Author Archives: pfanderson

Anonymous Social Media Overview, Part Three: The Whisper Controversy & Beyond

I had said in Part Two of this series that I was waiting to talk about the Whisper Controversy because it was still unfolding so dramatically. Things are starting to wind down, and so last night I put together a Storify mapping out my perspective of the timeline of how this has all been happening.

Briefly, Whisper was trying to do a good thing, but it seemed to go wrong.
Guardian called them out on issues related to privacy & user tracking.
Story exploded.
Whisper defended themselves (mostly via Editor-in-Chief).
More explosions.
Guardian gleefully expanded on their original story.
Yada yada.
Whisper tries to regain trust (mostly via CEO).
Editorial team “laid off” pending investigation.
And now the clean up work starts.

Check the Storify for more details and specifics.

Meanwhile, Whisper is not alone. Far from it! Snapchat was hacked. Snapchat is probably the most famous anonymous social media app right now. Before they were hacked, all sorts of people were making tools (1, 2, 3) to “break” Snapchat’s rules about keeping copies of deleted pictures without permission. (The same sort of thing is happening on other ‘anonymous’ social platforms, like Tumblr with KnowAnon. And people posted private sex tapes on YikYak, which is also infamous for cyberbullying and violence and threats.) And the Federal Trade Commission is investigating some of the problems with Snapchat. People still trust and use Snapchat. And there are apps designed explicitly to, well, invade your privacy on an opt-in basis, like PeekInToo. This post has focused on the privacy issues, but violence, dishonesty, and cyberbullying remain significant issues in many online spaces. So, that’s the bad news. In the next post, I’ll look at some of the good things being done with social media.

Residency Education & Care in the Digital Age – Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of October 27, 2014)

International Conference on Residency Education

The big hashtag splash in Twitter’s healthcare universe this week was the International Conference on Residency Education, with a theme this year of Residency Education and Care in the Digital Age (English Program) (Abstracts) (Facebook). Pretty darn awesome, if you ask me. Two hashtags, for two languages.

#icre2014

#cifr2014

Topics ranged from social media to apps to flipped classrooms to Facebook to fatigue to professionalism to other innovations in learning.

Anonymous Social Media Overview, Part Two: Selected Anonymous Social Tools

Anonymous Social Media Overview

I find it a little ironic that the big blowup with Whisper happened this week, while I’m in the middle of this series about anonymous apps (Part 1). Oh, you didn’t hear about that? Well, the gist of it is if you think you’re anonymous, you’re not; if you think they aren’t tracking you, they are; and that the only place that really destroys your usage information completely after you’re done is probably your public library, and even that is becoming iffy. But that is a topic probably best suited for the NEXT post in this series, since the conversation around the exposé is still expanding dramatically. Here’s just the intro piece.

Paul Lewis and Dominic Rushe. Revealed: how Whisper app tracks ‘anonymous’ users. The Guardian Thursday 16 October 2014 11.35 EDT. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/16/-sp-revealed-whisper-app-tracking-users

What I wanted to do in this post was simply walk through a quick introduction to some of the more prominent tools and services in the anonymous social media space. What has struck me is that while many of these are general, others target fairly specific audiences, such as high school students with YikYak, youth with Snapchat, and corporate with Confide.

TOOLS & SERVICES

Cloaq http://www.cloaq.co

Confide https://getconfide.com

Ello https://ello.co/beta-public-profiles

Peek https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/peek-for-iphone/id722634039?mt=8

Peek In Too http://www.peekintoo.com

PostSecret http://postsecret.com

Rumr http://rumrapp.com

Secret https://www.secret.ly

Six Billion Secrets http://www.sixbillionsecrets.com/top
Six Billion Secrets on Tumblr http://sixbillionsecrets.tumblr.com
Six Billion Secrets on Twitter https://twitter.com/6BillionSecrets

Snapchat https://www.snapchat.com

Sneeky http://www.sneekyapp.com

Social Number http://socialnumber.com

Spraffl http://www.spraffl.com

Spring (formerly Formspring) http://new.spring.me/

StreetChat http://www.streetchatapp.com

Tumblr https://www.tumblr.com/

Whisper http://whisper.sh

Wut http://www.wutwut.com

YikYak http://www.yikyakapp.com

Global Innovation – Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of October 20, 2014)

Cool Toys pics of the day: Engelbart Mural

Last week has been rich with ideas for innovation on Twitter, this time with a national and international flavor. Just walking through a sampler of examples from several different conversations (AMA’s Equity Chat, the bioethics Twitter collaboration with the ASBH annual conference, international open access week, and capping the list with the BBC’s World Changing Ideas Summit).


EquityChat

I was riding the train home from Iowa, having visited my very ill father and feeling a tad distraught and fragmented, then stumbled into the AMA’s Equity Chat without a clue it was even happening. It just showed up in my stream, and I joined in. What a great chat about how to shift medical education toward a more diverse and inclusive community, and how doing so will benefit society at large, small communities, marginalized groups, and ultimately everyone.


BIOETHX + ASBH14 = ASBH14 BIOETHX

Not that I haven’t seen this before, but shouldn’t EVERY major conference partner with a topically affiliated Twitter chat community during the conference to help engage a broader community in discussing the issues and pushing out important information and findings presented at the conference? We talk about translational medicine, but isn’t this a fundamental strategy for communicating core fundings to the audiences most likely to disseminate and implement them? Anyway, so the bioethics weekly chat teamed up with the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities for their annual meeting this week. I guarantee that a LOT more people noticed the conference than would have otherwise!


Open Access Week

While open access is not, right now, this year, a brand new shiny idea, it is still very much novelty historically and absolutely pivotal in promoting and supporting innovation. That was a big part of why the University of Michigan invited Jack Andraka to be the keynote speaker for our own Open Access Week events with the theme of Generation Open. These tweets are not just from Jack’s presentation, though, but also from other innovations taking place as part of OAW.


Ada Lovelace Day 2014 (ALD14)

The Equity Chat and Open Access Week both emphasize equality, diversity, and accessibility as essential components of innovation and positive change. Thus, it makes sense to also include tweets from the Ada Lovelace Day events, focused on awareness of women’s contributions to science and creating a vision of science practice that is inclusive of women and engaging to young women. And, speaking of innovation approaches, anyone else notice the incredible creativity and artistry of the efforts in this area? Wow!


World Changing Ideas Summit

I was so excited to discover the BBC’s new (hopefully annual) initiative to promote innovation and awareness of innovation: World Changing Ideas Summit. Aside from the tweets below, check out their collection of great posts and videos.


First posted at THL Blog: http://thlibrary.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/global-innovation-hashtags-of-the-week-hotw-week-of-october-20-2014/

Local Innovation & #MCubed – Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of October 13, 2014)

MCubed Symposium

Last week saw the second annual MCubed Symposium. For those who aren’t aware of MCubed already, here is a little background about this fabulously creative approach to funding and fostering innovation and collaboration at the University of Michigan.


MCubed – The University of Michigan’s revolutionary new way to fund research  <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akBGSlFn9nQ&#8221; title=”MCubed – The University of Michigan’s revolutionary new way to fund research”>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akBGSlFn9nQ</a&gt;

Eventually there will be videos up for this year’s presentations (<a href=”http://mcubed.umich.edu/mcubed_2014/schedule.html&#8221; title=”MCubed 2014 Schedule”>schedule</a>), <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEEZFNZ4nUECYcVW_-FQxokUjZ5b6D7CX&#8221; title=”Youtube Playlist: MCubed Symposium 2013″>like there were last year</a>, but for now you’ll have to settle for some tweets to introduce the high points.


First posted at THL Blog: http://thlibrary.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/local-innovation-mcubed-hashtags-of-the-week-hotw-week-of-october-13-2014/

Anonymous Social Media Overview, Part One: Context, Risks, Benefits & Opportunities, Best Practices

CONTEXT

Following on the heels of Monday’s post about suicide prevention as it intersects with anonymous social media, I thought it might be helpful to have an overview of some anonymous social media apps, and the current state of the conversation around their risks and benefits. One of the reasons this seems to keep coming up is the NYMWARS (or, as Danah Boyd puts it, The politics of “real names”). While this issue arose originally in 2011, it never seems to really go away. Today’s Twitter feed for the hashtag #nymwars gives evidence of this.

There is a lot more where that came from. Danah described the issue as being one of power and control.

“When people are expected to lead with their names, their power to control a social situation is undermined. Power shifts. The observer, armed with a search engine and identifiable information, has greater control over the social situation than the person presenting information about themselves. The loss of control is precisely why such situations feel so public. Yet, ironically, the sites that promise privacy and control are often those that demand users to reveal their names.” Comm ACM 2012 55(8):29-31.

There are many who believe that requiring transparency (as in ‘real name’, as in the name on your birth certificate) of all users helps to protect the community from bullying and rudeness and other uncivil behavior. This is debatable, and there is supporting evidence on both sides of the debate. At the same time, forced transparency endangers others in the community (anyone at risk or in a marginalized population) at the same time it undermines identifying anyone who uses a pseudonym as their primary identity.

Facebook is enforcing its “real names” policy, insidiously outing a disproportionate number of gay, trans and adult performers — placing them at risk for attacks, stalking, privacy violations and more. Facebook is strong-arming LGBT and adult performers to use their legal names, telling these at-risk populations that it is to “keep our community safe.” Facebook nymwars: Disproportionately outing LGBT performers, users furious

While there is an acknowledged emphasis in the current fuss over Facebook names on excluding LGBT persons, the problem is much broader, and also effects many people with unusual real names. Chase Nahooikaikakeolamauloaokalani Silva is one recent example, but it is so common that Facebook has a section of their help site devoted to these incidents.

"Facebook says my name is fake. It is real."
Facebook says my name is fake. It is real. https://www.facebook.com/help/community/question/?id=10151790248568209

Unfortunately, when this happens to people, Facebook will only consider correcting the problem when supplied with a copy of a legal government ID, such as a passport, drivers license, or birth certificate. Sometimes, those aren’t good enough, which REALLY annoys people. If it was me, I would not be happy or feel safe supplying a copy of my government ID to Facebook or via electronic means. That entire approach is not only an invasion of privacy, but a strategy that would seem to place the victim at risk of identity theft. It just makes me really nervous. When this arose back in 2011, the Electronic Frontier Foundation distilled the concept of NYMWARS as an important trend for that year.

EFF immediately advocated for the right of users to choose their own names on social networking sites, whether they’re women or minorities concerned about their privacy, activists in authoritarian regimes who want to speak out without the threat of government harassment, or users with persistent nicknames or pseudonyms they’d used online for years…. EFF had been loudly opposed to Facebook’s “real names” policy for years, pointing out that community policing of real names silences some of the people who need this protection the most—people with unpopular opinions—because opponents can easily have their accounts suspended by reporting them as pseudonymous. 2011 in Review: Nymwars.

My favorite piece, and the best short distillation I’ve seen was posted to Facebook a little over a week ago by one of my favorite people in healthcare social media, @DrSnit. It is substantially excerpted here with permission.

Requiring a “legal name” is problematic for the following: 1) counselors and therapists avoiding a stalking client 2) physicians avoiding patients seeking medical advice 3) Attorneys dealing with angry criminals with a vendetta 4) women (like me) dealing with abusive partners & leaving abusive relationships. Those people who are being stalked or have been stalked WHO DO NOT WISH TO BE FOUND BY THEIR EX’S OR EX’S FAMILY & FRIENDS 5) Gender queer people, butch lesbians, and trans people who use different names than the names they were given at birth. 6) Stage performers, writers, artists who use different names for their art and their family / friends 7) People who use their middle names or nick names from birth or derivatives from birth. (This is off the top of my head – not exhaustive list).

Legal names are good for: stalkers, abusers, ADVERTISERS

FB claims it is to keep stalkers and abusers from taking fake names to harm people – but stalkers are REALLY GOOD at what they do and use nefarious methods to deal their damage. FB isn’t protecting anyone. They are harming people who CHOOSE to use different names because because it messes with their advertising analytics. Don’t let them. You don’t NEED FB bad enough to be harmed by their policy. If anyone you know has been hurt or stalked – let FB know and if they don’t change their policy – use other social media that is more women and safety friendly.

Let me repeat the most important line.

Legal names are good for: stalkers, abusers, ADVERTISERS

So, with that as context, perhaps the explosion of anonymous social networks may be, at least in part, a reaction to the forced transparency of other social networks. I have friends who have always used a “fake” name on Facebook. It is their real identity, and it sounds and looks like a normal name, and Facebook has never given them any trouble about it. I also know of those who are using their legal name, and getting hassled about it. The upshot is that anonymous networks are a justifiable response, but they carry their own risks, and their own benefits. Let’s take a quick look at some of these.

RISKS

There are a lot of nasty words tossed around about the bad side of anonymous online services. The big ones seem to be that (1) they are not really anonymous; (2) people are mean (bullying & more); (3) you can be victimized in many different ways. Here are some of the types of words used in articles that describe the risks of anonymous social media and social networks.

abuse
bullying
character assassination
hacking
harassment
identifiability
falsehoods
lies
not anonymous
prejudice
racism
rape
sexism
sexting
sexual predators
solicitation
stalking

BENEFITS / OPPORTUNITIES

Safe spaces for persons who need anonymity to be safe or to be treated equitably, such as
– Battered wives,
– Persons who are part of a marginalized or abused community,
– Celebrities,
– Whistleblowers,
– Political minorities,
– Political dissidents,
– Crime witnesses.

Suicide prevention & outreach.

Crime prevention

Therapeutic benefits of engaging for those with social anxiety.

Reaching out to those who suffer from shame.

Free speech on unpopular issues without fear of reprisal

Domestic violence support groups or outreach

Advice channels / threads / tags

Therapeutic channels / threads / tags

BEST PRACTICES FOR ENGAGING (MAYBE)

Don’t ask / Don’t tell (personal information).

Don’t identify yourself.

Don’t use your name.

Don’t use a known pseudonym.

Don’t use a friend’s name.

Don’t ask others to identify themselves.

Don’t describe your location, appearance, or other identifiable characteristics.

Don’t give your email address, street address, phone number, or other direct contact information.

Ask others you trust if they’ve had good or bad experiences there.

Post harmless stuff while testing.

TEST IT OUT!!

MORE SOURCES

(1995) Rigby, Karina. Anonymity on the Internet Must be Protected. http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/classes/6.805/student-papers/fall95-papers/rigby-anonymity.html

(2002) Dvorjak, John C. Pros and cons of anonymity. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,801688,00.asp

(2011) Bayley, Alex Skud. Preliminary results of my survey of suspended Google+ accounts. http://infotrope.net/2011/07/25/preliminary-results-of-my-survey-of-suspended-google-accounts/

(2011) McElroy, Wendy. In Defense of Internet Anonymity. http://mises.org/daily/5541/

(2011-2014) Geek Feminism Wiki. Who is harmed by a “Real Names” policy? http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Who_is_harmed_by_a_”Real_Names”_policy

(2013) Santana, Arthur D. Virtuous or Vitriolic: The effect of anonymity on civility in online newspaper reader comment boards. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17512786.2013.813194

Suicide Prevention & Trauma on Social Media – Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of October 6, 2014)

TRIGGER WARNING - Suicide Posts on WHISPER

Sunday night I participated in a very interesting chat on Twitter. It was part of the #SPSM chat, which stands for Suicide Prevention and Social Media. The chat was about an experience I had last summer. To make it overly brief, I ended up in an extended conversation with a suicidal person through an anonymous social media service, and I didn’t know what to do, how to do, or even whether to do anything. At that time, I was curious, and explored social media posts that state suicidal ideation or intent on several platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and so forth. Pinterest tended to say, “So CUTE I want to die” (with a few boards collecting sad stories). On Google Plus the results for “want to die” mostly brought up posts about animals in shelters scheduled for euthanasia. There were a few on each of Facebook and Twitter, but they tended to be mostly people using the phrase lightly for purposes of emphasis and drama, and more important, they rarely if ever show up in a normal Twitter stream. You have to go out explicitly hunting for them, as I did for this screenshot.

TRIGGER: Twitter Search: "want to die"

Once you shift over to the anonymous social media services, like Post-Secret, Secret, 6 Billion Secrets, and Whisper, it’s a different story. You can hardly turn around without tripping over a post that expresses some sort of suicidal thoughts or other emotional trauma, or worse, posts fantasizing about hurting other people. When I check Whisper, I’ll often see posts like those at the head of this blogpost, with timestamps of “1 minute ago” “46 seconds ago” and so on. The vulnerable posts can elicit comments ranging from heartfelt support to vicious attacks, which is a bit part of why the creator of Post-Secret shut down that app. My experience came on Whisper. Here are a couple other links showing some Whisper content.


Ashley Beckner: Whisper App Confessions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haTbJrwDnYM

13 Eye-Opening Confessions From Men In Abusive Relationships http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/13-eye-opening-confessions-about-the-male-victims-of-domesti?bftw&utm_term=4ldqpfp#u9lop

16 Heartbreaking Anonymous Secrets: The anonymity afforded by Whisper often means we get a harrowing, intimate view of people’s daily struggles. http://www.buzzfeed.com/alanwhite/16-heartbreaking-anonymous-secrets#u9lop

In last night’s Twitter chat, some of the issues that came up included:
– challenges with the ethical underpinnings of anonymous social media services;
– challenges on anonymous services to find out where the person is, gender, other identifiers for rescuers;
– the idea that calling 911 for help for a person is a breach of community standards (like ‘narcing’ in drug culture);
– geographic challenges in locating assistance when the person is in a different country;
– different cultural standards for appropriate response to suicidal intent;
– legal challenges when the service refuses to identify the anonymous suicidal user except to police in the country of origin for the service (and not in the country of residence for the suicidal person);
– and much more.

Here are some of the tweets from last night’s chat.


First posted at THL Blog: http://thlibrary.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/suicide-prevention-trauma-on-social-media-hashtags-of-the-week-hotw-week-of-october-6-2014/