Doxing Does Not Equal Better Conversation

Doxing Does Not Equal Better Conversation_5fbedc040011e.jpeg
Better Conversation Doxing Valentina Korkes

Doxing Does Not Equal Better Conversation

Doxing Does Not Equal Better Conversation

I’ve written before about my love of social media as well as my concerns about it. I want it to be an enjoyable and constructive experience.

But it isn’t enjoyable or constructive when an honest debate is derailed by someone publishing and sharing personal information in a way that is meant to harass, intimidate, discredit and discourage honest participation. Very recently, this happened to me.

This act of publishing someone’s personal information and then wielding that information “in a threatening manner,” is called doxing—it’s a tactic used in the lowest places of the internet and is a cheap, easy way for harassers to undermine someone, most frequently women, and make them fearful.

Doxing has very real, very severe consequences—especially for women. And in this case it has left me feeling frustrated, violated and exposed.

It doesn’t matter if my information is easy to find online: the information was used to discredit me, to quiet me, to intimidate me.

It is sexist. It is harassment. It is unacceptable.

This isn’t nearly the first time that women in education have faced this kind of public harassment: New Jersey’s Assistant Commissioner Bari Anhalt-Erlichson and New Jersey superintendent Elizabeth Jewett were both doxed. Education writer Audrey Watters wrote about both of them, as well as her own experiences with doxing and “crowdsourced harassment.” Watters sums up my outrage best with this:

My god, education people. Are these your allies and role models? 4chan and Reddit? Is this the path education and ed-tech wants to take?

Watters rightly takes to task people in education who don’t see the trouble with sharing personal information—4chan and Reddit, notorious websites that, among other things, are places where sexism, misogyny, and worse run rampant, and are certainly not places to seek allies or role models.

I came to work for Education Post because I believe in a better conversation in education—not, as my critics have argued, because I’m a “corporate shill” or “mouthpiece.”

I believe in the benefits that accountability, great teaching and leadership, quality choice options, and rigorous standards and aligned assessments have provided for students. And I have also seen study after study lending support to these efforts.

But a better conversation is a two-way street: The people on the other side need to be willing to be better, too.

Regardless of which “side” of the debate you’re on, regardless of how passionate you feel about the cause, personal attacks and harassment are unacceptable.

If their idea of a “better” conversation is to try to intimidate me, harass me, or shut me up, I’m sorry to disappoint but it isn’t working.

For what it’s worth, we reached out to the individual who recently doxed me and asked him to take down the Facebook post that has my personal information in it. He refused. His refusal to accept that he’s done anything wrong by publishing my information is classic doxing behavior:

For harassers, the pathology behind doxing is about rationalizing oneself as “blameless” for pawning off personal information for others to harass with.

The person who paints a target on you might not be the one to act on it, but the message is clear: “I can’t be held responsible for what happens next.”

This isn’t the first time a woman in education has been doxed, and it probably won’t be the last. But by calling it out when it happens, we can do our part to mitigate it.

Valentina Korkes is the Deputy Director of Policy at Education Post.

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