In the wake of Pride month, it’s important to remember that there are many all over the world intent on shaming the LGBTQIA community. Whether due to religious fervor, mistaken personal beliefs or simple blind prejudice, the community still comes under attack every day. We still live in an era where homophobic attacks are all-too common all over the world and they are as multifaceted as they are egregious and wrong. In the US, the FBI has documented a rise in homophobic hate crimes, while across the Atlantic, Britain is also seen a worrying surge in homophobic and transphobic crime.
For the LGBTQIA community, the importance of safety and security cannot be underestimated. While this applies to staying safe while out and about it goes double for when online. The LGBTQ community faces significant risks of cyberbullying, which is why it’s so important that people within the community know how to protect themselves online and on social media.
Configure your privacy settings
Many don’t even look at their privacy settings on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but they can be your most potent defense from cyberbullying. This is especially important for members of the LGBTQIA community who are not yet out to certain members of their family or social circle.
Make sure that you know exactly what people can and can’t see and before you post anything (particularly photos of you and your partner) that you are aware of who can see it. Social platforms can prove a huge blackmail risk for members of the community who do not yet feel comfortable coming out.
Even if you are out and proud, it’s a good idea to make sure that people you don’t know cannot send you unsolicited comments on your images or direct messages.
Invest in a VPN
A VPN is an important security consideration for anyone, but it’s especially prudent for members of the LGBTQIA community. Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend a fortune. In fact, here’s a link to a perfectly good Free VPN for Windows. It uses military grade encryption to ensure that your data is always secure. This is especially important when using the internet at public hotspots where all internet users are particularly vulnerable.
Install antivirus software
As well as a VPN, antivirus software should also be an essential investment. Whether you’re out or not, you should be careful to mitigate the risk of being hacked. Hackers can gain access to your personal information, address and card details as well as your photos and messages.
Antivirus software helps you to protect any data that you wouldn’t want in the hands of a stranger.
Know how (and when) to block
Finally, no matter how many measures you put in place to protect yourself online, there will (unfortunately) always be those who will attempt inappropriate contact with you. They may say offensive things to you directly, tag you in offensive posts or even make unsolicited sexual advances. This is why you should make sure you know how to block people on all platforms.
You may see these kinds of interactions as an opportunity to educate people or to engage them in meaningful debate… However, these kinds of people are rarely looking for a nuanced discussion and (unfortunately) you’re unlikely to get them to reverse their stance on the LGBTQIA community.
It’s best to hit the block button and spare yourself the upset that comes from interacting with someone who’s spoiling for a fight.