Doxxing is the broadcasting of private information about you (like your home address or social insurance number) that puts you at risk.
We’re all at risk of having our private information exposed online. However, women and gender-diverse individuals are more often targeted.
Doxxing is a common tactic trolls use to harass their victims online. Attackers may share something embarrassing about their victim or weaponize the victim’s personal information.
Consider the case of Rebecca Scheffler (pseudonym). After writing about equality for individuals with disfigurements in a national paper, she began receiving text messages detailing explicit sexual acts that others wanted to do to her. It turned out her online abuser created a Craigslist ad featuring her phone number that offered sexual favours. For Rebecca, being bombarded with explicit messages was twice as traumatizing as being a sexual assault victim.
While the thought of having your private information weaponized by trolls can seem daunting, you can take these steps to protect yourself.
- Do a quick search on yourself Type in your name/nickname/handle/avatar in a search engine platform to see what kind of information is available publicly. You may find more data than expected, but that’s okay. You can take the following steps to reduce the information available.
- Adjust your social media settings
- Ensure your profiles, usernames/handles are hidden from search engines
- Remove any personal information such as addresses, places of work, phone numbers and specific locations from your accounts
- Set your posts to “friends only”
Here is a guide for Facebook
Here is a guide for Twitter
Here is a guide for Instagram
- Use strong passwords Use strong, unique passwords and multi-factor authentication to prevent your account from being maliciously hijacked.
- Browse safely Have you ever searched Google for something on your computer and later been targeted with an ad for the same thing on your phone? We’re constantly tracked online, making us vulnerable to cybercriminals and bullies. While online tracking is unavoidable, there are still steps we can take to protect ourselves.
Now that you’re aware of your vulnerabilities online, go forth and protect yourself from doxxing.