Dual opinion: The debate over doxing
Dual OpinionsOpinions September 6, 2020 Admin
BY NICOLE NADLER AND ELENA ASHBURN
Amidst a global pandemic and rising social tensions, many people are utilizing the internet to advocate for change. Social media-centered activism is becoming increasingly more prevalent, and as more social movements take place digitally, doxing, or leaking someone’s personal information online, is becoming more common.
Doxing is categorically defined as the act of publicly identify[ing] or publish[ing] private information about (someone), especially as a form of punishment or revenge, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary.
Pro: Doxing is a necessary outlet for justice
Doxing has quickly emerged as a social media phenomenon, namely during the spike of the current Black Lives Matter movement. It is evident that many people seek retaliation when in necessary circumstances, so therefore doxing has become a way for people to fulfill their urges and create an effect to get what they want: justice.
The cases of doxing peaked after the murder of George Floyd. The main police officer involved in the murder, Derek Chauvin, as well as the other officers, have all experienced forms of doxing.
For instance, one of Chauvin’s addresses was released, which led to vandalism and other indiscretions at his home. However, after this happened, it led to real change and effect, and caused the police officers to be indicted for their crimes against Floyd, which has not happened in other police brutality cases.
“… I respect the idea that those who did it [doxed Derek Chavin’s address] did it because there was no judicial progress being made and it was used to make a statement, which had an actual effect,” CCHS junior Maya Metsch said.
“… I respect the idea that those who did it [doxed Derek Chavin’s address] did it because there was no judicial progress being made and it was used to make a statement, which had an actual effect.”CCHS junior Maya Metsch
In desperate attempts to effect change, doxing comes down to one of the only ways people will listen. If jurisdiction refuses to answer to peaceful protesting, using social media and the power of technology will oftentimes come in handy in situations like the murder of George Floyd. Having causal justification is what adjudicates doxing and allows it to be morally acceptable.
“People technically have the right to show their anger towards these police officers,” CCHS sophomore Matthew Fierstein said. “…and a positive may be that it gives the police officer [in the case of Derek Chauvin] a taste of his own medicine.”
It is important for people to have a way of retaliation, whether it is deemed as productive or not.
Thus, being able to dox people has its benefits. Doxing comes with benefits which have paramount importance to people that have had personal or otherwise impactful losses at the hands of other people. Having this sense of closure in the cases of injustices provides people with comfort, which is the closest thing to equalizing problems.
Con: The downsides of doxing… a sinister social media trend
Despite its growing popularity, doxing is an unsafe and unethical practice that does more harm than good. It can have dangerous and even life-threatening effects. Giving out a person’s private information can lead to trespassing on their property, threats of violence or worse.
For example, during the Gamergate controversy several years back, female gamers, journalists and video game developers were doxxed by men online. These women received death and rape threats, and many of them were forced to flee their home in search of safety.
More recently, St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson released the full names and addresses of protesters who wanted to defund the police on a Facebook livestream. This resulted in an uproar from people all over the country, including CCHS students.
“Personally, I think the mayor should be taken out of office. She’s taking advantage of her power as an official and using it to take away citizen’s voices,” CCHS junior Marley Meaney said. “We have the right to protest and it’s completely inappropriate that she’s still sitting in a position of power after that incident.”
Thousands of people were disgusted with Krewson’s actions because it endangered the lives of those protesters, who were her constituents.
In other cases, doxing is often done by amatuer internet sleuths, and that can lead to many mistakes along the way. Innocent people are often subject to doxing, and the effects are irreversible.
When Peter Weinberg from Maryland was mistaken for an abusive cyclist this June, his address was leaked onto the internet. Police had to patrol around his house to ensure he was not harmed. Weinberg is still working to clear his reputation. Although both he and the police released statements denying his involvement in the incident, he cannot undo the harm caused by the doxers and trolls that threatened him and released his information.
“There are ethical lines that we should not cross in activism, and I believe doxing is one of them.”CCHS senior Ander Diez
Many of these internet sleuths dox as a form of justice. Revealing private information about someone can lead to their humiliation, unemployment or arrest, and it gives the doxer a sense that justice was served.
But doxxing is not justice; it is vengeance. When people dox someone’s address online, they know that it is not going to be used to drop off freshly-baked bread. It is going to be used for something far more sinister. Justice can not be served with a side of bias and malintent; it must be delivered fairly.
These same people claim that doxing is a form of activism, used to create social change. But is it ethical to use vengeance as a tool for positive change?
“I do not believe that doxing is an ethical form of activism,” CCHS senior Ander Diez said. “Revealing someone’s personal information can put their safety and privacy at risk… There are ethical lines that we should not cross in activism, and I believe doxing is one of them.”
Activism can be done in many other ethical ways; instead of posting someone’s address online, one could contact their employers or the authorities. One can petition to have them removed from positions of authority, protest in front of their place of work or even sue them.
Activism is about working to make the world a better place. But if we are using vengeance and malice means to move our cause forward, we are just as bad as the hate, corruption and injustice we are fighting against.
All photos comply with fair use standards