In recent years, there has been mounting evidence that the US government is coercing social media platforms to censor content that it does not agree with. Twitter CEO Elon Musk has accused the government of working with all major tech companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Reddit, and even Pinterest, to suppress certain narratives.
As a result, it is more important than ever for individuals to take steps to protect their online privacy and freedom of expression.
It is understandable to be concerned about the potential censorship of social media platforms by the US government and Big Tech companies alike.
Here are the top steps that you can take to protect your online privacy and freedom of expression:
- Use a secure messaging app: If you are concerned about your private conversations being monitored or censored, consider using a secure messaging app that encrypts your messages and protects your privacy. Some popular options include Signal and Telegram Messenger.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN): A VPN can help protect your online activity from being monitored by encrypting your internet connection. This can be especially useful if you are using a public WiFi network or if you are concerned about your internet service provider (ISP) tracking your online activity. Some options include paid versions of Bitdefender Premium VPN, Mozilla VPN — along with a free version of Proton VPN and PrivadoVPN Free.
- Be aware of the terms of service for social media platforms: It is important to read and understand the terms of service for the social media platforms you use. These terms often outline the types of content that are allowed or prohibited on the platform, as well as the process for reporting and removing content. By understanding these terms, you can better protect yourself from having your content censored or removed.
- Use alternative platforms: If you are concerned about censorship on mainstream social media platforms, consider using alternative platforms that may have more lenient content policies. One such example which gained prominence recently and uses the blockchain is Mastodon.
- Practice good digital hygiene: To protect your online privacy, it is important to practice good digital hygiene. This includes using strong, unique passwords for your accounts, avoiding clicking on suspicious links, and being cautious about the personal information you share online. Taking this a step further, you may even want to consider removing personal information from Google here, and request that data brokers remove your information directly.
- Use multi-factor authentication: In addition to using strong passwords, consider using multi-factor authentication (MFA) to further secure your online accounts. MFA requires a second form of authentication, such as a code sent to your phone or a fingerprint, in addition to your password. This can help protect your accounts from being accessed by unauthorized users, even if your password is compromised. Google Authentication is one option for MFA, and can be easily enabled for your Google account and any other accounts that support it. You can also use a password vault service, such as Google Chrome’s built-in password manager or a third-party service like LastPass, to securely store and manage your passwords.
- Stay informed: Keep up to date on the latest developments in online privacy and freedom of expression, and consider supporting organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that advocate for these issues. For even more, see the Surveillance Self-Defense Guide from EFF. You can also see our public service announcement on the Safe Internet Day website.
By using secure messaging apps, virtual private networks (VPNs), alternative platforms, practicing good digital hygiene, and using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA), ordinary individuals can take control of their online privacy and protect themselves from government censorship. It is also important to stay informed and support organizations that advocate for online privacy and freedom of expression. By taking these steps, we can ensure that the internet remains a place where people can freely express their thoughts and ideas without fear of censorship.