Archives May 16, 2016

Snowden: ‘Governments Can Reduce Our Dignity To That Of Tagged Animals’

“NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden writes a report on The Guardian explaining why leaking information about wrongdoing is a vital act of resistance. “One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency; who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint,” Snowden writes. “They learn to live not just with untruths but with unnecessary untruths, dangerous untruths, corrosive untruths. It is a double tragedy: what begins as a survival strategy ends with the compromise of the human being it sought to preserve and the diminishing of the democracy meant to justify the sacrifice.” He goes on to explain the importance and significance of leaks, how not all leaks are alike, nor are their makers, and how our connected devices come into play in the post-9/11 period. Snowden writes, “By preying on the modern necessity to stay connected, governments can reduce our dignity to something like that of tagged animals, the primary difference being that we paid for the tags and they are in our pockets.”

Silicon Valley tech firms exacerbating income inequality

“Google democratized information, Uber democratized car rides, and Twitter democratized publishing a single sentence. But to the World Bank, the powerful Washington-based organisation that lends money to developing countries, Silicon Valley’s technology firms appear to be exacerbating economic inequality rather than improving it.”

Marketers hungry for data from wearable devices

“In the future the data procured from smartwatches might be much more valuable than what is currently available from laptop and mobile users,” reports David Curry, raising the possibility that stores might someday use your past Google searches to alert you when they’re selling a cheaper product.”

Facebook is monitoring your reactions to serve you ads, warn Belgian Police

Belgian police have asked citizens to shun Facebook’s “Reactions” buttons to protect their privacy. In February, five new “Reaction” buttons were added next to the “Like” button to allow people to display responses such as sad, wow, angry, love and haha. According to reports, police said Facebook is able to use the tool to tell when people are likely to be in a good mood — and then decide when is the best time to show them ads. “The icons help not only express your feelings, they also help Facebook assess the effectiveness of the ads on your profile,” a post on Belgian’s official police website read.

“By limiting the number of icons to six, Facebook is counting on you to express your thoughts more easily so that the algorithms that run in the background are more effective,” the post continues. “By mouse clicks you can let them know what makes you happy. “So that will help Facebook find the perfect location, on your profile, allowing it to display content that will arouse your curiosity but also to choose the time you present it. If it appears that you are in a good mood, it can deduce that you are more receptive and able to sell spaces explaining advertisers that they will have more chance to see you react.”