Black, Indigenous & People of Colour are disproportionately targeted on social media: White allies need to step up to their responsibility

Update, 2023: We have moved to Spoutible and Post

The below post explains the events that led to us shutting down our Twitter account in 2022.

Yesterday, a blue-check Twitter account (Erin Biba) noticed a tweet from our account discussing the challenges some people with anxiety face returning to public life after the pandemic. It also criticizing conspiracy theories about the CDC, along with other health disinformation, as being unhelpful to people with anxiety in particular. While our tweets were describing a real problem, Biba labeled A4A as “right wing” in a series of quote tweets where she encouraged A4A’s donors not to donate. She also shared our email address with her 65,000 followers.

Within minutes, scores of Biba’s followers were swarming A4A’s account, as they’ve swarmed other accounts and relentlessly trolled individuals as a sort of group-bonding activity. (You can learn more about this phenomenon here.)

We are an international affiliate of ASAN whom “someone” contacted to report us as being “Covid deniers” and we had to explain the situation to them, which was exhausting.

One of our members, a person of colour, was told by one of Biba’s followers that he was going to be reported to the college where he is a student.

Thanks to Biba’s quote-tweet, another one of her followers directly doxed another A4A member, again targeting a person of colour and telling the person they were going to screenshot and share the person’s identity with all of Twitter, then did so against their wishes. Despite outreach, Biba’s follower kept the tweet going and wrote disparaging comments, harkening the racist rhetoric of calling non-white people who speak to power “uppity”.

Sadly, acts like this are a regular occurrence on Twitter. In fact, racism is perpetuated against Black, Indigenous and People of Colour so often on social media that it has become normalized.

White people often refuse to acknowledge the racism in acts like this. Their ignorance and refusal to act is in itself a form of racism. BIPOC are continually disappointed and hurt when white friends and colleagues ignore racism or “shy away” from calling out other whites for their actions.

Whites have to do better at allyship. BIPOC endure daily acts of racism–yet how often do their white colleagues and friends really have their back, or take even a nominal risk of feeling uncomfortable for a bit, to support BIPOC?

First steps to doing better can include reaching out to the person who was harassed–not just to say quietly “that sucked,” but to ask the person “How can I help?” Here are some other ways to help when a person has been doxed or personally harassed:

  1. Report the doxer/harasser to the social media platform—and to authorities where applicable
  2. Confront the doxer/harasser on social media (including confront-and-block)
  3. LISTEN to the victim. Don’t weigh in with abstractions or comparisons. Just listen.
  4. Follow, learn from and share content by BIPOC accounts. Decentre yourself and share their content instead of your musings or selfies all the time!
  5. If you make a mistake that offends or harms, don’t make excuses. Say you’re sorry and learn from it.
  6. If you’re part of the autistic community, learn about the work of the Autistic People of Color Fund here.

There are no excuses for Biba or her followers to harass and dox our little group. There are no excuses for Biba’s follower to personally dox one of our members, a racialized and multiply marginalized person. White people need to do better to ally with BIPOC to stop harassment and racism, online and offline. The platforms need to do better, too.

Thanks to all our members who were supportive this week.