Two university professors are assisting the radical left-wing Antifa movement by compiling and publishing personal information about its perceived enemies online, in a practice known as “doxxing.”
Doxxing is publishing an individual’s private information such as a home address, workplace, date of birth, schools attended, telephone number, or Social Security number. Some consider doxxing an act of terrorism because the goal isn’t merely to inconvenience, shame, or embarrass the victim but also to intimidate. Doxxing sometimes also leads to loss of employment, housing, and reputation.
Antifa is short for “anti-fascist.” Despite its name, Antifa uses heavy-handed fascistic tactics and is notorious for physically assaulting conservatives, Republicans, and those who identify with the so-called alt-right. These violent modern-day agitators trace their roots to Weimar Germany, where they assaulted Nazi brownshirts and emulated their tactic of using force to silence political rivals. The anarchists and communists of the Antifa movement typically smear their victims as fascists, Nazis, and racists.
The doxxing activities of computer science professor Megan Squire of Elon University in North Carolina are celebrated by the left. Wired magazine offered a profile of Squire, a data-mining expert, earlier this year that depicted her heroically. The article bore the flattering title, “Meet Antifa’s Secret Weapon Against Far-Right Extremists,” and hailed her as a purveyor of “vigilante justice.”
Squire has created a database she calls “Whack-A-Mole” that consolidates information she has gathered about those she deems right-wing extremists. An online activist who uses the pseudonym Robert Lee describes Whack-A-Mole as “very helpful” and “a new way to research these people that leads me to information I didn’t have.”
Squire sorts those on the radical right into various subgroups such as “Neo-Nazi,” “Alt-Right,” “White Nationalist,” “Neo-Confederate,” “No Sharia Law,” and “Anti-Government.” Based on little more than the use of flagged keywords such as “patriot,” “anti-SJW” (anti-social justice warrior), and “anti-Obama,” Whack-a-Mole tracks an estimated 400,000 accounts of suspected “white nationalists” on Facebook and other websites. In other words, anyone who deviates from leftist orthodoxy by having an online discussion might find themselves monitored and doxxed.
Squire feeds the information she finds to the mistake-prone radicals of the Southern Poverty Law Center. In June, the SPLC agreed to pay almost $3.4 million to British politician Maajid Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation after admitting it erred in labeling his advocacy group “extremist” in a publication titled, “A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.” Nawaz earned the enmity of many on the left for urging that Muslim extremists be investigated by authorities.
Squire also hands the data she acquires to activists who are then free to post it online in a bid to get Antifa’s enemies fired from their jobs.
Unlike the Antifa movement she supports, Squire doesn’t attempt to hide her identity.
“We shouldn’t have to mask up to say Nazis are bad. And I want them to see I don’t fit their stereotypes—I’m not a millennial or a ‘snowflake.’”
Squire was pleased when the Antifa movement emerged in the U.S.
“They were a level of mad about racism and fascism that I was glad to see,” she told Wired. “They were definitely not quiet rainbow peace people.” Squire refuses to condemn Antifa’s violent tactics.
Squire is listed as a fellow on the website of something called the “Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right.” The first blog entry on the website goes back to March of this year. It is unclear if the Centre is associated with any actual institutions of higher learning. No physical address for the Centre appears on the website. The only means of contacting it is a templated web form. Efforts to obtain a comment from the Centre weren’t successful as of press time.
Another academic doing Antifa’s dirty work is Sam Lavigne, whose online biography describes him as “an Adjunct Professor at ITP/NYU, The New School, and the School for Poetic Computation, a 2016/2017 Magic Grant fellow at the Brown Institute at Columbia University,” and “Special Projects editor at the New Inquiry Magazine.”
Lavigne participated in the publishing of the names and personal information of almost 1,600 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Lavigne started his database of ICE officials as a protest against what he terms ICE’s “inhumane” efforts at the border that sometimes involve temporarily separating family members while the parents are prosecuted for violating the law.
“As ICE continues to ramp up its inhumane surveillance and detention efforts, I believe it’s important to document what’s happening, and by whom, in any way we can,” Lavigne said.
“I’ve downloaded and made available the profiles of (almost) everyone on LinkedIn who works for ICE—1,595 people in total. While I don’t have a precise idea of what should be done with this data set, I leave it here with the hope that researchers, journalists, and activists will find it useful,” Lavigne wrote in a post on Medium.
Lavigne also tweeted a photo of ICE Chief Technology Officer David Larrimore enjoying Father’s Day.
“Nothing wrong with doxxing people who operate concentration camps[,]” Twitter user Pierce Nichols (@nocleverhandle) commented.
Because members of Antifa lump ICE officers in with fascists and Nazis, there is no telling what they may do next to those ICE employees.