I speak from experience when I tell you that one off-the-cuff snarky tweet can rain hell down on you if right-wingers pick it up and run with it. They have a whole machine called Twitchy intended to do exactly that, but woe unto the person who dares to tweet something that Breitbart News zooms in on.
Meet Monica Foy, a 26-year old who, until this week, only had 20 or so followers on Twitter. She made the mistake of tweeting an admittedly insensitive, snarky and ill-timed remark about the difference between how murders of white police officers are viewed as compared to murders of black people, where blame is always assigned.
It got picked up by someone who put it in front of Breitbart Texas director and FBI informant Brandon Darby, who was furious about it.
Disastrously for Foy, the tweet quickly got screen-grabbed and began spreading among right-wing Twitter users, who immediately sought to amplify it. It found its way to Brandon Darby, managing director of Breitbart Texas, part of the far-right Breitbart website. Darby, as he wouldsoon explain, quickly decided that it was on him to step in and defend the murdered deputy’s legacy against the threat apparently posed to it by a college student’s tweet. And as a journalist with a good-size megaphone, there was one obvious way to do that.
Foy didn’t understand who Darby was or the sort of platform he had. “I was like, Yeah, right — good luck,” she said. “I just didn’t take it seriously.” Meanwhile, the first round of Twitter harassment started in earnest during her drive to school with her husband as various right-wing users caught wind of her tweet and came after her for it. “I started reading some of the comments out loud to my husband, and we laughed about it,” Foy said. “We didn’t think anything of it — we just thought it was going to be an isolated thing where people say dumb stuff, and that would be it.” But when she arrived at school at around 8:30 a.m., she checked her phone again and saw that her mentions “had just exploded.” That was when she decided to take the tweet down, and when she noticed that it was being posted to a number of right-wing websites.
Things were about to get much worse. Darby followed through on his threat, publishing a brief article on Breitbart about Foy’s tweet, describing her as a “Houston area #BlackLivesMatter supporter” — a reference to the fact that a half-hour before her tweet about the murder, she had published another one consisting solely of the hashtag. The Breitbart writer linked directly to Foy’s Facebook and Twitter profiles and mentioned that she was a Sam Houston State University student. “Foy deleted the tweet after numerous individuals began criticizing her on the social media platform,” Darby noted. (I emailed Darby some questions about why he saw Foy as a legitimate target, and I got back a response from a Breitbart spokesperson who said that Darby’s article was part of the website’s ongoing effort to investigate the “violent” nature of BLM and its followers. The response is hard to take seriously given that Foy couldn’t be further from a public BLM figure, and that Darby openly admitted to a more straightforward motive: He was furious about the tweet and wanted to bring Foy “fame” among Breitbart readers as retribution.)
Journalism as a weapon against ordinary citizens. That's what Brandon Darby, so-called defender of the First Amendment, is all about. Not to inform, but to harass, and harass it did.
Foy was inundated with death threats and more. Here's one example:
From there, it just gets creepier. The cops showed up at her mother's house on an outstanding warrant from a misdemeanor assault charge in 2011 which was reportedly sent to Houston police as a tip by one of the people harassing her on Twitter. The police came and arrested her.
As Foy was standing at the counter at the jail, getting booked, she said she heard an officer, busy with other tasks, take a phone call on speakerphone. At the other end of the line was the voice of a man she recognized from an earlier voice-mail. First, he asked to speak to an officer who apparently didn’t exist, then he asked, “Was that Twitter chick arrested yet?” The officer quickly picked up the phone and took it into another room. “So obviously the [officers] knew about the tweet, but they just played it off really cool when they were with me,” said Foy.
Remember, these Breitbots call themselves the champions of free speech. They rail constantly against political correctness while doing their damndest to make sure no one else but them enjoys the freedom of speaking their minds.
According to that article, things have calmed down a little bit for Monica Foy, but not much. She isn't getting constant death threats, but she's still getting them. After this week, it's unlikely that she'll ever say anything in public again without self-censoring, which is exactly what they want.
All because Brandon Darby was a pissed-off puppy with a big megaphone. Screw these people.