Trying out PANOPTICLICK (tracking tool)

panosticlick

 

This site argues that it will will analyze how your browser and add-ons protect you against online tracking technologies. It also analyses if your system is properly configured. In order to continue with the service of the website, you will need to consent, through the ‘TEST ME’ button. After this, you can see the results of how your browser is operating. All in all, I can say it is quite easy to use, fast, and there is no need to be downloading any required files onto your device or system.

I have to say that I was a bit skeptical of using this site to help me track the activity and safety of my browser, but upon seeing the results, I thought otherwise. It appears that this site is pretty good at helping you find out if your browser is protected enough for the dangers of the internet. This being the case, I visited the site with that in mind, and these (above) were my results. As it appears, my browser is not protected well, at all. This was sad news to me as I always think my browser is pretty safe, since I keep my antivirus running at all times, and keep my  ads-pop-blocker on.  Now, I will try and find more ways to keep my browser safe. Thanks Panopticlick!

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Money-making and Data-stealing Algorithms! Where? Anywhere (online)!!

Published on YouTube, by TED, on Nov 17, 2017.

youtube.com/watch?time_continue=28&v=iFTWM7HV2UI

 

This week, we covered an interesting video about the darkness of the internet: TED talk by Zeynep Tufekci. In the video she argued that “We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads.” We learned that these softwares, such as Youtube and Facebook, use algorithms for the purpose of keeping people addicted to them. These were ideas that we normally don’t think about, since the common person just uses these applications or software without thinking how they really work.

 

Upon touching on this matter, I found myself thinking more not just about how Youtube and Facebook work with algorithms, but other applications like Ebay and even Amazon. It is scary to even think that there are so many others out these which are following the same technology. One of the things I thought deeply about was why is the main purpose for them to even use such technology in the first place. At first, I found myself surfacing the skin, with the simple noticeable reasons: to better under us, to make the software more user-friendly, and for better efficiency of software processes within the program. But then, under this skin of facts, I found there was another scarier one: to make more revenue and keep the people addictive. If you think about it, it makes total sense, especially with how the technology is being used. The people behind the software understand that at the end of the day, it is all business. And therefore, they will think in ways of making more money or keeping the business going. What better way to do this, than by keeping your users addictive and growing in popularity. With this in mind, it is then up to the hired engineers to develop and enforce technologies that use algorithms, steal and collect our personal data unnoticed. It is scary to think that such highly developed programming can be used to even understand human behavior. But as scary as it is, it is here with us now, and it appears to want to stay.

This brings me to the other point: these businesses are getting rich at the cost of our own data and mental health. For some people, this might not seem as a serious case, but the rational person understands otherwise. Some people might think that they have nothing to worry about using Youtube, since it is free. But is it really free? Let’s think about it again. As I mentioned before, we have an understanding of how they are making some money (at the cost of the collecting of our data, which is later used to only improve these technologies, as it is sold and exchanged between those who seek it). Now, we think twice about what using YouTube might be doing to us. And it is not just YouTube, it is also Facebook, Amazon, and others. This raises another question: what are they doing with the money? Well, we can assume that part of it is used to keep enhancing the quality of performance of such technologies at their disposal.

Overall, these were some really deep topics we covered this week, and they were engaging enough to keep me think for more information. I had the opportunity to learn about a darker side to some of programs I already use everyday. And, despite know that I probably won’t stop using them anytime soon, I will definitely consider a safe approach of my usage. After all, knowing something (negative in case) and not doing anything about it would make me ignorant about what’s real and what’s not.

Gaining A Greater Insight on Post-truth and Networks (Digital and Worldly)

hhh.jpg

Illustration by:

http://thegovlab.org/proposal-1-for-icann-get-smart-with-expert-networks/

 

The topics of “post-truth” and “networks (digital and real-world networks)” were some interesting topics we covered in class this week. Perhaps, the main reason to why I found them interesting was because they were topics I’ve never dove deep into for analysis. Not surprisingly, I found them to be interesting and worth learning about. As I learned from class and by myself, post-truth is a real thing that is now part of the web in 2019. Simply put, its meaning can be interpret something like this: something might be true for an individual (their perspective), rather than a general fact; it is less influential in shaping public opinion because it appeals more to emotion and personal belief. Today, we find this concept in the web, especially in sites like Youtube or Facebook. These are site where people have the freedom to freely comment, say, or argue whatever they believe in. This is the case because such sites are intended to be used for a casual setting, rather than a professional one. In a professional setting, normally arguments are backed up research an sources, which are later cited. This way, any factual information that someone might sharing can be proven and gain credibility. However, in a casual setting, such idea goes out the window, and this means that there is more space for personal opinion and less facts with comments, posts, or even arguments that are found in these sites.

This brings us to question another factor which we covered in class this week: is everything we find in the internet credible? This could be a double edge sword. For starters, we are now living in an age where we have trained our minds to only see things are factual, if they have credibility (this includes sources from research or experiments). This is mostly because only such methods can come close to proving and arguments. On the other hand, it is hard to accept an argument by someone online, who as no credible sources. The reason for this is because we come to believe that such person might be basing their argument on personal opinion and what they perceive to be truth. And just because they perceive something does not make it right factual, as we are used to truth more data collected research. The problem with this constant need to only accept something as factual if they have credible sources, is also a bit of a problem. Why you may ask? Well, let’s be considerate here on the possibility of someone who doesn’t have credible sources on being correct about an argument. The possibilities are still there. And completely ignoring them, just because there was no research behind the claim or argument, doesn’t mean it should be cast aside. If we do this, we are only limiting our possibilities on finding more accurate data and information.

The other topic we covered this week was that of network, both in the real world and in a digital space (online). To be honest, this one caught me by surprise, mainly because when I think of networks, I directly think of the web and online spaces. Maybe my mind has been programmed by such an idea, due to been exposed to the internet for so many years of my life. The obvious digital networks that came to mind when touching this subject was websites like Youtube, Facebook, Twittter, Instagram, and a few other popular (2019) social media sites. But then, the second part of this topic we covered was about networks in the real world. At first I was mentally frozen, and even questioned my thought with a simple “Wait, what? Networks in the real world?” Then I realized that such thing was more than a possibility. Why does a network only has to be digital to begin with? In fact, why does it even have to be limited to only these two? I quickly started to think about how would a network work in the world, and I found it would be in a similar but just different way. So, the first thing I used as example was my school. As I puzzled it together, my school (Kean University) had all the qualities to be a network. It had a function, a connected community, constant interaction between the members, it was alive in a sense, and if a piece of this network was missing or broken, there would be changes or consequences to the flow of the network. I felt so good to have figured this out. My joy was such that I even used the idea for another of my homework assignments that same day.

Overall, this was an interesting week learning and expanding my knowledge with activities that challenged me critically and analytically. They were fun activities for sure, and got me to think about these topics in various ways that I had never done before. Thanks to this, I have gained a deeper understanding of both “post-truth” and “networks”.