The battle between hard-line anti-racists and neo-Nazis is raging on the Internet, where ‘doxing’ is often the weapon of choice
Anti-Racist Action (ARA) monitors white supremacist websites like the CIA monitors Al Qaeda. “Stormfront, White News Now, they can’t organize on the Internet without us finding out about it,” says Telly, a founding member of ARA’s Indiana affiliate, Hoosiers Anti-Racist Movement (HARM), referring to two large white nationalist Web forums. “We have trolls all over their servers. It’s really not that hard, because they’re really not that good at it.”
But he’s not taking any chances. That’s why he doesn’t use his real name. He’s afraid of getting doxed. To “dox” someone is to find and publish a person’s personal details on the Internet – home address, workplace, telephone number, E-mails, family photos and anything else available. It’s virtual intimidation. Both sides do it with relish. Indeed, more than anywhere else these days, anti-racists and their white nationalist and neo-Nazi enemies try to hunt and hurt each other on the Internet. It’s gang war, using keyboards instead of knives. Less bloody, but still dangerous.
After five anti-racists were arrested for storming a restaurant where a group of white nationalists were having a lunch meeting last spring just outside of Chicago, HARM created a Twitter account to raise funds and awareness about the jailed activists known as the Tinley Park 5, or TP5. The account only had 20 to 30 followers and none of them were organized anti-fascists, Telly says. “The majority were just activists or friends of the TP5,” he adds. “Several of the others were journalists trying to get an interview with HARM or anyone related to TP5 story.’’
But users on Stormfront, the world’s largest white supremacist Web forum, tried to dox everyone following the account, Telly says. “When we saw this, we started notifying all the people on Twitter that they were being labeled ‘anti-white terrorists’ by the fine folks at Stormfront,” he says. “Well, it turns out a couple of the activists that were following the TP5 twitter account were also in Anonymous.”
It was, as Telly puts it, the beginning of a real “shit show.”
Soon, Anonymous, the loosely knit Internet hacking collective, launched an attack on Stormfront. So-called hacktivists “went through the Stormfront thread and doxed several of the Stormfront users who had made threats or posted addresses,” Telly says. Stormfront users and supporters fired back. He says Hungarian nationalist hackers came to Stormfront’s aid and forced one ARA website to shut down for several hours.
Telly says South Side Chicago Anti-Racist Action is especially aggressive when it comes to doxing. “There are a lot of people who don’t know how to be on the Internet safely, so they just put themselves out there,” says Rocky of the South Side ARA. “A lot of them get arrested for doing dumb stuff. The Internet leaves a pretty good paper trail.”
As a result, Rocky says, Chicago-area white supremacists have been trying to keep a lower profile. They have been holding fewer public events and trying to keep the ones they do have secret for as long as possible. “They’re trying to stay a little more on the down low,” he says.
Rocky says anti-racists often attempt to infiltrate the other side online by pretending to be racists. “We read so much Nazi crap online that it’s easy,” he says. “Not only do we get information that way, we plant seeds of mistrust. It raises a certain level of paranoia.”
When the Intelligence Report reached out for an interview with one of the people at the white nationalist lunch, the man said he wanted to talk and tell their side of the story. But first, he wrote in an E-mail, “I need to feel comfortable you’re not an antifa member setting me up for another attack.”
He never called back.
Daryl Lamont Jenkins, an ARA ally on the East Coast, is the founder of One People’s Project, which monitors and confronts hate groups on the Internet and in the street. He has doxed more than his share of white supremacists over the years. He says he started using the tactic only when the courts ruled that anti-abortion activists, who were continually posting names and addresses of abortion providers, were constitutionally protected. “We said fine, why are we doing this with one hand tied behind our backs,” Jenkins says. “We haven’t seen anybody use our information to do anything that led to anything stupid.
We’ve been doing it for 13 years.”
Still, it worries him that some day, someone might indeed do something stupid.
“My feeling now is it’s distracting,” he says. “It’s not the first and foremost thing we look to do. We are concerned that people will view us in a less than responsible light.”
For Telly of HARM, doxing and outing racists is a better alternative than a physical confrontation in a crowded restaurant. After all, he says, the authorities do it when they post warnings and photos of sex offenders moving into a new neighborhood. “Some racist moves to town and we get him to lose his job, tell his girlfriend about his criminal record and Nazi dealings,” he says. “All of a sudden another Nazi group doesn’t get set up and nobody got beat up.”