J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, drew massive attention to herself on Twitter last week, when she was doxxed by a group of protestors.
Rowling is well-known for her transphobic views and concerns about sex and gender identity. The incident in question arose on Twitter after a group of trans-rights activists protested outside of her Edinburgh mansion and posted a picture of themselves outside of her home, holding signs like “Don’t be a cissy” and “Trans Liberation Now.”
There’s nothing wrong with protesting outside of her house and I see no issue with them taking a picture in front of Rowling’s home to post on social media either. What I do have issue with is that the protestors were positioned in a way where Rowling’s address was clearly visible in the photo and they posted it to social media anyway.
Whether intentional or not, the protestors doxxed her and did not seem to take any issue with it. There were mixed reactions on Twitter to the photo, some people criticized the activists for doxxing her.
Since the incident, Rowling has claimed that she has received “enough death threats to build a paper house with.” Others have defended the photo, claiming that Rowling’s Edinburgh address is public information since it appears on some Edinburgh tourism websites.
At first, the activists kept the photo up and defended posting it with Rowling’s address in it. They claimed that they would stand by the photo, despite the transphobic remarks they were receiving.
Once Rowling spoke out further and criticized the activists on her Twitter, more comments came flooding their way and caused them to deactivate their social media accounts.
The photo is still visible through screenshots and news outlets that have covered this story and featured the photo but had the address cropped out, something that should have been done in the first place for the original photo.
The first takeaway from this situation is that nobody is immune from criticism towards their actions. Doxxing is something that is generally frowned upon due to the harm that can befall people when their private information becomes weaponized.
I believe that it is not okay to dox someone under any circumstances. It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity like J.K. Rowling or just an ordinary person.
You have a right to your privacy regardless of how much you are in the spotlight. If someone does something bad, like dox someone, people have the right to criticize the action regardless of who they are.
The other big takeaway is this: there are better ways to have conversations with people you disagree with. Again, there is nothing wrong with the activists’ protests. They weren’t disturbing anyone and they were not on private property either.
Their post had the potential to start a conversation about why Rowling and her views are harmful to the transgender community. The fact that they did not think to take another photo without Rowling’s address in it or simply crop her address out is what I take issue with. You cannot dox someone simply because you do not agree with them, regardless of whether the action is intentional or not.
The best way to start a conversation and come to an understanding is to have a back-and-forth with someone. That way, both parties can come to understand each other. Neither party needs to agree with each other at all, but they at least can see where the other is coming from.
In this case, criticism towards doxxing could be used as a reminder to think before you post and be mindful of what you post before you send it out on the internet forever. There were certainly better ways that the activists’ disagreement could have been expressed than doxxing.