The decade's most triggering comedy
British news outlet The Guardian published an article Friday, based on information from a group that specializes in trafficking hacked materials, listing the names of low-level police employees who anonymously donated to funds supporting the due process rights of colleagues who have garnered the ire of Black Lives Matter.
Twitter then put it atop its “trending” section, which is manually curated by the site – after it silenced all references to an election-eve New York Post story that was damaging to the Joe Biden campaign, claiming it violated a policy that Twitter will not promote hacked materials. There is no evidence the Hunter Biden laptop featured in the story was hacked.
The Guardian story is based on a “data breach at a Christian crowdfunding website” GiveSendGo that was shared with the outlet by the group Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDOS).
A typical section in the story named rank-and-file Wisconsin police officers who had donated small amounts to offset expenses of fellow Wisconsin officer Rusten Sheskey, who faced a probe after shooting knife-wielding suspect Jacob Blake:
Two $20 donations to Sheskey’s fund were associated with email addresses of a pair of lieutenants in Green Bay, Wisconsin’s police department. One, given under the name, “GBPD Officer”, was tied to an address associated with [name redacted by The Daily Wire], a training lieutenant in the department; another anonymous donation was associated with [name redacted by The Daily Wire], who is listed as a school resources officer lieutenant.
It is not clear what is objectionable about the donations, particularly since the district attorney cleared Sheskey of wrongdoing and an internal review found that he was “acting within policy.”
Jacob Wells, a cofounder of GiveSendGo, told The Daily Wire, “When we started GiveSendGo, we let people give anonymously because people had such a big heart they didn’t want credit. Now where we’re at in this country, they have to give anonymously because we’ve seen what happens when their name gets out there. It makes me sick to my stomach… The point of this was to weaponize this information against the individuals who gave. There’s no other value other than to make them fearful.”
In June 2020, DDOS published nearly 270 gigabytes of data from “over 200 police departments, fusion centers and other law enforcement training and support resources.” DDOS posted on Twitter at the time that “among the hundreds of thousands of documents are police and FBI reports, bulletins, guides and more.”
The National Fusion Center Association said it appeared to be the result of hacking, writing “this compromise was likely the result of a threat actor who leveraged a compromised Netsential customer user account and the web platform’s upload feature to introduce malicious content, allowing for the exfiltration of other Netsential customer data,” according to cybersecurity blog Krebs on Security.
German police later seized the DDOS server housing the data, and DDOS moved to the dark web.
In January, DDOS published data from the victims of ransomware — people whose computers were overtaken by viruses that extort them by threatening to steal all of their data if they do not pay, according to Wired.
Not only is there no evident news value to publishing the names of private individuals who lawfully and anonymously donated modest amounts to support their colleagues’ right to a fair hearing – at a time when riots against police have flared and the publication of names seemingly makes them targets – but it’s not even clear that all the people doxxed by the Guardian actually gave. One man, by the Guardian’s account, would have had to misspell his own name for that to be true. The only non-public material breached was the email address of anonymous donors; their name was still not present.
Twitter is aware of DDOS’ modus operandi. In June 2020, it banned DDOS’ Twitter account and blocked all links to its hacked data.
A few months later in October – just before the presidential election – the social media giant took a more dramatic step against the New York Post. It prevented America’s oldest newspaper from tweeting, and blocked anyone on the site from sharing its latest story, a thoroughly-reported bombshell that had the potential to swing the outcome of the election.
US police and public officials donated to Kyle Rittenhouse, data breach reveals https://t.co/l02GVYTIO7
— The Guardian (@guardian) April 16, 2021
The company said it was because the Post article violated its policies on doxxing and hacked materials, saying “We don’t want to incentivize hacking by allowing Twitter to be used as distribution for possibly illegally obtained materials.”
“The images contained in the articles include personal and private information — like email addresses and phone numbers — which violate our rules. As noted this morning, we also currently view materials included in the articles as violations of our Hacked Materials Policy,” it said October 14.
There was no evidence, then or now, that the material was hacked; the story itself detailed how the now-president’s crack-addled son left his laptop at a repair shop and did not pay for it or pick it up. It included a copy of a subpoena showing that the FBI had seized the laptop from the repairman, and said the repairman gave a copy of its data to presidential attorney Rudy Giuliani after the FBI apparently did nothing.
After Biden won the election, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey acknowledged that the censorship of the Post story was a “total mistake.”
If Twitter’s position is that the Guardian publishing the names and financial activity of ordinary citizens who gave anonymously does not constitute “personal and private information,” it appears to amount to a remarkable double-standard in high-profile stories relating to Black Lives Matter within the span of days.
On April 9, Twitter reportedly locked the account of a commentator who shared a story about Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Cullors, a self-described “trained Marxist,” buying a $1.4 million home.
Columnist Jason Whitlock said: “They said my account was locked because I revealed personal information about someone. They said I needed to remove the tweet that linked the dirt.com story about Cullors buying a house in Topanga.”
The dirt.com story only includes Cullors’ name, the name of the town, and public real estate listing pictures, mostly of the home’s interior. It does not include the address.
Twitter did not return a request for comment from The Daily Wire.
Heather Wilson, another GiveSendGo cofounder, told The Daily Wire: “Twitter is a lawsuit waiting to happen. That’s how these companies are put into place. We posted something on Twitter
very simple like ‘thank you for using our service’ and people said underneath it things like ‘go to hell.’ And then at the bottom it says ‘hidden due to content.’ I said ‘oh gosh, how horrible is this one going to be?'”
“I clicked ‘show sensitive content’ and it said ‘God bless you.'”