In the vast realm of social media, a disturbing phenomenon has emerged. It goes by the name of Libs of TikTok, an account that has transformed into an anti-LGBTQ+ hate machine. While its intentions may not always be explicitly stated, the consequences of its posts have led to harassment and physical threats targeting its subjects. One chilling incident involved a group of Proud Boys members disrupting a Drag Queen Story Hour at a public library, spewing homophobic and transphobic insults at attendees. Investigators believe this despicable act was spurred by the influence of Libs of TikTok.
Unmasking Chaya Raichik, the Creator
No story is complete without understanding its origins. The mastermind behind Libs of TikTok is Chaya Raichik, as unveiled by The Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz. Originally from Brooklyn and working in real estate, Raichik may now reside in California according to anonymous interviews. Before becoming the notorious @libsoftiktok, the account went through a series of different handles. Raichik utilized these platforms to spread right-wing propaganda, election fraud conspiracies popularized by QAnon, and tirades against Democratic politicians. However, it was the shoutouts from Fox News stars Tucker Carlson and Jesse Waters that catapulted Libs of TikTok into the limelight, featuring its controversial content on cable television.
Despite using her platform to make unprovoked and harmful claims against the LGBTQ+ community, Raichik believes that the exposé of her identity by The Washington Post is a violation of her right to free speech. She, alongside her supporters, accuses those who exposed her of doxxing. However, Lorenz clarifies that Raichik’s information was publicly available since she used her full name to register the Libsoftiktok.us domain.
Real-World Impact: A Platform of Hate
Alt-right social media accounts are unfortunately not uncommon, but the rise of Libs of TikTok has garnered an unprecedented amount of right-wing media and political attention. This growing platform has devastating consequences, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. With over 1.3 million followers on Twitter alone, Libs of TikTok owes its popularity in part to conservative pundits and personalities. Even Joe Rogan, with his estimated 11 million listeners per episode, has given the account glowing recommendations on his podcast.
When Libs of TikTok fixates on a person or institution, its followers often swarm to harass and threaten the target. The account frequently reposts content from teachers who share their experiences as queer educators, leading to targeted threats. A family-friendly tea shop in Salt Lake City that hosted a drag show faced a barrage of attacks and negative Yelp reviews after being reposted by the account. In an alarming act, Libs of TikTok even encouraged its followers to call Child Protective Services on a trans couple who had recently welcomed a newborn child.
Not stopping there, Libs of TikTok has also set its sights on children’s hospitals. Boston Children’s Hospital and Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., among others, faced vicious campaigns for providing care to transgender adolescents. The account disseminated misinformation, falsely claiming that both hospitals performed hysterectomies on young girls. These false allegations led to bomb threats, threatening emails, and distressing phone calls. Seattle, Chicago, and Portland’s children’s hospitals have also fallen victim to these hateful targeting campaigns due to the account’s fixation on transgender care for youth.
Putting an End to the Darkness
The rising influence of Libs of TikTok is a cause for concern. As a responsible society, it is crucial to address the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and the dangers it poses to marginalized communities. By shining a light on this dark corner of social media, we can begin to challenge the hate machine and create a safer online environment for all.