The internet has provided women the opportunity and space to have their say, react and voice opinions on patriarchy, opinions, and many other topics that they have never been able to speak out about before.
Sadly, women can also experience online harassment, threats, racist and/or gender slandering which leaves them feeling violated and not able to have freedom of expression.
How do you browse safely and anonymously? The first start is to better understand the way your browsing can be used against you.
While you are browsing the internet, your personal data and internet activity is being collected and recorded all the time. Websites collect data such as locations you search, personal interests, likes and dislikes. Included in this collection of data is personal sensitive information like credit card data, locations, exercise regimes, religion, health, food, and lifestyle choices. This information can be exploited to facilitate targeted attacks on women. One part of the solution is to use encryption.
Cookies are messages that web servers pass to your web browser when you visit Internet sites. Your browser stores each message in a small file, called a cookie. These files typically contain information about your visit to the web page, as well as any other information you have volunteered, such as your name and interests.
As much as you want to accept cookies on some websites, block all third-party cookies which can be done directly in your browser settings.
Web tracking is the practice by which operators of websites collect, store, and share information about a user’s activity on the World Wide Web. Firefox’s uBlock Origin, is an add-on browsers extension for user’s that use Firefox as their primary browser. The uBlock Origin extension block unwanted trackers such as pop-up ads on your browser.
For women especially, third party apps like health-related mobile applications to monitor exercise, calorie counters or menstrual cycles, the collection of data for commercial purposes can be very intrusive as you are asked to enter personal information like cycles, weight, goals, etc. NEVER just trust mobile apps; it is very important to do an extensive check on the safety of the app before giving out personal information
When websites request information, remember that all they really need is an email address and a password. NO personal information is required. They need an email address to send you the registration confirmation and you need a password to access the website.
Securing accounts and communications
Always create strong passwords and use a password manager or cloud key safe to store them. Activate two-factor authentication (learn more about that here) wherever possible so that you will always be notified should another device log in.
Think twice before you send any form of communication or image. Once you have sent it, it can NEVER be retrieved.
Keep yourself free from harassment or sexism by not registering with your real name, do not disclose your gender, no real photos of yourself and do not give away any information in chats – no phone number, no locations. Make use of the reporting systems and mute options should you feel you are being harassed.