What is doxxing? How to keep children safe

The meaning of doxxing or doxing relates to targeting users' personal information

Doxxing, or doxing, is a scary problem that can put your family members and their real identity in danger. However, there are things you can do to stay safe. Colette Bernard from Pixel Privacy worked with us to explain what you need to know.

What is doxxing?

Doxxing means someone on the internet has posted private information about someone else for the world to see. This information is personally identifiable and therefore sensitive. As such, someone can use it to figure out who someone really is, where they live and how to contact them. Being doxxed is a form of cyberbullying.

The information can be the victim’s real name, home address, phone number, email address, photos or other personal information.

Doxxing definitions and terms

To help you understand the definition of doxxing, we’ve put together some common terms used alongside it.

Data brokers

People or companies which sell information they collect about other people. They may sell these pieces of information on the dark web.


These are informal terms referring to the attacker (doxxer) and the victim (doxxed).


Emails or other means to steal personal information. Clicking on suspicious links is one way doxxers phish victims. Learn more about phishing with advice from ESET.


The term dox is slang for documents (docs). Then, doxxing or ‘dropping dox’ means sharing personal documents of someone.

Packet sniffing

This is when doxxers use your internet data to find passwords, credit card numbers, bank account information and more.


A search engine that doxxers might use to find personally identifiable information about someone.

Is doxxing illegal?

The term dox or doxxing is not named as illegal. However, if someone doxxes another person, they might break other laws.

For instance, the Protection from Harassment Act (1997) makes it illegal to harass someone else. Other laws that could be broken exist in the Communications Act of 2003 and the Malicious Communications Act of 1988. Law enforcement may act on these specific laws but not necessarily doxxing itself.

Social media platforms may also have their own rules against it. One example includes Reddit, which has faced criticism about users doxxing others and therefore implemented rules against it.

How to prevent it

One of the best things you can do to prevent a doxxing attack is to talk to them about it. Teach them what doxxing is and how it can harm them. These conversations help them know not to tell anyone their real name, share pictures of themselves online or tell anyone about which school they go to or what grade they’re in.

  • Make sure they use a strong password and have a different one for every social media or gaming account
  • Help them come up with a fake name to use on the internet and in an email address
  • Make sure to hide all personal information on your child’s social media or gaming accounts
  • Social media apps, such as Snapchat, use location services to find out where users connect from. Make sure to turn off location services in the device’s settings to prevent a doxxer from tracking your child’s location
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to prevent doxxers from finding out which IP address your child connects from.

What to do if someone targets your child

If the worst happens and someone shares your child’s true name, address or more, there are things you can do:

  • Take a screenshot or otherwise record the doxxing post
  • Contact the website or app’s customer service agents to see if they can remove the post
  • Delete your child’s social media and gaming accounts to protect them where absolutely necessary
  • If you think your child is in immediate danger, call the police to find out how they can help
  • If you think a law has been broken, call law enforcement to help.

Actions if your child targets someone else

Sometimes children don’t understand the consequences of their actions. As such, they may not understand that putting their friend or other person’s personal information online puts them at risk.

Talk to your child about the dangers of doxxing, not only for their own safety but for the safety of their friends.

If you find out your child has doxxed someone else, go onto their online account and take the post down immediately to protect the safety of whoever it is they doxxed.

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