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  • Context (TH): A woman in Mumbai reached out to the police after being doxxed.
  • Doxing is the act of revealing a person’s private information online is known as doxing or doxxing.
  • Doxxers typically disclose sensitive details like home addresses, phone numbers, email IDs, medical conditions, etc., often obtained through illegal means such as hacking.
  • Sharing private or semi-public content without consent can also constitute doxxing and lead to harassment. E.g. someone might consent to a video being shared on a friend’s Instagram but not want it reposted on X or YouTube with their employers tagged.
  • While the user may not be legally liable for sharing publicly available content, their motives can be malicious and pose risks to others.

Concerns associated with Doxing

  • Doxxing continues even after catching the perpetrator, as they share details for others to attack the victim. This makes it difficult for the police to take action against all responsible parties.
  • Doxxing threatens a person’s physical, digital, and emotional security.
  • Victims may have to flee, clarify with employers, secure finances, file police reports, upgrade internet security, and face threats. It can also affect those around the victim, leading to eviction or job loss.
  • Once private information is shared, it’s challenging to undo the resulting harms, such as doxxing.
  • Doxxing disproportionately affects groups like women, children, and LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Reporting and Responding to Doxxing Incidents in India

  • Reporting is crucial as it violates most social media policies, and platforms usually take quick action.
  • In India, victims of doxxing can report the incident online through the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal.
  • Platforms like Meta recognise the need to protect users who have been doxxed. Meta’s oversight board concluded in February 2022 that Facebook and Instagram should have stricter rules for leaked data, such as home addresses.
  • Google offers tools to assist individuals who have been doxxed. Users can submit removal requests for review and possible action.YouTube, which is owned by Google, also accepts reports for content posted on its platform.
  • X has an in-app reporting mechanism for private information and a grievance officer responsible for taking action based on reports.
  • Reddit provides a complaint forum for similar issues.
  • Discord recently updated its community policies, separating guidelines for doxxing and harassment.
  • Social media companies operating in India are bound by India’s IT Rules, making cybercrime complaints an effective way to prompt platform action.

Security practices to follow when posting on social media

  • Use strong, unique passwords for each social media account and enable multi-factor authentication when available.
  • Refrain from sharing photos that disclose identifiable details of your surroundings, like your neighbourhood, house keys, or landmarks nearby.
  • Avoid posting images that reveal sensitive information about your workplace, such as your workstation, client sites, or official badges.
  • Be mindful of sharing content that exposes your daily routines, like apartment tours or live videos showing your commute.
  • Exercise caution when sharing screenshots of text conversations to prevent unintentionally revealing personal information.
  • Avoid sharing media or information that could lead to someone else being doxxed, as you may face legal repercussions even if you delete the content later.
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