I’ve bumped into “Libs of TikTok” a few times on social media, and was so thoroughly repulsed that my response was to immediately block them. It was good to see the author of all that hate, Chaya Raichik, exposed in the Washington Post.
Just four months after getting started, Libs of TikTok got its big break: Joe Rogan started promoting the account to the millions of listeners of his hit podcast. He mentioned it several times on the show in August, then again in late September. “Libs of TikTok is one of the greatest f—ing accounts of all time,” he said. With his seal of approval, Raichik’s following skyrocketed.
Libs of TikTok gained more prominence throughout the end of last year, cementing its spot in the right-wing media outrage cycle. Its attacks on the LGBTQ+ community also escalated. By January, Raichik’s page was leaning hard into “groomer” discourse, calling for any teacher who comes out as gay to their students to be “fired on the spot.”
Her anti-trans tweets went especially viral. She called on her followers to contact schools that were allowing “boys in the girls bathrooms” and pushed the false conspiracy theory that schools were installing litter boxes in bathrooms for children who identify as cats. She also purported that adults who teach children about LGBTQ+ identities are “abusive,” that being gender-nonconforming or an ally to the LGBTQ+ community is a “mental illness,” and referred to schools as “government run indoctrination camps” for the LGBTQ+ community.
You can see why I would insta-block her — the combination of hate and dishonesty was more than enough. That passage also explains why I don’t listen to Joe Rogan. He’s part of the same ugly mess. “one of the greatest f—ing accounts of all time” was openly anti-LGBT, with an endless parade of posts framing the existence of gay people as a great evil.
It also wasn’t that hard to discover.
“Finding these “Shaya Ray” and “Chaya Raichik” identities for Libs is OSINT 101-level stuff. The shallowest indexing of the Internet Archive’s Twitter Stream Grab turns them up. Antifascist researchers shouldn’t be the only ones doing this work,” Brown wrote.
He called it a “failure of US journalism” that “an anonymous hate account can shape a far-right national movement, influence legislation in several states, etc., and (as far as I can tell) nobody has tried to find out who is behind it,” before it became public knowledge that Lorenz was working on a story about the identity of the Libs of Tik Tok’s creator.
But then I see lots of right-wingers blowing up over the fact that a journalist, Taylor Lorenz, would dare to investigate the latest font of ignorance and hate. I didn’t get it. That was her job! You can’t object to the general idea of investigative journalism.
But of course you can. Alex Pareene explains their objective.
If you are attempting to persuade this creep’s defenders, specifically, and not a general audience, that what Lorenz did was ethical, and that the creep’s identity is newsworthy, you have made a category error. These people on this ascendant right don’t just have different ideas about the role and function of journalism; they don’t just believe journalists are biased liberals; they don’t just believe the media is too hostile to conservatives; they are hostile to the concept of journalism itself. As in, uncovering things dutifully and carefully and attempting to convey your findings to the public honestly. They don’t want that and don’t like it and are endeavoring to end it as a common practice. You are debating logic and facts with frothing bigots with a bone-deep opposition to your entire project.
This new right fundamentally doesn’t want “newsgathering” to happen. They want a chaotic information stream of unverifiable bullshit and context collapse and propaganda. Their backers, the people behind the whole project, are philosophically and materially opposed to the idea that true things should be uncovered and verified and disseminated publicly about, well, them, and their projects. This may have started as a politically opportunistic war against particular outlets and stories, but it has quickly blossomed into a worldview. It’s an ideologically coherent opposition to the liberal precepts of verifiability and transparency, and the holders of those precepts are too invested in them to understand what their enemy is doing. The creep’s account, everyone in the press should understand, is the model for what they will be replaced with.
That’s Tucker Carlson, and the fortunately late Andrew Breitbart, and Rupert Murdoch, and the rationale behind all of Fox News, and OANN, and NewsMax. They don’t do journalism. They try to destroy it.