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  • William Gunderson

Neighbors Trashing Neighbors - 'Doxing at the Local Level'


To ‘dox’ someone (verb) is “to publicly identify or publish private information about someone especially as a form of punishment or revenge” (Merriam-Webster). So-called ‘doxing’ (or 'doxxing') has increased in popularity since the late-90’s as a tool to silence dissenting opinions and discourage citizen engagement, creating a chilling effect on free speech.

While most agree that the act of doxing in and of itself is not illegal (particularly when it comes to publicly available information), doxing is a dangerous path which can contribute to other crimes – such as harassment, stalking, identify theft, or incitement of violence. It’s one thing to look up an elected official’s address via publicly available property records – it’s quite another to blast such information online with the idea of encouraging a mob to visit their homes to intimidate through actual or perceived physical interactions and threats.

Screenshot shows a Facebook post from some time in 2022. Courtesy of Facebook.

The most recent example of this behavior comes from a Lower Saucon Township citizen. In a recent post, the addresses of 4 of 5 Lower Saucon Council members were again published while readers were encouraged to express their opinions - that councilmembers have no expectation of privacy.

It’s not clear if this is illegal, perhaps there is not enough case law yet. But we all know this behavior is unacceptable in a civil society. There are countless hours of council meetings in which citizens can freely express their opinions. Public meeting minutes validate that anyone who has an opinion on Township business has ample opportunities to address the Council with concerns.

So, what purpose, other than to harass and incite action by others, is there to posting the addresses of neighbors online? Perhaps more disturbing is that there is a history of individuals using this information and encouraging others to act.

Countless public posts from Facebook over the past two years validate that these actions are not only ill-intentioned, but potentially harmful. Here are just a few examples of this behavior:

Another screenshot shows a Facebook post from some time in 2022. Courtesy of Facebook.

One poster said, “Hound them and bother

them 24 hours a day.”

Another even more aggressive poster declared, “Seems to me [redacted name] should be the 1 hung from a tree.”

These posts show the danger in using such misguided doxing tactics. Elected officials are public individuals and have no expectation to privacy – while in public. The public has regular and numerous opportunities to express its will to Council, in a public setting, under “normal rules of decorum.” To encourage others to visit their residence is a dangerous path – one that should not be tolerated in our community.



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