Releasing a person’s private information online is a very controversial practice known as “doxxing.” This is something that hackers and activists get blamed for all the time, by releasing names of police officers or addresses of public servants. However, more often than not, it is media organizations that end up publishing private information about citizens who find themselves in some kind of legal trouble. Activists and protesters have also been victims of doxxing, especially in the past few weeks as protests have spread around the world.
This week, the mayor of St. Louis gave out the names and addresses of protesters who petitioned the city’s government to defund the police department in the middle of a Facebook live stream. Her live stream instantly drew outrage among activists and even elected officials, who say that the protester’s lives were put in danger.
During the Facebook Live appearance, Mayor Lyda Krewson was asked about a meeting she had with protesters at City Hall earlier that day.
“They presented some papers to me about how they wanted the budget to be spent. Here is one that wanted $50 million to go to CureViolence, $75 million to go to affordable housing, $60 million to go to health and human services, and have $0 go to the police,” Krewson said.
She then went on to give out the names and addresses of the protesters who were listed on the papers she received. The video was later deleted, but the damage had already been done, and the protester’s addresses were already exposed to police officers or white supremacists who might have a grudge.
In a statement released Friday, the St. Louis mayor apologized for reading out the contact information and said she did not mean any “harm” to the demonstrators.
“In an effort to be transparent and accessible to the public during the Covid-19 pandemic, for more than three months now I have been doing tri-weekly community updates on Facebook. Tonight, I would like to apologize for identifying individuals who presented letters to me at City Hall as I was answering a routine question during one of my updates earlier today. While this is public information, I did not intend to cause distress or harm to anyone. The post has been removed,” Krewson said in her statement.
However, many residents are now calling for her resignation, and many local politicians have already voiced their disapproval with her actions as well.
Megan Ellyia Green, an alderwoman on the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, took to Twitter to defend her constituents who were exposed.
Alderwoman Cara Spencer also tweeted condemnation for the mayor’s actions.
No leader should resort to intimidation of the residents they were elected to represent.
— Cara Spencer (@CaraSpencerSTL) June 27, 2020
The American Civil Liberties Union branch in Missouri published a statement in response to the Mayor’s live stream, saying that broadcasting the addresses of activists serves no purpose aside from intimidation and that people on both sides of the aisle should be concerned, regardless of their political beliefs.
Aside from her initial statement of apology, the Mayor has not responded to the growing controversy surrounding the unprofessional Livestream.