Opening Pandora’s Dox: The Unintended Consequences of an Internet That Never Forgets


[tc_dropcap]Every year the Oxford English Dictionary adds a handful of new words in recognition of how technological and social progress have affected the English language.[/tc_dropcap]

One of the new words this year is the longstanding 4chan-ism “dox,” which, unfortunately, has become all too relevant in the modern world.

“Doxing” is one of those terms that’s problematically overbroad. I’ve argued about the definition of “doxing” at length with friends. It’s a corruption of “docs,” itself short for “documentation”; to “drop dox” on someone is to make publicly available private information about them.

Of course, what counts as “private information” is contentious. Most doxers aren’t genius hackers able to gain access to genuinely hidden, secret information–most of the dox that gets dropped is publicly available, it’s just information that the subject never expected to be widely publicized in front of a hostile audience. (For the record, federal law states that…

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