Leo saw it as a way to combat what he saw as an inadequate response from the local police, who he believes have often sided with the protesters. To publicize the map and get his neighbors to input information, he asked Ottawa city councilor Shawn Menard to share the link on his Twitter feed.
Menard says he felt it was his duty to do so. “The site shows how residents organizing, supported by technological tools, can allow for powerful knowledge sharing and community crowdsourcing, which paints a larger picture that would normally be reserved for traditional forces such as police,” he says. “I shared it because of a lack of support for Ottawa residents by traditional institutions.”
The project was the focus of quick retaliation. Within hours, the site was flooded with spam. “There were pretty graphic pornographic images, racism, antisemitic material, misogyny,” Leo says. The spam got so prolific that he had to temporarily shut the site down.
Leo’s activity is aimed at warning local residents rather than going after the protesters themselves—and it does not identify specific people. But other activists in Ottawa are taking things further. One site, Convoy Traitors, is using WordPress to host photos of protesters, license plates, company names emblazoned on trucks, to try to figure out who they are.
“Our mission is to document every business identified as being involved in the 2022 Truckers Convoy occupation of Ottawa,” the site’s mission statement says. “This includes truckers, supporting businesses, hotels, and restaurants. By naming and tagging we hope to ensure that any future internet searches reveals the true nature of these businesses.” (There was no contact information available to request comment.)
Another source, @ottawaconvoyreport on Instagram, has posted photos and reels of people and trucks engaged in possibly illegal behavior. The account is reminiscent of @homegrownterrorists, which used its feed to name and shame people who participated in the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. On February 10, @homegrownterrorists, which remains an anonymous account, shared @ottawaconvoyreport’s information on its Instagram stories, suggesting it approved of the approach.