What is “Libs of TikTok” on Twitter? Why is it controversial? | Opinion

The woman running the “Libs of TikTok” account on Twitter has a way of finding the most mind-blowing content posted by progressives on the internet. Chaya Raichik’s posts from Ella go viral, not because of anything she says, but because the videos showcase the ideology and agenda of the far left in their own words. One video, for example, explains why gender is a “system of oppression” and another shows a teacher explaining the “gender unicorn” she teaches fifth graders.

Libs of TikTok, which has more than 882,000 followers on Twitter, has drawn the attention of everyone from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to Fox News personality Tucker Carlson. And this week it’s in the middle of a firestorm brought on by a hit piece in The Washington Post.

Technology columnist Taylor Lorenz used the power of the Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper to wage war on the account, and in doing so, published the name and profession of the account owner, who had chosen to tweet anonymously. The newspaper initially even linked to her ella real estate license, which listed an address of ella.

Is calling what Lorenz and the Post did “waging war” overly hyperbolic? Perhaps, but only slightly. In a message to a woman with a similar name on Instagram, Lorenz wrote, “Is that your account? Please let me know ASAP because you’re being implicated as starting a hate campaign against LGBTQ people.”

That’s not journalism; that’s activism and intimidation. And the article perfectly demonstrates why trust in the media has sunk so low among conservatives. Last fall, the Pew Research Center reported that only 35% of conservatives have a lot or some trust in national news organizations, down from 70% just six years ago.

The link to the real estate license, which has since been removed, was an especially egregious move on the part of Lorenz and her editors, who now say, “We did not publish or link to any details about her personal life” despite evidence to the contrary.

Not surprisingly, conservatives’ trust in the media has plummeted yet again, particularly with regard to The Washington Post, whose reporters may find it difficult to interview anyone on the right again.

Another Post reporter contacted Christina Pushaw, the press secretary for DeSantis, asking for an interview. She declined, saying that while she had nothing against the reporter, and in fact she had heard good things about him, she could not trust the publication to be fair.

Another piece of the Lorenz story that troubled me was the identification of Raichik as “proudly Orthodox Jewish.” What relevance is her faith to the piece? Lorenz never explains, but journalist Menachem Wecker noted the implications, saying it was a “complicated, risky thing” for the Post to do.

Equally significant, the two people quoted in the article were from the ideologically far-left organization Media Matters for America and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Unlike the Post reporters (two others besides Lorenz contributed to the piece), I had the opportunity to speak with Raichik for an hour a few months ago. In that conversation, it became clear to me why she started the account: not to gain notoriety, but to open parents’ eyes to extremists’ content on the app — some of it from teachers.

She explained that most parents of school-age children were unaware of the kinds of things their children could encounter on the platform, and she wanted to expose their ideology and let parents and influential individuals see the content for themselves.

In her piece, Lorenz claimed Libs of TikTok posted a “video of a woman teaching sex education to children in Kentucky.” That’s one way of putting it, sure. Another is that the video depicted a woman who planned to run a “sexy summer camp” in order to teach young children “of all ages” how to pleasure themselves.

Is this really the battle that Democrats, progressives and others aligned against conservatives want to fight? It’s a bold strategy, and one that is unlikely to pay off. As Abigail Shrier, the author of the book “Irreversible Damage,” wrote on Twitter, “Moms are the last barrier between you and the kids you wish to indoctrinate. You cannot intimidate us out of protecting our children.”

The real story here is how the Libs of TikTok account was able to skyrocket to notoriety with the anger fueled by radical ideology being spoon-fed to children, and why these videos are landing like bombs among millions of Americans in a pivotal election year.

Bethany Mandel is a contributing writer for the Deseret News. She is a home-schooling mother of five and a widely published writer on politics, culture and Judaism. She is an editor for the children’s book series “Heroes of Liberty.”

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