D for Doxing

online-dating advice doxing


The Lockdown Effect

The pandemic has brought the entire world on its knees for more than a year and a half. To avoid the spread of the virus, we went through several lockdowns and followed specific measures to finally go back to a simil-normal life. Being locked at home hasn’t been an easy journey.

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Several surveys highlighted how the lockdown had harsh consequences on our wellbeing and mental health. Loneliness, lack of connections and sex starvation are the root causes of oversharing personal information and photos online. During the lockdowns, there has been an incredible increase of people joining dating apps but also a rise in doxing, revenge porn and slut shaming cases. What do these terms refer to?

Doxing, Revenge Porn And Slut Shaming

Doxing, revenge porn and slut shaming might share a few features but they are issues different from each other. “Doxing is the act of revealing identifying information about someone online, such as their real name, home address, workplace, phone, financial, and other personal information. That information is then circulated to the public — without the victim's permission” (Kaspersky); Revenge porn or “non-consensual pornography involves the online distribution of sexually graphic photographs or videos without the consent of the individual in the images. The perpetrator is often an ex-partner who obtains images or videos in the course of a prior relationship, and aims to publicly shame and humiliate the victim, in retaliation for ending a relationship” (EIGE); Whereas, “slut shaming refers to deliberate efforts to discredit people by associating them with sexual deviancy, especially sexual immodesty and promiscuity. Victims of slut shaming, who are disproportionately girls and women, may attain a poor reputation, experience social isolation and a loss of social status, as well as feel negative, painful emotions such as embarrassment, humiliation, regret, and sadness” (SAGE).

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The improvement of cameras on mobile devices and the increased use of the internet brought to a significant exacerbation of these issues starting from 2015. A recent research on dating apps conducted by the cybersecurity service Kaspersky highlighted that during the pandemic there has been a 20% increase of people sending nudes and 24% of Brits shared nudes with people just met online. 11% of responders have been doxed without even knowing it because they weren’t familiar with the definition of this issue. David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky, says that "This data paints an alarming picture of significant sensitive material that can be used to manipulate or coerce victims in areas that go beyond the virtual world".  The Gen Z seem to be particularly keen on oversharing online without considering the possible risks of their details being shared or their phones being hacked.

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Both doxing and revenge porn were criminalised in 2015 in the UK and perpetrators can be sentenced to up to 2 years of prison and they will need to pay a hefty fine. A few years ago, the UK government launched the campaign “Be aware b4 you share” to raise awareness towards these issues.


How To Prevent Being Doxed

Sharing personal or intimate content with a partner or someone you know and trust is NOT a crime. Slut shaming you for this is absolutely wrong. You didn't ask for it. You're not the one to blame. You're just the victim of insensitive, horrible people. Doxing can have horrible consequences on your wellbeing, it can lead to depression, paranoia and much more. There are a few little things you can do to protect yourself that will make the difference:

- Think before you post. Make sure the content you want to share is suitable for the Net.
- Do not use unsecured connections to share private/personal information.
- Turn on privacy settings on your online accounts so that only people you know can see what you’re posting.
- Limit your use of third party applications.
- Use strong passwords and/or two-factor authentication.

What To Do If You’ve Been Doxed

If you think you have been doxed all you have to do is to keep evidence of what you have found, report the abuse to the police and the platforms you are using and where you have found your personal details. 

For further advice and support you can also visit the UK Revenge Porn Helpline website or call them at 0345 6000 459.