You are not immortal, and you can be fooled from time to time. This is okay, admitting it is much more important than being right all the time. Admitting you are wrong, and can be is the very thing that allows you to escape the prison of lies. In fact, admitting it can do a great deal of good in helping free other people from false illusions.
My goals with the Libre Solutions Network are:
- To help people recognize the digital tools weaponized against them
- To connect people with groups, ideas, and tools that help people maintain and advance their freedom.
Freedom is your right to determine your future on your own terms.
Privacy prevents systems, institutions and people from leveraging information to undermine that freedom. Often very innocuous, seemingly-unrelated information can be used to manipulate and control people.
The goal of understanding digital privacy shouldn’t be to achieve a life of perfect secrecy. Self-censorship is one of the most powerful kinds of censorship that is used against people. Instead the goal is to make sure that the information that is collected on you is as deliberate as possible, by avoiding unintentional disclosure.
Freedom is your most valuable asset. Odds are you are not the most powerful human being on the planet. Therefore it is vital that you understand you are at a disadvantage in terms of information, resources, and representation. Freedom, privacy, and security are all vital tools to shift the balance of power back into your favor.
It would be all to easy to simply say “social media is manipulating you” this is overwhelmingly true but needs to be broken down into the specific methods. Social media is incredibly powerful because it latches onto your primal needs to feel accepted and validated by others. The power social media derives is primarily driven by people attaching status to influence on these platforms.
Media sorting and filtering
Almost everyone intuitively understands that when moderators of a community or site remove posts this impacts people’s ability to be exposed to that information. What is not as clear is that the order in which the information is presented is just as impactful.
How many people will scroll to read each and every comment on a particular post? Certainly not the majority. In many ways content that is slid down the feed may as well have been removed in many instances.
There are many techniques that can be used to work against this, but in general you want to be sure that your posts are being sorted in an unbiased way (such as chronologically) if possible.
On almost any site the chosen “trending topics” are an editorial decision by the people running the site. This can involve them choosing every single one, or simply removing undesired trends.
Trends can send the false impression that these are the “most important topics” at any given time. This is always false because each person has different priorities and challenges at any given time.
People liking and sharing your posts enhances your reach and will help boost your own perceived status. This is very good at manipulating people.
For now it is up to your friends and followers to ‘like’ your posts to provide you with the feedback mechanism that your posts are important. There is no rule that it will stay that way. Sites could experiment with paying cryptocurrency to users who make certain kinds of posts.
Ever experience a strange glitch while using social media? It may not actually be just a glitch. Many mainstream social media sites have run psychological experiments on their users to evaluate how they respond to particular situations.
Every aspect of your interactions are being recorded to further shape your behavior on the platform. Your attention and engagement are the primary signals to these algorithms.
These are all very concerning because regardless of the specific platform, anyone with write-access to the software that runs these systems can alter information that most would assume is unaltered. There is never a guarantee that the ‘likes’ you are being shown on a post are actually promoting that post. You can never be sure that anyone has seen your content at all.
This is not to say that nothing on these platforms has an impact, but it is vital to understand that there are ways that systems can work against you.
Thank you for reading.