I’ve seen a lot of posts about “doxxing” in the past week or two and thought I’d give my two cents on the matter.
“Doxxing,” “doxing,” or “doc dropping,” for those unfamiliar, is the publicizing of private information that is normally inaccessible by the public. This can include names, phone numbers, addresses, emails, social security numbers, and other information.
Doxxing has a primarily negative connotation and is often viewed as petty or unnecessary. I do agree that using someone’s private information to impact their livelihood, cause them damage, or harass them is wrong. Worse than this is, using their information to abuse their relatives or commit crimes against them is also something I personally have experienced. Still, I believe doxxing does have a practical, beneficial use in the realm of self defense.
Be honest, we have all heard a rumor about ourselves that wasn’t only hurtful, but untrue. Whether it’s high school, college, work, or within a family unit, these rumors can ruin your reputation, cost you work, or cause you embarrassment. I guarantee that everyone reading this post had one thing on their mind when they first heard that nasty rumor about themselves. A reasonable question first entered your mind as you rightfully pondered the reality of your situation: Who started it?
You are perfectly reasonable to feel this way. Why shouldn’t you catch the jerk who’s out to ruin your good name? Sometimes in your effort, you hit a dead end. Maybe the person wrote something on the free speech board at campus, maybe they sent out mail to personal friends without a return address, or maybe the person who revealed this to you won’t budge when you asked them who told this to them.
Are you wrong in wanting these barriers lifted? Of course not. You’ve been harmed and you shouldn’t have to deal with the run-around in seeking justice. So why is anonymous slander on the internet any different?
There is a stigma to releasing names, photographs, and locations of anyone on the internet who wants to remain anonymous. I have no problem with anonymity if the person takes extra measures to ensure the information they present is unbiased, honest, entertaining, or educational. As soon as it no longer benefits the internet, or becomes unfairly and maliciously targeted to a specific direction, the person responsible should be identified.
I use this analogy often when explaining my stance on the issue:
Imagine you’re having coffee outside one day and a masked man walks up, points at you, and starts making accusations. To your knowledge, you have done nothing whatsoever to this man. How could you know if you had? Would you not be halfway tempted to not ask only ask him who he is, but to remove his mask? If he’s honest about you, why would he need one?
I have no problem with names, pictures, and locations of dishonest, libelous people on the internet losing their anonymity and neither should you. Doxxing, like violence, is not bad in itself. It’s a matter of who its done to and why.