Media Wage Harassment Campaign Against Freedom Convoy Doxxed in GiveSendGo Hack
Media outlets are continuing to message small-dollar donors to the Freedom Convoy whose identities were leaked to the public after a hack of crowdfunding site GiveSendGo.
The personal information of roughly 90,000 donors to the Freedom Convoy, a group of truckers and hackers protesting Canada’s vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions, was leaked after hackers breached GiveSendGo late Sunday. The leaked data included names, email handles, IP addresses and zip codes, and was provided to “journalists and researchers” by Distributed Denial of Secrets, an activist group hosting the information.
Several major publications, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, ran stories earlier this week based on the leaked data analyzing the origins of Freedom Convoy funding. Both outlets published the names of Freedom Convoy donors and reported contacting small-dollar donors to investigate their contributions.
While The Times did not respond to the DCNF, The Post defended its reporting.
“We were reporting on a matter of public interest and reached out to people listed in the data in order to confirm its authenticity,” Shani George, the Post’s vice president of Communications, told the DCNF in a statement.
The Washington Post is contacting people whose donation info was leaked and who gave as little as 40 dollars to the truckers to ask them why they did so
Email provided to me by a source pic.twitter.com/qbzebYyHiP
— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) February 16, 2022
The Intercept published two stories Thursday based on the data, the first examining a $100 donation reportedly made by former Canadian politician Richard Ciano. The Intercept alleged Ciano, who denied donating to the Freedom Convoy, may have in fact made a small contribution, citing the hacked data.
“The Intercept did not contact individual donors because we did not identify them, except where that information was newsworthy, such as in the case of Silicon Valley billionaire Thomas Siebel or prominent political operative Richard Ciano, who apparently wasn’t telling the truth when he told the media that he did not donate,” a spokesperson for The Intercept told the DCNF in a statement Friday.
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Local newspapers have also begun to dig into the data and message donors as well as publish names of individuals included on the list. Delaware Online published a story Friday naming a high-level officer of the Delaware Transit Corporation whose name appeared in the leaked data. The publication did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
Salt Lake Tribune political correspondent Bryan Schott, who wrote an article analyzing the leaked data to identify Utah donors by zip code, tweeted he had “reaching out to people from Utah who appeared on the leaked Canadian trucker donation data,” characterizing the responses he received as “aggressive.” He deleted the tweet after receiving harsh criticism on social media.
Schott declined to comment further when reached by the DCNF, but apologized in a tweet thread Thursday, saying it was “not my intention” to “cause any grief or upset.”
1/ When I contacted Utahns whose information appeared in the GiveSendGo data, it was out of genuine curiosity. I had hoped to explore Utah’s connection to a big story.
I have not publicly disclosed any personal information from the list, nor will I.
— Bryan “12 min. 45 sec. media availability” Schott (@SchottHappens) February 17, 2022
Several Canadian outlets such as the Toronto Star and Global News have also published stories in which they contacted small-dollar donors and published contributors’ names, the DCNF previously reported.
Prominent media figures and politicians from across the political spectrum have criticized the practice of publications messaging small-dollar donors, including Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, who ripped into a journalist reporting on the harassment of an Ottawa business owner.
“I fail to see why any journalist felt the need to report on a shop owner making such a insignificant donation rather than to get them harassed,” Omar tweeted. “It’s unconscionable and journalists need to do better.”
Several individuals whose names appeared in the donor lists have reported experiencing harassment and negative consequences; Tammy Giuliani, who donated $250 to the Freedom Convoy fundraiser, was forced to close her gelato store after receiving threats of violence over her donation. Marion Isabeau-Ringuette, communications director for the Ontario Solicitor General, is no longer employed in the state government after her donation to the Freedom Convoy was revealed, according to Toronto CityNews.
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