Doxing, or sharing someone’s personal info, often with inflammatory or accusatory comments, has become common with the rise of social media. It can have disastrous consequences including defamation and job loss, but it can also lead to things far worse – especially if the Individual being doxed has had his personal information released on account of a crime he allegedly committed.
On January 26th, 2013, Steve Rudderham, 48, was found hanged in a cemetery three days after his name, picture and address were posted online along with a message calling him a ‘dirty perv’, which was then shared hundred of times on Facebook. His daughter Bethany, 19, noticed that after these comments were posted online he seemed to fall into a state of depression, “staring at the wall and not eating,” despite having no history of mental illness. He remained at his daughter’s home, afraid of being attacked on the streets after comments threatening him were posted online, including comments from people he had known for years. He didn’t feel safe even in own house due to the threats targeting him.
No police allegations were made against him, but Mr Rudderham discussed going to the police himself with a memory stick which contained sufficient evidence to clear his name. The same memory stick was later found on his dead body.
Ordering a pizza to someone’s house for mild amusement or revenge is hilarious. Allowing mob rule over such serious allegations as this isn’t. Probably the most famous doxing event was the case of Jessi Slaughter, which devolved into an admittedly hilarious, but in equal parts heart-breaking intervention from her father. Various drama followed, but that was just a child being edgy on the internet, no real law breaking involved. This was a family man, a simple bricklayer trying to better himself with further qualifications. If this man was truly such a despicable human, why was no report filed with the police? Why didn’t anyone else come forward, or question those providing this information? The fact that anyone can threaten another person’s life on the basis of an accusation, for which there is no evidence is a stain on society. Even if the accusation were true, who elected these self appointed vigilantes as police of morality?
Vigilante justice is not just an exclusively Western problem, and in less developed countries where there is little to no faith in the justice system, it has spiraled out of control. People being killed where capital punishment wouldn’t even be considered if it went to trial. But over here, there are very few reasons to not trust the authorities to handle such things (Apart from maybe the recent Brock Turner thing, or the Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham admitting assault with no consequence thing). Harper Lee’s famous novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” is a powerful example of why ‘innocent until proven guilty’ should be implemented until a case has been dissected from every angle. A more recent example is the hit-film The Green Mile. Everyone understands the message of that book and bawls their eyes out at that film, so why is it so hard to translate it to real life?
So now an innocent man is dead and the people who caused it can go about their daily lives without any form of guilt.
The daily Mail reports that the man’s family blame his death on the people who posted the rumor online(And rightfully so):
“Mr Rudderham’s daughter Bethany Beaumont, 19, said: ‘They’ve destroyed an innocent life for no reason.
‘It was disgusting. It was slander.’
His mother Carol Matthews said: ‘I want to know why someone did something like that. I hope they rot in hell. It took a person’s life. We will never get over it.”