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Washington Post’s “internet culture” columnist Taylor Lorenz sparked a media firestorm with her report revealing the identity of the popular Twitter personality Libs of TikTok, but her call of scrutinizing the powerful appears to only apply in one direction.
Over the past year, Libs of TikTok has soared as one of the most recognizable Twitter accounts among conservatives for sharing public TikTok videos of individuals, many of them teachers, touting various woke ideologies like promoting the growing spectrums of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as critical race theory principles towards children, which has fueled the national debate over education.
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Last Tuesday, Lorenz wrote a piece revealing Libs of TikTok’s name, occupation, where in the country she lived, even her religion. Lorenz and the Post faced intense backlash, insisting nothing that was published was personal information, though the original story did include a link that allegedly exposed her address, which was later removed.
During an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter, Lorenz defended her story as being newsworthy and that Libs of TikTok should be publicly identified.
“This woman is shaping the media ecosystem and shaping legislation and public discourse around legislation. She’s also talked about mobilizing her base to run for local school boards and is collecting email lists, which 100% are going to be used for political purposes. So this is a political force. This is an influential media force. The idea that this woman is not newsworthy is quite nonsense,” Lorenz said, adding, “we should scrutinize anyone that has power in this country, anyone that’s influencing politics and legislation and public sentiment in the media.”
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Lorenz, on the other hand, goes to great lengths to keep scrutiny away from her, particularly when it comes to her tweets.
For starters, Lorenz is famous for blocking her critics and journalists who report on her in an unflattering way. She also has her tweets automatically deleted after roughly a month on her Twitter page, although that’s a common practice on the platform.
But perhaps her most extreme effort to keep her old tweets hidden was her request for her Twitter page to be removed from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
Last week, CNS News editor Rob Shimshock highlighted how the Wayback Machine, a digital archive of the internet, tells users searching for Lorenz’s Twitter page, “This URL has been excluded” from the service.
On the Wayback Machine’s user guide, it says content owners who want their sites excluded from the service “can send an email request for us to review to [email protected] with the URL (web address) in the text of your message.”
In a 2002 forum exchange with users, the Internet Archive elaborated on its policy, writing, “While we collect publicly available Internet documents, sometimes authors and publishers express a desire for their documents not to be included in the Wayback Machine… If the author or publisher of some part of the Archive does not want his or her work in the Wayback Machine, then we may remove that portion from Wayback Machine without notice.”
It is unclear how long ago Lorenz made her request for her Twitter page to be excluded from the Wayback Machine, which can be years before she wrote her Libs of TikTok story. Her Instagram and Facebook pages as well as her professional website remain on the service, according to search results.
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Fox News reached out to Lorenz with inquiries about her request to exclude her Twitter page from the Wayback Machine including her response to critics who say her calls to “scrutinize” influential figures in politics and media while hiding her own Twitter history is hypocritical. Lorenz did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Additionally, Fox News reached out to the Internet Archive about its process of honoring requests to scrub content from the Wayback Machine and whether it ever declines requests. The Internet Archive pointed to previous public statements about its policies but declined to comment further.
Lorenz has repeatedly insisted her story did not include any personal information about Libs of TikTok, She told Stelter it is “patently false” to claim her story included a link doing so despite The Washington Post admitting it scrubbed a link that allegedly exposed a home address (A spokesperson for The Washington Post previously told Fox News its report “linked to publicly available professional information” and when asked why the link was scrubbed, The Post replied, “Ultimately, we deemed it unnecessary.”).
Fox News asked Lorenz why was it essential to include, among other details, Libs of TikTok’s religion and how is it relevant to the story. Lorenz did not respond.
Lorenz accused her critics of “spinning these outrage cycles,” insisting they’re part of an “operation” of the “right-wing media machine.”
“The whole goal with the right-wing media is to obscure this stuff and attack journalism and to try and discredit any kind of journalist that attempts to hold these powers to account… I assumed that they would have drama, sort of like what they do,” Lorenz told Stelter, later adding, “The right will make those arguments because they don’t want scrutiny.”
Fox News asked Lorenz if she does not believe any of her critics act in good faith and if any criticism of her work is legitimate. Lorenz did not respond.
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Lorenz was also confronted with accusations of hypocrisy as her story doxxing Libs of TikTok came just days after she sat down with MSNBC about online harassment she has experienced. She shared the violent threats she had received and claimed she suffers from “severe PTSD” and had contemplated suicide.
“You feel like any little piece of information that gets out on you will be used by the worst people on the internet to destroy your life and it’s so isolating,” an emotional Lorenz told MSNBC earlier this month. “It’s horrifying… It’s overwhelming.”
The Washington Post previously released a statement defending Lorenz and her Libs of TikTok story, calling Lorenz “an accomplished and diligent journalist whose reporting methods comport entirely with The Washington Post’s professional standards.”