Detoxifying Dox: WikiLeaks Announces Twitter Info Sharing Plans

Denver Post
Freedom of information has long been a great excuse to have a dig at people (no pun intended). After all, a good storyteller can build whatever kind of narrative they choose, provided they're careful with inclusion and omission of data. Indeed, it's partly from this standpoint that the term 'doxxing' (also 'doxing') first emerged on Reddit.
  • dox (doks) verb. - to collect information relating to an individual and release it freely online. Derived from the abbreviation of "[dropping] documents". Used pejoratively. 

That's the original definition of the term, at least. But, as the Economist points out, journalists have nowadays co-opted the phrase, reinterpreting and redefining it to refer simply to investigative reporting in a more general sense. In essence, the word is now used in a less pejorative way by the media.

However, with this week's announcement by WikiLeaks that it will be pursuing new avenues of information liberation, it seems the power to define the term is being returned to the Redditors - by journalists themselves, no less. Well, it's clear why ...

This week, WikiLeaks' Twitter page briefly flashed with a tweet claiming that the whistleblowing organisation (which has swift become a force for keeping the public informed of the information which it deems to be relevant ... much like a media outlet, but let's not go there) would be compiling an online database of all 'verified' Twitter accounts, with their "family/job/housing/financial relationships."
As tech news site Recode was quick to note, the list of Twitter's verified users "includes a ton of journalists, politicians and activists." No wonder various arms of the media are now quickly denouncing the move in the language Redditors originally intended. 

The tweet was swiftly deleted by WikiLeaks; but the controversy had already begun. 

In an attempt to justify the idea, WikiLeaks stated its aim was "to develop a metric to understand influence networks based on proximity graphs." Which makes sense; after all, the whole ethos underlying Assange's project is to expose corrupt and scandalous underbellies. It's most likely the intention was to use such information to help WikiLeaks substantiate an elaborate picture of the networks which exists between certain shady, powerful individuals.

However, the process would also involve a big stripping-back of the privacy of many influential people - including journalists. And that's got them spooked.

So, we arrive at the least important albeit funniest aspect of the story - the fact that the word is being redefined! Aha, what fun.

Right, I'm off to set up a private server in my basement and delete all my public profiles.

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