Pennsylvania state Representative, Martina White had called on the State Attorney General to investigate fellow Representative, Brian Sims for attempting to dox private citizens on Twitter. She is now suggesting that the harassment incident is now a police matter.
In a post to Facebook, White stated:
“Many of you are asking why I took down a post regarding a letter I wrote asking the Attorney General to investigate the behavior of another House member as seen in a viral video now making national news. As the issue is now in the hands of law enforcement, I did not want my post to enflame a situation now best handled by the Attorney General.
Nonetheless, I share your outrage. While we can disagree on certain issues, we must respect one another as people. I’m hopeful the representative has learned to handle these situations better in the future.”
Brian Sims, a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives faced a major backlash on Twitter from both pro-life and abortion supporters. He became subject to the backlash after offering a cash reward to people who could share the personal information of teenagers protesting outside Planned Parenthood.
He received intense backlash from conservatives who said that he was harassing and bullying people who were peacefully protesting.
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Sims asked his Twitter followers to dox the protestors and expose their information and identities. There were incidents where he recorded an encounter with an older woman and another woman alongside a group of teenagers. In both cases, he recorded them, posted their videos and asked people to dox the individuals in the videos.
Here’s what the Twitterati had to say about Sims’ tweets asking people to dox teenagers and women protesting peacefully outside Planned Parenthood:
“In this video, State Rep @BrianSimsPA says he’ll pay his followers $100 if they are able to dox three teen girls he films who are quietly praying outside a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. How is this guy still allowed to be on Twitter?” tweeted Lila Rose, the president of Live Action, a media movement dedicated to ending abortion.
“PA Rep. Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) has been provoking pro-life protesters outside a Planned Parenthood in his district by filming and questioning them, even pledging to dox one group. Now he’s successfully made the Planned Parenthood a site for a pro-life rally on Friday,” tweeted Isaac Saul, the editor of A Plus.
After Sims provoked peaceful protestors, Matt Walsh, a pro-life supporter, writer, and speaker organized a rally at 11 am on Friday and invited Sims to come to film them if he could. Because of Sims’ actions, peaceful protests are turning out to become feuds between pro-life and abortion supporters.
“The rally is planned for 11 AM on Friday at the Planned Parenthood on 1144 Locust St in Philly. A bunch of different pro-life groups reached out to me minutes after I sent that original tweet and this all came together quickly. We invite @BrianSimsPA to come with his camera!” tweeted Matt Walsh.
Pro-life supporters were not the only group of people to express their disdain at Sims. Several abortion supporters spoke against Sims too.
“I’m very pro-choice, and watching this sucked. You’re literally bullying her. You decided to publicize a corner case scenario where your underlying premise is right but your target and delivery were overwhelmingly wrong,” tweeted an abortion supporter.
Regardless of political affiliations, what many have pointed out is that doxxing and targeted harassment is considered to be one of the most condemned forms of action on the Twitter platform, yet, despite Twitter recently engaging in a slash and burn technique of culling dissenting voices on the platform – even as far as banning the accounts of election candidates, no action has been taken on the videos that Brian Sims posted.
In January, in a Twitter interview with Kara Swisher, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had made it clear that the sharing of personal information was going to be something Twitter would take a hardline stance against – suggesting it shouldn’t be up to innocent bystanders to report the issue.
“A lot of our work right now is looking at the prioritization of the queues and making sure that, No. 1, we’re protecting someone’s physical safety as much as we can and understanding the offline ramifications of using our service,” he said. “So that’s work in flight. Most of our priority right now in terms of health, which is the No. 1 priority of the company, is around being proactive. How do we remove the burden from the victims or bystanders from reporting in the first place? It’s way too mechanical. It’s way too much work. If people have to report, we should see it as a failure.”
Regardless of Twitter’s failure to take action, the incident is seen as significant enough for the police to take a look at the incident.