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Doxxing defense: Remove your personal info from data brokers

Ken Gagne | Nov. 21, 2014
Many women gamers and developers, as well as those who support them, havelately come under attack from online trolls. A common intimidation tactic that trolls use is "doxxing," or publicly exposing their targets' personal details, including home address, phone number and even financial records.

But that's not all: On the next screen you must enter a Recaptcha code, check a couple of disclaimer boxes and click Continue. And isn't above upselling you during this free process. On the final opt-out screen, don't let the service gouge you $49.95 for a copy of your background report.


Opt-out form:

Verification needed: Email address

Promised turnaround time: Typically 48 hours; some take up to 10 business days

My opt-out result: Effective

PeekYou relies more on social media networks than on phone directories for its information, but it still helps tie together one's discrete identities into a single profile. You'll need to use the site's main search to find your profile's URL, such as, and copy its numerical string (352169778) into the opt-out form, along with your name and email address. You'll have the choice to delist your age or your entire profile. A reason for removal is also required, though this can be as vague as "other."

Final words

Unfortunately, opting out is not a one-time process. "Even though you've opted out, these sites may refresh their data from new information that comes in," says Stephens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Anytime your phone number or address changes or your information becomes available from a new broker, your details may propagate to services you've previously opted out of. One need look no further than the fine print at for an example, as the site warns: "Whitepages continuously discovers new information, so please check back regularly to make sure your information is shown correctly."

But such vigilance can help avoid even worse outcomes. Few people are more familiar with the consequences of being doxxed than independent game developer Zoe Quinn, who was doxxed in August and has since tolerated months of threats and harassment. Her recent Tumblr post "What To Expect When You're Expecting (the internet to ruin your life)" offers additional advice for obscuring private data, including removing your WHOIS info, checking your Facebook privacy settings, changing your security questions and enabling two-factor authentication.

It's almost impossible to remove all traces of your existence from the Internet — but with these steps, you can at least feel safer in your own home.


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