Do Not Track

                After watching the documentaries of https://donottrack-doc.com/en/intro/ for the first time, I was able to identify that whatever we visit online, there is always trackers. And guess what? There is no escapism from them.  Starting with the Morning Rituals Video, it said that:

  • There are Ecosystems & Trackers that follow every action we take on a certain website. Trackers get notified whenever I visit this site & all my activities are followed and sent to a third party
  • Cookies record activities on pages.
  • It exaggerated in picturing that your track history can be sold in Auction & given to the highest bidder but that is only to make a point that all your activity can easily be given to a stranger & all of a sudden, he would know a lot about you with that tracking history.
  • Other websites like Amazon does not need to use trackers as you give them your information by yourself (Full name, number, address, age, gender, credit card information…etc)
  • Ads are paying to collect our info and tracks every step we make on the internet to show us personalized ads (what we only wants & relevant to us)

Scary enough right? It seems like there is no way to avoid being tracked, and that we give up information about ourselves extremely easily online from the moment we wake up & during the whole day.

Another very interesting video is called Breaking Ad, It talked about the person who invented pop-up Ads!

  • Ethan Zuckerman is the pop-up ad inventor who recently apologized in every interview he has done about inventing them as he never ever expected that this is how it will be used (in an annoying, over-exaggerated way). It started with a trial of taking advantages of the photos that people add of their cats online. He added a photo for a cat as well saying that this cat is for adoption. The next day, he found someone calling him asking to put similar ads online. It started spreading a bit but the ads places were not filtered which made a problem,. Like for example, a sexual ad ended up showing on Fords’ website. Fords were furious about it. So, Ethan used a new technique in Java where he can filter the place of shown ads, ending up being the inventor of pop-up ads according to the websites you visit.
  • Because people were not convinced of selling ads online, internet admins thought of a way to compete with TV & radio for more efficient ads, which is adding trackers (Cookies) that is a word file once dropped on your computer then keeps tracking of every single press of a button online. Only to show you ads that suits you best & fit your needs
  • DoubleClick Company is the first to use cookies. They were sued for tracking people’s activities, which is a hack of their privacy. However, the judge said it is like asking a friend to overhear a phone call so there is nothing illegal about it. After this case, yahoo & google started realizing the money they can make from using Cookies & here their journey started

Last video that I should mention is called Like Mining, which discusses the amount of analysis to be done on your personality by only tracking your likes on Facebook!

  • From analyzing likes on Facebook, FB team is able to determine of course race, gender, age, political standpoints & psychological dimensions like IQ, personality, psychological state happy, depressed) and whether you are smoking or not.. and much more!
  • 250 likes can be better indicator than your wife’s or husband’s judgement about your personality! See? Computers are similar if not better than Humans.
  • Lendo is an app that can give you loans! How? By accessing all your social media accounts from Lendo like Instagram, Facebook, Gmail, LinkedIn & yahoo mail. (I guess they earn the loan they give you from data collection for advertising) as if they are paying you to take your information including your contacts, friends list …etc.

I have mentioned only the best of videos that I have watched. There was other videos discussing algorithms, and how the mobile can be more like carrying a spy in your pocket for it sends a code called Udid from your mobile to all the third parties online, which makes it easy for them to track every detail about your personality and daily life.

Honestly, after reading about all these, I felt like I need to deactivate all my social media accounts! I have always wondered what cookies is, but I never imagined that it is a permanent detailed tracker like this! And yes I knew that likes are indicator of someone’s personality, but not the extent that FB team would be able to know whether I smoke or not & my psychological state only from my likes. I usually care a lot about privacy settings in any social platform that I have an account on. However, the problem here is different for privacy settings are just not enough, we are talking about clicks being tracked and you do not even have the option to say no! Like the disclaimer that appears on a website that uses cookies, it only has “Ok” option, but there is never “No, I don’t agree to using cookies.” In addition, if it is an option, then simply you will not be allowed to use the website. Yes, I understand the fact that the information tracked are only to provide me with personalized ads that fits me best, but still some privacy and having the option to choose whether I want that or not will not hurt!

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Fake News Curation

Fake News topic was one of the topics that I was so excited to talk about.As it is more of a trend nowadays, I no longer believe any piece of news that I find on social platforms. Maybe just seeing a headline of any article shared on Facebook make me think “Oh then this news must be fake as long as it is trending on Facebook.” So, I took it as a chance to make my curation assignment on Fake News where I can relate to it in so many topics, starting with this one:

Scoop Empire’s Article: https://scoopempire.com/this-arab-girl-received-offers-from-nasa-spacex-netflix-buzzfeed-and-we-couldnt-help-but-step-in/

Couple of weeks ago, I was scrolling through Facebook when I found a link of an article titled “This Arab Girl receives offers from NASA, SpaceX, Netflix & we couldn’t help but step in.” It was posted by Scoop Empire which is a supposedly new well-known website for its news & articles. I was curious to open it, I found attached screenshots in the article that shows Sara’s personal Instagram story with some messages from: Nasa texting her for loving her Giant BBQ grill idea after every rocket launching, then SpaceX saying that they have even better offer for her & asking her to go to them instead. Then a message from Netflix saying that they would like to accompany her in order to produce a documentary about everything that happened and going to happen. And many more messages from Buzz feed, Ellen DeGeneres and so on. To make sure, I went to Instagram & opened Sara’s stories. All the screenshots were correct & the girl keeps posting about how incredibly huge the situation is and she cannot believe that these people actually texted her about her idea. I was SHOCKED that she can have this huge amount of feed-backs about such a silly idea like “Making a huge BBQ from the fire produced when a rocket launches.” & I believed that NASA went crazy, and every other company then were just texting her because of the attention that NASA gave to this girl. Too weird I didn’t doubt the fact that these photos could actually be photo-shopped! Maybe the fact that I saw it as a news first on a supposedly credible website, then her story, made me not doubt the messages at all. But I was still shocked of course. However, a few days later she posted that Trump sent her a message congratulating her, I said this message can never be real, then the next story is her confessing that all the photos are made by her and that it is only a social experiment! Mind blown!! I guess I learnt my lesson the hard way, but glad I did. No matter how realistic a thing might seem on social media, we should never believe it until we get a materialistic evidence that proof the thing. Maybe I couldn’t find a reason of why she would Photoshop such messages, but everything made sense after she revealed her whole story on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42ogVgE1lOE

 

Bad News game (https://getbadnews.com/#play):

This game is surprisingly realistic and so manipulative. It sounded as if I am getting real instructions on how to spread fake news & how to make a fake website believable. Though it felt wrong when I chose to share some fake news, but when the counter started counting the followers I’ve got after spreading that news, and the credibility meter started increasing. I actually felt okay as if I was ready to continue to keep increasing my followers & these meters! This made me understand the feeling of the people who goes crazily posting fake news just for the sake of having more followers. And this actual feedback from the website after getting some followers seriously surprised me

  • Website: You got them! How are you feeling?
  • Me: I have moral objections
  • Moral what?
  • Nothing
  • Good choice, let’s continue.

It sounded as if my boss is talking to me, and that I was not convinced, but afraid to object on what we are doing and willing to continue on his instructions! I also witnessed some very surprising options like when it was asking me what I want to post on my fake website; emotional or serious content? I chose serious, and its answer was “What? No! You have got to exploit some emotions first!” And it focuses on either fear or anger.  Again, sounds so realistic! Whenever I chose to ost fake news about the weather, the website refuse, telling me that this piece of news will not get people’s attention and will not increase the reach of my website. I ended up getting only 250 followers, and did not even reach half of the credibility accomplished meter. But I am glad of that because it makes me look like I am not the person to publish fake news even if it is a game anyway. However, I completely loved & enjoyed the realistic design of the game!

Fake it to make it (http://www.fakeittomakeitgame.com/)

            It is a bit similar game to bad news, called Fake it to make it. It has the same concept of spreading fake news among people, but its experience differ as it makes you simulate (similar to a very realistic) blog where you can share your fake news, and people would follow you personally for the ‘credible’ news you are offering them daily! The challenging part is that you completely fake the news. From A to Z. In which, you are completely reliable for any damages that may occur from that news as it is not something that you have only twisted, but completely faked it! I liked that it made me experience how I would react to spreading something that I invented on my own, but it was not easy at all! So I still cannot get how people are able to do this! However, I didn’t like that it was a bit vague and its instructions and the website options itself were a bit unclear.

Moreover, in-class we searched online for “Is the Sun going to sleep in 2020? Will there be a mini ice age?” Surprisingly, infinite websites & google images have content about that topic, none of which says that it is a hoax or a fake news. Including a website that gave every possible scientific explanation for why the end of the world is in 2020 because of the mini ice-age: https://tfrlive.com/is-there-going-to-be-a-mini-ice-age-the-sun-going-to-sleep-has-scientists-suggesting-so/  Maybe it is me who could not find a claim that says the news is fake, but this website offers everything possible to make it sound realistic like it is quoting people, mentioning the name of the scientists who have such claims and the date of their researchers that says that. What is ironic is that they link every name mentioned to give their fake news credibility, bit actually not a single linked name is working to give you any information about who this person/scientist is. This is pretty similar to back in 2008 where people believed that the end of the world is in 2012. Then the actual reason behind this belief is the release of the movie “2012:Doomsday” and the people who took advantage of the movie’s release & kept spreading fake news, just as fake it to make it game. Then another belief was that the end of the world is in September 2017. It was a trend on Facebook for more than 2 years where everyone was sharing & talking about it; how serious the news is, why is the end? And they got even more serious in which they started posting about treating others properly & forgiveness so as when that day approaches, we are ready for it! Some of the people who actually believed this & let the idea took over their brain should be brain washed!  Photos similar to this one was also trending on Facebook. Well, here 2017 has passed & we are still alive! end.jpg

Is Paracetamol Contaminated with the Deadly Machupo Virus? : https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/paracetamol-warning/

However, our Doctor taught us a smart way in which we could recognize whether a news is fake or not, by writing ‘hoax’ next to it while searching. Like when we were searching for the ‘Machupo’ Virus in the painkillers & its harms. When I wrote hoax in the search, the first link was this article showing that this virus is a fake news & there is no single proof of it. But let’s face it, who would believe that there is a serious virus called Machupo anyway? So in class when we saw the word hoax in the machupo virus article, it made sense. It might be misleading of the, to leave the title as if it is true, then writing a whole article about its dangers, then the very last line of the article says it is hoax! Simply because people may not complete the article till the end. Also, in another class, the doctor told us to search the name of the website that displays such news as some of them are known to be scam websites. I also found a very beneficial website where it reveals any hoax news circulating, called Hoax Slayer: https://www.hoax-slayer.net/hoax-machupo-virus-in-paracetamol/

If we are talking about Fake News, then I cannot escape talking about the Fake Videos & Info-graphics made that are designed in a way to capture attention, and to make you believe that they are giving you such a precious piece of information that is completely valid & nonnegotiable, while in the matter of fact it does not have any importance and definitely ain’t true. An example that shows my point is an info-graphic that i really liked & was shared with us by the doctor: http://etale.org/main/2018/01/24/5-critical-statistics-about-infographics/

 

 

 

 

 

 


See what was the info-graphic’s effect on you? It kept giving you numbers & convincing you with what is written, then surprising you with the fact that it is not true. Well, at least this info-graph admitted that the information is fake. But What about all the videos & photos that we have seen before and undoubtedly  believed it while there was no one tell us that it is all based on fake news?

Four Moves by Michael Caulfield: https://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/chapter/four-strategies/

            Talking of the methods in which we can figure out how true & credible the source is or how fake the news is, I liked this blog very much. Its author summarized four steps to figure the reality behind any news with only 4 steps or 4 moves. Starting with previous check if someone already fought or researched the claimed. Then upstream search until you can get the original research in which the claim is taken from. Or you can read laterally if any other authors or publications talked about that claim & explained either its reality or falseness. In case you got lost, you can always circle back to where you started and start all over again to get a clearer point of view about the topic. As simple as the steps may seem, yet very effective when put into action.

I have also found an info-graphic I would like to share with you that advises on how to spot fake news: https://bluesyemre.com/2017/01/31/how-to-spot-fakenews-infographic-by-ifla/

how-to-spot-fake-news-1

Studio Visit: http://unboundeq.creativitycourse.org/activities/interactive/studio-visit-3-fake-news/

Moving to the Studio visit in which Michael Caulfield attended where he discussed his opinion about the roots of fake news and where it stemmed from. In Michael’s opinion: It started long ago from the national newspapers which started spreading hoaxes & yellow journalism. According to Wikipedia: Yellow Journalism or the yellow press is a type of journalism that does not report much real news with facts. It uses shocking headlines that catch people’s attention to sell more newspapers. Yellow journalism might include exaggerating facts or spreading rumors. So, social media platforms made it much easier for yellow press to spread widely & faster. I agree with him about how social media platforms made it easy for fake news & hoaxes to reach elite at a very low cost while before these social platforms, it was a very hectic & complex procedure to be able to represent one’s thoughts in front of people of such high positions. I also liked when he gave example of back in 1980s in order for a news to be announced, the reporter had to do many interviews & pass through many filtration processes before publishing it. While now with the spread of social media platforms & as people want everything fast, the news spread faster even before it gets to be filtered.

Michael Caulfield summarized the fact that nowadays any fake news spread in the speed of light & many people believe it because of the uncontrolled content on social media like Facebook & WhatsApp. Though they are meant to be socializing platforms, but they play as a double edged weapon if t is not used right & people are aware of every word they write or share.

Final Game Draft!

Me & Ahmed Afify has done a game called University Life. It basically shows the summary of the struggle of the student; we can’t eventually get everything at the end. It is always either sports, clubs & social life or academics & enough sleep. No in between. The game is designed in a way that a student should decide his own path at uni & bear whatever was the consequences of his choice.

You can play it here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1LEbRhrHls2AHlk7rjhHVo7X1uCQgv-Kx_Ekffw7seVA/prefill

& our previous post: https://wordpress.com/view/nadawalaa.wordpress.com

Since the previous draft, we worked in expanding the scenarios & making it more realistic so any student would easily relate to while playing.

 

If we had more time, maybe we would have increased the scenarios on academics & sleeping dilemma. And that balancing between our academics & social life would result in no sleeping at all.

What I have learnt while creating the game is the importance of the scenarios being as realistic as possible, or no one would relates to it all. Also, I’ve learnt that to overcome obstacles, a sacrifice should be made at the end, it may not be favorable but it is the only way of prioritizing & getting what we want at the end.

 

 

 

Equity

I have always heard the word ‘equity’, but I always mixed it up with ‘equality’.  However, I started realizing equity’s meaning with a very popular image that was a trend on social media, and then the Dr. brought it to class discussions as well.

eq.png

I loved how it simply describes it. After seeing it, I understood that Equity is not about everyone getting the same thing, because simply not everyone has a need of the exact same thing, but rather getting ‘quantity’ needed of the thing. Our needs & the extent of how much we need are never the same. Therefore, with help of Wikipedia’s definition of Equity: Equity or economic equality is the concept or idea of ‘fairness.’ So, it is all about getting things fairly but not equally.

Moving to a source that was a huge benefit to me which talked extensively about Equity from a historical perspective until today; Ehab Abdou’s article: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1T3HkB3mETK7RCGuWAkwNg_hkk68XEsJlYCF957zMiL4/edit

He was arguing about the fact that Coptic history is not included in the textbooks from the 1950s stating that “It is clear that Egyptian history is narrated from a perspective that values an Arab Muslim identity over other perspectives and voices.” I can relate to that from my school, in the Arabic textbooks from primary to secondary stages, they never mentioned or witnessed with something from a Coptic point of view. Even if the lesson is talking about a general topic, it would usually be supported with a verse from Quran or Hadith, but never a verse from Bible! Even when it comes to our religion class, knowing I was in a Coptic school, teachers used to take my Cristian colleagues to another room to take their lesson. This is a huge equity problem in itself! Where is fairness in witnessing everything from one religion and neglecting the other, knowing the fact that our country is filled with people from both religions, and both parties have the right to know about each other’s religions. But instead, the educational system forced that we would get to learn only about one religion, and the other can be learnt in its specific ‘religion class.’ It is not about certain religion or certain group being neglected, but rather about the fairness and the equity that both parties should get as long as they survive in the same country and learning all their information from the same educational system. On the other hand, Ehab Abdou also spotted the fact that “Other textbooks allude to the influence of ancient Greek philosophies, which rendered Judaism and Christianity more complicated and less accessible to ordinary people.” In which, Judaism & Christianity has always been viewed as a religion to the elite, the ruling party, and shall no ordinary person be accessible to it. Maybe the problem is ancient and did not just arouse by our educational system, but it is an eye opener for such a topic that needs to be fixed.

Last but not least, ending my blog with my favorite part of the Equity’s topic which is the ‘Privilege Walk Game’ that our professor tried with us. I did not understand what we were doing at the beginning or what is the aim of the game. Then, when each of us was assigned a completely different identity (gender, social status, class, nationality…etc), and each person had to act according to their new identity. Our reactions to situations and the position of where we are standing determined our ‘real’ position in society if we were in the shoe of that person. We reached to the result of; if you are rich, and have another American or European passport besides the Egyptian one, you can do whatever you want in the country. While if you are poor, or a refugee. then good luck getting anything! The game resembled equity in its simplest yet the deepest truest definition of it.

After all, Equity’s topics are so diverse, its problems differs from one society and one country to another, and of course, its privileges differs as well. I loved our class discussions about it and in my blog; I focused on spotting the sources that had a real effect one me.