Taylor Swift wants the rights to her own music — and she may have just crossed an ethical line to get it. On Thursday afternoon, Swift asked her gigantic army of fans to get in touch with music industry talent manager Scooter Braun and former label boss Scott Borchetta to “let them know how you feel” about their attempts to keep her from performing her old hits on TV or using them in an upcoming Netflix documentary.
That request, of course, would require Taylor’s fans to know how to get in touch. So fans promptly began doxxing the pair, publishing what appear to be Braun and Borchetta’s private contact information — including phone numbers and a physical home address — on Twitter.
Over a dozen people appear to be doxxing Braun and Borchetta on Twitter so far, but there will probably be more — the hashtag #IStandWithTaylor is currently trending worldwide, and Swift just published the call-to-action in her Instagram stories as well. The Verge has not confirmed the phone numbers and address shared by fans are legit, but we will not be publishing them in case they are.
While Swift’s note might seem reasonable at first glance, doxxing is an extremely serious matter because there’s no telling what a “passionate” anonymous fanbase might do with those phone numbers and addresses once they’ve been exposed, and there’s no putting them back in the bottle once they’re on the internet. It’s not just potential harassment over the phone; people have died after being swatted, where a person calls in a fake gun or bomb threat to get a SWAT team to bust into someone’s home.
Both Twitter and Instagram have policies prohibiting doxxing, and we’ve contacted both to ask whether they will leave Swift’s post on the internet and what they’ll do about her controversial call-to-action.
It may seem unfair that that one of the world’s biggest pop stars doesn’t have the rights to the master recordings of her own music — which is what this fight is all about — and can’t use it as she likes. It’s extra frustrating if the stories Swift tells about how that music wound up in Braun’s hands are true. Last we heard, Swift thought she had another option in re-recording her own original songs herself, something she says she’s still “looking forward to” in the images she tweeted — though she claims Braun and Borchetta are holding her American Music Awards performance and Netflix documentary hostage unless she gives up the idea of re-recording.
But now, she’s effectively asking fans to go to war for her, in a way she can’t control, and that’s dangerous.
Update, 10:07 PM ET: To clarify that Swift claims she won’t be able to perform her old hits at the American Music Awards and use them in a Netflix documentary unless she agrees to not re-record them.