What Is Doxing and How to Avoid It

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It’s hard to describe to members of the pre-internet generation how different life was before the World Wide Web changed everything. The ease of use and ubiquity of search engines alone represents an indescribable paradigm shift from a time when information on virtually anything you wanted to know about was at your fingertips. 

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the brave, relatively new world of information access has a downside. One of the biggest drawbacks of the information age is that it tends not to be picky about the information that’s shared, including information about you. And once shared, it’s hard to remove personal information from Google that’s aggregated by data brokers and tracked by search engines. Which brings us to the hateful world of “doxing.”

What Is Doxing?

There’s a common warning given to those interacting with strangers on the internet on social media, chat sites, dating sites, and the like: “Be careful, they could be anyone!” That superficial online obscurity can give people the idea that the internet is a place where privacy and anonymity exists. That belief is inaccurate, if not dangerous, and can be cruelly shattered by doxing. Doxing (or “doxxing”) is the practice of sharing someone’s personal information—phone number, physical address, information about family members, photographs, very personal details, and the like—in a very public place.

Does Anyone Deserve It?

That may seem like an odd question to ask. It is one that is legitimately being asked, however, in response to the seeming rise in white supremacist and white nationalist activity. After the infamous “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, VA, an online movement began to identify and “dox” the participants. The attention resulted in several of the attendees being fired from their jobs after identification. However, an assistant professor from Arkansas, Kyle P. Quinn, was falsely identified as a participant and became the victim of widespread harassment. It’s generally agreed that the risk of false identification alone is sufficient to preclude the use of “acceptable” doxing.

Doxing and Swatting

One of the most dangerous peripheral risks of doxing is the threat of “swatting.” Swatting is the practice of calling the police on someone to “prank” or punish them. It usually involves a malicious internet user or hacker acquiring the address of their target and calling the police to report something like a bomb threat at the address. The unsuspecting victim is then subject to a police SWAT team raiding their home. A swatting incident in December 2017 in which a false claim of violence and hostage-taking led to the fatal shooting of Andrew Finch in Wichita, KS.

How to Prevent It

There are a number of ways to prevent doxing, many of them defensive. Everyone should have all of their social media profiles as private as possible, erase social media profiles and email addresses that are no longer used, and share as little personal information as possible online, particularly on social media. Additionally, they should seek out a service, like DeleteMe, for instance, that can show them how to remove personal information from Google. DeleteMe can also be contracted to contact the data brokers to insist your personal information be deleted. A DeleteMe subscription can remove personal information from over 30 data broker sites and keep it private year-round.

About DeleteMe

DeleteMe has set the industry standard for optimizing the security and data privacy of anyone online. From their home base in Boston, DeleteMe has established a reputation within the privacy and security industry by combining the expertise of their privacy experts with the most effective security technology and strategies, with which they have provided more than 10 million consumer opt-outs successfully. Let DeleteMe secure the privacy of your data. They will ensure that your private information removal from Whitepages and the other data broker sites keeps your personal details as safe as possible.
Ensure that your personal information remains private with DeleteMe, at www.joindeleteme.com.

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