Tag Archives: control

The Problem With a Personalized Internet

The internet is trying to make our browser more personalized than ever before using complex algorithms. Too bad that’s gunna bite us right in the motherboard later when we try to find something we don’t usually look for.


A Piece About Social Media and Privacy

A Piece About Social Media and Privacy

Been a while bloggers. Absence makes the data stream grow deeper doesn’t it? 

Just wanted to share this well written perspective piece about technology. Gives some good insight into the user perspective of social media privacy. 


Robots with Soul


#HistoryOfHashtags

I am amazed at how many people in my millennialist generation do not actually know how to use the common #hashtag. For those of you who know what the #hashtag is, you are well aware of the delight of feedback it offers to you when you use social networking such as Twitter, Instagram, and now Facebook (much to their users chagrin). For those of you who are not familiar with the #hashtag I have found this somewhat boring video that is a visual understanding of the #hashtag:

If you are less visual and more musical, here is a catchy, cheesy, and friggin nerdy little ditty about the history of #hashtag:

I certainly hope you are sitting embarrassed in your office, school, or home because some geek with a trombone just sang to you about #hashtags. It brings me great joy to think so.

There are ways to use #hashtags to build a campaign or brand online as well. Many sites offer the ability to see how popular certain #hashtags to group info relevant to an advertising campaign or certain entertainers on social media. Sites like HashtagIg.com  show you how many photos have a particular #hashtag as well as the top trending on Instagram. Another similar site is HashAtIt.com helps you search certain #hashtag conversations online to follow and you can refine your search by social network. Twitter offers you trending #hashtags on the left sidebar of your account admin homepage while also making it easy to find conversations similar to those you have already tagged in their “#Discover” navigation on the top left.

#Hashtags are important to help you build a Follower base, it is important to choose your #hashtags accurately and wisely. Here is a great visual provided by Twitter to help you choose a #hashtag for your comments, statuses, and images:


I can’t say I’m any different…

I came across a comic strip on my news feed on Facebook. It’s almost ironic and bittersweet that we find information that tells us exactly what’s wrong with us, using some of the same tools that are the cause of what’s wrong with us.

This is a social commentary. One on our use of social networks as a means of affirmation that generations before us didn’t need. At least not to the massive scale we need it. It challenges the idea that we have not matured even as people because of our need for constant communication and affirmation. A social trend even I, an individual who enjoys researching and continually combating such behavior, has to admit I fall prey to.

Why?

Because its socially acceptable.

The issues social networks present are astounding. It seems for every single effort a programmer and idea caster bring to fruition, there are at least 10 problems that present themselves that are never foreseen. Users are becoming users and abusers. Privacy becomes publicity. The world gets smaller, and everything becomes personal.

Why?

Because now we can.

I encourage you to check out the comic strip link above.


Minimalism


Social Network Suicide Prevention: Is It Enough?

 

When you wake up on a Sunday morning, the last thing you think you’re going to encounter is a suicide threat on one of your social network feeds. I certainly didn’t anyway. Perhaps for some people that’s pretty “normal” (and I use the term very lightly). For me it wasn’t. And of all places it was on Instagram! A little iPod note screen shot talking about having decided on a suicide date. It caught me off guard so much I wasn’t sure what to do. Of course after a few minutes of reflection I decided to look up if there was some way I could report the person was suicidal, and thankfully I found it. Though others were coming to the rescue and commenting on the person’s status, I wasn’t going to try to talk down someone I hardly knew, and I certainly wasn’t going to let them post something that sensitive, without reporting it.

I still wonder if it was the right thing to do or not.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provided me with some great information about what social networks do in situations like this. Unfortunately Instagram was not on that list so it took me a little more time to try to figure out how to do it…which partially is why I’m writing this post. But, what shocked me was how little the social networks actually did in these situations.

Naturally when you send a report to a social network, they have a policy that they are not liable for the person’s actions after initiating contact. What they do is take the information from the report and send a cute little e-mail informing the person that an anonymous user reported them for (fill in the blank) and offer them the contact info of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline where the individual could get professional help, which includes both a phone number, and a live chat. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a very sensitive community, with the understanding that a person doesn’t have to be suicidal at all to call. On their site they say:

If you feel you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Lifeline. People have called us for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and even loneliness.”

Super nice of them. Here is the kicker…

Of course the site Admin also informs the user that the information they’ve posted is a violation of the Terms of Agreement and promotes the issue of (insert issue here section whatever part who cares) and they will have their profile terminated. Instagram and other Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter terminate the account to prevent the escalation of violence. Instagram even has refused to allow certain terms to be searched and in some cases have warnings attached to keywords (click here for more info)

Yeah it’s a bit harsh…and can escalate the personal torment of the individual.

I can’t help but ask myself how I feel about this whole scenario? Is it even worth it to report the issue if it means removing the self expression of the user? Does it even help the person if therapy is offered to the user? Perhaps not.

Knowing all this information I still had to make the decision whether or not I was going to report the user for self harm. And I did. Not because I felt it was right for the profile to be terminated, and not because I was obligated by any moral or social standing…but because I wanted to give the user another option. It is said that the main reason a person will post about suicidal thoughts is because they want either some kind of affirmation that they should go through with it, or they want someone to show they care enough to try to stop them. If they were suicidal and didn’t post anything to a social network or even tell anyone then one can assume that they had their mind already made up, and nothing can really be done for them…a sad assumption, but not an unfounded one. There are a lot of misconceptions about suicide. But even severely depressed people have mixed feelings about death, and most struggle until the very last moment between life and an end to their pain. Most suicidal people don’t want to die…they just want their pain to stop or someone to prove they care. The impulse to end it all, does not last forever.

After my struggle to report the user I posted info on how to do it incase anyone else wanted to try. Another user (one I know personally) pointed out how very little the social media sites actually do and that he felt these threats are the best form of awareness. He isn’t wrong. Seeing a real threat for yourself is definitely a wakeup call. But I feel it is better to offer the options to a hurting individual. If they do contact the Lifeline, law enforcement and intervention can be provided for the individual (because IP addresses are used to locate the nearest help center and ultimately the individual in crisis). I would rather offer them the option than nothing at all.

So are the policies of Social Networks really effective in these cases? That I can’t say for sure. every situation is different. Legally there is very little they can do, and with the masses they have to keep track of it would be unfair to ask them to take any more responsibility on the matter. But what I can say is that it offers a helpful option and removes the individual from potentially being a threat to others and ridicule.

 

Below are a series of helpful and thoughtful videos that touch on several subjects involving and related to depression and suicide (I’m addicted to TedTalks okay? They’re just so informative). 

 

Feel free to leave you comments, questions, or concerns on the matter or videos below.  

 

 


Verizon Phones and Big Brother: How “We The People” Let It Happen

As posted this morning by none other than British News The Guardian, the United States is up in arms about finding out that Verizon has been providing cell phone call information to the Government for a few years now.

The Verizon order was made under the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) as amended by the Patriot Act of 2001, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But one of the authors of the Patriot Act, Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, said he was troubled by the Guardian revelations. He said that he had written to the attorney general, Eric Holder, questioning whether “US constitutional rights were secure”. -The Guardian

He said: “I do not believe the broadly drafted Fisa order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”

Another article I found says a bit more on the subject:

In 2006 USA Today reported that the NSA had a similarly expansive database of cellular data, not only from Verizon but also from AT&T and BellSouth. That program was launched as part of the push for tighter security and surveillance in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Despite public uproar and several lawsuits against cell phone carriers following the revelation, the NSA never officially announced that the database was shut down. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a lobbying group that promotes digital privacy, still has pending litigation seeking to curtail the NSA’s practices. - Time ; 7 Things to Know About the Government’s Secret Database of Telephone Data

Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/06/05/7-things-to-know-about-the-governments-secret-database-of-cellular-data/#ixzz2VT7atHbQ

May people think this information is new, but it really isn’t. It’s ages old, and without this scandal we still know that it was bound to happen sooner or later anyway since the Patriot Act after 9/11 was voted in. I had personally figured this had been happening much longer than these articles had allegedly stated, perhaps even before 9/11. In fact I just assumed I was being “followed” since the day I bought a cell phone, got an e-mail address, or even joined Pinterest, that someone out there was collecting my information. How? Because I signed a contract that said my information might go elsewhere for any undisclosed reason beyond my knowledge. Why? Because everyone else was doing it.

The issues we’re dealing with are ones philosophers and average Joe’s’ and Jane’s’ alike have been concerned about for some time. Though newer generations don’t mind the subject so much. Our personal information has been able to be tracked sine we checked the “I Agree” buttons on Facebook , Google, Yahoo etc… Terms of Agreements. The issue is not really “Can the Government do that?” The issue is…we let them by giving our information away. Authors Hal Abelson, Ken Lendeen, and Harry Lewis sate in their book Blown to Bits:

We lose control of our personal information because of things we do to ourselves, and things others do to us. Of things we do to be ahead of the curve, and things we do because everyone else is doing them…We give away information about ourselves — voluntarily leave visible footprints of our daily lives — because we judge, perhaps without thinking about it very much, that the benefits out weigh the costs.

Ever bought a grocery club card, joined a social media group, paid taxes, walked into a store with security cameras? Then you should know already that you’ve been watched. To be fair not every surveillance camera is owned by Big Brother, and not every grocery store is selling you a card so some creep can know what kind of turkey you buy, but with each of these actions we are continually handing over our rights to privacy and offered limited control over it to make us feel a little better. We’re offered the incentive of a lower price for getting a grocery card so we can be statistics on consumer reports. We’re keeping in touch with our friends on social networks in exchange for having ads targeted at us. We’re willingly walking along the street allowing cameras to look at us, keep track of us, all for the sake of feeling a sense of security without a second thought. We pay money and give information to a government, with the mindset of patriotism and the idea that they’ll keep things running so we can live our lives feeling safe (though lately I’m not sure many feel this way anymore). We are willingly handing over our privacy. Or are we? Has the idea of privacy changed since the dawn of the technological age? It’s hard to say. All I know is privacy doesn’t seem like it means being left alone.


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