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Twitter blocks the doxxers

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Today Splinter News, a remnant of Gawker that is now part of the Gizmodo Media Group, published Steph
 
June 20 · Issue #157 · View online
The Interface
Today Splinter News, a remnant of Gawker that is now part of the Gizmodo Media Group, published Stephen Miller’s cell phone number. Miller, for those who have not been closely following, is reportedly a driving force behind President Donald Trump’s decision to separate children from their parents at the border and house them in cages at concentration camps. “He’s a busy guy, but maybe you can get ahold of him long enough to have a productive discussion,” wrote the author or authors of the piece, which was published under a generic staff byline.
In response, Twitter “temporarily suspended some of [Splinter’s] account features.” As Charlie Warzel recounts in BuzzFeed, it did the same for several journalists who work at Splinter — and then for non-employees who simply tweeted links to the story. This continued until late afternoon on the West Coast, when Miller’s number was disconnected, and Twitter stopped suspending accounts for sharing the link. 
Warzel says the decision to take disciplinary action against users for sharing links to news stories places Twitter on uncertain new ground:
Previously, Twitter has removed tweets that contain links to public information, but those links are often to randomly circulated documents or spreadsheets, not links to news stories by major publications. To remove links to a news outlet’s story is unprecedented territory for Twitter and one that is likely to dredge up a host of questions about Twitter’s role in promoting and censoring information.
Amid growing and justified outrage over the concentration camps, activists intent on doxing those responsible is testing the limits of their moderation policies. Yesterday I linked to the story of Sam Lavigne, a “data artist” who scraped the publicly available information of more than 1,500 employees of Immigrations and Custom Enforcement. He then put that information in a Github repository, wrote a Medium post about it, and set up a Twitter bot to begin automatically posting the information publicly.
Each of the platforms removed his posts within hours. And each, arguably, had a good justification for doing so. Publishing personally identifiable information about people has been an important weapon for the worst actors on Twitter, Reddit, and other social platforms. Imagine if, say, Breitbart published the phone number of a prominent feminist author and encouraged its readers to call her. We would expect Twitter to do just as it did with the Splinter post.
Splinter’s post suggested that Miller had this coming, because — among other things — his boss had doxed critics in the past, including Sen. Lindsay Graham and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos. The post is written rather glibly, but the subtext is that Miller is a ghoul, and he crossed moral lines in such an outrageous way that he deserves to have his phone number disclosed.
This essentially brings us to the online-behavior version of the “should you punch a Nazi?” question. Some say yes; some say no; we don’t intend to settle the question here. (Also, I am not calling Miller a Nazi.) Splinter’s post suggests — without ever coming out and saying it — that there is a moral line that, once crossed, makes you fair game for doxing. 
In a post later in the day, Splinter’s Katherine Krueger said Twitter acted hypocritically when it disciplined accounts that linked the original story:
Twitter remains a place where users are regularly subjected to harassment based on their sexuality, religion, race, or having a wrong opinion that day. For the moment, it seems Jack Dorsey is much more interested in placating conservative users, who’ve long claimed the platform is biased against them.
And yet that’s where, for me anyway, the argument falls apart. You can’t complain Twitter doesn’t take violations of its community guidelines seriously enough and simultaneously argue that it shouldn’t take action against you when you violate those guidelines yourself. You can argue that Twitter applies its policies inconsistently — and it does — but not that you deserve a free pass because other people are worse.

Democracy
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New EU copyright filtering law threatens the internet as we knew it
Scoop: The White House looks to coordinate online privacy plan
How should the feds regulate tech? This government watchdog is hitting the road for ideas.
U.S. lawmakers want Google to reconsider links to China's Huawei
Elsewhere
Instagram now has 1 billion users worldwide
Match Group Buys Hinge, an Anti-Tinder Dating App
Launches
Instagram announces IGTV, a standalone app for longer videos
Facebook tests “subscription Groups” that charge for exclusive content
Building meaningful communities with Workplace for Good
Snapchat's newest feature aims to create 'a world for your Bitmoji to live in'
Takes
Want to Understand What Ails the Modern Internet? Look at eBay
Ellen Pao on the Perverse Incentives Helping Incels Thrive at Tech Companies
And finally ...
Here’s the voice of Thanos reading Trump tweets out loud. Bye!
The Late Show
We figured out one of the few ways to make Trump’s tweets enjoyable: Have Thanos read them. #LSSC https://t.co/yL6yFm8m1S
9:10 PM - 19 Jun 2018
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Ideas for an Interface IGTV show? casey@theverge.com
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