CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Should people be shamed online for attending protests?
After protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, were photographed doing the Nazi salute, wearing swastikas and waving the Confederate flag, one Twitter user vowed to “make them famous.”
The Twitter account Yes, You’re a Racist has been posting photos from the protest and asking the public to help identify activists.
In May, about 47,000 people were following the account. Now, it’s more than 360,000. And the tweets identifying protesters are having real-life consequences.
Protesters identified by the account as white supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis reportedly have lost jobs and received death threats.
In one case, a father wrote an open letter to his community publicly condemning his son’s actions.
“I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions,” Pearce Tefft wrote in a letter to The Forum newspaper.
“We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home.”
Not everyone agrees with the mission of the account. By Sunday, the creator stated they were also getting threats.
Some say the tweets go too far.
Others argued the participants have the constitutional right to express their opinions.
Others dismissed the account, saying it was generalizing and stereotyping activists.
Others came to the defense.
Either way, the creator of the account, who admits “searching through racist tweets all day is pretty soul-draining,” doesn’t appear to have any plans to stop tweeting.