Deleting Facebook Improves Your Health

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You’ve probably heard that Facebook is bad for you and shrugged it off thinking that it’s not a big deal. Turns out it is, and you really should get off of Facebook.

We all know how Facebook spies on use and profits from our secrets by selling our data. Tracking blockers and using privacy friendly browsers can help protect you from their spying.

It’s also now well known that Facebook harbours white nationalists and profits from cult-like groups (QAnon), and those too can be avoided. Facebooks real damage to your well being is more insidious than its attempt to promote radicalism and profiting from it. Facebook will make you feel awful because of what others post there.

The solution to make your life better: stop going to Facebook.

Is deleting your account too extreme? Start by limiting how often you go to the site, maybe just once a week or once a month. Definitely don’t post on the site.

“Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being,” the researchers wrote in a Harvard Business Review article. “These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year.” Yikes.

Why is too much Facebook bad for your emotional health? Previous research has shown that the social network creates a sort of false peer pressure. Since most people are cautious about posting negative or upsetting experiences on Facebook, the social network creates a misleading environment where everyone seems to be doing better and having more fun than you are. As the researchers put it, “Exposure to the carefully curated images from others’ lives leads to negative self-comparison.”

Read more.

Tired of Google’s Control Over Your Life? Try These Instead

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I’ve been using Duck Duck Go instead of Google search for years and don’t regret it. There are less ads and the search results include more diverse sources – plus I don’t get trapped in Google’s filter bubble. Over at No More Google they have compiled a list of services you can use to get Google out of your life. Like reducing meat in your diet, reducing Google in your life doesn’t have to be absolute. Just do what you’re comfortable with, maybe that’s no longer using Chrome or maybe it’s switching away from Gmail.

Richard Stallman outlined many reasons you shouldn’t use Google, here’s a snippet:

Censorship

  • Amazon and Google have cut off domain-fronting, a feature used to enable people in tyrannical countries to reach communication systems that are banned there.
  • French blogger Claims YouTube Tried to Censor Juncker Interview.
  • Google has agreed to perform special censorship of Youtube for the government of Pakistan, deleting views that the state opposes.This will help the illiberal Pakistani state suppress dissent.
  • Youtube’s “content ID” automatically deletes posted videos in a way copyright law does not require.
  • YouTube has made private deals with the copyright industry to censor works that are fair use.More information.
  • Google shut off Alexa O’Brien’s Google Drive account, denying her access to it, because her reporting on Chelsea Manning’s trial included copies of al-Qa’ida propaganda that was presented as evidence.
  • Never trust a remote storage company to keep anything but a spare backup copy. When you store that, put your files into an archive and encrypt it so that the company can’t tell what’s in them — not even their file names.
  • Vox lawyers got Youtube to take down criticisms of a video published by Vox, and threaten the critics with punishment, too.
  • The videos were almost surely fair use, but Youtube decided against the critics anyway. This shows how Youtube’s general submission to the copyright industry constrict’s people’s rights.

Check out No More Google.

How We can Track COVID-19 and NOT Invade Your Privacy

To figure out the spread of COIV-19, or other diseases, the technique of contact tracing gets used by researchers to decipher who is likely to have been exposed. When too many people are infected then contact tracing takes too much labour and subsequently becomes less useful, which has led tech companies and government to propose the ability to track you everywhere you go. You might think “what’s the big deal?”, the big deal is that this tracking will continue past the pandemic and it doesn’t need to happen in the first place. There are ways to build technical contact tracing without the government or an undemocratic mega-corporation spying or profiteering off of your personal location.

The wonderful Nicky Case put together a comic explaining how we can have technologically-driven contact tracing without spying on your everyday actions.

nick case covid tracking privacy

Read the comic.

Technical documents:
Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing
Temporary Contact Numbers, a decentralized, privacy-first contact tracing protocol
Quantifying SARS-CoV-2 transmission suggests epidemic control with digital contact tracing

Canada to Update Digital Privacy Laws, Hold Companies Accountable for Breaches

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Last year Canadians witnessed too many data breaches of their data and the federal government is reacting. Large Canadian corporations didn’t do enough to protect their databases against attackers and as a result personal data of Canadians is now in the hands of criminals. Canada will now follow the lead of Europe and other jurisdictions by holding corporations financially responsible for any future breaches. This should help force companies to respect their customers.

“It will be significant and meaningful to make it very clear that privacy is important. Compensation, of course, is one aspect of it,” said Bains, adding that the government also wants “to demonstrate to businesses very clearly that there are going to be significant penalties for non-compliance with the law. That’s really my primary goal.”

Statistics Canada says that about 57 per cent of Canadians online reported experiencing a cyber security incident in 2018.

Ryan Berger, a privacy lawyer with Lawson Lundell in Vancouver, said legislating compensation could get private companies to start taking privacy more seriously.

“It will incentivize organizations … to take steps to protect that information and ensure that, for instance, health information is encrypted,” he said.

“So right now, there aren’t the sorts of financial implications for them if they fail to do that.”

Read more.

Tips for Remaining Anonymous in the Surveillance Age

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Surveillance capitalism benefits companies who have large datasets about what people do and where they are – without the consent of those being monitored. The pervasive modern surveillance which is around us everyday from our phones to private cameras can be connected to large corporations or governments for nefarious purposes. Sometimes it can seem innocuous (but not positive) like ads or utterly terrifying like what’s happening in China.

So what to do if you don’t want to be monitored? Step one is to constantly pester politicians about it. You can use privacy enhancing browser extensions or go a little further and get glasses that prevents cameras from seeing your face.

Today, artificial intelligence (AI) technology, such as facial recognition, has become more widespread in public and private spaces — including schools, retail storesairports, concert venues and even to unlock the newest iPhones. Civil-liberty groups concerned about the potential for misuse have urged politicians to regulate the systems. A recent Washington Post investigation, for instance, revealed FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents used facial recognition to scan millions of Americans’ driver’s licenses without their knowledge to identify suspects and undocumented immigrants.

The motivation to seek out antidotes to an over-powerful force has political and symbolic significance for Doctorow, an L.A.-based science-fiction author and privacy advocate. His father’s family fled the Soviet Union, which used surveillance to control the masses.

“We are entirely too sanguine about the idea that surveillance technologies will be built by people we agree with for goals we are happy to support,” he said. “For this technology to be developed and for there to be no countermeasures is a road map to tyranny.”

Read more.

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