Anonymous || September 27, 2017
There are all sorts of websites that list your legal name, phone number and address. Of course there are benefits to these sites, much like there used to be a benefit to your local phone book before the internet, but for certain people, including sex workers and especially sex workers with extremely unique legal names or those who are involved in radical activism, this is dangerous.
It’s very important to control the information that is out there about you, no matter who you are, but especially in any of the above mentioned scenarios. All it takes is one chance encounter in public, an upset client, a vindictive ex, or a tech-savvy fire starter for your public information to become a valuable tool to seriously mess up your life. For more information on how right wing extremists stalk, dox, and harass read this article.
Dox yourself before someone else does
If you’ve done a search for yourself before, you can probably find tons of sites that list your name and address along with your phone number and information about who you are related to. There are 7-8 major websites that public this information and a number of smaller ones. I personally scour search results for my name alone and then “my name + address” about once every three months.
Most websites of this genre have an easy-to-find spot at the bottom of the site that will give you instructions for removal. For some sites you can just send them the URL of the page you want them to take down. For other sites you have to e-mail them and tell them which information you want removed. Some sites try to make you pay to have your information taken down, telling you that the information is readily available on Google anyways – but it’s only available because they and others like them have put it there! If there is any pushback, you may want to tell them that you do not want your rapist or abuser to find you. There’s no arguing with that one, and in my case, it was also true.
I’ve listed some of the major address listing sites you will want to keep your eye on, but new ones pop up all of the time, so you will want to do a Google search as well. I recommend searching in a Chrome incognito window because your previous search results in your usual browser will affect the results that come up, and you want to be shown what any random person would see.
Major public data raking sites:
- public records (by state)
Real estate websites:
Manage Your Images
If possible, try to control all images of yourself on the web, both work and non-work related. More and more facial recognition software is available to law enforcement and the public. Of course for many sex workers this is not possible, but at the very least everyone should understand the value of the face when it comes to identity. If someone matches an image of you to one that is out there for work or personal life that has your name with it, that’s all they need to expose you or your family.
For example, a former porn performer was doxxed by neo-nazis after having her mask ripped off at an action, and her real name, address, contact information and pornstar persona was outed, subjecting her to public ridicule and threats.
Things you can do to reduce doxxing by photo:
- don’t use the same photos (or photos that are very similar) for work and non-work online presence
- remove embedded location info from your photos
- wear a mask and cover identifying features at demonstrations
Additional Quick Tips for Anti-Doxxing
- do not link your phone number on any social media
- do not use your real name on any social media or in your social media URLs
- do not mark any response -going/not going/maybe- on Facebook invites to radical things, especially public events where confrontation with the alt-right or police is high. You can save events on Facebook without responding, which doesn’t add you to any lists. This still adds the event to your calendar on the site yet doesn’t give anyone as much information about your interest or plans to attend.
- lock down your social media accounts, making things only visible to yourself and trusted friends. Change your profile photo to something that isn’t obviously you.
- take action to prevent data mining
Scrubbing yourself from the web is pretty easy and it doesn’t cost anything. It’s just another step that SWs can take to protect themselves in this age of digital identity.