Security and Privacy on the Internet
I found the TED video featuring Eli Pariser to be fascinating. This was total news to me that this algorithmic filtering, which places us in a filter bubble goes on. I was aware that Facebook places certain items on my page that are linked to what I have searched, but I didn’t realize the pervasiveness of this practice. I didn’t think about the fact that seeing certain things which interest me, might be keeping me from viewing other things that are out there. When I googled this, there was a link to another search engine called Duck, Duck, Go, which claims not to filter. They actually have a link to Mr. Pariser’s lecture. I am wondering if anyone has used this and what they think.
Most of the time that I am on the internet, I am using Google, Facebook or Yahoo, and therefore I am at the mercy of their filters. I think that most of us would like to think that we are complex people, and that our brain schema could not possibly be anticipated so fast. How can I critically read the word, and the world and encourage my students to do so (NETS*S 3B, 4D), when Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others are already critically filtering out what I will be able to see. I think it would be important to make students aware that if they were doing the same search they might come up with different results. I agree with Eli that we need to see other points of view. Some of the videos we watched this week, I didn’t agree with. After watching them, my opinion was not changed on the topic. However, I highly value the chance to see what opinions are out there. It gives me a chance to touch base with the whole of the human race. It makes me aware of how others might view certain topics. I think this makes me and students as well, more valuable to the democratic process and in our place as informed, global citizens.
Filtering feels like an invasion of my privacy, but I can’t only blame Facebook. I feel that there are so many mixed messages with social media. Be confident, put yourself out there, market yourself, but as Lori Andrews informed us don’t hold a glass of wine. If I were working with older students, I would want to caution them about what they are putting on social media sites. It would be a fun experiment to show some random pictures to students and have them interpret them and then see how closely their interpretation matches what is really happening in the picture. I think it is sad that employers use these types of assumptions to narrow applicants before interviewing. However, it is reality.
Hasan Elahi gave another attention-grabbing example of privacy being invaded for the supposed keeping of security. I can only imagine how that feels to be interrogated at length. The most I have ever been subjected to was a random luggage search. I am assuming that because of his name and travels that he was profiled. I found his artistic documentation of things he ate, and places that he went to be of high entertainment value. It is like an on-line diary of his life with visuals. He turned a stressful situation into something of artistic value. Great example of NETS*S 1b. Creating original works as a means of personal or group expression. I think this was an unfortunate experience for him and needlessly drawn out, but I will take the benefits of having the FBI over not having them. I think they may have helped as many as they have inconvenienced. As Bruce Schneier says, it is a trade-off. It may be a false one, but I will take it.
If I worked with older students, I might show them this video and discuss the way that he turned this situation into something positive and artistic, instead of being bitter. I might ask the students how they could use this type of pictorial diary to document something in their life. I think this video could also lead into an important discussion of not making assumptions about people based on race, gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, social economic status, and physical appearance.
The story of the couple who had been burglarized after posting a Facebook status update would be a great example for a secondary class. I would show this to students and caution them about updating Facebook status or other social media status with detailed information. I could definitely see this as being part of a health class. It might be fun to pass out some made up status updates and ask students to interpret what type of information they could gather from these updates if they were a criminal. It would connect with NETS*S 5a. Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.
I found the BlackBerry Messenger article interesting. It is amazing that the encrypted nature of the free messaging on the pay-as-you-go phone protected the rioters while they were looting various neighborhoods near London. I would use this information to lead a discussion with older students about ethics and how we should not use information to take advantage of a situation.
The internet has opened up a world of possibilities for communication, collaboration and expression. We have to balance our needs for privacy and security. As we read in the above examples, the internet can hurt innocent people and help guilty people. We must think critically about how we expose ourselves on this and other media and educate our students on this as well.