@YesYoureRacist Crowdsources Social Preferencing

by Thomas L. Knapp…….

The Twitter account @YesYoureRacist went up in 2012, but jumped from about 65,000 followers to more than 350,000 in the days following Virginia’s “Battle of Charlottesville.” After an army of  white nationalists rioted to “Unite the Right,” murdering one and injuring dozens, @YesYoureRacist admin Logan Smith swung into action to identify, then “name and shame,” the attendees.

He’s getting lots of help. As photos of the thugs go up, the leads come in. At least one of the Charlottesville marchers is looking for a new job after his employer learned what he was doing on his time off. At least one family has disowned an outed “white nationalist.” There will likely be more of both.

@YesYoureRacist is a crowdsourced, social media powered implementation of “Social Preferencing” — the name given by Paul and Kitty Antonik Wakfer of The Self-Sovereign Individual Project (selfsip.org) for a process of “effectively extending market preferencing to all aspects of human interaction.”

There’s nothing new about Social Preferencing as such. Simply put, it amounts to rewarding people by befriending and trading with them, or punishing people with personal and economic ostracism. Human implementations of the practice precede recorded history. It’s a natural behavior.

But the Wakfers’ use of it presciently — they developed their framework before social media as we know it was born — comes in the context of a “Natural Social Contract” requiring “full openness concerning one’s Societal InterPersonal Relationships and the strong Social Preferencing that will be enabled and promoted by such accessible Personal disclosure.” Enter Twitter.

Projects like @YesYoureRacist make the information needed for rational Social Preferencing decisions more widely available and more easily accessed. Ostracism (and its opposite) need no longer be handled retail, by word of mouth at the barber shop and on the phone.  We’re all just a click away from being, if not famous, at least easily known in some detail to anyone who has reason to care and to look.

Are there likely pitfalls to a society in which social media boosts our ability to engage in informed Social Preferencing? Yes, there are. There are going to be mistaken identities. There are going to be false claims. But then, there are mistaken identities and false claims now, aren’t there? Presumably massive crowdsourcing will minimize such things by bringing multiple sources to bear.

The main objection to @YesYoureRacist doesn’t cut much ice with me. The project is not an “invasion of privacy” or a “violation of rights.” The Charlottesville marchers engaged in public action with the explicit purpose of attracting attention. Mission accomplished. They got noticed. Now they want the rest of us to forget what we saw, or at least refrain from acting based on what we saw.  That’s not going to happen.


Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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10 thoughts on “@YesYoureRacist Crowdsources Social Preferencing

  1. as popular as it might be to “out” people you consider vile in their opinions, it still smacks me as nothing less than “mob justice.” isn’t massive crown sourcing just a euphemism for mob? of course it is.
    now there is nothing wrong with showing these people as they march, protest, or whatever, that’s a privacy they most certainly have abandoned and lost any expectation of receiving. but, digging deeper into their identification, and employment history, especially for nefarious purpose, is a violation of their privacy in my opinion and steps over the line. if people have committed no crime, their shaming should be restricted to whatever fallout they receive from merely having their picture identified from those that know them. if they have not marched on company time, nor conflated their employer in any way with their protest or opinion, they are on their free time, and should not be sanctioned by their employer due to pressure from the “massive crowd sourcing.”

    would you be as sanguine about a closeted gay person employed by homophobic Hobby Lobby being terminated from their job for marching in a gay rights parade??

    nobody is defending the vile scum that preach hate; but you have to remember that the rights that protect the people you like, also need to protect those that you don’t.

    1. “would you be as sanguine about a closeted gay person employed by homophobic Hobby Lobby being terminated from their job for marching in a gay rights parade??”


      “nobody is defending the vile scum that preach hate; but you have to remember that the rights that protect the people you like, also need to protect those that you don’t.”

      I’m not sure what “rights” you think are being violated here.

        1. You asked a specific question and I gave a specific answer: Would I be as sanguine about someone getting fired for being outed as gay as I would be for someone getting fired for being a Nazi?

          Yes, I would be AS sanguine about the one as about the other.

          The notion that I am sanguine about either, or that I have an emotional intelligence quotient of zero, is entirely your invention.

          In point of fact, I go out of my way to avoid patronizing businesses that I’m given to believe discriminate against gay people, trans people, people of this or that race or religion, etc.

          And that’s kind of the point: People are going to use information to determine with whom they will or will not associate. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it always will be. The information becoming easier to gather and share doesn’t change that equation, it just ups the scale. There is no “right” to parade your beliefs in public and then demand that those beliefs not be noticed or acted upon.

    2. A mob is “a large and disorderly collection of people tending to acts of violence”. Its essence is the use of violence in one form or another (even when simply blocking the legal and legitimate use of a sidewalk or roadway). Social Preferencing, the use of words or other non-violent actions to express praise or condemnation for another – including the extremes of best friendship or total ostracism (refusing any interaction), is by definition not coercive and should not be labeled “mob” anything.

      As for the ethics of “digging deeper into their identification”, why is this totally permissible when you want to decide whether or not to employ or otherwise contract with a person, but not also reasonable when you seek to condemn some action of a person, particularly one that has physically harmed someone else or their property?

      A “nefarious” action is one that is “heinously or impiously wicked”. Again I say what is nefarious about publishing totally factual information about people?

      Relative to excess condemnation and/or other types of social pressure, please realize that Social Preferencing can and should work both ways. Those who do such excess negative preferencing will themselves be subject to negative Social Preferencing by others. In effect, what could and would ultimately happen in a fully open society is the public knowledge of the social characteristics of every individual, which would enable a person to decide on their degree of association with any other person in the same manner that the publication of the characteristics of various products (and many services) enable people to make decisions about their economic choices/associations.

  2. With your kind of thinking if we watched the NYE shoe drop at the gay bar in KW then we must be gay. Or if we watch the gay pride going down Duval st we support them and are part of them. That type of thinking is sick.

    As to firing someone you best be very careful. Unless your job includes a clear code of conduct agreement you could end up in court.

    Now NO I would never supported or watched such a group as this it still is my right.
    Sometimes I wonder what your true motive is behind your publications.

    1. “With your kind of thinking if we watched the NYE shoe drop at the gay bar in KW then we must be gay. Or if we watch the gay pride going down Duval st we support them and are part of them.”

      You seem to be accusing me of pressing a non sequitur that I’m definitely not pressing — one that I am, in fact, sometimes the subject of (that is, it’s occasionally and incorrectly inferred that I’m gay because I am an active member of a Metropolitan Community Church).

      “Sometimes I wonder what your true motive is behind your publications.”

      Wonder no more: The true motive behind my publications is to get libertarian op-eds published in mainstream newspapers and non-libertarian political publications.

  3. A couple of good points made here about the main topic, but something that has been overlooked by either not mentioning or barely mentioning at all by the media is the main message given by President Trump on the Charlottesville events, and that is: Attempting to find a solution to the “hate group problem.”

    It should be obvious to everyone that President Trump is no fan of neo-Nazis or white supremacists or whatever tag is put on them, but without calling them out by name, he also condemned the Antifa hate group. They claim to be anti-fascists and maybe some are, but in fact (as I see it) they themselves are fascists in that they are the ones who are stifling free speech, especially on college campuses, by shouting down those who they do not agree with, and these are also the same type of people dressed in black with their faces covered who destroy property and burn buildings, cars, etc. like we have seen on city streets and at Berkeley, Ca.

    Incredible that the media and others have missed (possibly intentionally) the wisdom of President Trump’s message. He is a problem solver (if people will let him), and his thoughts were those of a problem solver, and not to necessarily isolate just one hate group but rather to bring out the fact that there are numerous hate groups – and how to not inflame a situation that has been around for a century and more.

  4. Not being a Trump apologist in this instance, but I believe if some people more deeply evaluated this situation and President Trump’s response of trying to find a solution to the “hate group problem,” they might somehow realize that hating someone and telling them so – often just brings more hate. Searching for the impossible thought of reducing hate by the rehabilitation of white supremacists is a noble thought that should be given consideration.

  5. Will always be hate of some. Many can’t simply just look the other way or say nothing. You can dislike some people and avoid them. In my lifetime I have seen plenty of racist people. Could not care less what color they are or if gay or bi. If a gay asks me to have sex with him is no need to do anything more than just tell him NO or OK. Part of what we love in KW is that most accept everything and everyone. But will always be some that take it too far and end up being arrested. It was common back in the 60’s to hear the n word. My parents were very racist and even took it the religion side. I never shared that attitude and just judged people on what they are.

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