Keeping secrets is part of our everyday life, whether it’s something trivial or something big, something that affects others or that might embarrass just us. Considering our lives are lived online these days, cyber secrets are just as important and most of us wish could be protected.
What kind of secrets might that be? Well, how about that you’re a white supremacist? Now about that, you’re a neo-Nazi? How about the fact that you think Hitler didn’t do anything wrong by killing millions?
That’s what some people are facing nowadays after the Charlottesville protests that ended in violence. More specifically, the alt-right members of various groups that didn’t think their radical views of the world would affect their lives much… until it was all out in the open.
You see, the folks on the Internet were appalled by what transpired in Charlottesville. They were appalled by the blatant racism shown there, by the complete disregard for common decency, by the fact that these people were picking and choosing what pseudo-science to believe in and what historical events to trust in.
So what did they do? They turned to doxing. Doxing is a term that describes a situation when someone or another, whether a journalist or just a fellow netizen, digs deep to find as much as they can on someone’s identity. It starts with their photos, continues with their names, places of work, likes, dislikes, even home addresses. Basically, if there’s something online about these people, it will be unearthed, including those cyber secrets we were talking about.
Once their cyber secrets were revealed – that they believed, for some reason, that the white race was superior to others, that they saw nothing wrong with racial cleansing or with the horrors of the past repeating themselves – many started to back paddle.
Take 20-year-old Peter Cvjetanovic, whose face went viral online and on news stations across the world, as he held onto a tiki torch and screamed white supremacy slogans at the rally. Once his identity was exposed, he tried to explain that he is “not the angry racist they see in that photo,” that his rhetoric is not hateful. “As a white nationalist, I care for all people. We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have,” he told Channel 2 News.
And yet, that’s exactly what white nationalists in America want – for all other races to be expelled from the United States, as if they are the rightful owners of the lands; perhaps forgetting that they all descend from European immigrants who butchered countless American natives, people who were on those very same lands long before Europeans even set foot.
Other doxed white supremacists faced even greater backlash by losing their jobs once their identities were exposed. Another was denounced by his entire family who claims to be afraid of him and his views.
Cyber secrets exposed
One thing has been clear thus far is that none of the folks that have been doxed enjoyed having their secrets out in the open. They didn’t like that the world knew of their racist views, of their political affiliations, of the hate they spew around them. They didn’t like that their employers cut them loose instead of risking to be viewed as a business that supports hate and intolerance. They didn’t like that their neighbors and friends found out they thought they were better than anyone else just because of the color of their skin.
More importantly, they didn’t like that their cyber secrets were out in the open. They didn’t enjoy that their masks were off and that everyone could see their true face.
While people expect privacy these days, the notion of privacy itself has shifted quite a bit.
“It’s a classic, tangible example of the shifting of the privacy paradigm. A subconsciously happening change in our perspective of privacy or more like our inability to adapt to the situation. What was “supposed to be” a secret is now out in the open thanks to the “all recording” cyber world equipment like invisible IoT devices or a silently recording microphone or camera, individuals is simply not ready to protect themselves from,” Arthur Keleti, author of The Imperfect Secret, told us. “Not only will people not realize that their words and images are being recorded, but they will also have no idea what the person recording their words, their sighs, their booming or raised voice, or their actions, intends to do with the recording.”
A sickening trend
While white supremacist rallies are nothing new in the United States, it seems they have grown bolder and more vile in the months that followed Donald Trump’s election as president, a man who has tried to block Muslims from going to the United States for no plausible reason, who has vowed to build a wall with Mexico to stop illegal immigrants from coming in the country, who has spewed hate and prejudice since the day he announced his desire to run for the most powerful position in the United States.
It took two days for Trump to denounce white supremacists, neo-Nazis and racists, presumably after immense pressure was put on him for failing to do so. In no time, however, he was back to making excuses for the white nationalists that resorted to violence in Charlottesville. It’s situations like these that embolden his supporters, such as the white nationalists that took to the streets in Virginia and elsewhere, to believe their racist views are valid, that hate stemmed from the differences between us is something that has any place in the 21st century.