Many people will know by now that Mumsnet was hit by a data breach today in which a former intern published screenshots including Mumsnetters’ personal data. The intern, Emma Healey, described the screenshots as proof of the transphobia she felt was rampant among Mumsnetters and Mumsnet staff. As an intern at Mumsnet, Healey had access to users’ full data, including real names, email addresses, dates of birth, IP addresses, location and sometimes even home addresses. During her internship, she stole an unknown amount of this data and has now used it in Twitter posts calling Mumsnetters ‘transphobic scum’ and criticising the site’s policy of allowing open discussion of gender-critical views.
Let’s take a step back for a second and think about who uses Mumsnet. This is a parenting site aimed at women who want to talk about ‘parenting, politics and all the juice in between’. This ‘juice’ includes a vast number of posters looking for anonymous support for issues as varied as eating disorders, alcoholism, post-natal depression, trauma from substandard perinatal care, bereavement, living with chronic illnesses, caring for children with special needs, caring for elderly parents, living with and leaving abusive relationships and being a single parent. Those vulnerable users often post harrowing stories of their experiences, safe in the belief that they are free to let off steam or ask for help without being identified in real life. I know, I’m one of them.
Tonight, those users are feeling a bit less safe. Their personal data has been accessed by someone with malicious intentions towards them. Some have had their data splashed across Twitter and gloated over by gleeful TRAs, who are feting Healey as some sort of heroine who has struck a blow for a righteous cause. Many are wondering what else has been stolen, who else might be at risk, what more is to come. Some of those people will be asking themselves whether they and their children are safe tonight, from the TRAs who like to make rape threats and death threats, and threaten and commit violence against women who have the temerity to disagree with them, from violent partners who Mumsnetters have been supporting them to leave, from ex-partners from whom they have fled. An average of two UK women a week are killed by their partner or ex-partner. The Mumsnetters for whom this is a threat may well worry about whether the stolen data could put them in even greater danger.
On having it pointed out to her that her actions were illegal and may constitute a criminal offence, Healey locked and then closed her Twitter account. No doubt she was trying to afford herself the protection she saw fit to deny to millions of Mumsnet users, without a thought for the vulnerable women and children it would affect. That her actions are being heralded online by the official LGBT+ Lib Dems speaks volumes about the priorities of the UK’s political parties. Who cares about the law when there are men’s fragile feelings to protect? Who gives a flying fig about women and children’s rights, safety, privacy and dignity when there are dudebro points to be scored?
In this campaign of violent misogyny and homophobia that is today’s Trans-Rights Activism, it’s clear that women are there either to cater to men’s demands, or to be attacked and abused into submission. When women’s spaces are being forcibly ripped away from them, political parties applaud, enable and assist. Shame on them and shame on you, Emma.