Is TikTok Normalising Doxxing?

The latest drama involving TikToker Jackie La Bonita has me thinking.

Jackie La Bonita TikTok Baseball Doxxing

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Doxxing used to be an extreme invasion of privacy. It’s now becoming an increasingly default response to internet drama.

In the latest TikTok drama to blow up my feed, Jackie La Bonita posted a video to her account with the caption “Watch my confidence disappear after these random girls make fun of me for taking pics.” The girls in question can be seen sitting behind La Bonita at a baseball game. Once they notice themselves in the background of her video, the pair make the decision to flip the camera off, whisper conspiratorially, and openly laugh in the background. Normal behaviour.

Since La Bonita posted the clip, it has amassed over 45 million views in five days. No real surprise about what happened next: TikTok detectives did their thing and quickly found the background girls’ names, social media accounts, and employer details; so you can imagine what happened next. Incidentally, even Cardi B even got in on the action.

The pair then posted their own, painfully insincere apology video, shifting much of the blame to La Bonita for including them in her video in the first place using her “editing skills to her advantage and used it in a very — I would so call it — disgusting way”. It was swiftly deleted and replaced by an apology from one of the girls on their Instagram.

There are two separate issues here: the girls’ behaviour in the background of La Bonita’s video, and the relentless doxxing. Some people online have defended their behaviour as being a fair response to being filmed without their consent. A little harmless photobombing, perhaps. I can see where that perspective is coming from, but just rewind the tape. Even if the two were annoyed at being filmed, they were unnecessarily derisive. La Bonita deserved an apology.

But do they deserve to be doxxed and harassed by millions online? We probably all have our moments of rudeness in public, yet we don’t have that moment broadcast to millions of people who find out where we work and try to destroy our lives. On the other hand, we’ve also probably faced moments of rudeness from other people and yearned for some kind of justice. In some cases, it feels warranted. This homophobic and racist rant at an In-N-Out, for example, or this incident on a train in Milan of a group of girls laughing at a Pakistani woman’s Chinese boyfriend and his mother. Blatant racism and snide photobombing should cause different levels of moral outrage. But you wouldn’t know that from the reaction to La Bonita’s TikTok and other, comparatively worse, incidents.

It feels like doxxing has become a rather acceptable form of punishment for those who end up in the court of public opinion. So, should legislation be brought in to prevent doxxing, or does the fear of being recorded and doxxed keep us all on our best behaviour and end up being a net positive? I’m torn. Time to pretend it’s just an episode of Black Mirror and re-watch the trailer for Season 6.