More than 900 Missouri residents who "snitched" on St. Louis County businesses for violating the coronavirus lockdowns in March and April fear retaliation after their private information was published on social media.
The county had encouraged residents to report businesses that were not adhering to the state's lockdown guidelines. Although many people had asked for their communications to remain anonymous, the terms and conditions included in the online report said that information may be shared publicly.
The names and addresses of approximately 900 residents were published online and then shared by a man named Jared Totsch in a Facebook group with the following caption: "Here ya go. The gallery of snitches, busybodies, and employees who rat out their own neighbors and employers over the Panic-demic."
Residents whose information was shared online fear retaliation from businesses they reported.
"I'm not only worried about COVID, I'm worried about someone showing up at my door, showing up at my workplace, or me getting fired for doing what is right," one tipster said.
Totsch wrote that those who were worried about retaliation should have read the terms and conditions more closely.
"If they are worried about retaliation, they should have read the fine print which stated their tips would be open public record... and should not have submitted tips in that manner to begin with," Totsch wrote. "I released the info in an attempt to discourage such behavior in the future."
The complaints resulted in 29 businesses receiving citations during April.