Showing posts with label rebecca watson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rebecca watson. Show all posts

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Ethics of Doxing

When it comes to the ethics of doxing (doxxing?), context matters, according to a post by feminist/atheist blogger Rebecca Watson, "Why I'm Okay With Doxing." Revealing the IRL identity of people who send harassing and threatening messages is ethical; revealing the identity of people who simply disagree with you is not.

But who decides what meets the criteria of "harassment" and "threat?" I believe that the person who doxed me viewed my mockery and attention as "harassing" because he views anyone who criticizes him as "a hater" and a mortal enemy. That's a function of his own pathology. Similarly, I am sure Paul Elam, Mike Cernovich and Chuck C. Johnson can justify their own outrageous violations of women's privacy on the grounds they are engaged in an ideological war. The threat their victims pose is very real to them. "Exposing" their opponents by publicly humiliating them is an intimidating weapon in their arsenal (well, pretty much their only weapon).

Complicating the whole issue is that the word "doxing" (like the word "troll") has come to mean a lot of different things. Is it "doxing" to Google, and then publicize, the address of someone who blogs under their real name? Is it "doxing" to publicize public records or private blogs?

And in an era when it is commonplace for both sides of the cultural divide to tweet vengeful fantasies of murder, rape and mutilation to one another, how credible are these threats? When I was doxed, I received a number of anonymous comments from people urging me to kill myself; as unpleasant as these sentiments were to read, it would be disingenuous for me to claim that I considered these to represent real threats against my person.

I love the anonymity of the internet, but I have never felt it was sacrosanct. Perhaps that's because I'm of a generation that did not grow up with the expectation that I had a "right" to anonymity. I've always recognized that the privacy of the internet is an illusion. I've learned that if anything characterizes the age we live in, it is that all of us are constantly under surveillance. People -- including me -- should be prepared to be held accountable for their words and actions. And perhaps the threat of being doxed is not an entirely bad thing, if it reminds us of that.