Have you heard of doxing? It’s when a stranger finds your personal information online and releases it to the public, in an effort to get people to scare and intimidate you. Usually, it’s because you publicly disagree with them online. There have been several high profile cases of doxing in the news. Angry social media users combed through digital resources to find the phone numbers and addresses of people who disagreed with them in an online fight. They then posted that personal information in Reddit threads and told their fans to call, stalk, and harass that particular person as revenge.
My Experience With Doxing
Doxing is terrifying. I can tell you that from experience, because it happened to me. There are some really unstable people in the world. The idea that they know where you live and where you work, and they somehow want to hurt you, is absolutely frightening.
I was doxed after a man who followed me on Twitter sent me several direct messages asking me out. I said no, because I have a boyfriend and I wasn’t interested in him. He kept asking, so I blocked him. In retrospect, I wish I had more digital resources at the time to protect myself from him. And then my world blew up. He found my phone number and address online. I started getting hundreds of calls a day from him and his online friends. When I stopped answering my phone, they would leave voicemails calling me nasty things and insulting me. Anonymous letters full of hate started showing up at my home. Then they started showing up at my job. My boss started getting dozens of phone calls each day, demanding that he fire me. I was put on suspension because I was being doxed.
How Scary It Got
But the scariest part was that men in cars started showing up in front of my house, at all hours of the day and night. They would just sit there. I felt like a celebrity – and not in the good way. No one ever came to the door, thank goodness. But there was usually one strange car outside of my house, 24 hours a day. The men inside would just sit and watch my property for hours. Once or twice, they left packages on my porch when I was out. I threw them in the dumpster unopened, because I half-expected them to explode on impact.
This went on for months. Ultimately, I was fired from my job and had to move. I lost everything important to me because I wouldn’t go out with a stranger who messaged me on Twitter. And that kind of stalking and harassment happens everyday as a result of doxing. That’s why we need to take full advantage of the digital resources available to protect ourselves.
Currently, there are no laws that prevent doxing. The people that do it rarely get into legal trouble for it, too. It’s hard to prosecute someone for doxing, and in order to even make a case, you need mountains of evidence. Since the person doing it is a stranger, you might not have any idea how to find them. So be careful on social media, and use digital resources to keep your personal information as private as possible.