Protecting Yourself Online and in the Field This Runoff Election Season
Best Practices for Poll Workers, Campaign Workers, Elections Officials and Observers
This guidance is not legal advice and does not replace advice from your legal counsel.
Georgia, it’s election season again! Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in threats, bot activity and other concerning online behavior on social media. As disinformation around the Georgia elections continues to spread rapidly, we wanted to provide additional social media guidance to ensure we all stay safe online. Our right to vote and our civic engagement activities are protected. Know your rights and protect yourself!
Threats, discriminatory or hateful language and the release of personal information violate most platforms’ Terms of Service. Report these accounts so that they can be removed. However, there are unmoderated sites where threats and the release of personal information can spread and be amplified. Given the increased level of inauthentic and concerning online behavior, we strongly recommend taking the suggested precautions and actions below to protect yourself online. We recommended these steps for poll workers, campaign staff, canvassers, activists and anyone dealing with unwanted attention.
- Add two-factor authentication on all your social media and email accounts. Google this or see below: it’s really easy!
- Screenshot, block, & report concerning messages to platforms. If you suspect an account to be a bot or suspicious OR if any posts/messages directed at you or others seem strange or concerning in any way, you should screenshot the post/message, block the account, and report it to the platform for terms of service violations.
- Make all of your social media profiles private. If you prefer not to make your social media private, consider not posting any identifying information about your day-to-day activities both in and outside of work.
- Deactivate location and photo geotagging from all of your social media accounts.
- If you begin to receive a large number of notifications, consider:
- On Twitter: Turn OFF DMs, mute notifications from all of the available categories, and turn off notifications for your accounts on your phone.
- On Facebook: Remove your name, email and phone number from search. Limit who can message you.
Two Factor Authentication (2FA): You can learn more here.
Read this article to learn about blocking and reporting tweets, making your account private, deactivating geotagging functions, adding two-factor, and more.
- Turn ON “Two Factor Authentication” and verify all login requests so you can flag anyone trying to get into your account.
- Turn OFF “Location Information” to prevent you leaking your location through your Twitter statuses.
- Turn OFF “Photo Tagging” so that random troll accounts can’t tag you on harassing content or statuses.
- Turn OFF “Discoverability” by email or phone.
- Disable public visibility of your profile by clicking here. On the right-hand side, turn OFF “Your profile’s public visibility.” Click here for more information.
Your Facebook privacy settings can be found here. Change the settings to:
- Remove yourself from search results.
- Only allow friend requests from people with mutual friends OR turn requests off completely.
- Only allow your friends to see your current posts. If you want to post something work-related, only set those individual posts as “public”. Protect past timeline posts by watching this how to video.
- Only allow your phone number and email to be viewed by you (“only you” setting).
- Remove featured photos and/or any private information in your profile’s “About” section.
- Always call 911 if there’s a major threat.
- The nonpartisan voter protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE if you need help with voting locations, problems, and questions.
- Visit www.peachvote.com and read the “Voter Bill of Rights” to learn more about your rights as a Georgia voter and find additional resources on the Georgia law on voter intimidation and more.
- Do NOT amplify disinformation. Don’t retweet/repost elections disinformation; doing so will only boost the algorithms, which means more people will see it. Also, repeating a false claim—even to debunk it— makes people more likely to believe the claim is true. Agent spreading disinformation understand that amplifying voter fraud claims destroys confidence in our elections and lays the groundwork for suppressive policies and intimidation. We cannot play into this dangerous strategy.
- Do NOT interact with bad actors online or in-person. Much like schoolyard bullies, most of these folks want to drive you to react or acknowledge the harassment. Engaging could further motivate them to escalate their harassment. If you notice that some accounts are being especially persistent, screenshot them and report them to the platform for terms of service violations.
- Report any specific threats to law enforcement immediately. Online threats and in-person threats are both illegal.
- First, if you’re dealing with an immediate threat at a polling location or elsewhere, call 911.
- Second, if you are in a position where you receive specific and credible threats, especially ones involving your address or location, report them to law enforcement immediately, even if you are concerned that law enforcement may not be able to trace or find the people responsible. Report and create a record of the threat immediately. Include the date, time, and situation/way the threat was received.