Stop reading this post and get out outside. I mean it, put down your mobile or walk away from your computer. The weather isn’t good? Doesn’t matter. Go, get away from this techno surveillance society that is always tracking you. Go be with yourself – it isn’t scary. I believe in you!
Odell finds the focus on getting people to put down their screens or log off from social media limiting; fixating on changing an individual’s behaviors ignores what can be done collectively. She sees this new kind of consciousness-raising as a vehicle for political action. As she writes in How to Do Nothing, “I am less interested in a mass exodus from Facebook and Twitter than I am in a mass movement of attention: what happens when people regain control over their attention and begin to direct it again, together.” Odell is not a technophobe. She uses the iNaturalist app on her phone during hikes to identify plants, and in her research-heavy writing, the internet is an indispensable resource. Without it she wouldn’t be able to go down rabbit holes on subjects like the “free” watches advertised on Instagram, a journey into the world of dropshipping that reveals cascading levels of capitalism based on dishonesty and shoddy information.
Filter bubbles are real and impact our world in the most serious of ways. The recent massacre in New Zealand has shown this all too well. You’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can do stop the spread of online hate and the growth of “right wing” violence. Thankfully there is. The video above explores how stopping the spread of entry-level “edgy” jokes can stop people from descending into the internet hate machine.
Oli Frost got inspired by companies earning profit from his data and decided to sell it directly to anybody who wants it. He’s downloaded all his data from Facebook (and you can too) and put it up on eBay for anyone to buy. Proceeds from the sale of his Facebook data will go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Frost also created some other really neat online projects like lifefaker, a tool for Instagram, and Flopstarter, a platform for terrible ideas.
Every like, post, and inane comment since I was 16.
Photos dating back to when I had a fringe and listened to Billy Talent.
Videos dating back to when my band played gigs at kids play centres.
A list of things I’m apparently interested in, including ‘Gluten-free diet’, ‘Jessie Ware’ and ‘Project management software’.
Stats on how many happy birthdays I got, year by year.
All my friend requests that got ignored.
Every party invite I’ve ever had (all three of them).
Loads more, like who I vote for, my boss’s name, and where all my family live.
Now that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is in effect companies are reacting. You may have noticed new messages on websites outlining that they are collecting information on you, or maybe you’ve received emails updating you on new privacy policies. Those notices are a result of the GDPR’s rules around how companies spy on you and use your data for profit. What GDPR is doing in practice is eliminating the business models of some corporations and we might all benefit from these sketchy companies going kaput.
For companies whose entire business model was users not really understanding the entire business model, the cost of direct sunlight may just be too high. Unroll.me, a company that offers to automatically declutter your in-box (while, uh, selling the insight it gleans from your data to companies like Uber), announced that it will no longer serve E.U. customers.
If enough companies follow this lead, one practical effect might be a split internet, with one set of GDPR-compliant websites and services for the E.U. and another set with a somewhat more, let’s say, relaxed attitude toward data for the rest of the world. But even a loosely enforced GDPR creates conditions for improving privacy protections beyond Europe. Facebook, for example, has already said it will extend GDPR-level protections to all of its users — if they opt in to them.
The reclusive state of North Korea doesn’t like it when information leaks in or out. The government is propped up by ignorance, fear, and a lack of a viable alternative. They control their population by limiting access to knowledge; North Korea bans free and open internet just like their neighbour China (and ironically as does their opponent the USA). An international organization has been fighting the censorship in North Korea by attaching USB flash drives to balloons and letting them drop randomly in the country. And it’s making a difference.
Believe it or not, USBs are a significant form of sharing information in North Korea. Many citizens have devices with USB ports. So for many years, North Korean defectors have organized efforts to smuggle outside info into North Korea on USB drives to counter Kim Jong-un’s constant propaganda. But these groups were buying USB drives at cost with limited resources. Flash Drives For Freedom is a campaign that travels the world inspiring people to donate their own USB drives. As a collaboration between the Human Rights Foundation, Forum 280, and USB Memory Direct, Flash Drives for Freedom is significantly increasing the capacities of these North Korean defector groups.