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How to Avoid Doxing

5 minutes read

- Written by Yubo Team

Safety message on Yubo the Social Discovery app

So let’s talk about doxing – What is it? 

Doxing or doxxing is the act of releasing private information about someone else publicly, without their permission, for everyone else online to see. If you’ve heard the term “dropping docs,” that is what doxxing is about. The intent behind doxing is almost always malicious – it is typically used as an act of revenge to embarrass a targeted victim. It can also sometimes be used as an attack motivated by social justice to expose sensitive information about controversial political figures or shady businesses, or a way to add fire to a current online debate with concrete proof.

Doxing has been around for years, but recently the press shed some light on these attacks as more and more celebrities are getting hacked or doxed such as Kim Kardashian, Cardi B or Donald Trump. A couple weeks ago, Elon Musk, who recently acquired the social network Twitter, announced wanting to eradicate doxing from his platform after he publicly declared he had been allegedly hacked by a journalist.

Doxing can take many different forms, but doxxers often try to gather as much information as possible about someone. Getting access to one piece of personal information typically gives access to more, which is why it is necessary to use safe behavior online and avoid sharing private information about yourself that could be later used by someone with bad intentions. 

What information are doxxers looking for?

Social media is one of the main tools doxxers use to target victims – whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok or any others. Securing your account by going through all available privacy settings and tools to your disposal is essential to keeping your identity private. Doxxers are looking mainly for phone numbers, names, IP addresses, e-mails, home addresses, places of work, family member information, and so on – but it can even go as far as banking information for instance.

Phishing is one common technique used by doxxers to steal personal information. They basically send suspicious links through DMs, texts or emails. If you click on it, they may be able to gather information such as your IP address, which is also often linked to your device information as well as your current location. Doxxers also may try to befriend you to get you to share personal details such as your phone number or address, so always think twice before sharing any identifying information with another person.

What are the risks of being doxed?

Anyone who releases public information online can be targeted by doxxers. Risks can vary depending on the intent and the type of content shared. For example, private pictures you took of yourself could be made public on social media. Unfortunately, most times people who receive this information will not bother verifying the accuracy of what is shared, which can lead to harassment and have detrimental effects on mental health. Doxxers may even use this information as leverage by threatening or blackmailing in exchange for money or favors. 

Doxing is illegal in the United States, but can depend on the nature of the information gathered. This behavior is extremely hard for authorities to prove actually took place. However, most social media platforms have their own tools to detect and ban doxxers. At Yubo, we believe any form of doxing is cyberbullying or harassment, and it is prohibited from our platform. Anyone who targets another user through doxing on the app may be subject to severe consequences including having their account suspended.

What can you do to protect yourself against doxxers? 

Here is some advice you can take into consideration when creating an account on Yubo, or any other social media platforms, to make sure you are stay safe and protecting your personal information. 

  • Be careful of what you put in your bio. Do not put your full name, where you live, what school you go to or any other personally identifiable information (PII) that can give clues about your identity or things you don’t want anyone to know. The same rule applies in DMs. As a reminder, on Yubo, every time you are about to share personal information such as your phone number or address, you will receive a pop-up message to make you think twice about sending and also allow you to delete your message if you change your mind. 
  • Avoid sharing your social media handles. It can seem a bit extreme, but if you don’t want strangers to have access to pictures of your family and friends for instance, it might be worth considering. You should also avoid sharing your location on social media in real-time. Instead, wait until you’ve already left wherever you are before posting.
  • When creating a new social media account, don't choose a username that is the same as any of your other usernames on other social media channels. This can make it easy for others to find and link your profiles and gather additional information about you
  • When you livestream, avoid sharing private information about yourself. Another tip is to avoid screensharing if you have any personal conversations or images on your device that you don’t want other people to see. 
  • Hide your location. On Yubo, we allow you to keep your location private. In fact, for all users under age 18, location is disabled by default. If you are under 18, you do not have the option to manually activate your location in your settings. Only adult users over 18 have access to this option. If you are an adult user and you choose to disable your location, only your country will be visible to other users.
  • Make sure your password is strong enough. It’s even better if it’s not the same password used across all of your different online accounts. 
  • You can also use VPN software, which will allow your IP address to be hidden from anyone attempting to access it. 

If you’ve been a victim of doxing, gather as much proof as possible (by taking screenshots for instance) and report it to the police. You can also contact any platform’s support team to help you take the appropriate actions.

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