In 2024, over four billion people from more than 40 countries – representing over half of the world’s population – are set to participate in elections. As the election season rolls in across the globe, it’s not just the physical polling stations that buzz with activity, but also the digital world. Our screens become arenas of vibrant discussions, debates, and information sharing. But, as we dive into this digital fervor, we also enter a time of increased digital mischief.
As we edit, delete, block, protect, and debate across Wikimedia projects, this eventful election season is a crucial reminder of the importance of reinforcing digital safety practices. With political debates intensifying and online vulnerabilities escalating, prioritizing digital safety is paramount. Engaging in these online activities responsibly and with heightened awareness of digital safety is essential to minimize potential risks.
What to consider and what you can do
Doxing and online harassment
Online harassment and doxing become particularly insidious tools during election seasons, a time marked by heightened political discourse and intense emotions. In this environment, sharing personal information online can inadvertently turn you into a target. It is crucial to navigate these digital waters with care. Be cautious about what you share on social media and other platforms. Take the time to understand and adjust your privacy settings to safeguard your personal data. Additionally, stay informed about the latest digital safety practices and consider using tools that help protect your online identity. Remember, in the heat of political debates, your digital safety should remain a top priority.
- Check out the Diff blogs on doxing: Why should you care? and Have you tried doxing yourself?
- Learn more about online privacy and security and what tools you can use on Privacy Guides [external link].
- Learn about protecting your online identity through an interactive online course [external link].
- Document online harassment. Learn why and how in this Online Harassment Field Guide [external link].
Social engineering, phishing and malicious links
Be quick, do you see anything wrong with this link: https://www.wikipedia.com? No? Check again!
Remaining vigilant is crucial when navigating through phishing messages and malicious links, particularly during periods of increased political activity. Cybercriminals often capitalize on these times to dispatch emails and messages that mimic legitimacy, but their true intent is to harvest personal information or disseminate malware. These deceptive communications can come through various channels, including emails, SMS, WhatsApp messages, Instagram direct messages, or even phone calls. Always approach these with a healthy dose of skepticism and take the time to verify the sender’s identity. A common tactic employed by these fraudsters is to create a sense of urgency in their messages, as we did above. Don’t let urgency cloud your judgment. Instead, pause, reflect, and then respond thoughtfully. This measured approach is key in protecting yourself from falling prey to these sophisticated cyber schemes. Also, checkout the shira.app [external link] to learn to identify and defeat phishing attempts or this phishing quiz [external link] by Google.
Implementing a grant?
Have you considered how upcoming elections might alter the safety and security landscape for your project? What is accepted in one socio-political context could become sensitive or contentious in another, especially during the heightened atmosphere of an election period. Consider how these shifts might necessitate adjustments in your grant implementation. For instance, the location of your project activities might coincide with a political rally, or the topics you are exploring could suddenly become politically charged. How will you navigate these changes? It’s crucial to plan for potential adjustments and think about effective communication strategies to inform your participants and team members. Reflecting on these scenarios and preparing a responsive strategy ensures that your project remains relevant, safe, and successful, irrespective of the evolving political climate. See the Safety for Grant recipients course on learn.wiki to learn about holistic security, how to do a risk analysis, and broadly about the challenges of engaging with the movement in different parts of the world.
When communication is shutdown
The #KeepItOnCoalition[external link] report notes that internet and communication shutdowns are a notable occurrence around election times. Such disruptions can leave individuals isolated, unable to communicate with loved ones or access crucial news updates – a situation that becomes even more distressing during the critical moments of an election. To prepare for these challenges, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide with strategies to stay connected. To learn about the relationship between internet shutdowns and democratic elections, see this handbook[external link] by AccessNow.
Call to action
If an election is on the horizon in your area, or if you’re simply keen on deepening your understanding of digital safety best practices, we encourage you to get in touch with us. We’re here to help organize a digital safety session for you and your community. We’re excited about the opportunity to collaborate and empower you and your community with essential digital safety skills.
And in the unfortunate event that you or someone in your community experiences digital attacks, don’t feel alone. The Digital First Aid Kit[external link] is an excellent resource for immediate guidance and self-help to troubleshoot digital emergencies. It’s designed to provide you with quick, effective strategies to address various digital security issues and can also connect you to hands-on help from a civil society support team.
Our team is always ready to provide support too. Whether it’s addressing specific threats or offering advice on best practices, we’re here to help you navigate through these challenging situations. Reach out to us anytime at email@example.com and check out the Digital Safety Resources Page on Meta.
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