The Washington Post is defending a widely criticized article that “exposed” the creator of the viral Twitter account, “Libs of TikTok.”
The article, published Monday, was authored by tech reporter Taylor Lorenz, who has come under fire for her questionable journalistic ethics.
Lorenz used information sourced by a former Twitter employee to reveal the identity of the Libs of TikTok account owner, who chose to operate the account anonymously and is otherwise a private citizen. The Post reporter even showed up to the home of the account owner’s relatives and harassed a random Instagram user with a similar name, asserting that she was going to be “implicated as starting a hate campaign against LGBTQ people.”
However, the Washington Post stood by Lorenz’s tactics in a Tuesday statement to The Spectator, which is choosing to redact the name of the Libs of TikTok account owner at this time.
“Taylor Lorenz is an accomplished and diligent journalist whose reporting methods comport entirely with the Washington Post’s professional standards,” Cameron Barr, Senior Managing Editor at the Washington Post said. “[Libs of Tik Tok], in her management of the Libs of TikTok Twitter account and in media interviews, has had significant impact on public discourse and her identity had become public knowledge on social media. We did not publish or link to any details about her personal life.”
The Washington Post‘s assertion that they did not “publish or link to any details about her personal life” appears to be false. According to Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy, an early version of the article linked to the Libs of TikTok account owner’s real estate license. The link contained the account owner’s real estate license number, full name and possible address.
It is true that Libs of TikTok has amassed numerous followers on Twitter by reposting videos of left-wing insanity on the social media app TikTok.
The Washington Post has failed to properly justify, though, why the account owner’s name or occupation are useful to developing an understanding of why the account has had such an impact on online discourse.
Their claim that “her identity had become public knowledge” also diminishes their responsibility as a media outlet in determining if information sourced from social media can be amplified to their audience ethically.
Lorenz recently decried online harassment campaigns in an interview with MSNBC’s Meet the Press. Lorenz did not respond to requests for comment via email and phone.
UPDATE (10:13 PM Eastern):
The Spectator followed up with the Washington Post on its claim that it had never published or linked to any details about the account owner’s personal life, noting that an early version of the article did link to her real estate license. The link was later removed. A spokesperson for the Washington Post sent the following response:
“We linked to publicly available professional information and ultimately deemed it unnecessary.”