Doxing is an internet term with an evil overtone that covers a variety of events from having just your name and location revealed to having your banking information, credit cards and social security number posted online. Anonymity is part of the appeal of the internet and being doxed is perceived as victimization whereas in many cases it is more accurately the cyber equivalent of a citizen’s arrest. While it can happen to anyone it mostly happens to certain types of people: Public figures.
A public figure is defined as “anyone who has gained prominence in the community as a result of his or her name or exploits, whether willingly or unwillingly” and, as such, has lost privacy, being “only protected by knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth by anyone writing about them.” Outside of provable intentional misrepresentation of facts, a public figure has no recourse.
When discussing individuals rights we can’t eliminate those which aren’t convenient at the time – we must look at all the rights as a unified body. Censorship on the internet is actually a more important issue than anonymity and one that carries more weighted concern. There is good reason for that.
While freedom of speech is the right that most internet users scream about, they decry freedom of the press, which grants other users the right to react and discuss your speech. Having the right to an opinion does not make your opinion right. While people are perfectly correct that they can go online and make videos or write opinions as they see fit, they must also accept that others have the right to disagree or take offence.
You don’t have to break a law to get doxed, you just have to do or say something interesting.
The more videos you post and the more opinions you express, the larger the body of work, and then the more likelihood you qualify as a public figure. This is not up for debate. People need to understand that the internet is not some private “Dear Diary” with a key to the lock hidden in your underwear drawer. Your underpants are strewn about the internet on a laundry line stretching from Facebook all the way back to a random comment you made on a news article ten years ago. Not everyone uses bleach.
The right to anonymity is only a protection against government demands for private information from servers, it does not protect you from other private citizens investigating and discovering your identity when they follow the laundry line.
According to police, “private info is legal as long as not used to threaten, steal identity, or access private emails.” It’s not enough to feel threatened, because that’s subjective, the threat has to be specific and show real malice or intention of violence. In most cases of internet doxing, the “victim” is actually only the “victim” of their own words.
If someone posted my name and address after I said something innocuous nobody, including myself, would care. The main threat to having your name doxed is when you’ve said something that can get you fired. If you are worried about getting fired for what you are about to type, don’t type it. This is a concern for most members of the MHRM as what we do and say here is considered hate speech by many.
In a movement that needs to expand and grow, it would beneficial to assure people that they will never be doxed but it’s a promise no one can make. Paul Elam has assured members that he will go to jail before handing over IP addresses or private information on members to police or government. The privacy laws actually do protect individual sites but no single site can hide your dirty laundry if you’ve pegged it all over the internet.
The platform for free speech online, whether you blog or post videos or create a profile on any type of social media site, needs to be approached with a healthy, realistic perspective. Every time the “upload” or “publish” button is clicked it becomes part of the worldwide press. It stops being private information and becomes public material unless you set the information as private. Make sure you use bleach if you don’t want to get attention.
Most people writing or vlogging are doing so to make a public statement. If anonymity is crucial then the publisher should avoid saying anything important, offensive, or funny enough to go viral. The tough part is that we can’t always know what is going to go viral. Make no mistake, every time you post something online you take a risk of becoming a limited public figure.
A basic guideline to consider is that those who have ‘thrust themselves to the forefront of particular public controversies in order to influence the resolution of the issues involved” are making themselves public figures. We need more public figures in the MHRM who are willing to use their real names, who are willing to show their faces on youtube videos and show that we are serious. We can not be dismissed as cowards. We are not just throwing stones then running to hide behind a bush.
Not everyone is ready to publish their own names and it’s a serious decision to make. You have to think it through and make an informed choice. If you are not ready, don’t do it. Some will decide to never do it, which is an equally dignified decision. If you are not prepared to be recognized, don’t put your face on youtube. If and when you are ready, you’re still going to struggle when you get negative attention so have your tools prepared and your Stuart Smalley videos preloaded.
One of the hottest topics of contention on AVfM involves doxing. The publishing of personal information about foes of the MHRM reminds members that it can happen to them too.
John Hembling’s article about Krista Milburn received over 650 comments in three days. There were differing reasons given by those who objected to the doxing but the fact remains that Krista published a body of work which she acknowledges is aggressive, has resulted in many followers, and prescribes a social change to the world we all share. She made choices which garnered her the exact type of attention she sought: to be a cult leader. In her reply on that article, she claimed to be receiving unwanted attention but bragged about how many followers she has and clarified her intentions with information that she is writing a book. Krista Milburn is a public figure.
AVfM is regularly criticized, from within and without, for maintaining a site called register-her.com which is a wiki site that lists and identifies women found guilty of specific types of crimes. The only ambiguous category on the wiki is bigot, which the site defines as “used to designate individuals whose active ideology is one that results in socially inflicted harm on men and/or boys in the general population.” All of the information on register-her.com was acquired using legal methods of search.
The list of bigots includes celebrities, lobbyists, mainstream writers/bloggers, and visible activists. It caused a stir when young feminist protestors were added to the list after attending a protest against a seminar about men’s issues. These women chose to go in public and make statements and accusations in front of cameras without shielding their faces and in a manner that intended to garner public attention. As a result they became public figures.
In general, the feminists that are doxed by AVfM are women who make a living, or seek to make a living, by promoting hatred, intolerance, injustice, or violence against men and boys. Having their real names published for this behaviour, whether they’ve chosen to or not, does not interfere with their lives because women don’t get fired for saying that men are evil. Members of the MHRM do not have the same luxury. The criticism against doxing feminists is that they might be stalked or threatened as a result. That is also a risk they take whenever they post online.
There has been a lot of recent mainstream media hype over the perceived threats received by women who use the internet. It’s not just women who receive this type of harassment. The internet is loved for its lack of regulation but is hated for the results of that same freedom. The pros and cons can be weighed by each individual who chooses to use this platform of free speech. “Be nice” is not yet a law.
For MHRAs, just being a member of an organization or activist group does not make you a public figure. As the membership grows so does the movement and all of you are valuable whether you get on a soapbox and make speeches or just applaud from the corner of the room. The more people we have who are willing to take that risk and become a public figure the faster we will see results but it is never advisable to do something foolish. Match your level of activism to the level of exposure you are willing to risk.
And stop feeling sorry for these stupid twits who think they can hide behind tears when someone holds them responsible for their actions.
- Krista Milburn
- Vanja Krajina
- Sophia Guo
- Emma Kadey
- Emma Claire
- Elin Danielson
- Emma Örn
- Johan Wik
- Matilda Bordin
- Pamela O’Shaunessy
- The Agent Orange files
Editor’s note: feature image by Andrei! . –PW
Editors note: This post reflects the opinion of the author. It is not an editorial policy position statement from AVFM management.