The internet gave white nationalists a platform to organise their Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s also giving counter-protesters a way to strip them of their anonymity.
A Twitter account called Yes, You’re Racist has been naming and shaming white supremacists who over the weekend protested a decision by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
The user of the account on Saturday asked followers, who currently total more than 240,000, to send names and social media profiles of anyone they recognised in the protests. The site has identified at least nine protesters so far.
The account identified Peter Cvjetanovic, a 20-year-old University of Nevada, Reno student, as one of the participants in the rally, which culminated in the death of a woman after a man drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Cvjetanovic, who was photographed carrying a torch, defended himself to Channel 2 News in Reno, Nevada, saying he joined the protests “for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture.
“I hope that the people sharing [my photo] are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.”
Cvjetanovic didn’t respond to a request for comment via Facebook.
The rapid use of Twitter to crowdsource the identification of rally participants in real time marks a new use of the platform. Twitter has strict rules about disclosing personal information, such as intimate photos, social security numbers and financial information. Identifying individuals from photographs taken in public settings, such as the rally, don’t appear to violate those rules.
Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
In Berkeley, Calif., Top Dog, a hot dog restaurant, fired an employee after seeing a photo of him at the Unite the Right rally.
“The actions of those in Charlottesville are not supported by top dog,” the company said on a sign photographed by Berkeleyside. “We believe in individual freedom and voluntary association for everyone.”
The Yes, You’re Racist Twitter account was created in October 2012. “I’ve been exposing casual racism on Twitter since 2012,” the user behind the account says on their Patreon page.
The white supremacist Unite The Right rally was met by counter-protesters, including the self-proclaimed anti-fascist group Antifa, leading to four arrests over the weekend, according to CBS. One of the arrested was James Alex Fields Jr., who is charged with second-degree murder for plowing a car into a group of counter-protesters, leading to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
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