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What is doxing?
Doxing (or doxxing) is the act of obtaining and publishing personal information about someone without their consent. This information can include the person’s real name, address, phone number, and other sensitive details.
The purpose of doxing is often to harass or harm the targeted person. This can be a form of online bullying or revenge. It can have serious consequences for the victim.
Hackers originally used the term “doxing” in the 1990s. It derives from the phrase “dropping dox,” where “dox” stands for “documents.”
The practice involves sharing sensitive information about an individual, often obtained through hacking or other means. The term “doxing” has since become more commonly used and can also refer to the act of publishing personal information about someone without their consent.
The consequences of doxing
Doxing can have severe consequences for the person targeted. They may face harassment, stalking, and even physical harm. Doxing can also damage the person’s reputation and cause them to lose their job or experience other negative consequences.
In some cases, doxing the person may result in legal problems for them, depending on the specific circumstances and the information that was published.
How doxing can happen
Doxing can happen in a variety of ways. For example, a person’s personal information may be obtained through hacking, social engineering, or by searching for publicly available information.
In cancel culture, people ostracize and shun others from their social or professional communities for expressing views or taking actions that are perceived as problematic or offensive. Doxing can be a tactic used in cancel culture to try to discredit or silence an individual or to punish them for their perceived transgressions.
By finding and publicly disclosing personal information about an individual, doxers use doxing to try to intimidate or threaten the individual into changing their behavior or conforming to certain expectations or norms. Doxing can also be used to try to ruin an individual’s reputation or to make them feel vulnerable and exposed, which may make them less likely to speak out or take action in the future.
Real people who were doxed
In 2018, a British woman named Sophie Elliott was doxed by her ex-boyfriend, who posted her personal information online along with explicit photos and videos. She received hundreds of abusive messages and threats, and eventually took her own life.
In 2019, the CEO of the software company Okta was doxed by a hacker who posted his personal information, including his home address and phone number, on the dark web. The CEO received numerous threatening messages and had to involve law enforcement to protect himself and his family.
In 2020, the home addresses of several police officers in Minneapolis were doxed and shared on social media following the death of George Floyd. This led to some officers receiving threatening messages and packages, and at least one officer had to temporarily relocate for their safety.
Most recently, Elon Musk was the victim of doxing on his social media platform Twitter. Journalists from mainstream media sources posted his location in real-time on Twitter in direct breach of the platform’s policies.
Elon Musk revealed on Wednesday that a “crazy stalker” had mistook him for his 2-year-old son “X” and doxed him. The stalker was seen wearing a black hoodie and recording the incident on camera.
“Last night, a car carrying little X in LA was followed by a crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked the car from moving and climbed onto the hood,” Musk said in describing the incident.
He also posted an 11-second video of the alleged stalker and vowed to sue Jack Sweeney, a college student who tracked the billionaire’s private jet’s travels to “raise awareness about carbon footprints.”
Steps to take if you are a victim of doxing
- Contact law enforcement: If you are receiving threatening messages or are concerned for your safety, it is important to contact the police. They can investigate the situation and help you take steps to protect yourself.
- Secure your online accounts by changing your passwords and security questions on any accounts that may have been compromised. This can help prevent further access to your personal information if it has been published online.
- Reach out to friends and family: Doxing can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. It can be helpful to reach out to friends and family for support and to talk about what you are going through.
- Monitor your online presence: It is a good idea to regularly monitor your online presence to see if any new personal information has been published about you. This can help you take steps to remove the information and protect yourself.
- Consider legal action: Depending on the specific circumstances of your doxing, you may be able to take legal action against the person who published your personal information. A lawyer can help you understand your options and take appropriate action.
How to prevent doxing
- Think twice before sharing any personal information online. Only share information that is necessary. Avoid sharing anything that could be used to identify you, such as your full name, home address, or phone number.
- For all of your online accounts, use solid, one-of-a-kind passwords. This will make it more difficult for someone to gain access to your personal information.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your online accounts whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a code that is sent to your phone or email whenever you log in to an account.
- Be cautious when interacting with people online. If someone you don’t know well asks for personal information, be suspicious and do not share anything.
- If you believe you have been a victim of doxing, contact the police, and report the incident. You can also contact the websites or platforms where your personal information was published and request that they remove it.
Doxing is a serious issue that can have far-reaching consequences for the person who is targeted. By taking steps to protect yourself and your personal information, you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of doxing.