Like so many issues facing us when it comes to online interactions, this is an utterly nuanced conversation. Yes, online verification is important for protecting real people from bots, scams, and impersonators. Yes, anonymity is also crucial for vulnerable people, or people who are very privacy-minded. No, it’s not necessarily in social media conglomerates’ best interest to police the content on their platforms. No, that doesn’t mean they should be above retribution when it comes to extremist, hateful, violent-inducing content that has very real-life consequences for their users.
Back in the late 1990s government rows and corruption controversies were often born from suspicious dealings over a pint in dingy pubs near Westminster. Roll forward a quarter of a century and today's sleaze rows centre around Boris ”Two Phones” Johnson and his now ousted advisor, the self-confessed geek, Dominic Cummings. The problem is those phones: what’s on them and what has technology been used to hide?
The lack of standards for consumer online data privacy is evident around the globe. But as the Editorial Board of the New York Times made clear in their article, “America, Your Privacy Settings Are All Wrong”, they are embarrassingly low in the US.
Everything is wrong with the framing of this story. It’s wrong because this is a global health emergency, and we need solutions which are both global and very human. Politicians are arguing over it, governments are scaring privacy and human rights campaigners, all of which risks failing to see the bigger picture.
Scrolling through socials over the course of March, it’s been impossible to miss that the celebrations of International Women’s Month have two distinct objectives. While many mark the achievements women have already accomplished, the bulk of the focus rightly remains on empowering future generations and solving the problems still facing women today. It’s been a challenging few weeks to say the least, and as frustrated as I’ve felt by the continued misogyny facing us, I’ve also been truly inspired by the strength of women who are, yet again, joining collectively to stand up for one another.
Deepfakes are a relatively new phenomenon, but they’re becoming ever more prevalent as our social worlds migrate further and further online. If you haven’t come across one before, the concept is pretty much what it says on the tin – fake videos of real people. They’re often created with the intention of humor, but the dangerous truth is that, when well made, they are difficult to discern from reality.
As many people grow more concerned with the ways their data privacy is at risk, there remains a lack of general awareness of exactly why we need to worry. We all know it’s creepy when we suddenly get ads for Mummy and Me classes after buying one baby shower gift. But in the end, as Gilad Edelman points out, “There is no human being snooping through your laundry, just a machine trying to sell you more stuff.”
Clubhouse, the latest invite-only, all-audio social network, is all the rage. But experts express serious concerns about how app users’ data is at risk. Is listening to your favourite celeb chatting live worth risking your personal info (or that of your entire address book)?