Recently, news outlets reported threats to a U.S. Supreme Court justice. What began as a social media attack became potentially a physical assault. This type of attack is called “doxxing.” Doxxing is defined as publicly revealing previously private information about an individual or organization, usually via the internet.
Doxxing attacks often focus on a journalist or public figure–like a faculty member–over something they have written. An individual or group opposed to what’s published can severely disrupt the author’s life, and in extreme cases their safety is threatened. Doxxing frequently results in abusive phone calls and text messages, sometimes in conjunction with a social media campaign or series of emails designed to harass and intimidate the writer.
The first step to protecting yourself against doxxing is to find out what information about you is publicly available. Conduct online searches in multiple browsers (e.g., Google, Firefox, Safari) and find out what others can see. Then, request removal of private information you find listed on any website. Also, be careful what you share on social media, especially information that could be used to find you or your family, such as location data in photos or posts. The most important step is to secure all your accounts with strong passwords and multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Visit UF’s Information Security Office “Protect My…” webpage and learn more about keeping personal information private.