Several months ago (has it really been that long now?), I brought you the story of how blogger Margaret Pless (aka Idle Diletante) doxxed First Amendment lawyer Mike Cernovich. For those who missed the news when it was fresh, doxxing is when you release someone’s private, personal information on the Internet in an attempt to cause them harm. In Pless’ case, she was likely attempting to goad someone into calling a SWAT team to Cernovich’s house, hoping that he would be killed during the ensuing tense confrontation.
I spoke with Pless briefly after the above article was published, and during our conversation she denied the allegations in the article. It seems that, for whatever reason, she has changed her mind. While she has not admitted that she did so in order to incite a SWATing, she is now openly admitting to doxxing Cernovich.
In a tweet earlier this week to pro-GamerGate YouTube personality Sargon of Akkad, Pless said the following: “Quinn didn’t dox anybody. I did.” “Quinn” refers to Zoe Quinn, the woman whose infidelities ignited GamerGate. Quinn’s involvement in the doxxing has been speculated from the start, and Cernovich claims to have seen emails showing that the two of them worked together. For whatever reason, it appears that Pless is attempting to take full responsibility and deny Quinn’s involvement.
Why could she be doing this? It’s impossible to say for sure, though there have been many hints of a lawsuit or federal case on the horizon. Publicly admitting to doxxing Cernovich will do irreparable damage to Pless’s career, so it’s safe to assume that she has some good reason for it. Perhaps she’s making herself into the fall girl in order to preserve Quinn’s reputation? Time will tell.
Nonetheless, this is remarkable, because to my knowledge it is the first time anyone on either side of the Gamergate culture war has admitted to deliberately doxxing anyone. For all the screaming from people like Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, they’ve never managed to pinpoint any person who’s actually done anything to them: it’s always mysterious figures who lurk in the shadows. Despite months of supposed harassment, no one has been able to point to a credible threat, or anything at all beyond a few nasty, anonymous emails.
Now a semi-prominent critic of GamerGate has come forward and admitted to doxxing a pro-GamerGate lawyer. This should permanently give the lie to the claim that it is GamerGate doing the doxxing and SWATing. Given her open admission, I believe it’s appropriate for both sides, pro- and anti-GamerGate, to roundly denounce her. Doxxing has no place in this debate, and doxxers have no place in either the pro or anti community. I expect Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu, and all the other major figures of anti-Gamergate will have stirring denunciations of her very shortly.
NOTE: I attempted to reach out for comment to Margaret Pless via Twitter, but for whatever reason, she has blocked me. Margaret, if you’d like to elaborate on why you doxxed Cernovich, or anything else, the comments box below is open and my email is available on the Ethics page.