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Social Media Tech

ORCAA, a logo to certify organic algorithms

Her latest project ORCAA, O’Neil Risk Consulting and Algorithmic Auditing, offers services to companies that promise to maintain a more honest algorithm that unlike Facebook, doesn't sacrifice private data to maximize revenue.

“The internet is a propaganda machine,” writes author Cathy O’Neil in her book Weapons of Math Destruction where she criticizes the algorithms which have come to disrupt society and politics.

Her latest project ORCAA, O’Neil Risk Consulting and Algorithmic Auditing, offers services to companies that promise to maintain a more honest algorithm that unlike Facebook, doesn’t sacrifice private data to maximize revenue.

“People don’t really check that things are working,” she tell Fast Company. “They don’t even know how to ask the question.”

For the logo, Cathy O’Neil requested the designer Katie Falkenberg make it look “fat and fierce.” I think they just about nailed it.

Right now, the seal is a simple ring design with ORCAA’s killer whale logo and text that reads, “Algorithm audited for accuracy, bias, and fairness,” with the date. Falkenberg hopes to one day update it so it gets timestamped from the date it’s uploaded to a company’s website. Because algorithms are constantly changing, Falkenberg wants the seal to let users know when an algorithm was last certified. O’Neil says algorithms should be regularly audited–perhaps once every two years or so, depending on the complexity of the code. Falkenberg also hopes to link the seal to O’Neil’s website so users can understand exactly what it means when they see it.

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Fast Food Sharing

Instagram Direct didn’t kill Snapchat. In fact, it solidified Snapchat as the preferred private sharing network for spontaneous sharing.

Instagram has established itself as a platform for an edited life. Sending a friend a bunch of quick, shitty pictures taints the main account. It also lingers.

The fundamental tenet of Snapchat is that your content disappears. It’s as simple as that. Snapchat’s business challenge is in developing ways to further innovate that private, ephemeral experience.

Instagram is for the curated life. Snapchat is for the imperfect life. It’s as simple as that.

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Facebook ‘dead and buried to teens’

In part of the study’s research with Italian Facebook users, 40% of users had never changed their privacy settings and 80% said they “were not concerned or did not care” if their personal data was available and accessed, either by an organisation or an individual.

Everything I post on Facebook is by default public, mainly because it’s the same content I share on Twitter. Given all the data Facebook has about me, I’ve still never deliberately clicked on one of its ads. No one is going to spend the time to manicure their profile settings when Facebook itself doesn’t know if it wants to be a public or private network.

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Many adults assume teens don’t care about privacy because they’re so willing to participate in social media. They want to be in public. But that doesn’t mean that they want to be public. There’s a big difference. Privacy isn’t about being isolated from others. It’s about having the capacity to control a social situation.

Why Do Kids Spend All Day on Social Media? Because They’re Not Allowed Out of the House | MIT  (via courtenaybird)

A la Snapchat, the growing propensity to share in private.

Kids want to control their content and dictate where it gets seen.

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Everyone leaves a trail online whether they actually provided or not. Hence the request for apps that sell privacy.
Everyone leaves a trail online whether they actually provided or not. Hence the request for apps that sell privacy.

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The recorded world: Every step you take

The combination of cameras everywhere—in bars, on streets, in offices, on people’s heads—with the algorithms run by social networks and other service providers that process stored and published images is a powerful and alarming one. We may not be far from a world in which your movements could be tracked all the time, where a stranger walking down the street can immediately identify exactly who you are.

Mobile computers are threatening the world we currently enjoy. You’ve already got 1984 in your pocket. Even the Walden pond is covered.

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Are We Puppets in a Wired World?

“But while we were having fun, we happily and willingly helped to create the greatest surveillance system ever imagined, a web whose strings give governments and businesses countless threads to pull, which makes us…puppets. The free flow of information over the Internet (except in places where that flow is blocked), which serves us well, may serve others better.”

We accept the invasion of privacy in exchange for free services. We’re the product, and we’re doing it to ourselves.

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Open Door Policy

People are voyeurs.

If you put an open door on the left and blank wall on right, the majority of people will walk by and look left. The wall is already known so it’s not worth looking at. Those that continue staring ahead will remain curious about what they left behind, undiscovered.

The inclination to know is natural. Ignorance drives discovery. Where there’s cloudiness, our brain fabricates the other half just so we feel more certain.

No wonder people love social media. You can peek into someone else’s life without even revealing your presence. You may even think you know someone without ever meeting them.

Humans spy on each other, filling in gaps of mystery. Social media leaves the door wide open.

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Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

Teens are sharing more information about themselves on their social media profiles than they did when we last surveyed in 2006:

  • 91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
  • 71% post their school name, up from 49%.
  • 71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
  • 53% post their email address, up from 29%.
  • 20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%.

Everything is public.

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The Anti-Data Movement

We’re building 1984 themselves. We’re creating a goldmine of personal data for governments and brand marketers.

We’re asking for our data to be scraped and aggregated for personalized targeting. Social networks are an extension of your social security number. The Syrian Electronic Army phishes for our passwords.

It’s no wonder teens are using more private social tools like SnapChat to conceal their data and startups are building ways to delete your Googleability across the web.

In the next few years, more people are going to check out of public online behavior rather than checking in. They will go untraceable into the dark areas of the web, cloaked in digital camouflage. Some people will turn the web off completely to take digital sabbaths. Others will find ways to participate online through an alter ego.

We are the ads, the hunters and the hunted.  Marketers dictate our identities, tailoring what we should do or consume next.  

How do we engage the Internet without turning it off completely?  No island is disconnected.