My entire body clenches when I hear the word doxxing. Each time I write something that, for whatever reason, upsets a corner of the internet, I wonder if my personal information — phone numbers, address, social security number, credit card information — will be made public, or doxxed. And if it is made public, then how will it be used?
Even though our identities on the internet are more public than ever, we are still individually afforded a certain amount of privacy. Our passwords, our forum names, our Google habits: these are, for most of us, secret. And because they are secret, people on the internet can threaten their reveal as a form of harassment. That’s the sticky core of doxxing; the erasure of one’s sense of privacy, and with it, safety.
This method of publishing personal information has become more mainstream, alongside the ubiquity of the internet. So, to spread awareness, I invited my colleague and security expert Russell Brandom to discuss the origins of doxxing, how it has evolved, and why people use doxxing today.
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