How the Doxxing of an Anti-Muslim Troll Exposed Her Family to Backlash
Should troll accounts like Amy Mekelburg's be publicly doxxed?
The doxxing of an anti-Muslim account on Twitter is causing wide-ranging ramifications for her family. The Twitter account @AmyMek has over 230,000 followers. Her Twitter description reads: “God, Family & Country; Sports Fitness & Vegan; Psychotherapist & Fixer; I Fight 4 the Wrongfully Incarcerated & Animals #JewsForTrump #NRA”.
Since 2012, she’s been an institution in the far-right Twitter-verse with followers like Sean Hannity and Roseanne Barr. She’s even been retweeted by President Trump himself. Many of her tweets, however, are frightening in their prejudice. A tweet from 2015 reads: “I think it’s time for a barbecue,” and shows a pig roasting a Muslim on a fiery Qu’ran. There are also some tweets that aren’t exactly dangerous — just confusing.
A spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said: “She’s a major cog in the Islamophobia machine.” So, for such a prominent account, it’s a little surprising that nobody really knew who she was. Some people online even suspected her of being a Russian bot, but a recent story on The Huffington Post changed that.
Writer Luke O’Brien identified @AmyMek as Amy Jane Mekelburg, a 45-year-old woman who lives in a small town outside New York with her husband, Sal Siino. O’Brien’s work for this article has put the couple in a bit of trouble because Siino apparently is a senior executive at the WWE, an organization with a long-term promotional deal in Saudi Arabia. What would happen to that deal if the Saudi’s found out that one of the WWE’s executives was a notorious Islamophobe? Well, they didn’t want to find out. A spokesperson for the WWE told Luke O’Brien: “Now that it has come to our attention, Sal Siino is no longer an employee.”
When HuffPost published O’Brien’s piece on May 31, it had other ramifications as well. Amy’s brother, Daniel, and his wife, Alicia Guevara, run Mekelburg’s, a cafe in Brooklyn, a fact which O’Brien noted in his article. When patrons saw it and thought their money might be supporting Amy’s causes, they bolted. Guevara said: “By 8:15, we were completely empty” and thought there was a good chance there business might not survive. Guevara posted to Facebook that they do not agree with Amy’s politics and hope that patrons and staff will continue to feel safe eating there. She wrote: “We are disturbed, revolted and humiliated.” She also told The New York Times she had no idea her sister-in-law’s Twitter account even existed before the HuffPost story came out, and that they only see her a few times a year at family gatherings.
Of course, @AmyMek rarely lets a day go by without firing off a few dozen tweets, and she took aim at Luke O’Brien.
ALERT! I NEED YOUR HELP – This is SHOCKING!
Contact the @HuffPost and demand reporter Luke O’Brien stop endangering me and my family. He has threatened to reveal my identity putting me and my family at great personal risk. But it's MUCH worse than you can imagine…
— Amy Mek (@AmyMek) May 31, 2018
In a long, in-depth Twitter thread, she encouraged her supporters to contact Luke O’Brien and claims that her husband was wrongfully fired and discriminated against based on her views. In the thread, interestingly enough, she said: “Not only do I stand up for MY rights but also for women, LBGTQ, minorities, and persecuted Christians throughout the world.” She, notably, leaves out Muslims in that list, which is to be expected.
Since Mekelburg’s tweet thread, Luke O’Brien has been threatened as well, and he’s legitimately worried that someone might show up at his house with an assault rifle in a Pizzagate-style show of misguided violence.
The Huffington Post has stood by O’Brien, with his editor writing about how he followed journalistic protocols and gave Mekelburg every opportunity to comment on the story before it was published. HuffPost also denied that they tried to get Siino fired, as Amy Mekelburg argued in one of her tweets. They pointed out that O’Brien was suspended briefly from Twitter for telling one of his critics to “Go DDT himself,” while they continue to let hate speech from accounts like @AmyMek and others propagate online.
These are tough issues and it brings up a lot of questions. Does an influential person on Twitter have a right to privacy, even from the press? What responsibility does Twitter have to better police the speech that goes on on its platform? We don’t know all the answers, but we want to know what you think. Could the @AmyMek article have been handled better, or should journalists stand firm in exposing those who preach hate? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.