Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Don't Wrongthink Or We'll Dox You

Cathy Young directed my attention to a Kickstarter of rather dubious merit, and perhaps quite dangerous:, which purports to "wave goodbye to cyberbullies and trolls". Their explanation of what they propose to do is euphemistically vague; "We promise to keep this short and fun" they chirp by way of introduction, in the same tone Gawker pitches a celebrity sex tape.
Somewhere between cells phones and technology (and the extinction of the VHS tape maybe) we've managed to create a culture of online-bullying, which was totally cool never, so it's time we put an end to it once and for all.
And what is "online-bullying"? They don't say, but they — and their highly-paid, super-skilled summer interns — apparently know it when they see it:
Let's launch a database where we capture [bullies] exercising those [free speech] rights and create digital records for them that anyone can access.
Thus far we have worked to collect data and create about 22,000 profiles from individuals that are surprising all over the employment spectrum (doctors, teachers, lawyers, you name it).
And, hey, how do you know their background and occupations? Most people don't go around advertising their day jobs. What else do you know and seek to publish?
With your backing, we can expand our team of web analysts in order to create profiles at a faster rate, as our goal is to launch the database at 150,000 profiles. We will immediately apply your funding to hiring a team of paid interns for the summer, and our continuing web development. We will devote all remaining funds toward our legal team, which we are going to need intact when we bring this site live.
(Emboldening mine.) Well, they've got that part right. The quality of their list seems, shall we say, highly subjective, subject to vast editorial discretion, open to charges of malice, a kind of doxing-on-demand service. More, the kinds of information they hope to publish appear potentially rather broadly damaging, to the point that I might suggest it sounds like a more focused and paid version of the horrifying (and apparently stillborn) Peeple app.

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