Why the Internet Wants Your Baby to Fail

https://www.nytimes.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000005969633

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Google Knows Where You’ve Been, but Does It Know Who You Are?

Excerpt from this article:

In August, The Associated Press published an investigation into how Google handles the data it collects, following a curious discovery by a graduate researcher at U.C. Berkeley. For years, the company has allowed users to control their “location history,” which stores a detailed record of where they’ve been, based primarily on their activity in Google Maps. This, the researcher suggested — and The A.P. confirmed — did not work as advertised. “Some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking,” the reporters found. The revelation has since resulted in at least one lawsuit, as well as renewed public criticism from lawmakers.

I came to resent this data in a number of ways: that a cache of coordinates from Google could trigger grief or joy — that was such a nice morning, up in the park, with all those dogs — or that it, rather than a friend or a co-worker or a missed stop on the train, would be what triggers a familiar guilty reminder that the city I live in is so much bigger than the routine I’ve created within it.

There were also moments, deep in this incidental personal data diary, when I almost wished for more — when I thought about how nice it would be to be able to zoom in even further, to get back into a room and look around. These moments were brief. An intensely personal diary is the sort of thing you could only be happy to discover in your own attic, in your own handwriting, not on the servers of a multibillion-dollar advertising corporation.

Should You Track Your Teen’s Location?

Excerpt from this article:

Location tracking can, without question, damage the connection between parent and teenager. Research shows that adolescents who believe their parents have invaded their privacy go on to have higher levels of conflict at home. And teenagers who resent being trailed digitally sometimes disable location features, take pains to “spoof” their GPS, or leave their phones at friends’ houses to throw parents off their scent.

As a psychologist, I also worry that location tracking can confuse the question of who is mainly responsible for the safety of the roaming adolescent — the parent or the teenager? If parents decide against using location tracking, I encourage them to talk with their teenager about why.

What It’s Like to Wallow in Your Own Facebook Data

Excerpt from this article:

My own download held the usual digital flotsam—not all the information I had ever volunteered to the platform, but a lot of it: date of birth, phone number, schools. There were IP addresses from every time I’d signed on since 2009 (though I’ve had an account since 2005). There was a list of advertising topics for which I could be targeted––some accurate, some more like divination than data science—alongside content I’d created: chat transcripts, event listings, photographs, videos.

I was startled to find dozens of videos I had deleted before posting or sharing with friends, an embarrassment of outtakes. There I was, lower-resolution and smoother-skinned, staring at the computer camera and adjusting my bangs, looking for a good angle from my dorm room, my parents’ kitchen, a temp job. It was like watching B-roll for a documentary about my insecurities. (Facebook has since announced that the inclusion of deleted videos was the result of a bug, and said it was planning to discard the data from its servers.) The videos were jarring to discover—and suggested questionable data-retention practices at Facebook—but they were not entirely unwelcome. In an era of personal brands and social-media curation, I was amused, and a little wistful, to have a realistic glimpse of what I had been like as an awkward college student.

Taking Photos Without Consent is Like Unwanted Touching: SF Street Fair

Excerpt from this article:

Folsom Street Fair, the annual BSDM fair in San Francisco, upset photographers in 2016 with its “Ask First” campaign that asked photographers to receive permission before taking photos of people on the public streets of the fair. This year, the same event organizers have released a warning that compares taking photos without consent to sexual assault.

Two Strangers Met on a Plane—and the Internet Ruined It

Excerpt from this article (and see also this one with a similar take, showing how the woman who was tweeted about without her consent “has been subjected to harassment and shamed, leading to her reportedly deleting her social media accounts” and then this one covering the apology)

They began observing the interaction playing out in the row before them. And also: documenting it, via pictures and videos and words and, eventually, a series of tweets. Helen and Euan thus went from strangers on a plane to participants—via the dedicated attentions of the two people behind them, watching them through the space between the seats—in a cheekily epic drama.

“Last night on a flight home,” Blair’s vicarious saga began, “my boyfriend and I asked a woman to switch seats with me so we could sit together. We made a joke that maybe her new seat partner would be the love of her life and well, now I present you with this thread.”

…It took the flimsy and serendipitous delights of their initial meeting and turned them, with the ruthlessness of media churn, into a money-making proposition. As Blair and Holden made their appearances on the morning shows—as they cheerfully sold their story and also themselves—they served as reminders: Even whimsy, these days, will be commodified.

…There was one person, notably, who resisted those inertias: Helen herself… And yet: Even despite her resistance, Helen was pulled into the story. She, too, was meme-ified. She, too, was flattened. She, too, was used.

How to read a privacy policy

Excerpt from this article:

You might also want to search for the word “not,” Jerome says, because it’s rare to find in a policy. Of course, most companies would rather not permanently limit themselves by including what they’re not doing, which could leave them open to lawsuits. Finally, Cardozo suggests checking out how many times you find “such as” because it’s a red flag. I would normally think it means that companies are being specific, but Cardozo says it’s actually a broad phrase that doesn’t usually provide much information.