I was 19 years old when I got doxxed and had my nudes dropped by the wife of my “in-game husband” in an MMO I was playing. I had NO idea he was married, in case you were wondering. This was back in 2000, and thankfully not everyone on the planet had a smartphone yet. Things could have been much worse. But it was bad enough.
She really put some effort into making sure that everyone saw this one picture of me naked in particular. Not only did she create a whole website dedicated to featuring my picture, she made sure to include my real name and phone number on the caption.
I cannot being to articulate how mortified and shell-shocked I was. I am a pretty shy person, really, and not only had I found out in the worst way possible that the guy I’d been cybering was married, now everyone had seen my nudes. The link to the website made its way around, and eventually I decided to change my phone number.
That was 16 years ago now, and it still affects me. I have a hard time trusting people online. Although I am very open about my life on my blog, it is a controlled environment where I get to choose what is shared and how. Losing that control and having the whole world (it felt like) see me was horrifying in a way I cannot put into words.
Eventually, my friends and I got the website host to remove the site, but of course by then everyone that had some malicious intent towards me had saved the picture. It’s never okay to drop someones nudes or porn without their consent. It is a huge violation of privacy and trust, and it broke my heart to see that another woman was capable of doing that to me.
Nowadays, things can go viral at a moment’s notice. When you are targeted by a group of trolls, there is very little that you can do to protect yourself. I am grateful that my experience was relatively benign. I wasn’t swatted. Nobody showed up at my house or ordered a million pizzas in my name. But I was violated nonetheless.
I can advise you not to take nudes, not to share personal, vulnerable information with people, but realistically, at some point trust is established. While getting catfished is a learning experience, in my experience there are more people that I have met online that have been real, authentic, and kind more-so than the malicious variety. Without the friends I had online, I could never have figured out how to get the site taken down.
I will say this, once your information is online, consider it out there forever. Be very careful with what you choose to share with the world. If you send it to one person, you’ve probably sent it to three, at least. People talk, and in this world of constant instant messaging, something can get to everyone you know in five minutes.
Be an honest person. Build people up instead of tearing them down. You never know what they’ve been through. If someone is going to be screenshotting my every word, I want those words to be true, and whenever possible, kind.