It is wise to understand general internet safety, as outlined at places such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_safety. Whilst these articles discuss online scams and predators, there are additional factors you need to consider if you are having doubts as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rule number 1 – do not get caught researching Jehovah’s Witnesses.
If you are viewing this site from a laptop or desktop you will have noticed the following image to the left of each article.
Click the button to be taken to google.com. This is for your convenience to avoid being caught looking at this site. If using a phone or tablet, it is quicker to swipe to get rid of your browser.
Many Jehovah’s Witnesses have ended up in trouble after someone sees their internet history, or discovers their online profile and comments on social media. If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is critical that you do not share your doubts with anyone, or get caught researching the religion. Such comments and internet history will lead to angry conversations with parents, meetings with elders, punishment and restrictions, along with the possibility of being disfellowshipped.
If you are going to research the Watchtower, always use a private browser. This way your login details and history are erased when you close the browser. Different browsers use the following terms:
- Chrome – Incognito
- Safari – Private
- Firefox – Private
Smart phone browsers have a similar feature, such as the private button when using Safari on an iPhone.
If you sign up to a forum such as Reddit, do not use a name that can be identified as you, and never post personal details, such as your name, address, congregation, phone number or email. Be careful when discussing topics that you do not include information that someone can link back to you.
An added precaution is to create a separate email account with a nondescript name for creating accounts on forums, or sending emails to sites such as this. Do not create an email name that describes your feelings about the religion, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, in case it appears in some browser when your parents log on. Minimise use of personal details when setting it up, and take care not to include your name in the description or email signature.
Be extra careful of Facebook. The platform is notorious for changing privacy settings, and information you may have thought was private becomes public. There are many good support groups for exJWs on facebook, but sometimes an administrator has incorrectly managed the settings and the information becomes public. Active Jehovah’s Witnesses also attempt to join private groups in order to find and report the members as apostates. Assume anything you post on Facebook may become public, and therefore do not post anything incriminating for as long as you do not want others to become aware of where you stand on religious matters.
Ensure you create and use an Alias (another name) that in no way identifies you.
We recommend against meeting strangers from online forums. Whilst Jehovah’s Witness related forums are filled with genuine people offering excellent advice, the anonymity of the internet means it may also attract predators and scammers. If you do want to meet other former members that you have not met in person before, larger meetup groups are a safer place to start, take a friend with you, and always make sure you are in a safe public area.
As discussed elsewhere, if you express doubts to your parents or others about Watchtower teachings, you will be subjected to scrutiny by your parents and the elders. This can result in restrictions on what you can do and who you can associate with. If you want to do research and plan what your next steps are, it takes care and preparation to avoid unnecessary trouble.
The fact that you need to be in fear of researching your own religion is telling. Information control is a key to all high-control, totalitarian organizations, both political and religious. If Watchtower has nothing to hide and teaches the truth, it will stand up to scrutiny. Any group that insists you believe their propaganda, and avoid alternative viewpoints, should be viewed with suspicion. You should not believe everything you read about any topic, but it is your right to freely research and make decisions on the weight of evidence. It is sad this article is even necessary, yet it is and being cautious will save you a lot of trouble in to long run.