Hey there! We're a collective of people who have been harassed, plagiarized, humiliated, and abused — sexually, emotionally, and physically — by
Jacob Appelbaum. Jake enjoys manipulating people through his built-up social capital, influence, and power, in order to get what he wants.
Here are some of our stories.
Jacob has embedded himself within several communities: privacy and anonymity, infosec, journalistic, and academic. While framing himself as a community builder, he has repetitively sought out new and would-be new members to these communities, and taken advantage of their trust and their views of him as a "respected" leader.
If you spurn Jake or attempt to stand up to him, he'll go after the people you care about the most next, doing whatever he can to humiliate and harm them.
Jake is known to do whatever it takes to get others to do all the work, but have his name listed first on the paper "because the names should be alphabetically sorted." He's also quite happy to do the same with code, projects, articles, whatever he can to increase his level of power and influence.
The site was made by a small group of people of different genders, who are tired of Jake victimizing and harassing our friends in the infosec and internet freedom communities. Some of us have personal stories of being abused by Jake and some don't. We have heard lots of complaints about his behavior over the years, and have experienced it first hand. We want it to stop.
We made the site because we wanted other people to be aware of how Jake behaves. There has been a whisper network for years, but it doesn't reach everyone, and even if it could, open secrets do not protect people. We didn't want anyone to be victimized by Jake just because they hadn't been warned about him. Making a public site is the best way to make sure that everybody is aware of the stories about him.
People have tried lots of things, including speaking directly with Jake and asking him to stop. People have talked about his behavior inside the infosec and internet freedom communities for years, and have tried many strategies for making it harder for him to victimize people. People have complained inside the Tor Project and been dismissed (until now, of course). Jake's behavior has been an open secret, in some circles, for years. He has still kept doing the same things.
When sexual predators are kicked out of one community, they often move on to some other community where they do the same thing. Silence lets them do that. We didn't want him to be able to move to a different community and do the same thing to people there.
It is mainly awareness. We want people to know how Jake behaves so they can protect themselves: avoid being alone with him, be on guard against attempts he might make to manipulate them, avoid drinking or taking drugs with him, and warn friends who seem vulnerable.
Also, we hope that this site will prompt groups and organizations to think twice about any involvement they have with him. Maybe it is not a great idea for him to be part of their communities. Maybe they shouldn't invite him to speak at or attend their conferences. Maybe they don't want to be associated with a person who is accused of the behaviors detailed on this site.
We know that for some people it will be hard to believe these allegations, especially because for a long time Jake has presented himself as a sex-positive, consent-aware feminist. But that doesn't mean anything. It's pretty common for sexual predators to pretend to be feminists. And it's very common for them to get involved with activist or non-mainstream groups. If you're a sexual predator, what better cover story is there than "the FBI is making shit up about me." Meanwhile you know that the people you have victimized are unlikely to try to get help from the police, because they don't trust them. Furthermore, just because you haven't had any bad interactions with Jake doesn't negate the experiences of others; it is common for people with predatory behaviors to present one face to some, another face to others. Ask yourself how likely you are personally to have been victimized by Jake, compared with other people.
And these allegations are not being made by random strangers. It should be pretty obvious that we are all deeply involved in this community and know Jake well. Probably better than you do.
We are afraid we will be doxxed or harassed.
We are afraid Jake will threaten us or falsely smear our reputations. (This is what he's done in the past when people confronted him about his behavior.)
We don't want to face frivolous lawsuits.
We don't want to spend the rest of our lives known as the people who stood up to Jake Appelbaum.
And some of us have been traumatized. Imagine publicly describing a humiliating sexual experience to the entire world. Wouldn't you want anonymity, so that doesn't follow your real name around forever?
We just want to say what we have to say for the benefit and protection of others, and then move on.
With our own stories, we wanted to be careful to not include identifying information because we didn't want to be doxxed or harassed. We don't have any control over what's submitted by other people.
Then you will never believe these allegations. Sex crimes are underreported to police, especially when the victim was assaulted by somebody they know. Reporting is even less likely than usual here, because our community doesn't trust the police, because Jake has more power and influence than many of the people he victimized, and also because a number of the victims were intoxicated when the attacks happened and would therefore be unlikely to be taken seriously by law enforcement. Sex crimes are much less likely than other crimes to result in convictions, especially in this kind of situation. There are also jurisdictional issues. These incidents took place in several different locations, and often the victim and Jake live in different countries.
We don't have a lot of faith in the legal system to handle this well. That's why we've opted for public disclosure.
No. We are not locking him up or restricting his freedom in any way. We don't have any ability to punish him. People will read this site and draw their own conclusions based on their own experiences and beliefs. All we are doing is telling our own stories and providing a space for other people to tell theirs.
Nobody can prove that, and that is why it's a convenient explanation for people who want to support Jake. But remember that many of the people making allegations, including people using their real names elsewhere online, are longstanding members of the infosec and internet freedom communities. It would be ludicrous to think that they are all plants or dupes or compromised.
Yes we are pretty angry. You would be too if these things had happened to you and your friends. The most logical way to explain our anger is to assume that what we're saying is true.
We hope this site makes it impossible for Jake to victimize more people. We don't want people to hunt him down or physically harm him in any way. We hope that he seeks help and is able to get healthier.
No. Since it is no longer possible to create a Twitter acocunt without a phone number and because we believe anonymity is important, we opted to boycott direct Twitter presence for this site. We don't have a Twitter account.
We have seen the accounts you're talking about and they aren't associated with us. We don't know who is running them, and some of us are disturbed by their incendiary statements and graphics. We don't condone calls for violence or for Jake to self-harm.
You can submit it in the encrypted form or contact us at the email address and PGP key listed here.
We will probably publish your story as-is, unless it's necessary to remove or change any identifying details, and unless you say something criminal or threatening or calling for violence. We won't publish anything if we know it's untrue, or if it seems very likely to be untrue.
To help warn other potential victims, including by helping to show Jake's patterns of manipulation or other bad behavior. To encourage other people to tell their stories. To lend credence to the stories already here.
You are not alone. You are entitled to feel however you feel. You don't need to stay silent and you don't need to report. Do whatever feels healthiest to you.
Before launch, we had placeholder text for the initial site design which we did not expect to become public. We never meant to impersonate Jake or to trick anyone. With the official text, we have tried to make it clear that it isn't pretending to be made by Jake himself.
We are mad at him for the things he's done to us and to our friends. We're pissed that he's exploiting people's concerns about law enforcement and state actors as cover for his own behavior. We're mad that for so long he has prevented the Tor community from being as awesome as it otherwise could have been, and that his presence has meant Tor missed out on including people who otherwise would have been part of our community. We're angry that he convinced many of us that it was safe to be his friend. We are angry at people who didn't warn us. We are also mad at people who, for a long time, didn't take complaints seriously and dismissed them as "drama".
And we feel sorry for Jake. We know he has had a really difficult life in many ways, and we share many of his beliefs about the world, and many of his goals. We don't want him to hurt himself, and we genuinely hope that he seeks help and is able to benefit from it. But we don't excuse his behavior. The way he has behaved with people in our community is unconscionable and we just can't let it continue.
We wish the Tor Project had acted much earlier. But we are glad they did act, in the end.
We are obviously strong supporters of anonymity and of the Tor Project's mission. Without their software and other Internet Freedom and encryption tools, this site and the victim coordination necessary to produce it would not have been possible. We hope that the Tor Project and the Tor community are able to heal from these events and continue doing great work.
We expect that many people will support Jake. Some people will assume that this is a honeypot operation. People may make comparisons to Julian Assange. We do not believe that Jake is likely to ever face criminal charges. We know that some people will say that proves that the stories here aren't true. But we know that many people understand we are telling the truth, and we believe people will be safer because we made this site.
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