Removing my children from the Internet

New Yorker Ultrasound Share

Excerpt from this article:

About a week ago I began deleting all photos and videos of my children from the Internet. This is proving to be no easy task. Like many parents, I’ve excitedly shared virtually every step, misstep and milestone that myself and my children have muddled our way through.

This is not only about privacy, it’s also about your child’s identity. We are human beings, not amoebas. How would you like it if your mother and father were in charge of your social media presence? That’s what you’re doing to your children.

And that brings us to my tipping point, Amy Webb’s article on Slate, in which she shares the story of “Kate” and her share-happy parents:

With every status update, YouTube video, and birthday blog post, Kate’s parents are preventing her from any hope of future anonymity.

That poses some obvious challenges for Kate’s future self. It’s hard enough to get through puberty. Why make hundreds of embarrassing, searchable photos freely available to her prospective homecoming dates? If Kate’s mother writes about a negative parenting experience, could that affect her ability to get into a good college? We know that admissions counselors review Facebook profiles and a host of other websites and networks in order to make their decisions.

 

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Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say

Getty Images

Excerpt from this article:

With the first babies of Facebook (which started in 2004) not yet in their teens and the stylish kids of Instagram (which started in 2010) barely in elementary school, families are just beginning to explore the question of how children feel about the digital record of their earliest years. But as this study, although small, suggests, it’s increasingly clear that our children will grow into teenagers and adults who want to control their digital identities.

“As these children come of age, they’re going to be seeing the digital footprint left in their childhood’s wake,” said Stacey Steinberg, a legal skills professor and associate director of the Center on Children and Families at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. “While most of them will be fine, some might take issue with it.”

Isabella Aijo, 15, a high school sophomore in Natick, Mass., said, “I definitely know people who have parents who post things they wish weren’t out there. There was a girl in my eighth grade class whose mom opened a YouTube account for her in the fourth grade to show off her singing,” she wrote to me in an email. “Finally, on one of the last months of middle school, a peer played the song in class and almost the entire class laughed hysterically over it.”

When parents share those early frustrations, they don’t see themselves as exposing something personal about their children’s lives, but about their own. As a society, says Ms. Steinberg, “we’re going to have to find ways to balance a parent’s right to share their story and a parent’s right to control the upbringing of their child with a child’s right to privacy.

“Parents often intrude on a child’s digital identity, not because they are malicious, but because they haven’t considered the potential reach and the longevity of the digital information that they’re sharing,” said Ms. Steinberg.

 

 

We are Double-Plus Unfree

Margaret Atwood

Excerpt from this article by Margaret Atwood

Digital technology has made it easier than ever to treat people like domesticated animals farmed for profit. You can no longer rent a car or a hotel room or buy much of anything without a credit card, which leaves a digital trail wherever it goes. You’re told you need a social security card, a health card, a driver’s licence, a bank card, a bunch of passwords. You need an “identity”, and that identity is digital. All your numbers and passwords – all the data that identifies you – is supposed to be private, but as we know by now, the digital world leaks like a sieve, and security on the internet is only as good as the next mastermind hacker or inside-job data thief. The Kremlin has gone back to using typewriters for a good reason: it’s a lot easier to smuggle a memory stick out of a secure area than it is to make off with a big stack of papers.

It’s not all bad, however. All technology is a double-edged tool, and the very internet that has too many data-leaking holes in it also allows words to travel quickly. It’s easier to reveal abuses of power than it once was; it’s easier to sign petitions and to protest. Though even that freedom is double-edged: the petition you sign may be used by your own government in evidence against you.

Though our digital technologies have made life super-convenient for us – just tap and it’s yours, whatever it is – maybe it’s time for us to recapture some of the territory we’ve ceded. Time to pull the blinds, exclude the snoops, recapture the notion of privacy. Go offline.

Any volunteers? Right. I thought not. It won’t be easy.

Who’s that girl? The curious case of Leah Palmer

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Graves

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Have you met Leah Palmer? She is an attractive, single, fun-loving 20-something Briton currently living the high life in Dubai. She has an active social-media presence and often chats with family and friends on sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you are a man, you might even have spotted Leah on dating app Tinder, looking for romance. Ignore the man in the photo. He is her nasty ex-boyfriend. Actually, Leah Palmer does not exist.

The woman in the photograph is Ruth Palmer, and she is happily married to Benjamin Graves. He is not a horrible former partner, he is her husband. Ruth recently discovered that for the past three years somebody has been routinely lifting photographs of her, her family and friends from social networks, and setting up a network of fake media profiles of them – which all communicate with each other.

The Science of Online Dating

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…As it turns out, success begins with picking a user name. While men are drawn to names linked to physical traits (e.g., Cutie), the researchers found, women prefer ones that indicate intelligence (e.g., Cultured). Both sexes respond well to playful names (e.g. Fun2bwith) and shy away from ones with negative connotations (e.g., Bugg).

User names that begin with letters from the first half of the alphabet do better than those from the latter half. “As human beings, we have a tendency to give things at the top of a pile more value,” Dr. Khan said.

The most successful online profiles featured content divided 70:30 between personal information and a description of the ideal desired partner, the scientists found. Honest, likable and succinct profiles written with a touch of humor — particularly those that did not self-aggrandize or use rhetorical flourishes — elicit the best results. Photographs showing the user smiling and standing in the center of the frame surrounded by others work best.

Anonymous Apps Are So Scary, They May Just Help Us Discover Ourselves

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You’re a person known only to yourself. The fears and loves and hates that most define you are often the things you cannot discuss openly. But sometimes we need to let others see our secret selves—without revealing our true identities. A wave of new applications aims to help us do just that.

It’s a renaissance, of sorts. We flirted with real names online, but our love of anonymity, one of the Internet’s best and most resilient features, is suddenly born again. All it needs to reach adulthood is a higher calling.

Apps like Secret, Wut, Confide, Whisper, and Yik Yak all share a common goal: to let us broadcast to the people around us without exposing that we’re the ones talking.

Your Personality Type, Defined by the Internet

Five, a start-up, can analyze Facebook posts, including those by the social network's co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to determine personality types based off of select key attributes.

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Using a link to Facebook posts, Five analyzes the language in which we write, and determines our relative affiliation to five personality attributes: openness, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. It then shows comparisons with famous people (based on their public writings and statements), as well as your Facebook friends.

Based on the initial responses to the site on Twitter, “people seem to identify pretty strongly with the personalities we generate,” said Nikita Bier, the co-founder of Five, which is working on a product for online conversations that will use similar technology. “Only about 10 percent said we were outright wrong about them.”