Last week, Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz revealed that a Brooklyn real estate agent named Chaya Raichik was the person behind the influential conservative Twitter account Libs of TikTok.
Raichik’s account, which previously operated anonymously, has become a powerful voice in the culture wars, pushing discourse designed to demonize supporters of LGBTQ rights as sexually predatory “groomers” of children. Raichik’s account has even influenced policy through a symbiotic relationship with a top aide to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who recently signed into law a “don’t say gay” bill that allows parents to sue school districts for employing gay or transgender teachers who are open about their lives with their students. Raichik has been at the vanguard of attempting to reframe the dangerous legislation as designed to protect children, calling it an “anti-groomer” bill.
Slate scrolled through thousands of Raichik’s tweets, including hundreds of deleted tweets, to understand how one real estate agent could gain such clout and to try to discern her next targets. One notable trend was clear: Raichik’s feed is colored by an intense hostility to liberals generally, but she holds an especially pronounced animosity toward LGBTQ people, city dwellers, and Black people who have been killed at the hands of police.
Raichik started her account in April 2020 with a seemingly innocent mandate in her profile: “I help you find your daily dose of cringe.” Her early content focused on TikTok videos of ostensible progressives performing cringeworthy songs about their love of Anthony Fauci and vaccinations.
Raichik’s first original video to break 50,000 views was Fauci cringe content. Her first video to break 100,000 views was vaccine cringe content.
The key ingredient in Raichik’s early success on a topic with a relatively short shelf life was shamelessly tagging alt-right and far-right heavy hitters on Twitter, a strategy she continues to use to this day.
But that’s not the only tool Raichik used to send her tweets traveling across the Twitterverse. In a series of since-deleted tweets from the first couple of weeks of her account, she highlighted her affinity for popular alt-right views about the political left and about victims of police violence in particular.
The same week that Raichik said she started “the tik tok thing,” Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd. Prior to his conviction, Raichik had focused on a different flavor of right-wing content under other usernames. But around the time the verdict came down, Raichik let her apparent views on police violence be known: Floyd was a criminal and his death was the result of drug use, not Chauvin’s brutality, she made clear in a series of tweets.
Raichik’s apparent hostility for Black victims of police violence didn’t end with Floyd. She also tweeted repeatedly mocking the killing of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, and in another video, the account endorsed random police brutality.
While she eventually deleted many of those tweets targeting the victims of police violence, Raichik has left up scores of tweets denying the existence of systemic racism. The day after Juneteenth 2021, Raichik’s account posted a callout to her followers, asking them to reply with one word and she would try to find a video saying why that word is racist. What resulted was a more-than-150-part series of tweets mocking the notion that systemic racism exists. (There is, however, one form of “racism” that Raichik says is “flourishing” in America: racism against white people.)
Raichik has also made a name for herself by helping to blow up fights within school systems and among teachers and students, even getting a number of teachers removed from their jobs. These efforts began in earnest in September 2021 when her account highlighted a dispute over racism at Arizona State University when a pair of students were asked to leave a multicultural center. One of the booted students brought a computer with a “Police Lives Matter” sticker into the center, while the other one wore an anti-Biden T-shirt.
The video exploded with 5.7 million views, Raichik’s biggest hit by far, boosted by attention from the conservative media ecosystem including Fox News. The incident resulted in school administrators disciplining, for an alleged “code of conduct violation,” the two students of color who had confronted the white student over his “Police Lives Matter” sticker.
Raichik, though, has exploited every front in the conservative culture wars. Another favorite of hers is the popular conservative talking point that American cities are hellscapes dominated by theft, crime, and homelessness. Last fall, she posted a series of tweets of videos of homeless encampments, garnering hundreds of thousands of views.
While she got her start stoking racial tensions, Raichik’s real bread-and-butter lies elsewhere. Specifically, she has risen to prominence by tarring LGBTQ people, who, she has indicated with emoji, make her nauseous. Her efforts started in earnest in May 2020, when Raichik began to pivot from COVID cringe content toward vilifying LGBTQ people.
On the eve of Pride Month, she declared her intent: “This account is going to be 🔥 during pride month!! Are you ready?”
Then came a series of anti-LGBTQ tweets that helped propel her account into the conservative stratosphere. First, she posted a link to a video (now deleted) with a trans person and three throw-up emojis, followed by the comment “Men should not wear dresses. You can’t change my mind.” One day later, in another deleted tweet, her account made a “grooming” comment apparently for the first time, with a tweet saying “STOP GROOMING KIDS.” One week later, she repeated the same line. Later in June, Raichik sent out her most popular tweet to that date, mocking someone for describing the concept of gender fluidity:
At this point, it seems that Raichik realized she was onto something. For the rest of its tenure, Libs of TikTok found its footing as one of the preeminent homophobic and transphobic spaces on Twitter. Shortly thereafter, Joe Rogan even gave her a shoutout on his popular anti-leftist podcast, sending her hate-fueled star skyrocketing.
For months, Raichik backed off the “groomer” discourse while still consistently posting videos mocking trans people. But in November 2021, she started up again. In a since-deleted post, Raichik’s account wrote this about a prominent LGBTQ youth suicide-prevention group: “The Trevor Project is a grooming organization.” It was around this time that her account also started using what has become a popular online insult: “Ok groomer.”
Toward the end of 2021 and into the new year, Raichik found her rhythm with memes and videos calling LGBTQ people and those who supported LGBTQ youth “groomers.” She has even attempted to smear one of the most prominent gay men in the country. In a deleted tweet, Raichik’s account accused Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, of “grooming kids” for his work supporting LGBTQ youth.
And then came Florida’s “don’t say gay” law, which state legislators began considering around the same time Raichik went into groomer overdrive. After all of her hard work, Raichik’s account was ready for a victory lap:
In the past week since her identity was revealed, Raichik has focused extensively on decrying Lorenz for exposing her. She has also continued her anti-trans missives. But her recent online behavior has signaled a possible new aim: the free speech wars. Raichik has, paradoxically, exposed and called out dozens of random citizens for allegedly being groomers while simultaneously professing that free speech demands she be able to maintain anonymity. That hasn’t stopped her, though, from portraying herself as a free speech warrior and the victim of the woke mob.
Whatever hateful course Raichik decides to take next, she may have a new ally in any potential battle over censorship and the appropriate limits of public speech: Elon Musk. The new owner of Twitter has promised to make the space even more open to views like Raichik’s. And it appears the support has already begun. Just last week, Raichik posted a screenshot of Musk liking one of her tweets with the caption “OMG.”