Oh, A Doxxing We Will Go!

Actually, let’s not.  Doxxing is rude.  Oh, what’s that?  You have a question?  Ah, of course!  I need to explain what doxxing is. While I’m at it I may as well talk about some other Internet terminology.  It helps to be prepared, because you never know when some sockpuppet’s viral meme will make you fall for clickbait.

Cat in a box
No post about the Internet is complete without a picture of a cat. Here is Beavis in a box.


Simply put, clickbait is when a website attempts to lure you into clicking on a link by giving it an incomplete or tantalizing headline.  This is done by many sites, and for differing reasons.  Sometimes a news site does so do to limited space for the headline.  Often entertainment sites do it because getting you to click on their links helps them generate advertising revenue.  And sometimes it is done just to catch your eye and try to get your attention.

Let’s make up some examples:

“Tom Cruise in trouble again”.  Why is he in trouble? You’ll have to click the link to find out (and to possibly discover he isn’t really in trouble at all).

“15 foods you won’t believe are bad for you!” These sort of lists are everywhere, and about everything.  And believe it or not, you probably will believe some of those foods are bad for you.  Assuming you make it through the list, which probably requires multiple clicks and seeing tons of advertising.

“Oh, a doxxing we will go”.  Seems familiar…our blog titles are often done so as to pique your interest.  Did it work?

Clickbait is always going to be there, and like many things some is good, some is bad, and much is meaningless. If you are entertained by those endless lists of things, go ahead and click away. Experience will be your main method of determining if it is worth it.  And keep in mind, many of the sites that do those lists are designed for mobile device use.

One more thing.  You can hover your mouse over a link before clicking on it to (usually) see where the link leads.  This can help you decide if you want to click on it or not.


To dox someone is to publish their personal information online, such as their home address, phone number, real name (if they are online anonymously), where they work, their social security number, or other things.  It is generally done maliciously, often it retaliation for the victim posting something that the doxxer disagreed with.

If you dox someone these ladies will take your computer apart.
If you dox these ladies will take apart your computer.

An example is when actress Felicia Day was doxxed after she publicly commented about GamergateRecently there have been examples of doxxing done, allegedly, for good, such as Anonymous doxxing members of the KKK.


Most of us think of a meme as an image with a humorous caption on it.  But technically not only does a meme not require a caption but it doesn’t have to be an image at all.  Videos and hashtags can also be considered memes.

Clickbait meme, FTW!
Clickbait meme, FTW!


A hashtag, denoted by the # sign, is way to label or tag something on the Internet to enable others to find it.  For example if you wanted to talk about the show Downton Abbey online you might put #downtonabbey in your post, which would help other fans of the show find it.  A hashtag that I like is #SupportYourLibrary.  You can also rent Downton Abbey DVDs from the library, of course.


When some type of meme, usually a video clip, gains popularity on the Internet without any commercial backing or advertising, it is said to have gone viral. Sometimes these are just personal videos done for fun, and others may become newsworthy. Maybe we can make this one go viral. It was taken in my kitchen.


One dark and stormy night, as you crawl through the scary Internet, it happens! A box pops up telling you that your computer is at risk, and if you don’t purchase and download this particular security software then your surfing days might be over!

Spoiler alert: it will always find an infection.
Spoiler alert: it will always find an infection.

Scareware comes in two general varieties.  One is advertising done is such a way as to “scare” you into purchasing a product.  The product might be legitimate and effective, but the selling technique is distasteful.  The other variety is an actual computer virus, aimed at getting your money by forcing you to buy the software (or else your computer does not work properly), or by using the virus to steal your information.  In either case, my advice is to stay well away from them.  Anytime you see any message like this do a search about it on the Internet and see what it is really about.


A shill is someone who is paid to spread certain information on the Internet.  Since “being paid to talk to people on the Internet” isn’t usually a real job, shill is often used as a pejorative against those of differing opinions.  For instance, if I were to say that there is no evidence linking autism to vaccines, someone might accuse me of being a shill for Big Pharma.


On Facebook you have to use your real name.  But most websites allow you to use any name you wish. Hence the sockpuppet, a second account (or third, or fourth…) that someone uses to bolster their position or to avoid being identified.  For instance a poster who has been banned from a site may try create a new account with a different name.



Now, I wish I could point you towards a book that has this information in it, but we don’t have one.  Truth be told, Internet terminology changes so frequently that it doesn’t lend itself well to book format.  So if you come across a term you are not familiar with, do a search for it and you should find plenty of good examples and explanations.

And don’t forget that many of the Fontana Regional libraries offer computer classes which can help you with not only terminology but many other things as well.  Visit our website for class dates and times.