Trump Supporters Are Compiling Protesters' Personal Information In A Daunting List
The idea of being unknowingly put on a list, really any list, is simply unappealing. No one likes to have their personal data collected and just out there for the taking, especially when the people collecting it are hostile in some way. The news that Trump supporters are compiling protestors' personal information in a phonebook-length list, then, will come as a pleasant surprise to no one who has attached their name to an anti-Trump event in the past six months or so.
While it's unclear when exactly this started, the list has been floating around the right-wing corners of the internet since at least April, when Refusefacism.org started a petition to drive Trump and Pence out of office. "We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America! Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime,” said the petition — and it listed the signatories publicly.
No matter how many petitions like this popped up in the early months of the Trump administration, this was the one that the far right users of the website 4chan noticed and picked up on. "These f****** imbecilic ‘antifa’ have given us a wonderful gift!! They have created a list of names for /pol/ to crawl through and cross check all the hundreds of antifa sympathizers," wrote a user on 4chan, linking to the list and referring to /pol/, the board on 4chan that acts as the most prominent alt-right gathering point on the internet.
The people putting the list together, Buzzfeed reports, seem to be under the impression that antifa is more of a organized network than it actually is. While it's really just a term used for potentially militant activists bent on fighting against fascism and white supremacy, the people putting together the list seem to be convinced that it's actually run by "Bolsheviks" from abroad and that the groups are all highly linked. All of the people who are now turning up on their ever-growing list are assumed to be linked to antifa, whereas in reality they are most likely just normal people who may have signed up for an anti-Trump rally sometime since April. It also describes what it has gathered are the people who most frequently join antifa, namely "school teachers, programmers, and professors."
There's quite a bit of variation in what the list consists of, depending on how much information about the person in question the 4chan users could find online. While part of it includes only lists of anti-Trump Facebook users with nothing more than a link to their profiles, the more frightening sections list quite a bit more personal data. Depending on where the information has come from, it might include a Facebook profile picture, multiple phone numbers, the subject's place of employment, what left wing group they are assumed to be a member of, age, and current address.
The problem with an online list like this is that no matter how many times it's removed from the website where it was originally compiled, enough Trump supporters have downloaded it so that another digital copy is always readily available. It was originally posted on Pastebin, a text repository site, and The Hill reports that although it appears to violate the website's terms of service, it has not been removed. Given that its compilers have given detailed instructions for how to download and then go through it, though, removing it from Pastebin would likely accomplish little.
Buzzfeed, which originally reported on an earlier version of the list back in May, has not pinpointed what the list is meant to be used for specifically. It does traffic in a number of common conspiracy theories — namely that antifa is a highly organized, "globalist" organization — so one purpose could simply be to drum up anti-left wing sentiment. Whatever their plans for the list are, though, you probably don't want to be on it. And yet if you've publicly expressed any anti-Trump sentiment on Facebook or elsewhere on the internet, you just might be there.