A tranche of news this week from the US election, beef with Facebook, a useful password tool, a new privacy training nonprofit in Brussels and more…
1. Facebook bans iconic war photo
You may have recently heard of the decision by Facebook to censor a very well-known Vietnam war photo (shown below) of Kim Phuc, a Vietnamese child, naked, running for her life and burnt by napalm. On the face of it, you might say “so what? Facebook can do whatever it wants.” However, there are some important questions being asked about Facebook’s role as a distributor, editor and censor of news and what their position and power could mean for democracy.
In the wake of the controversy the editor of Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, Espen Egil Hansen, penned an open letter to Facebook in which he appeals to Mark Zuckerberg to exercise some sound judgement. From the letter:
“Listen, Mark, this is serious. First you create rules that don’t distinguish between child pornography and famous war photographs. Then you practice these rules without allowing space for good judgement. Finally you even censor criticism against and a discussion about the decision – and you punish the person who dares to voice criticism.”
Read more about what went down in an interview with Hansen here explaining his decision to write the open letter.
2. New magazine sheds light on our digital age
Diggit Magazine is a great new publication from Tilburg University in the Netherlands. It features academic news and information focusing on “arts, media and society in times of digitalization, globalization and superdiversity.” They have published a number of interesting articles already including this one about this Summer’s most disruptive trend, Pokemon Go:
“…here is the sociological and anthropological significance of Pokémon Go: it makes visible – a rare occasion – and offers a glimpse of a cultural world that coexists with other cultural worlds, and which usually remains out of the gaze of the unengaged bystander. ”
3. How To Make a Super Secure Password Using Dice
Have you watched Mr Robot? Seeing the show’s principal character, Elliot, guessing people’s passwords is slightly terrifying, especially when you consider that a program can do it even faster.
Peep this post from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) which details an innovative way to create unique passwords with the help of Arnold G. Reinhold’s Diceware technique, using a dice and a list of Diceware words. So, by God, STOP USING YOUR CAT’S NAME AS A PASSWORD and follow the instructions in the video. You will be soon be traversing the web safe in the knowledge that your passwords won’t be hackable, except probably by the NSA.
NOTE: Neither will a strong passsword protect you from data breaches, such as the recent revelations from Yahoo and Dropbox that millions of users’ passwords had been stolen. The only way protect yourself in these cases is to make sure you regularly change your passwords and hope for the best.
4. Conspiracy theories held by Trump supporters
Read our very short article on Jordan Klepper’s interviews with Trump supporters on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah here.
From the post:
“On the one hand it is encouraging to see people practising a distrust in mainstream media and seeking out alternative information. However, what is problematic is how the people in the video choose to parse that information, wherever it may be coming from, and exchange trust in one authority (mainstream media) for trust in another (alternative/fringe media) without applying the rigorous critical gaze we would hope for from people about to vote in an election.”
5. Save The Day Vote Campaign
Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and director of The Avengers franchise, has created a video campaign with a bunch of his super famous friends. Whether you like the video or not, it is an interesting exercise in modern day propaganda and would make for a great lesson plan.
The video is explicitly aimed at encouraging people to vote an,although no one ever mentions either one of the candidates names, it is implied that you should vote for Hillary Clinton …or at least not for Trump. When actor Don Cheadle says the important reason for so many famous people getting together is “a racist, abusive, coward who could permanently damage the fabric of our society” and Martin Sheen says “we cannot pretend that both sides are equally unfavorable” it is assumed we know who they are talking about.
The video also uses three common advertising techniques; celebrity endorsements, plain folks appeal and anti-advertising.
By poking fun at itself for employing celebrity endorsements/testimonials advertising convention and the opposite technique; plain folks appeal, the video displays a self-awareness that helps us as the viewers to forgive its senitmentality and use of hackneyed advertising tropes.
Another important element of propaganda is the music utilised by the video; a repetitive piano piece designed to appeal to our emotions.
If you make a lesson plan using this video then let us know how it goes.
6. New Brussels nonprofit, The Privacy Training Centre (PTC)
The Privacy Training Centre is a new nonprofit set up by a group of IT consultants, programmers, privacy researchers and policy geeks as well as EDRi and Access Now. The PTC’s first target is other non-profits, journalists and citizens but develops tailor-made staff training for businesses.
“The curriculum ranges from raising beginners’ awareness for the privacy implications of using social media apps to supporting the roll-out of e-mail encryption in small organisations. Courses cover online security best practices and tons of useful apps and tools for things like secure file sharing, encrypted messaging and calls, anonymity and web tracking protection. We propose free software wherever possible. ” –
Check them out here.
Thursday 6th October – The Big Brother Awards – Organised by the Flemish League for Human Rights, every year they gift an award to the company, person, piece of legislation etc that violated our human right to privacy the most in the past year. This years choices; Facebook, The Belgian Data Retention Law, No Cash No Privacy and the ‘See All, Hear All, Say Nothing’ rule – a plan to squash journalists ability to report on the judicial process. You can find out more and lodge your own votes here.
That’s it from us for another week but before we go don’t forget to check out EAVI’s newest cartoon, A Journey To Media Literacy 3: Privacy & Tracking, featuring Jack on his next adventure exploring the Media Literacy Island.