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#14: How Not to Get Doxxed
One of the guys just asked me for a quick social media audit in response to this:
So here’s what I told him.
Assess your risk.
You can use the following formula to determine how likely you are to be a target of a doxx attempt:
[Your influence on Twitter] × [Your influence IRL] × [How spicy your takes are]
If you’ve got less than a hundred followers and you work at a call center, you can probably get pretty wild on Twitter without too much trouble. But if you’re a cop, or a doctor, or a congressman, even a small account can be a liability. Likewise, I have friends who are pretty gently right-wing, but because they have huge followings online and pretty high-visibility careers, they have to be careful.
Yes, obviously, burn your account if it was ever attached to your real name or any personal details.
If anyone ever replied to you using your old handle, even if you deleted all your old tweets, it’s pretty easy to trace back. This is the lowest of low-hanging fruit, the first thing a doxxer will look for.
This works so often because people build audiences slowly over time, their views get slowly weirder over time, and the political consequences get slowly more severe — so lots of popular accounts started this way, and it kills them to think of starting over.
I saw this coming myself, and I made a conscious decision to take the risk, because I felt that what I was doing online was more important than my job. That may or may not be true for you, but count the cost.
Don’t come back with the same “brand” (avatar, bio, similar username).
Don’t announce that you’re back. Don’t ask friends to boost you in the DMs. The more connections you tie back to your old identity, the more useless the exercise becomes. You may have three friends you trust, but each of them has three friends they trust, and so on.
Don’t post photos.
It’s unlikely that these will be used as primary ID, but they make very compelling parallel construction, to give the doxxers cover to release details that they learned illicitly. Pictures of you can be used to match tattoos, birthmarks, hair patterns, etc. Pictures of the interior or exterior of your home can be matched to Zillow. Pictures of geographic features can be matched to GIS data.
The doxxers will claim they used Machine Learning to analyze the drag coefficient of your roof shingles. That’s nonsense — in most cases they got you from a detail you leaked in a group chat — but once they match your Zillow listing to a photo on your Twitter account, it doesn’t really matter.
If you’ve got anything worthwhile to say, you’re going to get made.
The biggest opsec challenge for good writers is that they can’t help being good writers: they have novel, striking things to say, that only they would say. They have niche obsessions: a reading list and a set of priorities as recognizable as a fingerprint. The world of Good Takes is pretty small — so if you’ve deployed real talent in any capacity associated with your real name, including a graduate thesis, you’re probably toast.
(There are at least two famous poasters who took extraordinary pains with their opsec, including religious use of VPN and absolute silence on personal details, who were doxxed in this way.)
Ultimately, if you’re worth doxxing, you’re going to get doxxed. Our enemies work hard to neutralize anyone talented, influential, and articulate, anyone with responsibilities and something to lose. We started EXIT to bring those men together, and build something that they can’t attack. Join us at exitgroup.us.