It’s amazing all the redundant terms people come up with to describe the invasive activities they do on the internet. The latest is doxxing. Sheesh. Sounds like something a doxy would do, but doxxing is the barely legal practice of scouring through public documents, finding personal information about people, and posting it on the internet. Doxxing stems from the .dox ending for documents, and is a form of cyber stalking and even identity theft.
In this era of “sharing” so often things only we used to know are now available to everyone courtesy of sites like Facebook. Banks used to ask for your mother’s maiden name as an identity check, but now if you list your mother as a relative on FB, everyone knows her name. And, unfortunately, social security numbers are prevalent and easy for those in the know to find. For many years, social security numbers were used freely as sort of a national identity number, and were required for most documents, even if the paper had nothing to do with social security. A case in point — my optometrist always demanded the number even though I didn’t have insurance for eye exams and was going to pay cash. (I finally wised up and instead of fighting it, gave him a scribbled and unreadable number.)
And of course, if you have the above information, you can use it to log into credit bureaus, pretending to be the person you are stalking (Let’s call it what it is, and forget the oh-so-cute appellation of “doxxing”). And the credit bureaus yield even more information.
Luckily for us non-celebrities, chances are we will never be subject to such behavior. I mean, what prurient interest would posting my phone number arise in those who have never heard of me? (Or in those who have heard of me, for that matter.) None. Zero. Zilch.
Just in case I ever do become a celebrity (it could happen even if only in an alternate universe), I protect myself the best I can by posting only information I want people to have, such as my name, books, blog, and web addresses. And you can too. Even though some sites demand your true birth date, who’s to say if you give a phony one? And why do you have to list your mother’s real name or your pets’ names, especially if you use either of them in security questions or passwords?
Things to think about to keep from pondering on the preponderance of cyber appellations . . .
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.