‘I felt exposed online’: how to disappear from the internet

keyboard with smoke coming out of it

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In recent months, the scale of the erosion of our anonymity has become dauntingly clear. In humming, ice-cooled server farms, the monoliths of Silicon Valley gather fat troves of personal information. This much we have known for years – as early as 2010, an investigation found that Facebook apps were routinely collecting information for internet-tracking companies without our consent – even from private accounts. But the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal brought new clarity. Those who downloaded their personal data files found that Facebook and its associated apps had been tracking phone calls, reading messages and plundering phonebooks.

This gleeful, grasping attitude to our data is in the social network’s DNA. This year it was revealed that in 2004, while Facebook was still a university campus website on which male students could rate the attractiveness of female students, its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, sent an instant message to a friend in which he boasted that he had collected more than 4,000 emails, pictures and addresses of people who had signed up to the service.

“What?” Zuckerberg’s friend exclaimed. “How’d you manage that one?”

“People just submitted it,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I don’t know why. They ‘trust me’.”

“Dumb fucks,” he added, after a pause.

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‘Black Mirror’ in China? 1.4 Billion Citizens To Be Monitored Through Social Credit System

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Chinese investigative journalist Liu Hu found out he was blacklisted when he tried to buy a flight to Guangzhou last year. After several airlines rejected his booking, Liu discovered that China’s government was keeping a list of “untrustworthy” people who were banned from flying—and that he was on it.

Liu had fallen afoul of Beijing in 2016 after he made a series of claims on social media accusing officials of corruption. He was forced to pay a fine and apologize, and when he did so he thought the case was closed. However, it wasn’t: Not only has Liu been barred from flying, but his new status as a “dishonest person” comes alongside a slew of other restrictions.

“My life [is] very inconvenient,” he told Newsweek. “I’m also not allowed to purchase property, I can’t send my daughter to a good school or travel on high-speed trains.”

Wikipedia Emerges as Trusted Internet Source for Ebola Information

James Heilman, an emergency room doctor in British Columbia, leads Wikiproject Medicine, which monitors the site’s major public health articles, like Ebola Virus Disease.

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amid the fear mongering are several influential sites that are sticking to the facts about Ebola. Millions have come to rely on these sites, including those run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and Wikipedia.

Wikipedia? The online encyclopedia’s Ebola Virus Disease article has had 17 million page views in the last month, right up there with the C.D.C.’s Ebola portal and the W.H.O.’s Ebola fact sheet, as well as the Ebola coverage of prominent health care brands like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic. Once the butt of jokes for being the site where visitors could find anything, true or not, Wikipedia in recent years has become a more trusted source of information — certainly for settling bar bets, but even for weighty topics like Ebola.

“It is because Wikipedia is such a recognized brand — obviously the C.D.C. is still much more authoritative than we will ever be — that people will click on that link,” said Dr. Jacob de Wolff, 37, an internist at Northwick Park Hospital in London, who founded Wikiproject Medicine in 2004 and has seen it go from obscurity to mockery to acceptance.

Evidence Grows That Online Social Networks Have Insidious Negative Effects

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“We find that online networking plays a positive role in subjective well-being through its impact on physical interactions, whereas [the use of] social network sites is associated with lower social trust,” they say. “The overall effect of networking on individual welfare is significantly negative,” they conclude.

Evidence Grows That Online Social Networks Have Insidious Negative Effects

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…There is growing evidence that the impact of online social networks is not all good or even benign. A number of studies have begun to find evidence that online networks can have significant detrimental effects. This question is hotly debated, often with conflicting results and usually using limited varieties of subjects, such as undergraduate students.

…“We find that online networking plays a positive role in subjective well-being through its impact on physical interactions, whereas [the use of] social network sites is associated with lower social trust,” they say. “The overall effect of networking on individual welfare is significantly negative,” they conclude.