One of the more noxious aspects of anti-Trump radicalism is the growing practice of obtaining private information on public figures for the purpose of mobilizing large-scale harassment campaigns against them. The practice is known as “doxxing.” It’s highly illegal. Yet it thrives largely because of tacit encouragement from social media sites. That raises a couple of questions: Are social media companies willfully enabling such behavior? And if not, are they at least taking steps to discourage it? So far, their action has been underwhelming.
Doxxers tend to be a self-righteous lot, possessed of moral indignation against supposed perpetrators of injustice. They also are prone to viewing themselves as above the law. Case in point: Jackson Cosko, age 27, a former Senate staffer arrested last October for posting home addresses, phone numbers and other personal information about five senators, including Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, whom he claimed were enabling sexual abuse of women by defending Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Cosko was caught red-handed by a staffer in the office of his former employer, Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H. (she had fired him months earlier), using a computer to expose Republican lawmakers to public intimidation prior to the confirmation vote. Calling himself a “golden god,” he claimed a legal right to post the information. When caught, he threatened to release the senators’ private emails and encrypted information, plus health data and Social Security numbers of their children.