Peter Weinberg didn’t even know what “doxing” was before a Twitter mob falsely accused him of assaulting some kids who were posting protest flyers against police brutality along the Capital Crescent bike trail.
In his mentions, disaster was rapidly unfolding. People accused him of assaulting a child. Of being a racist. They shared a selfie he’d taken in sunglasses and his bike helmet and analyzed it alongside blurry images of another man in sunglasses and a bike helmet.
As he attempted to piece together what was happening, Weinberg called the number for a detective provided by the Maryland-National Capital Park Police. “We are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the below individual in reference to an assault that took place this morning on the Capital Crescent trail. Please contact Det. Lopez with any information,” read a tweet sent June 2 from the department and shared more than 55,000 times.
But the Park Police had made an error. “Correction, the incident occurred yesterday morning, 6/1/2020,” they wrote in a follow up tweet. As with most such clarifications, it had only a fraction of the reach: a mere 2,000 shares.
It was based on that initial, false information that Weinberg had become a suspect for the internet mob. To his surprise, the app that he used to record his regular rides from Bethesda into Georgetown via the Capital Crescent Trail shared that information publicly, not just with his network of friends and followers. Someone had located a record of his ride on the path on June 2, matched it to the location of the assault from the video, matched his profile picture — white guy, aviator-style sunglasses, helmet obscuring much of his head — to the man in the video, and shared the hunch publicly.
This article was liked by Sam Harris on Twitter.
It lines up with a lot of discussions he's had about technology, social media, the mainstream media, moral panics, and Twitter.
Kinda weird how so many get caught up in the mob frenzy and jump over each other to wish that perpetrators of crimes on video be locked away forever and their navels be filled with the fleas of a thousand camels, but when they paint the target for that shit on an innocent, they get away with just saying 'oopsie, did I do that?!'
I seriously think doxing should be a punishable offense. Someone's gonna get murdered over it.
TL;DR Capital Park Police got the date of the assault wrong and asked the public for help in identifying the perp. The article title mentions doxxing, but the request for public participation came from the cops as did the incorrect info that resulted in the wrong guy getting blamed and endangered.
You can also do this to anyone. Simply get their facebook profile picture and then put some racist snapchat text on it and then post it to some far-left subreddits. Idiots will go out of their way to try to identify the person and then share all the personal information. Other people will then start harassing the person, never stopping to think that maybe they were being manipulated by the person who originally made the image!
He acknowledged that he had, in some way, contributed to Weinberg’s circumstances.
If "in some way, contributed" means completely caused, sure. Crowdsourcing police work is brilliant, if you're lazy and don't care about innocent people. Of course the mob doesn't just contact the police. How often do you suppose this happens to minorities?
This guy got doxed because the Park Police listed the wrong date of the incident. Yes, mob mentality is bad, but this isn’t an incident where everyone should’ve held their hands and waited for the police to do something. Authorities asked for public assistance (as they often do) and they managed to find a 60-year old ex-cop who assaulted a bunch of kids. It’s unfortunate that this random fella got doxed, but it’s ultimately a consequence of availing yourself of public forums. Mob mentality isn’t new, it’s just easier for individuals to express their opinions on a larger scale. The solution isn’t stop helping, it’s fixing the platform (like how this subreddit locked posts).
And I have to mention, it’s ridiculous how tone deaf this article is. Discussing due process and right to privacy in this context when we’re literally in the middle of a policing crisis that’s caused the unwarranted deaths and murder of hundreds of Black people. Is this story really worth exploring right now? There was zero collateral damage here. The police have been blindly accusing Black people of “looking like a suspect” for centuries, but go on. Be upset about the poor white guy who got some mean messages on social media and ended up getting an article written about him.
Here’s the thing about quotations. It implies I said that phrase, word for word. I didn’t say any of that.
This isn’t some new phenomenon. No one’s life was destroyed. In fact, people actually found the right guy. Unfortunately, mistaken identity happens all the time. People won’t stop trying to help, people won’t stop voicing their opinions. You can charge people with vigilantism if they go too far. But if you want to stop people from sending mean messages, that’s up to the platform. Otherwise the only recourse someone has is to step away from the platform.
In a statement released through his attorneys, Brennan apologized, saying he recognized his "outrageous behavior" was "unacceptable and wrong."
"I am sick with remorse for the pain and fear I caused the victims on the trail and online," he said, adding he was cooperating with authorities. "I am committed to making amends by addressing, through counseling, the underlying issues that led to my abhorrent behavior."
Brennan said he was "dedicated" to working to bring peace to the community and justice to "all victims of racism and police brutality."
Such a clear case of “Oh, I’m so sorry I got caught, guys! Don’t worry, I learned my lesson, I won’t get caught again!”
life_lostCalifornia, USA (2019 Tarmac Disc Etap)4 weeks ago
This is exactly why the mods locked the posts when this incident occurred. We do not want people to play Reddit Detective. If people had information, we encouraged them to give it to the authorities who can investigate.
Under no circumstances do we want innocent people to be identified as the guilty party and be judged and hanged by the public without any clear evidence they are the actual guilty party.
I never believe in mob justice which in reality is just revenge. The police requested the person be identified (doxxed) so they could be apprehended. Apologies if it seemed like I endorsed anyone’s life to be threatened.
No, doxxing is:
>search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.
~~It's not about telling anyone anything,~~ it's about searching for the identifying information online and in this instance informing the police of that information. But obviously I'm blind and missed the telling someone part of the definition.
Edit: formatting, and correcting myself
It specifically says searching for and **publishing** private information, indicating you are indeed telling other people. Also it makes particular mention of 'typically with malicious intent' indicating this is not for pure justice.
Huh thank you for bringing that up. To be completely honest it took me a few times reading my own definition to see the published part. Yes it also states "typically" meaning not every time, but of course social media did do it with malicious intent (as far as I can tell it seemed malicious).
Personally I think turning every individual outrage into a national story has been incredibly damaging to society. The subtext being, "everyone that part of the political spectrum is exactly like this so you are justified in hating them." When you are constantly bombarded with cherry picked negative stories, after a while it becomes difficult not to be affected by it.
Both the right and left media are guilty of it. Though the right seems to be far more deliberate often referring to the subjects as "anti-american, scum, subhuman". Its no wonder there is a growing lack of civility. In their daily interactions people seem to be imitating the hyper polarized partisan belligerence that has become common in what passes for political new coverage.