Individuals can do things that increase or decrease how easy it is to publish their data, but the digital economy is designed to capture our data. Blaming users is like blaming a victim for getting kidnapped.
Which is not to say that civil society organizations have it easy – there’s no practical way to track the full range of commercially available applications, their data policies, or the number of ways they could collect or lose control of data and cause harm. Civil society organizations may understand how dangerous their situation is, but that doesn’t mean they can monitor the entire market.
The knee-jerk reaction is to push for government regulation or human rights. While we should always work toward better laws, there are a lot of flaws to putting all our eggs in that basket. The law isn’t good at classifying data or risk, regulators have limited jurisdictions, and courts are terrible at adjudicating these kinds of cases.
Even worse, the 2018 World Justice Report declared “a crisis for human rights,” after showing that rule of law and human rights systems are weakening in 2/3 of the countries measured. When it comes to data capture – the law isn’t particularly effective, and where it is, it’s good at punishing the criminal, not saving the victim.
The good news, is that like protecting yourself from kidnapping, there aren’t perfect answers, but there’s a lot of little things we can do that, together, make a big difference. We don’t need international treaties to write better procurement contracts, we don’t need government interdiction to have workplace policies, and we don’t need commercial regulation to negotiate privacy policies that do more than boilerplate terms of service.
Major social media companies now extend beyond apps and platforms, taking on the status of infrastructures and institutions. [As such, they] ought to consult with trained social researchers to design interfaces, implement policies, and understand the implications of their products. Social media are not just things people use, places they go to, or activities they do. Social media shape the flows of social life, structure civic engagement, and integrate with affect, identity and selfhood.
We’d like to think that what we choose to share is a reflection of who we are, but the data suggests there’s a discrepancy between the persona we present to the world on open social versus our deeper desires and interests reserved for private sharing.
The rise of chat apps has led to more social sharing between individuals and small groups. There are different types of dark data, which has made engagement harder to track. There are two main ways for readers to share content online: use a share button or copy/paste the link. The first one is easy to track; the second isn’t. In 2012, The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal came up with the term “dark social” to describe the “vast trove of social traffic is essentially invisible to most analytics programs.” Per RadiumOne, 84 percent of sharing from publisher and marketing websites now takes place via private dark social channels such as email and IM.
Publishers and marketers could cut back on content if they only see a few shares per story. But they may want to rethink that. It could help to make sharing as easy as possible so readers don’t have to go dark. For example, you could create private sharing buttons on your websites for email, SMS, and chat platforms like WhatsApp.
Hours after posting his memorial, he got an email letting him know how his post was doing, and telling him that three people had recommended it. Inserted in that email was the headline he had written for his post, “In Remembrance of Elizabeth,” followed by a string of copy: “Fun fact: Shakespeare only got 2 recommends on his first Medium story.” It’s meant to be humorous — a light, cheery joke, a bit of throwaway text to brighten your day. If you’re not grieving a friend, that is.
Core capabilities in the early era of blogging acted as open features for any site, and helped popularize social media itself, regardless of where the content appeared. Many have either disappeared or exist only in proprietary versions on closed platforms, so they only work between sites that use the same tools to publish.
As social networks grew in popularity and influence, the old decentralized blogosphere fell and those early services consolidated, leaving all the power in the hands of a few private companies. That’s left publishers and independent voices even more vulnerable to the control points of a few social networks and search engines.
My hope is that those who are building tools today will see what’s come before and use it as inspiration to help give voice to people on the web in ways that are a bit more open-ended and a little less corporate-controlled than the platforms we have today.
In the United States, smartphone users have an average of 90 apps and use about 30 on a regular basis. Yet, tech companies are developing more spin-off messaging apps (Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct) even though the apps already have messaging capabilities. This is not in the user’s best interest. The trend needs to die.
As managing editor of WINGS, I interviewed more than 50 leaders in philanthropy, tech and social investment. Marnie Webb, CEO of San Francisco-based Caravan Studios, is at the forefront of the Tech4Good movement, using apps to transform cities into communities for people. Published by Philanthropy In Focus in 2013.
These days, Facebook and Fake News are synonymous. I get Wikipedia’s stringent rules for what is or isn’t legit. If the almighty wiki overlords sanction a button to rid the world of disinformation, then bring it. Question is, where will it go? Facebook is riddled with tap-traps. Try tapping a pic and instead you’ve opened pandora’s box of pop-ups. Tags, filters, emojis — everything but the kitchen sink.
Adding Wikipedia to the FB clutter grenade without pulling the pin will take focus. And that’s a problem. Focus is the one thing Facebook doesn’t have.
Published by Digital Impact (formerly Markets For Good) Sep 29, 2014
The need for good data ethics underscores the value of philanthropy as a bridge between civil society and private innovation. Big data is predictive, not intuitive. A system based on stats alone can’t invest in the people it can’t see.