Doxxing — the act of publishing someone’s personal information online for malicious purposes—is a constantly growing threat for anyone with an online presence. While platforms such as Twitter have made it easy to report this specific form of harassment, other social media powerhouses like Facebook have yet to make the leap. It’s perplexing.
Doxxing can take on many forms, from posting someone’s online contact details all the way to placing their address and other highly sensitive information (e.g., a credit card number) in a public environment. The basic premise is usually the same: to cause the recipient of the doxxing stress, pressure them into moving or deleting their account, and/or prevent them from continuing to use their platform in an organic manner.
The consequences of doxxing can differ depending on how rabid the doxxer’s following is, but it isn’t unheard of for conflicts that result in doxxing to escalate into real-world harassment or violence.
Doxxing may seem like a problem reserved for celebrities and other high-traffic accounts, but the truth is that it can happen to anyone with an online presence. In fact, doxxing has become so common that some sites or services include a specific doxxing option when reporting a post for harassment.
Twitter, for example, allows you to report a tweet that “includes private information” as harassment.
Unfortunately, the inclusion of the option to report doxxing on some platforms creates a notable absence thereof on other comparable sites.
Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook) — both of which are ground zeroes for some of the most egregious forms of harassment — do not allow users to report posts for doxxing; instead, users must mark a post as inappropriate or a generic form of harassment and hope that the Facebook Gods recognize it for what it is.
As doxxing continues to impact both virtual and real lives of victims, Facebook and other companies which have yet to follow Twitter’s example will need to pick up the slack if they want to remain relevant in the cybersecurity realm. And they must put effort into stopping doxxing, lest they be complicit in the nefarious acts.
Doxxing may seem like it doesn’t affect enough people to warrant a full feature, but people who encounter doxxing certainly deserve better than a catch-all “harassment” option when reporting doxxing abuse online.