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Staying safe on the internet as LGBTQ Youth

By J.Austine
Staying safe on the internet as LGBTQ Youth

You might be a youth who lacks support and access to LGBTQ resources. Even so, this guide teaches how to explore such resources in a safer way avoiding online tracking. Now, social networks are among the most used websites on the internet. For instance, a platform like Facebook has over a billion users.

Staying safe on the internet as LGBTQ Youth

Social networks got built on the idea of sharing personal information and posts. Yet, they have also become platforms for organizing and speech. Following this, any of the activities can rely on pseudonymity and privacy. Hence, the following questions are crucial to consider when using social networks:
How do I interact online while protecting myself?
My basic privacy?
Association and contacts?
My identity?
What information to keep private, and do I protect it from?

Tips To Consider When Creating an Account as an LGBTQ Youth

Would you like to use your real name on social media sites? Ordinarily, some sites have a “ real name” policy. However, these have become laxer over time. So, if you don’t want to use your real name, then do not. Also, when registering, do not give more information than required.
If you get concerned about keeping your identity private, use a separate email. In addition, avoid giving your phone number. The reason being, those pieces of information can link your different accounts together. Thus, you will get identified.
Be careful when selecting a profile picture. Because the photo might include the place and time it got taken.
Moreover, be aware that your IP address may get logged out at registration. When choosing a password, choose a strong password and a password manager. For even better security, you can enable two-factor authentication.
We recommend checking a social media site’s privacy policy before using the site. Since data stored by third parties is subject to their own policies. For example, they may use it for commercial purposes. So then, please read the privacy policies even though it is a near-impossible task. Furthermore, try blocking third party cookies and tracker-blocking browser extensions.

Consider Keeping Separate Profiles Separate

For LGBTQ youth, it’s essential to keep different account’s identities separate. This can apply to:
Professional profiles
Dating websites
Accounts in various communities
Anonymous accounts
Still, photos and phone numbers are two types of information to watch closely. Photos, in particular, can link accounts you prefer to keep separate. Surprisingly, this is a common issue with professional profiles and dating sites. To prevent this, use a photo you don’t use anywhere else online.
In fact, you can use Google’s reverse image search function to check.

Privacy for Students

Many schools are adopting surveillance technology to spy on students. Be it at home, school, or even social media. The companies that offer surveillance services advertise them as a way to protect students. Still, there is no evidence for that. Above all, they can harm the people they should protect.
Note that surveillance isn’t routine. Indeed, it is spying. So then, schools that use these technologies to monitor students violate their privacy.
The following are types of data that can get tracked:
Audiovisual data
Location data
Device usage
Web browsing data
Students’ location can get tracked via Wi-Fi connections, ID cards, and even the device’s GPS coordinates. As for web browsing data, it keeps tabs on everything you read online. After that, the surveillance service company forwards the information to school administrators.
One other thing, invasive software can capture and record everything you do on a device. That does not exclude the things you type or delete. So then, it includes what you post on social media and messages sent through chat applications. This is the same type of software used by hackers for malicious intent.

Types of Technologies That Can Track You

Spyware is an application installed on a device that gives the administrator full control. If the tool gets installed on your device, the administrator can access every all your data. Once installed, the device receives monitored and scanned for things like browser history.
Social media monitoring is a service that monitors social media accounts. In addition, it reports flagged content. Likewise, the services can map the following:
Who you are friends with
People who you spend time with
The topics you are interested in

What Happens to Data Obtained?

Many surveillance services store the invasive data they gather about LGBTQ youth. Following this, the data can tell detailed stories about a youth’s life. For this reason, in case of a data breach, it can cause serious harm. Also, some companies may opt to sell that data or share it with third parties.
You don’t need a fancy tool to fight against surveillance. Therefore, the smartest way to go about it is not to use systems that are targets of surveillance. Additionally, you can be careful about the information you reveal as you use them. A crucial step is to find out what surveillance tool is getting used to monitor you. Thereupon, you can take steps to protect yourself and your data.

Why is All This Important?

In Egypt, law enforcement used Grindr, a social networking app, to track down LGBTQ people. In fact, they used fake profiles to gather evidence against the LGBTQ people and later prosecuted them. In the US, public schools get required to use software to block pornographic websites. Instead, they often use the software to block sites that discuss LGBTQ issues.
As you can see, many LGBTQ people require privacy. For this purpose, they need censorship circumvention tools like Tor to communicate with their peers. We can say that pride and privacy go hand in hand. This is why the Tor Project stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. So, why should you close the door to a queer person?
Similarly, Tor gets used by dark web users to protect their privacy and stay anonymous. The dark web is infamous for crime, and so law enforcement keeps a close eye on it. The reason being, it has a black market that sells a variety of contraband like stolen data.
In conclusion, choose a good security plan to help you stay safe online. Security planning enables you to understand what could happen to the things you value.

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