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Make the Internet Again

I have changed my conclusion, and my excerpt, a bit by adding to it a passage from the part of the poem mentioned here, thus acknowledging what inspired the title. I have put some finishing touches to the paper, as well. Thank you for the feedback, especially for the term “word economy”, I have found excellent pointers on how to make my writing more concise.

The title is very inspired. What a shame to not document it. Consider adding a sentence or two to the introduction (it coheres) or at the very least, adding a footnote.

title is a reference to the poem “Let America be America again”, specifically to this part “Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, We, the people, must redeem The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers. The mountains and the endless plain— All, all the stretch of these great green states— And make America again!” and to my post “We, the people”, it sounded appropriate during my writing, however I can see how it could be misunderstood. Should I change it? Regarding the rest of my paper, I followed your advice and added a few more sentences to the introduction, removed some that the paper could do without, worked on smoothening the flow of the text and lowered some of the captioned letters.

This is an excellent draft.
- Question: are you deliberately dropping the “great” from the phrase used in the title, conclusion, and excerpt, and if so, why? That should be addressed if it is deliberate.
- The post does need some light editing. The intro could be tweaked to make it clearer how it is connected to the title and conclusion; unwarranted use of caps; a check for word economy; some touching up for coherence and flow.

This post is an individual reflection on the (privacy) threat of data mining vs. users as a (collective, political, ..) force

Although some people might say we ought to forego internet completely due to the increasing number of phishing schemes (Latecomers, 2020), lack-of-privacy issues, excessive data mining and other questionable behavior of the internet giants, I still think what we need to do is contribute in our own ways to the betterment of the society, thus the internet, by actively participating in its further development, all the while ensuring that we are safe. People are resourceful beings and since some telecommunication devices have seen their peaks, I do not think that this is the internet’s. There are several ways how we can make our time on the internet more worthwhile without experiencing its negative effects, which is why they should not be swept under the carpet.

As we all know, initially, there was telegraph, then newspapers and magazines, radios and television, and nowadays websites and mobile apps. These modes of communication were used to spread the news to the masses. As a way to make sure that what the public was getting was accurate, certain codes of conduct were practiced. In the picture below, the first noteworthy code of ethics made in 1926 by Sigma Delta Chi, today known as the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) was introduced so that journalists could follow certain guidelines and be more responsible in their reporting.



(ethics-code-1926, 2014)

As the years and decades passed by and the world changed, so did the code of ethics, and today there are four primary sections it is divided into; Seek Truth and
Report It, Minimize Harm, Act Independently and Be Accountable and Transparent
(SPJ, 2014).

However, with the coming of the new millennium and, subsequently, the age of information glut, these principles became less embraced. Many prominent news outlets (Ralph & Relman, 2018) have been getting more biased and people no longer consider them trustworthy, insomuch that they are turning to other sources of information. This would not be an issue… were those other sources any more reliable. What today stands out is “oversimplification, emotionalism, tendentiousness, tribalism“ (Carr, 2020) and it is well known that, as Carr (2020) puts it, “content collapse consolidates power over information, and conversation, into the hands of the small number of companies that own the platforms and write the algorithms”. One of such sources and companies is Facebook and what it has done, after the USA elections 2020, is introduce an algorithm which would prioritize “authoritative news” and “mainstream publishers like CNN, The New York Times, and NPR” (Lee, 2020) over other sources so that they could minimize any mentions of the possible election fraud, and it is troubling to think they deem it appropriate to govern our choices like this. It has not been the first time Facebook has tried influencing the public opinion and it would not be the last. There have been many more controversies regarding Facebook and one of those would also be that the fact-checkers need to be fact-checked (Watson, 2020) and then there is the issue of undue data mining. It would seem that the Big Tech companies, as chief operating officer Jeffrey Wernick said, are “surveillance companies masquerading as platforms” (Wolinsky, 2020). If you would like the whole spectrum of what kind of information Facebook might have on you, I would recommend reading Nebz’s (2020) forum post.

Another lurking danger we should think of, when using the platforms abovementioned, is what influence they are having on us, collectively. “Once the president’s plane was shot down by unknown assailants, the message from RTLM was unmistakable: the Tutsi were to blame; they were the enemy and Rwanda would be better off without them. The killings began almost immediately in Kigali through the night of 6–7 April” (Thompson, 2020).
Tutsi survived what is known today as Rwandan genocide by the hands of other ethnic groups and in the book The Media and the Rwanda Genocide further information could be found on how the media, i.e. radios, had played a major role in it. It sounds alarmingly familiar to what happened during Rohingya genocide, but this time with Facebook acting as the main conduit for spreading dangerous messages (Ochab, 2020). Furthermore, there is one noticeable page in Serbia which is showing blatant antagonism against migrants in a similar manner and it has not yet been sanctioned. Hate speech and propaganda are running rampant, and no matter how much Facebook assures they are combating it, as long as the privileged few are behind such pages, most likely they will not be removed. That is the case with Dua Lipa. She has on numerous occasions “broken the rules”, with her promotion of Greater Albania, which could be detrimental to the neighboring countries and despite how many times her online platforms were reported, the posts are still circulating around. Nonetheless, the people following and sharing the less mainstream media content are being targeted and shadow-banned. Another instance of people being manipulated into doing something unknowingly would be when “a single get-out-the-vote message sent to 61 million Facebook users on Election Day 2010 influenced 340,000 people to cast ballots when they otherwise would not have, according to the findings of a massive social experiment” (Pappas, 2020).

Hence, why I started this paper with the journalism’s code of ethics and standards; we should all be more responsible with how we are using the internet, the way we communicate with others, how that could be used against us and other people, and we, perhaps, ought to create our own C0de of Ethics with regards to the internet use, similar to the forum rules (Prof, 2020), so that we might mitigate certain weaknesses, threats to individuals’ safety and promote intellectual growth. Caulfield’s book (Caulfield, 2017) is a perfect example how we can uncover manipulation. Additionally, with so much available information found on the internet, it could be a place of wonder and learning, as well as a way to spend hours upon hours on it wasting precious time. The likelihood of becoming addicted is high and the time-tracking apps (Esposito, 2020) might be beneficial to our health, and since certain tech bosses (Weller, 2018) monitor their children’s access to the internet, why should we not be more mindful of how we are using it, too. Contrarily to what I said regarding there being only negative responses to the internet and how the “oversimplification, emotionalism, tendentiousness, tribalism” (Carr, 2020) tend to take the lead, sometimes humanitarian causes and messages get the spotlight. That is what happened a few weeks back when the singer, Marija Šerifović, had held a concert, through which she collected money so that a child could continue living, and many had participated in it, which resulted in the girl being able to get her medicine. Since we are emotional, and rational (once in a blue moon) beings, our better and higher selves sometimes win and when that happens, so does the internet. Regarding the data mining and the privacy that we are continuously losing, it is not always a detriment to us, that is how we are able to find what we need and here you can find arguments why we do not really have an assigned FBI agent that tracks our every move, but how it is actually a system which bring us closer to the best possible results. As airsignsag (2020) points out “if we want to have access to such a service, they have to have access to great amounts of data in order to be more efficient”. Nevertheless, they, ever and anon, transgress and if we are knowledgeable and detect, in a timely manner, unfriendly activities , they should not be able to get off scot-free. Thus, our global digital gardens might end up secure enough and weeds, that could infect the rest of the soil, taken out.

To conclude, As Langston Hughes (1936) wrote in his poem Let America be America Again
“Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem the land . . .
And make America again”, we should also be the ones to make the internet again… and the world, as well. In other words, it is down to us “whether we will . . . spiral into the whirlpool of manmade Big Brother darkness“ (Latecomers, 2020) further, or turn on the light, would you not agree?

This post, as well as any other of my posts on this site, may be used for research purposes.

I hereby confirm that this work is solely the result of my own independent scholarly work and that if any ideas, text passages, or diagrams from books, papers, the Web or other sources have been copied, paraphrased, or in any other way used, all references – including those found in electronic media – have been clearly acknowledged and fully cited.

A. A.

References:

1. Latecomers. (2020, November 10). Privacy and Internet Phishing Schemes. Intercultural Extraneity. Retrieved from: https://interculturalextraneity.com/articles/latecomers-reflections-on-privacy-and-internet-phishing-schemes
2. Society of Professional Journalists (2014). SPJ Code of Ethics. Retrieved December 20, 2020, from: https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp.
3. ARDIACA, F. (2014, APRIL 3). ethics-code-1926. Sigma Delta Chi. Retrieved from: https://trampress.com/toda-la-verdad-sobre-la-verdad-en-el-periodismo/ethics-code-1926/
4. Ralph, P. & Relman, E. (2018, September 2). These are the most and least biased news outlets in the US, according to Americans. Business Insider. Retrieved from: https://www.businessinsider.com/most-biased-news-outlets-in-america-cnn-fox-nytimes-2018-8#9-the-washington-post-7-tie-10%22%3Enews%20outlets
5. Carr, N. (2020, January 13). From context collapse to content collapse. Rough Type. http://www.roughtype.com/?p=8724
6. Lee, Michael (2020, November 24). Facebook reveals algorithm changes that prioritize ‘authoritative’ news outlets such as CNN and New York Times. Washington Examiner. Retrieved from:
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/facebook-reveals-it-made-algorithm-changes-that-prioritize-authoritative-news-outlets-such-as-cnn-and-new-york-times
7. Watson, P. J.” [Paul Joseph Watson]. (2020, December 2). Candace Owens is Suing the ‘Fact Checkers’ [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGauh-2z8bY&t=172s
8. Wolinsky, J. (2020, December 16). Big Tech Companies Under Scrutiny For Data Mining. ValueWalk. Retrieved from: https://www.valuewalk.com/2020/12/big-tech-companies-under-scrutiny-data-mining/#
9. nebz. (2020, November 23). I’ve decided to write this post out of curiosity, inspired by an “experience” I’ve recently had. [Online forum post]. Intercultural Extraneity. Retrieved from: https://interculturalextraneity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=192#p192
10. Thompson, A. (2007).THE MEDIA AND THE RWANDA GENOCIDE. Pluto Press. Retrieved from: https://www.idrc.ca/sites/default/files/openebooks/338-0/index.html#page_13
11. Ochab, E. (2020, September 30). Will Facebook Sit On The Evidence Of The Genocide Against The Rohingyas? Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2020/09/30/will-facebook-sit-on-the-evidence-of-the-genocide-against-the-rohingyas/?sh=2da8b8e36640
12. Pappas, S. (2012, September 12). Scientists show how Facebook friends can get out the vote. NBC News. Retrieved from: https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna49005643
13. Caulfield, M. (2017, January 8). Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. Self-published. Retrieved from: https://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/
14. Esposito, Emily. (2020, November 17). The 5 best time tracking apps of 2021. Zapier. Retrieved from: https://zapier.com/blog/best-time-tracking-apps/
15. Weller, C. (2018, February 18). Silicon Valley parents are rising their kids tech-free – and it should be a red flag. Business Insider. Retrieved from: https://www.businessinsider.com/silicon-valley-parents-raising-their-kids-tech-free-red-flag-2018-2
16. airsignsag. (2020, October). When it comes to Google, or any other Internet services that have access to users’ data, we believe that people. [Online forum post]. Intercultural Extraneity. Retrieved from: http://interculturalextraneity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=18
17. Prof. (2020). Forum Rules. Intercultural Extraneity. Retrieved from: http://interculturalextraneity.com/forum/misc.php?action=rules
18. Hughes, Langston. (1936). Let America be America Again. The Poetry Foundation. Retrieved on 24 December 2020 from: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/147907/let-america-be-america-again
19. Latecomers. (2020, November 10). We, the People. Intercultural Extraneity. Retrieved from: https://interculturalextraneity.com/articles/we-the-people-by-latecomers

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