When you work within the internet industry or for a technology organisation, you get used to acronyms and new words. Hardly a day passes before a new word surfaces that you must learn and understand. Well, the latest one to rear its head is Doxing. (Sometimes quoted as Doxxing, especially on Twitter).
So what is behind the latest buzzword?
According to Wikipedia, Doxing is the act of publicly providing personally identifiable information about an individual or organisation, usually via the internet. Doxing may be carried out for reasons such as online shaming, extortion, and vigilante aid to law enforcement. It also may be associated with hacktivism. In short, Doxing is about sharing people’s private information without their permission.
All sounds reasonable. We don’t want someone publically advertising our movements or personal information without our consent. That would leave us feeling vulnerable and exposed.
Doxing has been around, as a word at least, since 1337. But why now has this word entered into worlds with considerable aplomb?
Twitter Enforces Doxing
That’s right! Twitter has brought this into our world through the enforcement of Doxing rules. You can read the detail on their Personal Information policy page, but below is the basic summary:
- Home address or physical location information
- Live location information
- Identity documents
- Contact information
- Financial account information
- Biometric data or medical records;
- Media of private individuals without permission
- Media depicting prisoners of war
However, this has caused quite a topic of debate – which is not unusual since Elon Musk took over Twitter earlier this year. The discussion focuses on banning journalists who have allegedly violated the policy. Naturally, this has led to protests of wrongdoing. Still, it is hard to tell when the account gets banned and content restricted.
Another account recently banned on Twitter is ElonJet. ElonJet tracked Elons movements on his state-of-the-art jet. Despite Elon tweeting in November that he would allow this, he has changed his mind. Undoubtedly, Elon feels one rule applies to everyone, no matter who you are or the target.
The New Rule
At the heart of it, Doxing is not pleasant and is something to monitor. And protecting yourself from cyber related attacks is important. However, the grey area is how the doxing rule is applied. Doxing can be used to protect people, but, in the case of Elon Musk, also to ban people that are your enemies. The ongoing debate will undoubtedly focus on that grey area, and people will watch for freedom of speech violations as much as Doxing.