@YesYoureRacist Crowdsources Social Preferencing


By Thomas L. Knapp

The Twitter account @YesYoureRacist went up in 2012, but jumped from about 65,000 followers to more than 350,000 in the days following Virginia’s “Battle of Charlottesville.” After an army of  white nationalists rioted to “Unite the Right,” murdering one and injuring dozens, @YesYoureRacist admin Logan Smith swung into action to identify, then “name and shame,” the attendees.

He’s getting lots of help. As photos of the thugs go up, the leads come in. At least one of the Charlottesville marchers is looking for a new job after his employer learned what he was doing on his time off. At least one family has disowned an outed “white nationalist.” There will likely be more of both.

@YesYoureRacist is a crowdsourced, social media powered implementation of “Social Preferencing” — the name given by Paul and Kitty Antonik Wakfer of The Self-Sovereign Individual Project (selfsip.org) for a process of “effectively extending market preferencing to all aspects of human interaction.”

There’s nothing new about Social Preferencing as such. Simply put, it amounts to rewarding people by befriending and trading with them, or punishing people with personal and economic ostracism. Human implementations of the practice precede recorded history. It’s a natural behavior.

But the Wakfers’ use of it presciently — they developed their framework before social media as we know it was born — comes in the context of a “Natural Social Contract” requiring “full openness concerning one’s Societal InterPersonal Relationships and the strong Social Preferencing that will be enabled and promoted by such accessible Personal disclosure.” Enter Twitter.

Projects like @YesYoureRacist make the information needed for rational Social Preferencing decisions more widely available and more easily accessed. Ostracism (and its opposite) need no longer be handled retail, by word of mouth at the barber shop and on the phone.  We’re all just a click away from being, if not famous, at least easily known in some detail to anyone who has reason to care and to look.

Are there likely pitfalls to a society in which social media boosts our ability to engage in informed Social Preferencing? Yes, there are. There are going to be mistaken identities. There are going to be false claims. But then, there are mistaken identities and false claims now, aren’t there? Presumably massive crowdsourcing will minimize such things by bringing multiple sources to bear.

The main objection to @YesYoureRacist doesn’t cut much ice with me. The project is not an “invasion of privacy” or a “violation of rights.” The Charlottesville marchers engaged in public action with the explicit purpose of attracting attention. Mission accomplished. They got noticed. Now they want the rest of us to forget what we saw, or at least refrain from acting based on what we saw.  That’s not going to happen.

Thomas Knapp -- Photo Credit Avens O'Brien

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.  He is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

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6 Responses to @YesYoureRacist Crowdsources Social Preferencing

  1. Kitty Antonik Wakfer August 21, 2017 at 8:42 am

    “Tom is not actually “pushing” one “side” or the other on this issue. He merely used the @YesYoureRacist as an example of a current Twitter usage that has great potential.
    Social Preferencing is the voluntary association or not w/ others based on personal values; “rewarding people by befriending and trading with them, or punishing people with personal and economic ostracism.” This is not a “kangaroo court”. There is no use of force involved, simply use of one’s ability to associate or not with all others. Publicly acknowledging why such choice is made & being open to return evaluation (no anonymity) by one’s statements enables widespread individual choices to be made – no coercion-based government involved for the goal of a coercion-less society.”
    I would appreciate a response to this email as to why my comment has not been published or simply publish it as shown above.
    Thanks in advance.

    **Kitty Antonik Wakfer

    • Citizen Reporter August 21, 2017 at 8:45 am

      There were no comments in the queue, or marked spam or trash. We posted this for you just now. Are you sure you are posting correctly? If you have further problems please contact us again.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Kitty Antonik Wakfer August 21, 2017 at 9:29 am

        When I first submitted my comment – on Aug 16 to Aug 15 comment from “Citizen Reporter” (this site’s Publisher?) – I did not receive a “held for moderation” msg tho I had completed the “addition test”. Since I received email notice of this follow-up comment, obviously the x Box for that worked.

        On Aug 17 I sent an email to the Publisher, “Failure to Publish Comment” – this was today forwarded to the author of the article, who sent it on to you and now you are publishing. So there has been considerable delay. I do not know where the obstacles have been but hope that additional responses to the Aug 15 “Citizen Reporter” comment will get prompt publication – I know there have been 2 besides mine.

        • Citizen Reporter August 21, 2017 at 11:39 am

          Sorry- we get very few complaints that aren’t related to failure to understand how to post. We saw nothing in the queue and published your comment within minutes of receiving your latest email. We have been publishing Tom’s stuff for years and don’t recall a previous problem related to comments on his articles.

  2. Citizen Reporter August 15, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Are you really so uninformed as to not realize that Antifa and BLM provoked the violence and that they are probably far more guilty than the protesters? Do you even realize that many of the protesters were not KKK/supremacists?
    So you are pushing a social media kangaroo court, too?


    • Paul Wakfer August 21, 2017 at 10:25 am

      It is important to understand the rightful or non-rightful status of “provoking”. If a person “provokes” by “using” violence then retaliating with violence is an ethical option (though it may still not be best long range). But if a person merely carries signs/flags/symbols, makes gestures or uses/shouts words, then it is unethical to respond with violence.


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