Many Internet users — particularly women — have been subject to unpleasant experiences online. Harassment, stalking, trolling and more are often commonplace. To combat this, feminist educational organisation Feminist Frequency have created a guide to protecting yourself online.
Many of the tips are general online good sense — turning on two-step verification on apps, emails and websites, creating complex passwords and removing important identifying information to avoid doxxing. But the guide also contains more in-depth advice related to online harassment.
Anita Sarkeesian, founder of Feminist Frequency, is no stranger to harassment. After her YouTube series Tropes Vs. Women In Video Games was widely lambasted by GamerGaters who felt she was unfairly criticising the video game industry. Sarkeesian was doxxed, sent death threats and had her social media accounts hacked.
The guide has a section dedicated to video game safety, suggesting gamers use fake answers to security questions and mix up their gamertags across different platforms and avoid downloading games from untrusted sources, lest it contain malware or spyware.
Other advice in the guide is to register the same username across multiple platforms (to avoid imposters), to document negative interactions so that patterns of abusive behaviour can be tracked and proven, as well as to communicate problems to real life support networks in case online harassment becomes too much.
And, while the old internet adage ‘don’t feed the trolls’ is often controversial, the guide suggests that for emotional wellbeing and physical safety it’s “often best not to engage”.