State and federal agencies routinely monitor online accounts and activity to detect political dissidents. Their targets vary and the degree of surveillance varies dependent upon the party currently in power. Cognizance of what you post and reveal on social media and messaging apps should be practiced to avoid creating a profile that could be considered extremist or oppositional. The intent is not to aid criminals in avoidance of detection but instead to assist law abiding citizens who may be a target of politically motivated government overreach.
Avoid Government Suspicion Online - Guide for the law abiding citizenship
Fear of reprisals should not necessarily prevent you from maintaining an online presence. IOT coordinate with others, view family photos, communicate with distant friends, and stay up to date on current events or local happenings; social media and messaging apps are essential. The intent of this brief is not to enable unlawful actions or allow criminal actors to maintain an online presence but rather to allow citizens, who’s political alignments cause them to be falsely labeled as extremist, to continue the same freedom of speech as other citizens.
When possible, do not use your real biographical data. Substitute your name and date-of-birth for an alias on apps/services. If your name is John Smith, you could keep the name John but use an alias for the last name. This helps maintain a familiar presence among those you know without creating an easy to dox (search for and publish private or identifying information about an individual on the Internet, typically with malicious intent)/target online handle.
Do not share location data (either by enabling/allowing location sharing, or by posting images that reveal location, or by typing in text that reveals location). Be careful of what you share; posting an image of family should not be avoided in general as this is a common means to share your life with friends/family. If certain precautions are taken, social media can be used as intended. Avoid politically charged engagement. Do not like, share, comment posts that reveal your political affiliation. Most targets of government reprisals stem from public citizen reports. Some stem from active surveillance of government sources (to include the social/messaging app itself). Do not follow/subscribe to potential targets of reprisal unless precautions are taken.
Ensure that emails and phone numbers used to create accounts are secure or unlinked to your person. The level you take to create "shell" contact data varies based on the type of content you want to engage with or types of content you want to share. Generally if your intent is just to view political content that opposes approved narratives, you can do so without building a false persona, but once you begin to engage (comment, share) you risk reprisals and surveillance. Save your opinions and beliefs for offline persons you trust as anything engaged with online creates a permanent history that could be compiled and used against you.
Research the security and alliances of the apps/services you use to determine which are prone to collusion with the government. Adjust your engagement/activity based on the security of the platform. Practice OPSEC (Operational Security) and PERSEC (Personal Security) at all times.
Summary: The focus we've outlined is on the Grayman mentality, which frequently counters other goals such as “fighting tyranny”, “being patriotic”, “sharing your faith”. These other goals are difficult if your intent is to avoid persecution and reprisals and the intent here isn’t to claim that being gray is a greater goal, it’s just the option presented for those that need to avoid attention. The intent here also isn’t to label the whole of government as being opposed to the citizenry; it simply to inform that bias exists on all levels and it is better to be smart online and avoid reprisal.