A comment on doxing, doxxing in the housing debate

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There have been a number of cases of “doxing” by anonymous (and sometimes not-so-anonymous) individuals and groups on social media in the context of debates about housing policy. It is time to shed a light on it. Perhaps one solution is peer pressure to keep others’ online behaviour fair and reasonable.

For people unfamiliar with this term, here is an excerpt from Wikipedia.

Doxing (from dox, abbreviation of documents) or doxxing is the Internet-based practice of researching and broadcasting private or identifiable information (especially personally identifiable information) about an individual or organization.

The methods employed to acquire this information include searching publicly available databases and social media websites (like Facebook), hacking, and social engineering. It is closely related to Internet vigilantism and hacktivism. Doxing may be carried out for various reasons, including to aid law enforcement, business analysis, risk analytics, extortion, coercion, inflict harm, harassment, online shaming, and vigilante justice.

Generally the cases of the most aggressive approach have being taken by people associated with the supply-side argument, which aligns closely with the development industry. In at least one case in the past several years, the connection even traced right back to a high level at City Hall.

Especially in the case of controversial developments, policies, rezonings, and public hearings, we have noticed that the pattern of grassroots volunteers or spokespersons being targeted, sometimes rather maliciously, with personal information being posted online for further circulation by other anonymous accounts, followed by nasty commentary.

Ultimately, the process can work both ways, and generally, that is not a nice way to have a constructive discussion. If you find yourself in group involved in doxing others, we encourage you to apply some peer pressure to keep colleagues’ online behaviour ethical and reasonable. It seems that within a given group, others probably know the true identity behind “anonymous” accounts.

As CityHallWatch has been documenting since 2010, we have witnessed systematic failures that have resulted in today’s problems of housing affordability in the Metro Vancouver region.  A lot of people are frustrated and angry. Many are suspicious of others’ motives. Public discussion and dialogue are crucial processes to search for solutions.

(All of this is a topic for further coverage in the future. To be updated and continued.)


A tip from @Lidsville

When people you know are doxxing someone, do you correct some of the inflated lies in the doxxing, thinking you’re defending the target of the attack? No. You tell your doxxing “friends” to knock it off immediately, and distance yourself…


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