‘Doxxing’ someone, even if he’s a Nazi sympathizer, poses a serious ethical dilemma

Author: Joseph Holt

Jholt
Joseph Holt

Lately we've seen a whole lot of "doxxing," or outing people publicly, for everything from sexual harassment to being a white supremacist.

But when we start to hear about cases like Tony Hovater, who was featured in a New York Times story as "the Nazi sympathizer next door" and then lost his job and had to move out of his house, it begs the question: Is doxxing ethical?

The answer depends on whether the doxxee, like Hovater, willingly revealed his or her identity. It also depends on whether the doxxing is done competently and with a positive moral purpose.

In August, anti-fascist doxxers outed certain white nationalists who participated in the protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. One white nationalist lost his job as a result of the exposure. White nationalists, in turn, doxxed a number of anti-fascist protestors and threatened them and their families.

Was such doxxing ethical? That depends in part on motive, which matters greatly in ethics.

Read the entire opinion piece on the CNBC website.