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This module opens by walking through examples of targeted harassment, followed by a self-doxxing activity, an activity to opt-out of a data broker service, and discussion time. Because some students may have personal experience with harassment and doxxing on the web, if this class environment feels safe enough to do so, students may share their personal experience here.


Threat modeling

Estimated time

90 minutes


  • Upon successful completion of this lesson, students will be able to identify common harassment tactics.
  • Students will have the tools to identify data broker websites where their personal data is freely available, and have experience removing this data.
  • Students will also have improved the privacy settings for one of their online accounts.

Why this matters

Unfortunately the need for this topic is pretty self-evident. We know newsrooms expect reporters to promote their work on the web, and in turn, face ad hoc and organized harassment campaigns. The abuse disproportionately targets self-identifying female reporters. Because this a dangerous aspect of contemporary journalism, student journalists should critically examine and mitigate against harassment and doxxing tactics.


(Before class)

(After class)

  • Have students try locking down their settings on one of these websites (Facebook, Instagram, Reddit) using this New York Times privacy and security resource: "Social Media Security & Privacy Checklists" — they should document which website they changed, whether they intend to keep these settings, and why. If they are on none of the above websites, they should document a lockdown procedure for the privacy settings on a different website, whether they intend to keep these settings, and why.
  • (Optional) Read this paper on journalistic performativity on social media: "Personal Branding on Twitter"

Sample slides

Targeted harassment and doxxing (Google Slides)


Questions for discussion

(Following self-doxxing exercise)

  • What kind of information can you find about yourself?
  • How accurate or inaccurate was it?
  • Did anything make you feel especially uncomfortable?
  • What might someone do with this information?
  • (Optional) Have you had personal experience with harassment or doxxing online? What did you have to do in response? How did that make you feel?

(Following data broker opt-out exercise)

  • Before you could opt yourself out of a data broker site, what kinds of information did the service ask you for?
  • How long do you think it would take you to remove yourself from all of these services?
  • How long do you think it will take for your data to go back online, after it's been removed?

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