Fort Worth police department S.W.A.T. team members conduct a training exercise with NASCAR driver Carl Edwards on March 21, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Fort Worth police department S.W.A.T. team members conduct a training exercise with NASCAR driver Carl Edwards on March 21, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. - 
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Swatting — making prank calls to 911 to send a SWAT team to someone’s home while they are online playing a video game live — has been in the news lately. (Here and here, just to name a few.)

Swatting is enabled by something else called “doxxing” or “dropping dox” - “The act of posting someone's personal and/ or identifying  information without their consent,” says Sarah Jeong, a tech reporter in Silicon Valley. That information could be anything from an address to a Social Security Number.

Swatting or doxxing, Jeong says, is the only way to hurt someone in the virtual world of gamers, where the practice is most common. “It’s assault by proxy,” she says.

The reason swatting has been getting so much attention, she believes, is the “high-profile” cases that happen on camera. That is, when someone is interrupted while playing a video game online and also live streaming themselves playing the video game.

“That’s actually a form of media that young people consume and being able to manipulate that media...imagine if, with a phone call, you could change what’s happening on your television,” says Jeong.

While getting more media attention was a major step in fixing the problem, she adds, she was also concerned that a lot of the coverage focused on men.

“Three people were swatted in January and two of them were women,” she says. “The three that I am thinking of were swatted because they were critics of Gamergate.”

“There is a wave of this kind of behaviour that is specifically focused around trying to drive out feminist voices from the internet,” says Jeong.

The only way, she says, is for the media to cover swatting more without focusing on men’s experiences alone.

“I understand that it’s hard because women don’t really want to talk about how they were doxxed and swatted,” says Jeong. “And now media thinks of swatting and doxxing as something that happens to young men by young men as opposed to it being a larger phenomenon that includes this wave of violence against women.”

 

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Follow Ben Johnson at @@TheBrockJohnson