Module 2: Safety
In this module we go over some practical tips and tools to protect your privacy. We talk about technical safety and emotional safety.
Resources mentioned or used in this module:
- Downloadable safety checklist
- Facebook safety for journalists
- Digital security tools and tactics on protecting your
- Digital shadow
- Choosing the VPN that’s right for you
- Tor browser
- Privacy badger
- Basic privacy settings and tools on Facebook
- How to protect and unprotect your Tweets
- Social Media Safety Guides by iHeartMob
- Holistic security
- Danielle Citron’s, author of Hate crimes in cyberspace, TED talk on deepfakes targeting journalists
- Digital Safety Kit by the Committee to Protect Journalists
Welcome to the second module where we'll be discussing safety. We'll be looking at different forms of safety both online or technological safety and also emotional well-being when being exposed to hate speech. We will conclude this section with a safety checklist that you will be able to download and while we'll be discussing all the different tips and tools again keeping it very practical. I strongly encourage you to go a step further and make sure that you also seek out additional measures and tools that can help you to secure yourself both online and mentally.
Hate speech is a distant reality for many people but for journalists, it's very much connected to the profession into their daily lives. Case studies from across the globe prove that to be true which is the very reason why we need to dedicate an entire module to safety and get a better understanding of all the practical tools that are available to secure yourself. A hateful attack can range from a single comment to all the way to doc sync which is disclosing private information like home address, phone number, even Social Security number. Even to the recent phenomenon on producing deep fakes videos of female journalists engaging in sexual acts. Safety is your chance to prevent as much of this happening as possible. It's the most essential and important preventive measure that you can do and I cannot underline this enough. Which is the very reason why I want to encourage you again to seek out further tips and tools and for that reason, I collected a lot of materials under resources that you can get started with and we'll be touching upon those as we progressed through this module.
Privacy and online safety they go hand-in-hand together and it cannot be underestimated their importance. While this course aims to give you an overview of all the measures that you can take, we cannot go into full depth. Keep that in mind when we're going through all the basic measures and some of the more advanced ones. We will also talk about emotional safety following the technological part which might seem less important or less tangible, but in reality is just as important not only because we cannot prepare for how we will react when we're targeted by hate speech, it can be unexpected emotional turmoils happening but it also helps to be a better support for your colleagues or friends who might go through a similar attack any time in the future.
In this section, we'll be talking about four main topics, passwords, social media accounts, clearing up your digital data and raising your tracks and traces from the online world, and we'll be talking about safe browsing. When it comes to passwords, it's mandatory to use a different one for each of your social media accounts and your email addresses. I know it sounds like a pain but it really helps to secure your accounts. If you feel like your password is strong enough you might want to have a look at the passfault website and check the strength of your password, you might be surprised what it comes out of it.
Coming back to the passwords, what you can use is the diceware method which is a great way of securing your passwords. People always think that passwords need to be very complicated and have a lot of different figures and letters and numbers but, in fact, if you pick for random words and put them together it's already harder to crack but if you put together five or six ones it's almost impossible to hack your account. Now five-six words putting together a complicated sentence and then you need a separate one for each of your accounts. I understand it might be a bit too much so you can also consider using a password protector or a password manager. We listed a few ones under resources that you can have a look at explore maybe they'll fit your purposes.
You also need to enable two-steps verifications or authentication. It sounds like a pain but it really does give an extra step of security to whatever you're doing online. What you also need to keep in mind is with these options and possibilities you're not only protecting your own account, you're protecting all the data of your colleagues and friends about whom you're also storing data on your devices.
When it comes to social media accounts the most basic advice is to separate private and professional accounts. Now, I understand that for you as a journalist this might not be a possibility and the same applies for disabling geolocations that go with public posts. If that is not possible although I wish it was and I hope that is to some extent, but if it's not there are also other ways to clear your news feed and social media accounts by either unfollowing certain hashtags, banning certain people or just hiding comments. We'll be talking about how you can do all those options in the third module on counteraction.
For clearing up your online data the step by step guide of Tactical Tech is the best that you can get. Me and my shadow is included in their resources so you'll be able to download and have a look at the guide and due to step by step measures and safety options that range from changing the settings of your browser all the way to using alternative applications as softwares. If you feel like another along step by step guide is too much you can also simply download the Privacy Badger which is a very simple add on for your browser that stops advertisers and third-party trackers to keep an eye on which pages you visit and where you move on the Internet. It's literally two-second type of quickly to Google and you can download it and already your browsing activity is much safer.
Continuing on safe browsing, one of the ways that you can secure your browser activity one step further is using a VPN, a virtual private network. It's something that you can download and add to your browser and there are plenty of online VPNs available. You can also check the guide how to find the best VPN that works for you on the resources, you can have a look at free ones, you can use payables among it's up to your decision, whichever option you prefer. It's very important that if you're not only using your home Wi-Fi which is secure but if you're accessing internet for public spaces, libraries airports that you have either your VPN or use a Tor browser which pretty much works like a VPN.
Another sure secured when it comes to technology and online existence, we also need to look at emotional safety. Standing up to online hatred can be a very wearing business and admitting that is the first step of dealing with it. Even if you are not targeted but if you see one of your colleagues being targeted and might undermine your motivation and can have negative effects and impacts on you as well. Let's have a look at what you can do in such situations.
First of all, minimize your exposure. It's a very basic advice, but don't look at hateful comments unless it's necessary or unless you have to. Try to do it as little as possible and if you feel like you've had enough that's fine, just turn your computer or phone off for a while or just disable the notifications. It's also better if you're in the midst of suffering hate speech attack, it's always better to have breaks when it comes to reporting some of the comments or going through your news feed. You can go for a coffee, you can have a look at a funny cat video or something that warms your heart and connect to you again to the reality that is distant from all the hate that is happening online.
Another thing that works very well although it might not be within your possibilities to do that is to schedule looking at the hateful comments for daytime. The worst thing they can do is that going back home and attending the evening when you're alone looking through all the hate comments, don't do that. Do it during daylight and do it somewhere outside from your home. Ideally, you should not look at hateful comments when you are on your own. If you are working in a newsroom make sure that you're surrounded by people, it's day time once again when you're filtering through the comments or checking which ones you need to report either to social media or to the police but don't do that on your own.
If you work as a freelancer you can either create an online group that you can write to that can be friends or family or even your colleagues who are also freelancing. You can consider going to a coworking space where you have a chance to talk with people by grabbing a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Try to do as much as possible not to be physically isolated when you're looking all the hateful materials. That leads us to separating places if possible. Just as much your advice to look at hateful comments during daytime it's also to better read outside of your home. I understand this might be a problem if you're a freelance journalist but once again try to do it in the coffee place where you're grabbing your favorite cappuccino and not at home, but if you must do it at home at least keep one room in your house or apartment hate-free so don't look at it from your bedroom or from your pad. Maybe even just turn off notifications once you get back home so that your phone does not distract you and you don't have to see all the hate while staying in your safe space that is your home.
Finally, find a hobby that really allows you to disconnect if you haven't so far. If you like reading, playing badminton or climbing whatever helps you experience flow and entirely disconnect from all the hatred that's happening online make sure you schedule a time for that because it helps to recharge your soul, it helps to turn off your brain, it helps you to stay sane when shit hits the fan.
We also need to talk about personal triggers and that's something that we briefly mentioned during the first module. Triggers in psychology refer to certain events that trigger trauma and transports you back to the time of the trauma. Basically, as adults, we all have triggers because we suffered certain traumas. For this course, we understand triggers as the type of hate speech that you are most sensitive to. Usually, these triggers get worse as they are closer to the fundamental blocks of your identity. How you can recognize them. If you're looking at maybe just not even hate speech, just looking at the news and you find a certain story or even a TV show, the radio. Whatever makes you feel very angry and upset, then it's a very instinctive gut feeling, something around your stomach that you can be suspicious that it's connected to a certain trigger. Whenever you want to react instantly, then there is the trigger in there and you should not react instantly to hate speech, but we'll talk about that in the third module. Triggers can feel like they're exposing your vulnerability because they trigger you into this instant reaction.
In reality, they are also highlighting what issues you're most sensitive to and they can be also the source of your motivation to keep going in the midst of a hate storm. It's very important to be aware of this dual nature of triggers that they're not only exposing your vulnerabilities, but they can be also the source of your motivation and to keep going. Next time something upsets you or makes you really angry channel that anger and then keep going in a smart way.
Finally, we're just going to go through the safety checklist very briefly. This is also something that you can download from resources so you can have it on your desk, you can keep it with you whenever you are at work. Manage your time. This refers to look at hate speech during daytime is possible, during even the evening. Know your limits. You need to be aware of how much you can look at all the terrible comments and images. It's very important that you are aware of that and the fact that you disconnect.
We talked about having a hobby. We talked about having people that you can talk to, which connects you. Have a circle of support. Have a few people in your mind that you know that can reach out instantly whenever you feel that it's too much. Being targeted by hate speech leads to isolation, and it's a burden that you do not have me to carry along. Make sure you have your contacts ready. Check your privacy. Underlined three, four times and be there for others.
Actually, it's one part of counteraction that we'll start the next module with is that it's not only that you're aware of your own limits, but be mindful about your colleagues and friends around you and make sure that they are also aware of their limits and then they get a chance to disconnect. Just care about others and you'd report to police if needed. We'll talk about when you need to do that, but that's also something that you need to be mindful about.
Well, I hope you feel much more prepared for safety and facing hate speech. We will now move on to discussing what are the actual actions that you can take when you're in the middle of a targeted attack.
Download the presentation used in this module: