up, maybe you've missed this trend? I can guarantee that people you speak to regularly on this website have had it happen to them, people often will not talk about specific cases, because that spreads it further. Since it's primarily used as an intimidation tactic, those deploying it aren't usually bothered by the politics of the person they're targeting (although it usually involves red-baiting), also disproportionately gets aimed at women, trans people etc.

As such, we have a more or less blanket rule that posting personal information on the website about users (and in some cases non-users) is banned. Even if someone is a complete arsehole that you don't give a shit about, it sets a precedent for the next case and can have a chilling effect on discussion in general.

With Schmidt, he's not just 'out as an anarchist', he's got years of work published under his own name (assuming Michael Schmidt isn't itself a pseudonym) for both organised anarchist organisations and the AK Press book. Not only that, but he published the racist ZACF position paper under his own name (albeit internally), and published his real photo on st-rmfr-nt iirc. Therefore when talking about Michael Schmidt, the information is that the anarchist journo/academic/historian , i.e. public figure, Michael Schmidt did X, not that Michael Schmidt is both the person who wrote all this anarchist stuff and also did X.

On top of that, as a public figure Schmidt was traveling internationally giving speaking tours, giving him access to plenty of activists and potentially mailing lists etc. Given the initial allegations suggested he was actually working and communicating with fascist groups in an organised way (as opposed to just being a massive racist and posting on st-rmfr-nt), there were real concerns that he could have been feeding information to those groups, which they could then use to doxx and harass people, possibly physically attack them depending on circumstances. The only way you could stop Schmidt continuing to be published and speaking at events is making the information public (or at the very least semi-public by circulating it via e-mail and closed lists very widely).

With Aufheben, their articles aren't even individually signed in most cases except maybe Intakes sometimes, and the only reason I know who any of the members of the publishing collective are is due to the JD incident, and still only him.

Apart from the bookfair stall, I've not known them to have any public appearances at all as members of that collective. TPTG and Samotnaf have never directly suggested that JD was feeding specific information on people to the police that would compromise individual security of activists or groups (as opposed to theoretical work used for training, or recording anonymous accounts for academic papers and framing them in a police-friendly way, although framing and language blurred these two things continuously, hence everyone from JD to solfed being smeared as MI5 elsewhere) - if they had that would have been an urgent reason to name him as widely as possible vs. bringing up the broader issue of academic research into protests and similar.

I don't know why people think they're being so edgy when they keep breaking the rule, it just makes me assume you've never had to deal with it happening to yourself or anyone you've worked with, and don't give a shit about the safety of communists/anarchists who are trying to avoid harassment, blacklisting etc. Again, you don't need to give a shit about JD to understand the principle and that people who see one example may not have six years of context to consider whether the site will be used to doxx them next. Whether in practice it makes any difference at all five years down the line is a different question, but given people's wilful ignorance of what the problems might even be, I'd rather be overly strict than turn the site into open season (and we haven't discussed internally whether to change the rule in regards to JD yet).

Joined: 21-02-12
Oct 13 2017 14:20

Doxing is very, very bad and has some disastrous ramifications for people's personal life, wellbeing, puts people in danger etc. Irrespective of what you may think of the person being doxed, I think a blanket policy of not doxing and not disclosing personal information of others online , even if you think it's probably harmless, is prudent. Just draw a line, don't do it. Everyone knows who JD is but if you out him here, then it opens a door for leeway about doxing other people.