The Lexington, Virginia, restaurant that kicked out White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday night instantly became the target of online harassment and conspiracy theories, and things have escalated quickly: Owner Stephanie Wilkinson is being doxxed, with users posting her home address and phone number on various message boards and social media platforms.
As Vox explains, “Doxxing is a common internet practice used to punish or shame someone and is a particularly common practice among the alt-right and other white supremacist organizations who operate online in places like Reddit, 4chan, and Twitter.” Last year, Reddit shut down three popular alt-right subreddits due to their members repeatedly engaging in doxxing.
Posting someone’s personal identifying information online is fraught with obvious danger, with victims often reporting relentless phone and text harassment. Doxxing is also sometimes accompanied by something called swatting, which is when someone uses information obtained from doxxing to report an emergency to police, with the intent of creating a real-life run-in with law enforcement for the victim. Amazingly, doxxing is in many cases perfectly legal.