This week, I stumbled across this thread on Twitter. And I was stunned. In it, a (rightly) concerned citizen of the internet made a public service announcement about a horrid website called Family Tree Now. It might sound like an innocuous clone of Ancestry.com, but it’s not, because among the records it makes public is your complete address and a list of all your family members! According to the thread, all it needs is your name and your city to make that happen. For me, it didn’t even need my city! LALALALALA that’s not creepy at all! I actually shouted “aw hell no” when I searched for myself!
We’re moving into a time where white nationalists, misogynists, TERFs and other tire-fire groups are emboldened by the current political climate to wreak further havoc on marginalized communities. It’s already happening, but if the uptick we’ve seen so far is any indication, it’ll just keep getting worse! And likely, dear readers, you are targets too as LGBT people on the internet, if you haven’t been already. So here are some low-hanging fruit steps you can take to protect your address from those that would do you harm as the white nationalist administration moves into place. This is by no means a complete doxxing prevention guide, but this CAN help you sort out some of the easier first steps.
Well First, Let’s Opt Out of Family Tree Now
Luckily, it’s fairly easy. Just hit up this link and follow the steps listed. Search for yourself, click the record and there will be a big red opt-out button at the top of the page. Do this. Do it now. Some people report getting error messages when they select opt-out. Mine went through fine, but if you’re getting error messages, be persistent! Contact a customer service representative at Family Tree Now and ask that you be removed from the public database. Done? Good! Now wait 48 hours for your record to be removed and hope no one threatens you before then! I swear, what asshole thought this was a good idea? I can hear the clacking of a million abusive stalkers’ keyboards as they search for their exes. What the fresh hell.
While you’re opting out of this one, there are a few searches that are both less accurate and harder to opt out of that you may want to take a look at. Zabasearch and White Pages, for example, are likely to have information about you on them as well. Both require verifying your identity before taking your ACTUAL REAL ADDRESS off the internet, which is total poppycock, that’s something you should be able to just, like, ask politely about.
Give Yourself a Google
Sounds like I’m answering a sex advice question when I say that, but I’m not. Google your name and your nicknames to see what comes up. A helpful hint: put your name in quotation marks. So instead of searching for Jane Smith, search for “Jane Smith.” This way, you’ll find out what sorts of information is written about you online. Goddess willing, you find only innocuous results. If you do not, I recommend looking at the steps outlined by Crash Override.
Now the next step: set up a Google alert for your name and nicknames. While topics I’m interested in come to me in a daily digest, I have my name and nicknames set to “as-it-happens” to get a blow-by-blow picture of me on the internet. If something starts to bubble up, you’ll know as soon as you check your email. And knowing is valuable.
Search For Your Name On Reddit
Ah, Reddit. Sometimes I think they’re trying not to be a cesspool over there, sometimes I think they’re romantically clinging to the notion that we are free to be our worst selves at the expense of their other users. Regardless, I highly recommend searching your name on Reddit specifically, mostly because that’s how I found my Reddit hate thread. That’s a thing to know, and a thing to watch. If you find people posting your private information or attempting to incite violence against you or harass you, that is actually against Reddit’s rules and you can send them a message about it if you have an account, or an email if you don’t.
For mental health reasons, if you find yourself being discussed on Reddit, I recommend appointing a safety captain from your very closest friends to watch and make sure it doesn’t escalate past bile. That way, you do not PERSONALLY have to stare into the asshole of the internet just to ensure you do not come to bodily harm.
Want to Go Further?
This is just the low-hanging fruit. Remember, Crash Override has a guide not only for what to do after being doxxed, but what to do beforehand as well for prevention purposes. Feminist Frequency also has a guide that’s really rad! Now is the time! Do the thing!