Here are 9 tech tips on how to stay safe during a protest

In the days following Minneapolis resident George Floyd’s death, protesters across the globe have taken to the streets to protest police brutality and systemic racism toward the Black community while stressing the importance of Black lives. Some protestors have unfortunately been met with aggression from law enforcement — in New York, for example, state Senator John Liu described multiple situations in which authorities used unnecessary force.

Amid growing reported instances of excessive force on protestors, a TikTok user and techie by the name of Rey Jarrell recently shared several tech tips on how to protect one’s identity should one decide to participate in a protest. See below. 

1. Do not post your location

“Do not post on your social media about your attendance or your whereabouts,” Rey cautions. “Do not click ‘attending’ on Facebook events.” 

According to Rey, police often scan through social media to make arrests weeks and months after protests have occurred. 

2. Turn on the Signal app to communicate with friends

Started by a nonprofit, Signal is a messaging app that prioritizes privacy. Ideal for those who want to avoid having their communications policed, the app uses encryption to ensure conversations are secure. Not even the app’s creators can read your messages or listen in on your calls. 

3. Disable location services on all your apps

Rey emphasizes that you can still be tracked via the apps you use, depending on whether those apps require you to share your location. She does, however, note that you should not put your phone on airplane mode, as your friends and family might need to reach you. 

4. If you have an iPhone, disable the facial or fingerprint recognition and use the passcode lock instead

Rey says that authorities have been known to force people to unlock their phones using facial or fingerprint recognition. A passcode is a good safeguard against this. 

5. Write the contact information for the ACLU or a local lawyer who is supporting these protests on your skin

Rey says this is particularly important if the police do end up confiscating your phone and attempt to question you. She cautions against writing the contact information of anybody you personally know and encourages you to instead share the information of someone who can represent you the best. You can also write the information on a notecard and keep it in your pocket. 

6. Wear a face mask

“Wear a face mask to protect against the virus and against facial recognition software,” Rey says. Again, this will prevent law enforcement from attempting to trace your whereabouts. 

7. Cover any distinguishing feature you may have and similarly blur these features out on other protestors when filming

This tip aligns with the previous one about protecting your identity.

8. Leave your phone locked when using your camera

In the event a police officer confiscates your phone while you’re filming a protest, they will not be able to access any data from the device if you’ve already locked it.

9. Wipe metadata from photos by taking screenshots and sharing the screenshots of the original photos

Almost all photos that are taken contain metadata — a set of data that provides information on who the owner of those photos is, among other things. Taking a screenshot removes an officer’s ability to quickly figure out who took the photo you’ve shared. 

In addition to the tips above, we also highly recommend reading this list of essentials you should bring with you to a protest. 

More from In The Know:

How to support the Black Lives Matter movement and protestors

These brands are financially supporting Black Lives Matter causes

20 Black-owned fashion brands to support today, tomorrow and always

These pillows featuring Black activists celebrate resilience and resistance

Listen to the latest episode of our pop culture podcast, We Should Talk: