The methods employed to acquire this information include searching publicly available databases and social media websites (like Facebook), hacking, and social engineering. It is closely related to internet vigilantism and hacktivism.
|Look up dox in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
"Doxing" is a neologism that has evolved over its brief history. It comes from a spelling alteration of the abbreviation "docs" (for "documents") and refers to "compiling and releasing a dossier of personal information on someone". Essentially, doxing is openly revealing and publicizing records of an individual, which were previously private or difficult to obtain.
The term dox derives from the slang "dropping dox", which according to writer Mat Honan was "an old-school revenge tactic that emerged from hacker culture in 1990s". Hackers operating outside the law in that era used the breach of an opponent's anonymity as a means to expose opponents to harassment or legal repercussions.
As such, doxing often comes with a negative connotation, because it can be a vehicle for revenge via the violation of privacy.
Hackers and amateur detectives alike can harvest the information from the internet about individuals. There is no particular structure in place for doxing; a hacker may seek out any kind of information related to the target.
A basic Web search can yield results. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Linkedin offer a wealth of private information, because many users have high levels of self-disclosure (i.e. sharing their photos, place of employment, phone number, email address), but low levels of security. It is also possible to extrapolate a person's name and home address from a cell-phone number, through such services as reverse phone lookup.
In addition to these, a hacker may use other methods to harvest information. These include search by domain name and location searching based on an individual’s IP address.
Once people been exposed through doxing, they may be targeted for harassment through methods such as harassment in person, fake signups for mail and pizza deliveries, or through swatting (dispatching armed police to their house through spoofed tips).
It is important to note that a hacker may obtain an individual’s dox without making the information public. A hacker may harvest a victim’s information in order to break into their internet accounts, or to take over their social media accounts. 
The victim may also be shown their details as proof that they have been doxed in order to intimidate them. Doxing is therefore a standard tactic of online harassment, and has been used by people associated with the Gamergate movement and anti-vaccine activists.
The term "dox" entered mainstream public awareness through media attention attracted by Anonymous, the Internet-based group of hacktivists and pranksters who make frequent use of doxing, as well as related groups like AntiSec and LulzSec. The Washington Post has described the consequences for innocent people incorrectly accused of wrongdoing and doxed as "nightmarish".
In December 2011, Anonymous exposed detailed information of 7,000 members of law enforcement in response to investigations into hacking activities.
In November 2014, Anonymous began releasing the identities of members of the Ku Klux Klan. This was in relation to local Klan members in Ferguson, Missouri, making threats to shoot anyone who provoked them while protesting the shooting of Michael Brown. Anonymous also hijacked the group's Twitter page, and this resulted in veiled threats of violence against members of Anonymous. In November 2015, a major release of information about the KKK was planned. Discredited information was released prematurely and Anonymous denied involvement. On November 5, 2015 (Guy Fawkes Night) Anonymous released an official list of supposed but currently unverified KKK members and sympathizers.
Human flesh search engine
The Chinese Internet phenomenon of the "Human flesh search engine" shares much in common with doxing. Specifically, it refers to distributed, sometimes deliberately crowdsourced searches for similar kinds of information through use of digital media.
Following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, vigilantes on Reddit wrongly identified a number of people as suspects. Notable among misidentified bombing suspects was Sunil Tripathi, a student reported missing before the bombings took place. A body reported to be Sunil's was found in Rhode Island's Providence River on April 25, 2013, as reported by the Rhode Island Health Department. The cause of death was not immediately known, but authorities said they did not suspect foul play. The family later confirmed Tripathi's death was a result of suicide. Reddit general manager Martin later issued an apology for this behavior, criticizing the "online witch hunts and dangerous speculation" that took place on the website.
Newsweek came under fire when writer Leah McGrath Goodman claimed to have revealed the identity of the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. Though the source of her sleuthing was primarily the public record, she was heavily criticized for her doxing by users on Reddit.
In March 2015, former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling used doxing to identify several people responsible for "Twitter troll" posts with obscene, sexually explicit comments about his teenage daughter. One person was suspended from his community college, and another lost a part-time job with the New York Yankees.
In July 2015, U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump read out the cell phone number of fellow candidate South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham at a campaign rally and encouraged attendees to call it. Media outlets and Graham reported that the number did belong to the senator.
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The cause of the student's death has still be determined but the medical examiner said no foul play was suspected.
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Akhil spent the most time with Sunny before his suicide, weekends at Brown where he tried to help his youngest child foresee a future.
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