Facebook has come a long way since its inception. Originally, Facebook was primarily used to stay in touch with friends and family. While that is still its major function today, the site has expanded. Today Facebook allows users to connect with like-minded individuals around the world, run their business, and be content creators. No matter the main function of a user’s Facebook, in the end, it allows them to connect with other people.
Never before has the digital space been so connected. For most, social media is an integral part of their lives. Anything from a cup of coffee, a job promotion, or showing off their dream wedding in Thailand becomes part of their timeline or story. Unfortunately, a negative side-effect that can arise is doxxing. This article will inform you how you can avoid this issue.
What are the Different Forms of Doxxing?
Doxxing is the act of publicly revealing private information–often highly sensitive–about a person, organization, business, etc. usually through the internet. Doxxing can come in many forms and in recent years has become a major issue on Facebook.
Doxxing is generally used for financial harm, political reasons, harassment, and exploitation. Whether it’s someone feeling the wrath of a vindictive ex or an entire political party, anyone can become a victim. Examples of doxxing may include:
- Releasing a person’s private photos.
- Releasing a person’s place of employment.
- Releasing private conversations (such as emails or texts).
- Releasing phone numbers, addresses, family information, etc.
Doxxing can happen to anyone and may even be the result of having your computer or phone hacked. While it may not be possible to avoid every instance of doxxing there are some methods that can help. Such methods will help you avoid being doxxed on Facebook.
Limiting Your Posts on Facebook
There are many ways that you can limit your posts on Facebook. Doing so will ensure you’re not sharing the wrong information to the wrong people. While it’s commonplace to share every update on Facebook, reducing what you post is the best strategy. Even information that’s posted privately or to a limited number of friends is susceptible to hacking. As such, sensitive information like your location and family issues is better kept off Facebook.
Limiting Past Posts on Facebook
Given that many people have been on Facebook for years, there’s a good chance that you might have posts from years back you would like to limit. Whether due to sensitive information, opinions that no longer reflect you, or your music taste from high school, there are a couple of ways to limit your past posts.
The first way is to do an audit of your profile. You can easily scroll through your profile and delete any posts or change their privacy settings. If this is too much work you can also limit all your old posts. By setting them to the feature, “Only Me” they will become completely private.
Lastly, for more recent activity, you can also go to your activity log. Your activity log is located in “Settings” under “Your Information” and will show any recent activity from posts you’ve made. This activity includes page likes, comments, recently added friends, etc. Here you can easily undo any activity with a quick tap of the finger or a mouse-click.
Avoid Doxxing With a Private Profile
Of course, being able to share precious moments from your life is a major appeal of Facebook. No one should have to feel unsafe posting their significant other or a major life milestone. To do so with caution, however, requires having the right privacy settings. Thankfully, Facebook allows you to make any post private or only accessible to a small friends list.
Additionally, there are many other ways to make your profile information private. Employment history, family members, what groups you are part of, contact information, pages you like, etc., can all be set to private. Having your profile completely private will dramatically reduce the risk of being doxxed as it’ll be secured from prying eyes.
You can also control which friends can tag you in a status and who can post on your timeline. Another feature is to configure your settings so that your profile can’t be found by people searching your email or phone number.
Limit Who Can Message You
While doxxing may refer to an anonymous hacker tracking down your IP address, it can also refer to someone gaining sensitive information from you by other means. People who doxx may message you and play with your emotions or try to blackmail you. Like scammers, they can pretend to be someone they’re not.
While Facebook has some general measures to eliminate the risks of strangers contacting you (such as message requests), there are also more advanced methods. Facebook allows you to optimize your settings so that no strangers can message you, add you as a friend, or follow you.
Avoiding Toxic Communities
It’s also good practice to avoid toxic comment sections on pages, groups, posts, etc. Although healthy debates can be great and there are plenty of groups and pages on Facebook devoted to intellectual conversation, this isn’t always the case. In addition to many places being insular and essentially echo chambers, trolls can be abundant as well.
Sometimes a person’s goal isn’t to debate at all, but to agitate the other person. Such agitation may only be for their own entertainment. Other times it can be to pick a victim to doxx. While it can be tempting to argue with someone–especially if their opinion is greatly uniformed and/or incendiary–you should know how to pick your battles.
Debating a level-headed person in a private group that seeks to foster intellectual discussions? Probably not an issue. Debating someone on a public page who is most likely trolling? Not a good idea. Either ignore or report their comments (depending on their content) and move on.
Avoiding Arguments with Friends
Unfortunately, political issues can polarize and enrage people who otherwise are level-headed. This can include friends as well. While you may not have a personal issue with someone, you may want to avoid certain discussions. Even if you believe your friend wouldn’t doxx you due to a chaotic disagreement, it’s always possible that someone on their friend’s list may try to.
If avoiding an argument is too difficult, you can unfriend or block them. If you would like to avoid unfriending or blocking someone, choosing to unfollow their posts can also be a solution. Coupled with having a customized friends list on certain posts, you can greatly prevent comment sections from spiraling out of control.
Use These Strategies to Avoid Being Doxxed on Facebook
Doxxing comes in many forms and can happen to anyone. While there may not be a way to completely avoid being doxxed on Facebook, there are some strategies that mitigate the risks. Strategies such as limiting who can see your posts and private information, limiting who can friend you and message you, and avoiding toxic communities and people can go a long way to prevent doxxing on Facebook.