Struggling a bit this week, but as I’ve set myself a challenge to do this every week this year, I’ll crack on.
This week, amongst other things, I’ve been following a FutureLearn course on Cyber Security. It’s great stuff and I’ve learned quite a lot. Also, I’ve appreciated the time and opportunity to reflect on my digital habits, my digital footprint and how I feel about my privacy and security online. So that’s where I heading for the first suggestion today.
Did you know you could do this? You can download pretty much everything that Facebook knows about you; except the deeply hidden black box of the algorithms, obviously. I downloaded mine. It’s amusing, to scroll back through old posts – my posts and comments, and everyone else’s comments on my timeline. Feelings of nostalgia as I head back in time, 2012, 2010, 2007! And then I put all this together and think about the fact that this bloody platform knows a HELL OF A LOT of stuff about my life. And I’m not entirely comfortable about that, which is why I have recently made serious privacy changes to my facebook account and basically left it alone.
You can also do this for Twitter, as well.
Back to Facebook again. Something covered in the course I mentioned is the fact that it is relatively easy for criminals, if they so wish, to find out quite a lot about many of us from the bits and pieces of information we leave online in different places. Something people often hide is their date of birth, but if you’ve got a load of messages on social media wishing you ‘happy birthday’ then it’s a bit of a giveaway, isn’t it?!
The thing is, that’s nothing compared to the algorithms that capture and read our data and put different things together to create a profile. I’ve mentioned this before in a previous post, but this article really does give an insight into how sometimes the way in which Facebook wishes to create a fabulous user experience might throw up connections that we are not comfortable with. I had certainly never thought about the way in which other people shared their contacts might affect me.
I’ve had a ProtonMail account for a few years now; the free version. This weekend as a Black Friday / Cyber Monday treat, they are offering big discounts on the paid versions, which offer some really good features on top of their top-rate security. At the time of writing, their servers are being attacked, apparently, but they are confident of fending off the threat. We’ll see. The thing is, this kind of attack can and will happen to lots of sites, email servers and platforms that we are members of. They are not unusual. I would like to have the piece of mind that my email is more secure than most other options. Also, you can have multiple email address, your own domain name and an ad-free platform for just a few euros per month. I’m tempted, I must say.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about social-media as news aggregators and the way in which their platforms have been manipulated in elections. There seems to be something brewing in terms of a change in perception, from these platforms and companies being wonderful and their creators being lauded to an almost constant critical voice, attacking their behaviours, profits and tax avoidance strategies.
The web is a wonderful thing, I can’t really imagine a world without it. However, maybe some things are changing a bit too quickly at the moment for society, politics and the law to keep up. Will they ever? Valid questions are being asked about the power that the large tech companies have and the way in which people can and are being manipulated. It’s quite sad when the inventor of the web is expressing doubts about the future of his invention.
“I’m still an optimist, but an optimist standing at the top of the hill with a nasty storm blowing in my face, hanging on to a fence,” said the British computer scientist.
He seems to fear for the future but remains optimistic that something can be done. Mind you, that will involve people paying attention. Do we?
OK, that’s a wrap, as they say. Many thanks for reading! Please join (start?) a discussion below if you have any thoughts about any of these articles. And share away as you wish.