The role of social media came into light in the Arab Spring, the anti-government protests and uprising in the Middle East and North Africa in the early 2010s.
From then on, we’ve seen that across the world, technology is not limited to be a tool for outreach but also to organize protests, avoid surveillance and persecution, as well as work out against the government or authoritarian crackdown on communication.
Be prepared. Fight the good fight. Resist. Responsibly.
Whether you want to keep your friends or family informed about your whereabouts or have trouble finding your friends in a massive crowd, this app will help you keep a track of people in your circle by sharing everyone’s real-time location.
This app provides an alert system that automatically notifies emergency contacts with the tap of a button – they don’t need to have the app. The SOS alert sends the GPS coordinates so you can be located, and you can choose to attach a photo as well. Like a check-in, you can also send regular updates with the location. Pro tip: It works with Google Assistant
Ditch WhatsApp and, definitely SMS, if you’re looking to share something and don’t want anyone (government agencies, police, et al) to intercept your conversations. Signal is a private messaging app with end-to-end encryption so that nobody other than the intended recipient can intercept your chat.
In a group of protestors, Firechat can be used for messaging each other without any mobile data or Wi-Fi – only via Bluetooth. If the authorities shut down the internet and mobile connectivity, you can use FireChat to communicate with others in proximity.
More people using it in a group or around a campus makes it even more effective because of the bigger mesh of connected devices.
Bridgefy is a similar app, with a limited free tier.
txti is a nifty web app to create lightweight, text-based web pages. If you have something to share for broader consumption, just head to http://txti.es and write/paste your text. You’ll instantly get a link to a published webpage with your text so that you can share it around.
A lot of people use Twitter anyway to share/consume information about a protest. In case of an internet shutdown, remember that you can use Twitter via SMS. Details.
Also, a quick how-to:
- Make sure you’ve linked your phone to your Twitter account.
- Locate your country’s Twitter shortcode. In India, users can send SMS messages to 9248948837 and will receive messages from TWITTR.
- Simply send a text message containing your Tweet to the number.
- Here’s a list of all Twitter SMS commands to perform even more actions.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) masks your IP address and location, if you wish to, so that you cannot be tracked or identified.
ExpressVPN and TunnelBear are two of my recommendations. While the former is a paid subscription, the latter has a generous free tier (500MB/month). If you don’t want to pay for a VPN service, SuperVPN works just fine. It has annoying ads, but the free tier works well for unlimited usage.
Lede photo by Paroma Mukherjee (@ParomaMukherjee on Twitter)
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