Doxxing, Journalism and the anonymous Casefile host

So it’s true. I doxxingbriefly “doxxed” the anonymous host of popular crime recital podcast Casefile.

I’d actually never heard of the curious word – ‘doxx ‘or ‘dox’ – until I wrote an article on this humble blog a few months ago revealing a few personal details about the mysterious “Brad” whose spooky Wikipedia-inspired retelling of famous crimes has turned him into a surprising, and apparently extremely reluctant podcast superstar.

Doxxing, according to the Merriam Webster online dictionary is:

slang : to publicly identify or publish private information about (someone) especially as a form of punishment or revenge  

My now deleted article included the host’s full name, age, the town where he lived and a few other bits of trivia about him. I also included a smiling photo sourced from social media.

It only took a couple of hours of digging to work out who he was – my motivation was neither malicious nor vengeful,  only pure curiosity. Anybody using a bit of lateral thinking could have found as much, if not more.

After removing the article as a favour, I wrote a fresh post about my interactions with the Casefile host and then another about his subsequent blocking of me on Twitter.

Among the many responses, came this from Laura: “I was also curious about who this fellow Aussie was, now after seeing his response to you doxxing him I agree his identity should remain completely anonymous”.

Digging around online I found that the fan-run Casefile Reddit page has a strict “zero tolerance Doxxing Rule” which it says applies “to victims” (strange, as Casefile podcasts are full of personal details of the victims of crimes) “but also to the host”.

“We will remove immediately any posts regarding the identity of the host unless they come from the Casefile Official Website. Period,” the Reddit page says.

It’s a curious kind of inverse vigilantism since unlike many infamous doxxing cases (like that of Brennan Gilmore, who tweeted the video of the car driven by a white supremacist madman that ploughed into anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville last year and was then doxxed by far right activists who posted the home address of his parents on online message boards) there appears to be no genuine reason for the host’s anonymity, apart from him not wanting anyone to know who he is.

Bear in mind,  I didn’t hack any databases or emails to find out who he was, nor did I post his home address or phone number. Every bit of information was publicly available at the time to anyone who cared to investigate.

I think it’s also worth considering the issue of doxxing from a journalistic point of view.

Journalists doxx all the time: we write about people who wish to remain anonymous in the interests of a good story.

As a property writer, it is part of my job to reveal who is buying and who is selling real estate even if those doing the buying or selling wish to remain anonymous.

In almost all cases the doxxing is justified in the interests of a transparent property market where millions of dollars are involved. Plus our readers want to know who is buying and who is selling. It’s that simple.

This is not to say that sometimes anonymity must be respected and protected, but the reason have to be compelling; no journalist wants to tell only half a story.

Even more important, often a supposed case of “doxxing” can reveal what is hiding in the shadows.

As a Melbourne judge recently remarked of a once anonymous property developer who illegally demolished a historic Melbourne pub and then dumped asbestos waste from the pub near homes and a childcare centre: “I hope everyone knows your name.”


6 thoughts on “Doxxing, Journalism and the anonymous Casefile host

  1. I would really love to know who the host is, just because of my own personal curiosity. I wish I had came across this blog earlier before the identifying bits were removed! Again, just to satisfy my own personal curiosity and nothing else. I know lots of people will disagree with me, but I don’t think there is any harm in being curious…and going by “anonymous” is automatically going to make people curious, just saying! Either way, I love Casefile and I’m willing to sacrifice my curiosity if it means the show stays alive!!


  2. Firstly, isn’t it a little extreme to compare the host of a podcast to people who expose families and children to carcinogens?
    Additionally, when you publish private information on real estate sales, there can conceivably be legitimate stakes in that work (unreliable parties, for instance), but there are none here. For those disinterested in fame, the weight of being so scrutinized can be overwhelming and excruciating (Selena Gomez and George Clooney being just a couple of examples). Why do you see it as unethical for a content creator (who may not, in fact, want his podcast to take over his life) to remain anonymous?
    You argue that in order to remain anonymous, the burden of proof falls upon Casefile, but there really isn’t any reason for this other than your own curiosity. Plus, he has explicitly stated that he wishes to remain anonymous for his own sake (and for the sake of the show). Why is it relevant and pertinent that you release his information? No, there isn’t any harm in being curious about his identity, and there is likely no harm in you personally unearthing his identity to satisfy that curiosity. But why do you feel as if it is your “job” to reveal to the world who he is? Of what importance is his identity?
    I do not wish to have a public internet fight with you in the comments. I am honestly just startled, perplexed, and honestly a little frustrated with your responses, and want to understand your reasoning. Feel free to respond either on here or by emailing me directly if you’d be willing to discuss.
    Thank you


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