For those unfamiliar with the practice of “doxxing,” Stuff has shared a clear introduction on the topic peppered with links to more information—“What is Doxxing, and Why Is It So Scary?” Reporter Jasmine McNealy describes the technique of discovering personal information available online and using it against one’s target. She also emphasizes how dangerous these attacks can be. McNealy writes:
“It’s not surprising that information has value – particularly information related to people’s identities, interests and habits. This is, after all, the age of big data, social media and targeted advertising. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal is just one of many events in which regular people found out just how much personal information is available out on the internet. People also found out how little power they had over their information. Generally, people want, and think they have, control over who knows what about them. Individual identity is in part performance: People decide and change who they are and how they act in different places, around different groups. This is particularly true online, where many sites and services allow users to be anonymous or pseudonymous or to hide their information from other users’ searches. Often, of course, each site itself has some private information about users, like an email address, for delivering service-related notices. But online platforms seem to offer users a measure of control over their identity and personal information.”
That control, however, is less absolute than these platforms would have their users believe. The write-up describes why this is so, and concludes by emphasizing McNealy’s central point—doxxing turns online information into a dangerous weapon.