In the not too distant past, Twitter enacted a portion of their terms of service to suppress the distribution of a story from the New York Post pertaining to Hunter Biden that purportedly contained hacked materials.
Strangely enough, following the data breach of a crowdfunding site, numerous news organizations have published reports that outed the identities of alleged donors to Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal defense fund from 2020.
Since the publishing, Twitter has allowed those reports to be shared.
The Guardian used 'breached' data to dox rank-and-file police who donated $20 to the officer who was cleared of wrongdoing after shooting Jacob Blake.
Twitter manually promoted the article, despite 'hacked materials' and 'personal information' policies.https://t.co/X795TQ4Oc9
— Luke Rosiak (@lukerosiak) April 17, 2021
The hacked materials controversy that occurred back in October of 2020 initially resulted in the New York Post being unable to post on Twitter, and their story was initially barred from being shared.
After immense pushback, Twitter granted the story to be shared by tweaking their terms of service regarding hacked materials.
Twitter amended the policy so that stories that may contain or reference hacked materials will be allowed on Twitter so long as these materials are not directly shared by those who originally hacked the materials or by entities that are “acting in concert with them.”
With respect to the Hunter Biden story that was published by the New York Post, while it did contain allegedly hacked materials, the story did not contain any personal identifiable information of Hunter Biden that wasn’t already out in the open due to him being a public figure.
Twitter actively promoted a story doxxing rank-and-file police officers (and financial info that was supposed to be anonymous) based on a 'data breach' — one week after it blocked @WhitlockJason for tweeting the TOWN that BLM founder lives in, calling it 'personal information.'
— Luke Rosiak (@lukerosiak) April 17, 2021
Which then brings us to Twitter’s private information policy and how this policy may very well conflict with the numerous publications that have published personal identifiable information of individuals whose information was obtained illegally and published without their consent.
According to Twitter’s private information policy, the following is noted:
“You may not publish or post other people’s private information without their express authorization and permission. We also prohibit threatening to expose private information or incentivizing others to do so.
“Sharing someone’s private information online without their permission, sometimes called doxxing, is a breach of their privacy and of the Twitter Rules. Sharing private information can pose serious safety and security risks for those affected and can lead to physical, emotional, and financial hardship.”
While that certainly sounds like a promising policy, it turns out that Twitter does allow their users to dox individuals to a certain extent.
Twitter is liable
— G Pacella (@GPacella2) April 17, 2021
According to Twitter you can publish someone’s name without their consent, their birthday, where they work, what they look like – just so long as you don’t publish their general location, address or telephone number without their consent.
These reports that have come from outlets like The Guardian, The Hill, and countless others did violate this policy in a technical way – because all of these reports relayed information regarding individuals’ physical locations.
As noted in Twitter’s policy that explicitly outlines what violates their private information policy, the following is stated about location details shared on the platform:
“Under this policy, you can’t share the following types of private information, without the permission of the person who it belongs to…home address or physical location information, including street addresses, GPS coordinates or other identifying information related to locations that are considered private.”
One has to take in consideration that even though Twitter allows posts and reports that reveal where someone works, the employer information for those who allegedly donated to Rittenhouse’s defense fund that were featured in these reports simultaneously revealed physical location information.
James O' Keefe can't engage in discrete reporting because of privacy concerns but the Guardian can publish hacked information about public citizens and no one bats an eye.
— Jaden C (@Overlyplatonic) April 17, 2021
This was accomplished because, allegedly, police officers at various departments that have distinct names of cities within the employers’ names were featured in these articles.
And Twitter is allowing this information to be disseminated under the guise that individuals’ alleged donation habits benefitting defendants presumed innocent is now newsworthy.
One might wonder if this same practice would be honored if those who donated to various bail funds behooving alleged rioters from 2020 were outed via an illegal hacking and then reported about from certain news outlets.
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Law Enforcement Today recently reported on a journalist in Utah that levied this hacked data to dox a local paramedic on an ABC affiliate network.
Here’s that previous report.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – A 37-year-old investigative journalist that works for a local ABC outlet in Utah has been called out online for doxing a local paramedic who allegedly donated $10 to a legal defense fund for Kyle Rittenhouse back in 2020.
This investigative journalist went so far as to go to this paramedic’s home and publish his name online, all in the name of “investigative journalism.”
Stalking is a crime.
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) April 18, 2021
Jason Nguyen is the 37-year-old investigative journalist that decided to pen the article called “Utah Paramedic Donates to Kyle Rittenhouse Defense Fund After Arrest,” where this Salt Lake City-based journalist decided to use his personal & ABC 4’s platform to dox a paramedic for donating $10 to Rittenhouse’s legal defense fund back on August 30th, 2020.
We at Law Enforcement Today will not be releasing the paramedic’s information in this article.
Nguyen was able to obtain the personal information of this paramedic by way of a data breach that outed the information of numerous individuals that donated money Rittenhouse’s legal defense fund.
To get an understanding of the blatantly lacking significance of a $10 donation that this paramedic allegedly made, Rittenhouse was able to make bail that was set at $2,000,000 following his arrest in 2020.
Overall, this paramedic allegedly contributed 0.000005% of the funds needed for the Kenosha, Wisconsin shooting suspect to achieve bail.
And after taking all that into consideration, Jason Nguyen felt that this $10 contribution warranted a story that doxed this individual.
We at Law Enforcement Today do not use the term “doxing” lightly, but what this purportedly investigative journalist did is exactly that.
In Nguyen’s report, he released the individual’s first and last name, released the name of his current employer, and went to the individual’s home and even published that photo online for anyone and everyone to see this person’s personal residence.
Being that I myself am an investigative journalist for Law Enforcement Today, I take the role seriously – along with the ethical standards associated with that role.
Furthermore, our entire team does here as well.
“A data breach at a crowdfunding website” is a fancy way if saying @abc4utah is using hacked and unverifiable material to target a private citizen for doing something perfectly legal. This really is bad form from a great station that does important work.
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) April 18, 2021
When it comes to journalistic integrity, specifically in the matter of what to publish and not publish, therein lies the realm of what is known as a “noteworthy” or “newsworthy” person.
An individual donating to the legal defense fund of a defendant presumed innocent in the amount of $10, who was neither an elected official or a notable celebrity, does not fall within the scope of someone being noteworthy or newsworthy.
When reviewing Jason Nguyen’s personal bio from Salt Lake City’s ABC 4 website, he purportedly specializes in “investigating crimes, holding government officials accountable, or digging into the issues surrounding first responder’s mental health.”
For Jason Nguyen to proclaim that he likes “digging into issues surrounding first responders mental health,” it seems rather bizarre that he would seize an opportunity to dox a private citizen that is a paramedic – a.k.a., a first responder.
Once again, looking back to Jason Nguyen’s ABC 4 profile, he notes that he looks “forward to telling stories that come from the heart,” and that his “goal is to share stories that matter to everyday people.”
But doxing a private citizen doesn’t seem like a story that would or should “matter to everyday people” – nor would one likely call it a story that comes “from the heart.”
There is frankly no good reason for Jason Nguyen to have published this private citizen’s personal information to include showcasing this man’s home address.
Furthermore, the actions taken by this ABC 4 News reporter has the propensity to put this paramedic in danger due to the contentious nature of the story that Jason Nguyen has managed to craft out of a $10 donation to a legal defense fund.
Hey there @abc4utah you guys didn't answer the phone and can't be PMd here. However, I'm covering a story about your employee Jason Nguyen, the man who allegedly doxxed a local paramedic. If you have any comments, please respond to this tweet with your comment on the matter.
— Greg Hoyt (@GregHoytLET) April 19, 2021
I have personally reached out to Jason Nguyen, and ABC 4 for comment on this matter – to which I have received no response back yet as of this writing.
Please follow us at Law Enforcement Today as we continue to provide updates on this matter.
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