January 23, 2014

My WOTY (Word of the Year) vote: doxx

So, I have been thinking about what would have been my WOTY (word of the year) choice. I felt rather meh about the ADS choice, "because," because it is neither a word nor particularly zeitgeisty.
Selfie" (which I wrote about here) seems a better choice, but it is also a tad trivial. But when I read the cover story in the New York Times Magazine this weekend ("The Online Avengers: Are antibullying activists the saviors of the Internet — or just a different kind of curse?"), there it was: my WOTY, the verb "to doxx." You've never heard of doxxing? Here's what it means:
Expose someone's true identity, usually a name or address. It's one of the scummiest things someone can do on the internet. (Urban Dictionary)
The article is about "OpAntiBully," a group of activists who consider themselves a resource for victims of bullying. Their activism reaches from offering informal counseling to victims to exposing the identity of the supposed perpetrators on the Internet. From the article:
This kind of outing, known as doxxing, involves scouring the Internet for personal data (or documents, the source of the word “doxx”) — like a person’s name, address, occupation, Twitter or Facebook profile — and then publicly linking that information to the perpetrator’s transgression. The process can be as simple as following a trail the target has left behind or it can involve tricking someone into revealing the password to a personal account or hacking into a website to obtain private information.
Not every case of doxxing involves public shaming (for example, there was nothing particularly shameful about Michelle Obama's credit card statements, which got posted online), but the ones they do seem rather zeitgeisty to me.

Edited to add: Can I change my mind to binge-watch?

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