ReclaimtheNet has run a story about Twitter users being suspended for publishing a link to a “Dirt” story that identified the home that Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, not ashamed of her ties to “Marxism”.
The New York Post also ran two stories, and they ultimately link to a real estate blog that identifies the property.
So I’m making this post to discuss the censorship and privacy issue, but won’t give the links to those stories. It is very unusual for me to do this. (I don’t usually post the names of suspects charged with crimes or “persons of interest”, unless it is very certain who they are and public already (such as the officer in George Floyd’s case – to avoid attracting unwanted search engine attention in case of a wrongful conviction).
The law doesn’t do much to protect the privacy of public figures (and it has higher standard for libel, for that matter), and here is a discussion of the issue from the law school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, 2017.
Twitter, however, is entitled as a private business to have this rule if it believes allowing publishing homes of public figures would harm its business.
In practice, it’s very easy to look up a real estate transaction for anyone identifiable; most localities have their real estate tax records online along with owners and dates. So this is not really private information.
Other people known to me have made large home purchases. YouTube commentator Tim Pool made one in 2020, and it’s easy to look up (Since I know him, I won’t reproduce it here, but there is a video about it online.) Various other YouTubers, many of them young, some of them LGBT or other groups, film in their homes and don’t disclose exactly where they are but people can look them up if they try hard enough with various real estate sites or public records. So privacy in practice for many Internet stars is going to be more limited. (When people rent and don’t own homes, they may well have more privacy, however.)
It’s also getting murkier to define who is a “public figure”. My three “do ask do tell” books, and knowledge of my past work on the “gays in the military” issue is probably sufficient to make me public. The Internet has done that.
When I lived with my mother in her house from 2003 to the end of 2010, when she passed away at 97, I was a little but concerned that “publicity” could create security problems, possibly for the caregivers who worked there in the last eighteen months of her life. It never materialized as an issue (a kind of “don’t ask don’t tell”). The house was sold in 2017 and I’m more obscured now, I think.
There is little question that Ms. Cullors could face public criticism for her hypocrisy if she is serious bout communism, well, Maoism.