Social Autopsy: Doxing?
By no means this is going to be comprehensive of everything as it’s an ongoing story. Maybe I’ll keep doing this for other subjects too (e.g., on anonymity and trolling), if it helps clear the airs. It’s already clear that there are various parties involved here that want to spread bad information, push agendas, and manipulate the story to the way they want it. This is especially true with the constant push connecting this to #GamerGate when there isn’t much of one to begin with — most of the overlap has been independent interests from people who use the internet a lot and understand it better. Anyone reading or writing about the story should be skeptical and cautious over why the story is being pushed into that field. As for my personal opinion, I’ve voiced my dislike in satire. I just also don’t like deceitful messes.
Social Autopsy is —
While there have been some findings of early reports in the database, most of the discussion is not about what currently is or isn’t there. It’s all about what people expect will and will not be there. This seems to be a point worth making to begin with because a lot of what’s being stated is in the present tense and there’s a huge difference between something you expect and something that is.
Social Autopsy will be a doxing site!
The site will be used for dox, both posting and finding.
The site itself does not dox.
Two things need to be stated first:
1) What “doxing” means in this context.
2) What has been explained to Social Autopsy.
The CEO of Social Autopsy herself has admitted that she had never heard the term before. Considering this is supposed to be used as an anti-bullying platform, that claim is ridiculous. Still, let’s assume that this is true and we’re dealing with a complete newcomer who is completely ignorant but wants to help. This means that for some reason, “doxing” has not been explained by so-called experts as if it had I doubt I’d be writing this. This answers 2).
To answer 1), I need to explain a few things. First, this is not the context of illegal doxing (credit cards, bank information) but the more colloquial usage. This has been in use since at least 2011, the date of the most popular Urban Dictionary definition. Personally I like the definition at KnowYourMeme as the practice does not need to be internet-based (so Wikipedia is out, sorry UN):
Doxing, sometimes spelled as Doxxing, refers to the practice of investigating and revealing a target subject’s personally identifiable information, such as home address, workplace information and credit card numbers, without consent. The word is derived from “docs,” which is a shortened term for “documents.”
Again, credit card info isn’t relevant, but the rest is. There are two components here: gathering information, releasing information. When most talk of doxing, both components are necessary. There’s certain circumstances where just the first may give cries of “this person was doxed!” (e.g., a stalker) but generally unless the personal information is directly acted upon, it would simply remain research data that nobody knows was gathered. There are other definitions that focus more on just the gathering, but for the purposes of this piece it doesn’t matter as here’s what Social Autopsy asks for:
City and state
Any schools attended
Any social media account
All of these may be considered personally identifiable information, especially with the combination of name, picture, employer, and schools. As a result, Social Autopsy provides a central place to gather the data on its platform and by searching a name, company, or organization gives the releases of that data. To anyone who has one of those key identifiers. Finally, I should make one point of clarity: Personally identifiable information is not the same as private information. It’s true that most of the information above can be found in public channels, such as a Linkedin resume and a personal Facebook. This is not a divide or issue in any definition used.
So why, despite all this, would I say it’s only mostly true?
Because being used as a dumping ground for dox does not mean it is a site that doxes. I admit that this is a bit of a loophole but it’s an important distinction to point out: this place does not investigate personal information, it merely provides a place to put it. The biggest key distinction between Social Autopsy and other sites like pastebin is that while the latter can be used like that, it is not their intent to be a dumping ground. Here it is and the search helps that.
Social Autopsy will be doxing minors!
But in the original claim, this was mostly true.
With the above explained, there was little preventing the dox of a person under 18 as there was no verification for that in place. This is made worse by what the CEO said which can be seen around the 4 minute mark, or in this clip here.
Yes, the CEO did say that minors were a target audience she’d like.
Yes, she did not make any sense when she said minors don’t apply to college or jobs considering they’re literally the main people who do the former and those who don’t go into the latter.
No, that does not mean that this will actually happen. They’ve been receptive on this talking point and have pulled the reigns back on this. In no unclear terms, we have been told there is division on this viewpoint and until further notice, no minors. This again is why it’s important to establish that any claim should be in the future tense, not the present. I still leave this at “mostly false” because while there is realistically no reliable way to prevent this there is a clear statement that it is not what the site is for and is something explicitly not allowed. It’ll remain to be seen what’s done.