Social media is pulsating with the word “doxing” (or “doxxing”) as a continual game of one-upmanship.
“I’m gonna dox you!”
“You’ve been doxed!”
“Don’t mess with me, I’m the magician doxer that you’ve all heard of! “
“Dox me, I dare you!”
“I quit this s%#*, I was doxed!”
We’ve all seen this on Twitter, Facebook, video conference rooms, chat rooms, and other social media outlets – anywhere two opinions might differ. Usually it’s a cry of bravado from someone who has little idea what they are talking about or any real knowledge how to do it. Sometimes it’s real.
But just what does doxing mean?
Generally, “doxing” came from an abbreviated contraction of the word “documenting” in terms of finding private information about someone and then making it public for anyone to know or read. Technically, doxing is defined as “the act of publishing someone’s personal information, of which there would be a reasonable expectation of privacy and dubious value to the conversation, in an environment that implies or encourages intimidation or threat.”
We also need to clarify doxing into two specific categories. We need to define “doxing” further as “soft doxing” or “hard doxing”. Soft doxing is making others aware of already public information that may not have been brought forward on a voluntary basis by the person being doxed. Hard doxing is more involved, in that it requires availability and searches of truly private information, sometimes of a nature that even the target of the doxing is unaware that it existed online — and then again making it all public knowledge, usually as a detriment to the subject.
How is doxing done?
There are innumerable simple methods that can be used, all depending on the information that you have available, the information you have access to, and the time and resources you have to find it.
A small percentage of people will actually self-dox themselves, unknowingly or stupidly providing all the information on themselves while pontificating comfortably in in a hostile social media environment, unprotected. Any background information can usually then be found by something as simple as a Google search for instance.
Various reverse photo search engines yield a smorgasbord of information by backtracking sources of photographs or captured images. The next time you encounter a photo, right click on it, and if your browser allows it with the Google plugin, you’ll have an option to “Search Google for image”. If not, simply use Google’s photo search engine at https://images.google.com/ and drag the photo to the search entry. Many times you will be amazed at all the information that can be found by a simple photo search. Other reverse photo search engines such as TinEye, Google Goggles, and others provide even more advanced options.
Beyond reverse photograph and image searches are the more common name, address, telephone number, and family relative searches, such as the public sources at Spokeo, PeopleSmart, PeekYou, Pipl, Whitepages, Zabasearch, and many other affiliates of the same companies. If you have professional or university credentials you can use LexisNexis and other government based database search engines from various professional law databases, case law histories, military archives, and other professional library services.
How to prevent doxing?
Dox yourself first. Spend an evening and see what you can find out about yourself on the Internet using the sources previously mentioned. You might be surprised.
Most of this is obvious, but never give out your real name if you don’t want the attention – and especially if you are going to be controversial, have a few layers of protection — never give out your address, your phone number, your financial information, where you work or go to school, never use public WiFi without a peer VPN, don’t disclose a public location, never use the same password on different social media accounts, don’t provide personal clues in your social media name or written comments. When video conferencing look behind you (is there anything that identifies you or where you are?), never give out your email address, Skype handle, biographical data, etc.
Don’t be an unfunny asshole. It’s really just common sense after all.
Kelly Fox, Isme Boom, and I sat around a protected, virtual round table, and discussed their recent case of soft doxing in this Point-Counterpoint interview, which follows for your reading pleasure below.
[CLEAR CIDER]: What lead to your initial dispute?
[KELLY FOX] The initial dispute started when Nichole and I had Lindsay on DTF (Dissecting The Frog). The next day, Elisa and Isme attacked us for doing that. They had said that we were piling on, and Elisa said it wasn’t her “cup of tea” or how she would have done it. Isme also criticized that we “didn’t let mommy have fun in chat”, but it had absolutely nothing to do with Elisa in the chat. I had asked Elisa if she wanted to have Lindsay on [her show], Elisa declined, but told me to go ahead and have her on our show. Later, Elisa stated she would have never done that.
[ISME BOOM] I think it all started when Kelly and Nichole had Abercrombie Chick (Lindsay) on their show. Lindsay had had a major beef with Honest Frank. Elisa expressed that she loved their show, but she “hated” hearing Lindsay disrespect Frank and, at times, lie about him. Kelly and Nichole took major offense that Elisa had criticized their show. I was on Elisa’s side, thinking DTF needed to “own” the controversy that they were stoking, rather than expect unanimous support.
[CLEAR] Some say that it was the initial harsh judgements of each other’s personal stylings. Is there any truth to this?
[KELLY] It wasn’t the couch or criticisms of my décor that started it, but I was annoyed that Isme started attacking my personal appearance and my furniture. I think Isme started calling my living room a funeral parlor. I simply cannot stand him. He can say what he wants about my decorating but he lives in a rundown house and cannot pay his bills I hear.
[ISME] I am remembering that it was Kelly that started that one actually. She started by criticizing the photos of my house from our baby shower last year. Then she compared them to her own horrible living room. I think I referred to her décor as “grim and horrible”.
[CC] Do you think exposing the private DMs with Elisa in your December manifesto of the behind the scene manipulations of DTF & KaF were warranted?
[KF] When ISME published his long, boring, manifesto I was truly shocked to read those revelations. Even though everyone has warned me in the past, and I had suspicions of my own that I was just being used as a prop for Elisa’s show, I was caught unaware. I was definitely surprised how Elisa had encouraged Isme to attack myself and Nichole behind the scenes, when I have been nothing but nice, supportive, and a friend to Elisa in the past.
[IB] No one, including Elisa, seems to remember that Elisa took credit for the idea of creating the DTF show at the time. Yes, I was in the chat criticizing Kelly and Nichole that day, but Elisa followed up with me asking me to go further and do more. Elisa’s suggestions for how to build my chat criticisms into a “bit” were super funny, I thought. Elisa was encouraging me to “go over the top” into a self-parody. I would be making myself look ridiculous by analyzing every little detail of Kelly, Nichole, and their show. I would be making myself look ridiculous, and that appealed to me. I also thought it would be funny to play a “villain” in the DTF world. As I mentioned in my manifesto, being a villain is so creatively freeing.
I thought it would make people “rally” to support Kelly and Nichole. So, yes, I was “playing” in a sense when I did the DTF review. What I think you, Clear, first starting calling a “manifesto”? Even though I knew I was playing a villain, the best “acting” is based on real life. So, it’s not like I just randomly invented insults. I used my real feelings and observations to build an over-the-top critique.
I would also like to add, while I have the chance, that Elisa has rarely asked me to do anything directly for the show. Twice she has asked me to perform on cam for her. Then she asked me to do this “bit” on the DTF review that we’ve mentioned. I was really excited when Elisa asked me to do this particular bit, and I thought her notes on how to execute it (“there were many, many, more DM exchanges and not just what I posted”) were funny. I thought it would be fun to show a little behind-the-scenes action. I thought it would be okay because Elisa had already taken credit for the DTF review idea on air.
[KF] The show was my and Nichole’s idea. Stu came up with the name, and Mazza created the graphic at the time. Isme and Elisa had nothing to do with the inception of DTF.
[CC] Did you alert Elisa before releasing those particular DMs, Isme? Do you think Isme consulted Elisa before releasing those, Kelly?
[IB] I did not.
[KF] I make a point of not posting other people’s DMs and ratting out people. That is not my “cup of tea”. I would love to see any other DMs that Isme claims exists though, and then maybe that would make me stop giving a shit. Sorry, I was thinking I don’t want to be too wordy on my answers, because I cannot stand Isme.
[CC] How did you obtain the before unseen photo(s) of the person behind the Isme character, Kelly? Were you aware how easily it was to find public information from simply one public photo using various reverse photo search engines, Isme?
[KF] I am unable to disclose how I received the original photo of the actual man playing the character named Isme. I have a secret friend that people would be shocked about, who is anti-KAF but has always been nice to me. 😉 [CC notes: I had identified the person that had sent Kelly the photo, and have confirmed that it came from an outside source]. I don’t really know how to pull the information up from a personal photograph. You did that part, Clear! Haha.
[IB] Yes. Totally. I have always been aware of the fact that my legal name is only a few Google searches away.
[CC] Where you cognizant, Isme, of the exhaled threat (now subordinately deflated (laughs)) coming from the Mazza camp that he was going to expose everything about you come the New Year, based on researching your newborn child’s birth records?
[IB] Yes, I saw his tweet!
[CC] How aware were you that your public persona of Adriano Shaplin might possibly be found on YouTube and Google?
[IB] Yes, even more so when I started doing my show “Isme & Amy”. I knew that once I started doing those video shows that it would be even easier to “dox” me if someone so desired. [CC Notes: This show is where I found confirmation that Isme was spoofing himself as the RealClearCider character.]
[CC] Were you expecting it, dreading it, or loving it, Isme?
[IB] I felt all three of those things at different times. I was expecting it, especially since people have written to me privately since July saying “Yo, yo, yo — I found your legal name.” I dreaded it only because it can be annoying to have people say “you’re fake”, “your wife is fake”, or “your baby is fake” etc., and I knew that if some people found out that I’ve worked as an actor that it would become “evidence” that I’m not being real on KaF.
[CC] How would you define your personal borders in relation to your Isme character’s boundaries?
[IB] I don’t think of Isme as a character at all. It’s me. At most, it’s like the difference between your personalities when you wear a party dress versus when you’re wearing sweatpants. Different moods, different vibes, but the same person.
Most of the photos that have been released of me currently are pictures of me wearing costumes for various roles I’ve played. I was actually paid to wear those costumes. I’ve never been paid to wear dresses and those dresses are not a costume. They are things I own, and I like to wear, because I am gender non-binary. I am not transgendered. I identify as gender-fluid. I’ve always wanted to wear women’s clothing, but I’m also comfortable in men’s clothing. I feel comfortable both ways.
It is true that when I’m “on cam” I have a desire to “look my best” and for me, that means wearing dresses. I know many people (including you, Clear) think I look better in men’s clothing but, hey, it’s all a matter of personal preference. Isme IS ME. I’ve never lied on KAF.
[CC] Looking back on it all, what do you walk away with from this, Kelly?
[KF] The most surprising thing I learned about the man playing Isme is that he is insecure, and he needs a lot of attention. Looking back at it all, I am sorry I wasted anytime at all talking with Isme. He may be an excellent writer, and possibly has excellent command of the English language, but he doesn’t have any real people skills and has no real class. But, Claire said it best; he is a self-absorbed, morally bankrupt, human being. I’m glad he’s insecure. He’s been very hurtful.
I cannot stand him! Lol
[CC] With the birth of your son, Vernon, do you feel compelled to take a break from or barrel through new creative boundaries, Isme?
[IB] Vernon makes me more focused. As I said to Elisa, I’m never satisfied artistically. I’m always pushing forward, always revising my work, always trying new things. I also enjoy doing A LOT of different things: I write plays, I act, I’ve worked with dance companies, I teach, and I do a lot of sound design for live performance. In short, I do too much, and I constantly revise and remix my own work. Vern makes my time that much more precious and, of course, makes me gravitate toward higher paying work.