Tips for staying safe online if you oppose fascism

Content note: this post discusses fascists and their operating tactics

As fascism is on the rise, we are, thankfully, seeing resistance. People new to activism, new to opposing anything (let alone fascists) are seeing the need for action and taking it.

Unfortunately, some online actions can be very dangerous, given how fascists operate. Fascists like nothing more than to “expose” their opponents: doxxings are a very common tactic. Doxxing is when your personal information is shared online, in order to incite harassment against you. And recently, it has come to my attention that they have been creating honeypots to get the personal details of decent people who think fascism is bad. So this guide is for people who are new to all of this, and what you need to do to stay safe online.

Don’t sign e-petitions or sign up to mailing lists

Of the fascist honeypots I’m aware of, one is an innocuous-looking antifa website with a mailing list signup, and the other is a change dot org petition.

Change, even though it looks all official and nice, is fundamentally unsecure with your personal data. The petition starter can, for a small fee, access all the details of everyone who signed it. As for mailing list signups, whoever set it up can see everything. And even if they don’t (or Change changed their business model), your name still pops up.

My best advice is to not enter your details in these things at all. Likewise, don’t click “attending” on Facebook events, just to be safe. However, if you absolutely must…

Be sparing with your identifying details

Say you really, really want to sign up to a mailing list, for whatever reason, and you’re ignoring my advice above. Do not give them the email address that’s linked to your social media accounts, other personal accounts, or your phone. Set up a throwaway email address and check that occasionally. Don’t connect the throwaway to your phone. You might also consider using a fake name, or at least a name that isn’t your legal name (this is the story of how I receive emails addressed to Mr Ploppy McBumhead).

You might also want to consider not using your real name on your social media accounts. You don’t have to go full Ploppy McBumhead; you could, for example, use a variant on your real name. For example, maybe use your middle name in place of your surname, or a shortened form of your first and last names, or go by your paternal grandma’s maiden name online. Alternatively, you could just use an anonymous pseudonym like “dongsmoker69” or similar.

Seriously though, don’t sign the Change petitions. Best case scenario, your throwaway email account gets spammed forever.

Check your privacy settings

This tip particularly applies to Facebook, who have a nasty habit of constantly changing their privacy settings. With your Facebook, make sure only friends can view your photos and posts, at the very least. You might also want to consider not letting certain other people view your content, such as racist relatives, people you went to school with and have never seen since, regrettable one night stands, &c., &c. You can filter them out of seeing your content by creating a friend list of these people (they won’t be able to see it) and then going into the Settings section and telling it not to let them see your stuff. Turn off allowing people to tag you in images. While you’re in the Settings section, you might as well only let friends of friends send you friend requests. And of course, be careful as to who you accept friend requests from. If you don’t know them IRL, it’s probably a bad idea to accept their friend request.

I’m being purposely vague here, because Facebook seem to change where all these settings are kept on a very frequent basis. I do a check at least once a month to make sure they haven’t changed anything. The tl;dr is to make sure only friends can see what you’re writing on there.

Pictures: be careful there, too

Giving them your name is one thing. Giving them your name and your face can really fucking suck. At best, if you’re a woman, you’ll get lots of memes about how ugly you are. At worst, your life could be actively endangered. Bear that in mind when posting pics, and weigh up the costs and benefits.

Try not to keep your legal name and your face in the same place, and make sure your phone camera isn’t using GPS tagging to show where your pictures are being taken. Also avoid taking pictures around your home, with any identifying details in place, for example, street names, particular landmarks, and so on. Try not to help fascists figure out where you live.

Don’t out your combabes

You’re proud that you’ve been doing stuff to oppose fascism, like going on a march. That’s great and I’m proud of you too. But be careful about outing others. If you’ve taken pictures on a demo, try not to have the face of anyone who hasn’t explicitly consented to being in the picture. You might need to be a little bit creative with image editing to blur out faces or crop before you post pictures, but that could save a life.

I hope it doesn’t need to be said, but for god’s sake don’t tag friends in photos. To be a decent person, don’t ever do it, but especially don’t ever do it with pictures of friends opposing fascists.

Also, don’t tag friends who have participated in antifascist actions in text posts or tweets about the action. Not without their explicit consent. Don’t make your friends a target for fascists unless they’re aware of the risks and have agreed to it.

Consider using a VPN

VPNs seem like the sort of thing only a cartoonish hacker who yells “I’M IN” while typing really fast might want to use. However, they’re incredibly useful and everyone who cares about their online privacy and security should be using one. A VPN hides your data: most importantly for these purposes, it hides your IP address (which can help trace where you live). VPNs also have other benefits and are quite cheap. This beginner’s guide to VPNs takes you through how a VPN can help you, as well as how to choose the right one for you.

If you’re innocent you’ve got nothing to hide is bullshit

That old adage is a pile of turds. Stay safe. Hide things you don’t want fascists to get at you about.

tl;dr

The short, sweet summary of everything I’ve said here is: be careful with your data, and treat everyone you don’t know online like they’re a potential phishing scam. Privacy is so important, and there are some nasty people out there–this is why we’re fighting. Be careful out there x

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Adjusting to lamotrigine: 50mg

Regular readers and followers will know that I’m currently adjusting to lamotrigine for my epilepsy. I’ve been taking 50mg a day now for the last fortnight: 25mg in the morning and 25mg at night. Today, I’ll be upping the dose again to 75mg (25mg in the morning and 50mg at night), with the eventual goal of 100mg a day.

At 25mg, I reported some side effects (or possible side effects): itching, weird pooping, gnarly dreams and light-headedness. I’m delighted to report that the pooping seems to have evened out, back to normal-for-me, and the light-headedness has mostly subsided. I still get the occasional bout of feeling vaguely light-headed, but only once or twice within the fortnight. I’m wondering if it’s lessened because I’m taking a more even dose: the light-headedness at 25mg tended to happen in the evenings, at points where it had been a long time since I’d taken a dose, and now I’m taking more regular doses.

The itching, once again, cropped up when I upped my dose, although this time I was prepared for that, and knew that it didn’t mean I was going to die. However, just before my period, I had a couple of zits, and obviously I made everyone I know look at them and tell me if they thought it looked anything like a horrible skin rash with the words “toxic” and “necrosis” in the name. Spoiler: it didn’t. It was a couple of normal zits. Meanwhile, the gnarly dreams are still there, and still, for the most part, boring as shit.

Sadly, it’s not all good. I had my first period on the drug last week. And let me tell you, for me, menstruation plus lamotrigine is absolutely horrible. I usually don’t get particularly bad period pains, and only on the first day of my period. This month, I had cramps for two days before (as well as the aforementioned zits, which aren’t very usual for me). And then, on the day it came, I was in a world of pain. My uterus felt as though it was attempting to punch its way out of my body; I had a horrendous headache that no painkiller could touch; I bloated up like a balloon; and every time I mildly exerted myself the muscles I’d use decided to join in with the pain. The next day, the worst of it had subsided, but I was still crampy, and I was for the rest of my period.

In good news, though, my period, despite being absolutely fucking horrible, was much lighter. I bled for three days, and there was far less blood than usual. So, hooray, I guess. Like a monkey’s paw wish, I got lighter periods–but HAHA!–they’re hell on earth for the time they’re present.

And finally, I wondered if perhaps my recent uncharacteristic bout of optimism might be down to the lamotrigine’s mood-stabilising effect. I honestly don’t know. Perhaps it is, or perhaps it’s because a Nazi being punched in the face is really fucking funny. I’m certainly not feeling positive overall, but maybe a little more resilient and less despairing. Last week, something horrible and triggering happened in my personal life, and I fell apart for about two hours, where historically I’d be a mess for at least four days. So, maybe that’s a good side effect kicking in?

That’s about all their is to report for now. As always, please get in touch if you want to talk to me about lamotrigine. I think it’s important that we share information. You can tweet me, drop me a FB message, or email me: anotherangrywomb@gmail.com. I’ll update soon about my 75mg adventures.

Adjusting to lamotrigine series
25mg
75mg
1
00mg

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