A couple of months ago I was lounging on my couch watching TV and snacking on Stacy’s Pita Chips. The cinnamon sugar ones are my favorite —they’re just sweet enough to feel like a dessert, but they have a satisfying crunch almost like a potato chip. During a commercial, I started to scroll through Instagram on my phone, and almost immediately I found myself looking at a promoted post for Stacy’s pita chips.
It’s not that strange to see an ad on Instagram these days — in fact, some are so stealthily designed they look like they could be actual posts from friends. But I’d never seen an ad for Stacy’s anywhere that I could remember, let alone on Instagram. And now suddenly I’m eating them and they pop up on my screen.
Grindr has found itself in a bit of a sticky situation. The dating app, which is used predominantly by gay, bisexual, and transgender men, currently has over 3.6 million daily users. It recently came under fire when it was discovered that the app had allowed third parties to access encrypted data. As a result, Grindr announced that it will stop sharing this data, which includes the HIV status of its users, effective immediately.
Among other kinds of sensitive data, Grindr admitted that it had shared its users HIV status and date of last testing with two companies, Apptimize and Localytics. Those companies were paid to monitor and analyze the data that Grindr provided.
Vigilante justice has a long ugly history in America. Civilians have at times taken “justice” into their own hands—as in our egregious history of Black people being murdered by white lynch mobs. More recently, such groups have turned up with ill intent, such as anti-immigration groups like the Minutemen Militia, who have mounted “border patrols” at various parts of the U.S./ Mexico border, and those who proclaim to stand as a counter-force to Nazis and fascism, such as Antifa, known for dressing in all black and, recently, fending off torch-wielding Nazis in Charlottesville.
As the world has gone digital, vigilante justice has made its way to the Internet, that unbounded vastness of cyberspace that lends itself to individual justice at its best and harmful trolling at its worst. A newer form of Internet justice seeking getting lots of attention lately is known as doxxing (also spelled doxing) a term The Atlantic claims was first used by computer hackers in the 1990s as a “simple shorthand of the word documents.” “Documents” can now mean anything from a social media post about your political leanings to a picture someone snapped of you at a protest.