What is Web 3.0? And social media ethics and privacy in education

This article was first published at HelloSpace.Me/blog.

Currently we’re in “Web 2.0”, but transitioning to 3.0. What does that mean? I’ll give you a super quick history lesson. The first version of the internet contained static (boring) pages. Basically, they were placeholders until web gurus, marketers, and admin could figure out what to do. The first websites were basically static billboards. Companies like Coca Cola needed to claim their domain, so that they could retain control of their company image. Some guy even bought madona.com, and the real Madona had to take him to court, which set a precedent on ownership rights.

When interaction capabilities were beginning to be built into web experiences with platforms like PHPBB, Friendster, MySpace, etc, this became known as “Web 2.0” as interaction became a distinct evolution from the billboard-like experiences we had before. Of course, because there’s things to do and hold our attention, new independent websites like YouTube, the early Twitter and FaceBook exploded in popularity (YouTube was eventually bought by Google).

CC0 UnSplash, https://www.pexels.com/photo/meeting-pencils-macbook-notebooks-40120/

CC0 UnSplash, https://www.pexels.com/photo/meeting-pencils-macbook-notebooks-40120/

So, that is the internet we’ve experienced up until this year. For a few years now, people like me (Andrew) has expressed serious concerns about privacy, and our rights to own our data (see bibliography at the bottom of this article). These were ignored. Basically, people ignore or remain naive to an issue until we or our friends are hurt, then we hear or tell everyone around us about it, and then change our behaviour. With revelations that the US intelligence community has been vacuuming up our data as it passes through US territory, the constant leak of passwords and private information from Yahoo, and now Facebook (via Cambridge Analytica), and the missuse and abuse of trust, we’re now on the verge of changing the internet again.

So, what will Web 3.0 look like?

We’ve already started evolving into that. You’ve seen vestiges of it already in place. The fact that you’re reading this is apart of Web 3.0 already. Let me explain.

The new internet will be about security, privacy, and human rights; both in support and opposition to it. Security, privacy, and human rights in the digital realm is the new activists battle ground. In China, we see the government demanding to snoop and spy on their citizens. Encryption and VPNs are now banned in China, except where it would interrupt international commerce and trade. In the US we see election candidates wanting to snoop and spy on citizens, and use that information to influence your thinking. In Europe and Switzerland, we see that snooping and spying on citizens are outlawed, except in cases approved by the court (with a search warrant like process) to allow for criminal investigation. The worst that can happen with your personal data is:

1. Governments will use it to falsely accuse you of crimes and punish you. We see this already happening to human rights advocates in Vietnam and China, and against minority groups in the US.

2. Abused by employees of the government to monitor people within their own families or neighborhoods. Also employers abuse their access and privilege to spy on employees, which has had serious consequences already.

3. Accessed by criminals to steal your personal data. Identity theft is a very common digital crime. Criminals can impersonate you, and take out credit cards and loans in your name. They then wrack up a debit of which you are responsible for, and it destroys the credit rating of Americans, which is particularly harmful to them. This type of crime is difficult for the police to investigate as it is often committed internationally, and because your own personal computer security is so bad, the police can’t even determine how the criminals got your data, so beginning an investigation is difficult.

Group discussion. CC0 Startup Stock Photos, https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-office-team-collaboration-7075/

Group discussion. CC0 Startup Stock Photos, https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-office-team-collaboration-7075/

What you can do?

Here are the tools and features of Web 3.0:

SSL certificates. Basic SSL certificates are available to all our customers for free. These are the green padlocks you see in the address bar of your browser. The web address should start with “https” not “http”; the ‘s’ indicates a secure and encrypted connection. That means, if you’re using public wifi, criminals cannot see your login username or password, but they can if you didn’t use an SSL connection.

FireFox or Brave. These are web browsers that are so much more secure than Microsoft Explorer or Edge. Set these to “Never remember browsing history”, or “Clear browsing data after closing”, and never store passwords.

For secure communication, use Whatsapp, the best is Telegram.

For secure email use Gmail or protonmail.com (Yahoo often gets hacked, so never use it). Just know that Gmail is owned by Google, and so any data you have there, is accessible by Google (and their national government).

Use a VPN like PureVPN or similar. A VPN hides your geographical location, and encrypts your data, so no-one can snoop on your communications. Never use a “free” VPN. They make money from selling your data. Always pay for a VPN, because those companies make money from you, not from selling your data.

For cloud and online file storage, don’t use DropBox, it is not secure. Use Tresorit. Tresorit has never been hacked, and is the most secure system we know. Tresorit also synchronises your files between computers, office network, or just your only computer and cloud. If your house is ever burgled or burnt down, you haven’t lost your important files.

Don’t use Google for searches. Google also vacuums up your data, information, interests, search history, everything. They can match it to you via your ip address whether your signed in or not. Use Duckduckgo.com instead. They do not store your data, and they redirect your searches to a variety of search engines, and so you get a wider variety of responses anyway, and your searches are anonymised. That means, that health problem you think you have, you won’t see ads for treatments appearing on every website you visit. Fun Freaky fact: Amazon knows if a woman is pregnant before she does, just by analysing her searches, and comparing it to historical data of women who have bought baby items.

For your own website, of course use us, HelloSpace.Me. Our servers are expertly maintained, and are physically located in Switzerland. That means your data is protected under Swiss Privacy laws, and under Swiss Data Protection laws. Which means, only a judge in a criminal investigation can allow access to our servers, but only to a specific persons account. So far, we’ve never received such a request; if we do, we will seek legal advice before permitting investigators access. Conversely, US intelligence already has unfettered access to US webhosting companies anyway, which makes us the best option. Finally, we keep your data to ourselves, and we only collect the vital data we need so that you can maintain the essential functions of your account with us. We do not over-collect (get data we don’t need), and we do not share or sell it to anyone. There are some services where this is necessary, such as your domain registration, and any additional features you purchase for your website that are provided by third-party sellers.

Never over-share your information. Avoid publicising your identifying data like your date of birth, place of birth, mother’s maiden name, your preferred bank, and such. Don’t engage in/with political messages whilst using your real name. Use a pseudonym (which were commonly used in Web 1.0 and early 2.0) with a VPN when you’re engaging in political or social activism.

For more information, see Andrew’s publications:

Digital Citizenship: the 9P’s students need to know, from @Edutopia

I’ve been concerned about the future repercussions students may have from studying with us (Blyth, 2011; and Blyth, 2015; at publications). Then Edutopia.org publishes this lovely, succinct, info graphic that is easily accessible by students and teachers. Now, there’s no excuse for low-internet literacy. Also, a special thanks to Edutopia for letting me repost their info graphic (post), from their original Twitter post, and their blog post with lots more information. Maybe it’s time I get a graphic artist to turn my key concepts into an info graphic, too.

Digital citizenship from Edutopia.Org. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-citizenship-need-to-know-vicki-davis?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

Digital citizenship from Edutopia.Org. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-citizenship-need-to-know-vicki-davis?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

Facebook becomes even more creepy with their camera identifying tech

I have complained about Facebook before being both creepy and unreliable from a privacy perspective (Blyth, 2011; and 2015). Facebook does not allow duplicate, alias accounts, or pseudonyms. This is a problem for people in minority groups that can be subjected to violence, and to journalists and political opposition members. The company has already endangered minority groups by outing political journalists in Syria and Vietnam, and outing gay and transgender people in the United States.

The company now plans to use software technology to uniquely identify your camera using certain physical characteristics that are displayed in your photos (PetaPixel). This is problematic for people who wish to maintain two seperate lives: a professional and a personal life; or personal life and an alternative life. Facebook seems to be aiming at “fraudulent accounts”. However, the term fraudulent seems to be not yet defined. Does that mean that a lesbian woman who has an ordinary account, and her second one for her lesbian side of life is illegitimate and therefore ‘fraudulent’? Or can it mean that Facebook can link a political journalist’s account to his personal account and identify his or her name. If the journalist has photographed opposition activists, Facebook can then link those people to the journalist. Thus allowing police warrants to be issued and real people to be persecuted.

Me and my 542 bestest friends (on Facebook). CC Terry Chay, 2007, https://flic.kr/p/3EUfgw

Me and my 542 bestest friends (on Facebook). CC Terry Chay, 2007, https://flic.kr/p/3EUfgw

Arrested for a Facebook post

Next month I have an article that’s going to be published called Social Media Ethics in English Language Teaching in The JALT CALL Journal (my publications). One of the key points in it is that there can be repercussions for people if a conservative society does not like what they post. This story of two reporters who where arrested for posting on Facebook a story of financial incompetence illustrates that point chilling well. See Human Rights Watch, Mozambique: Two men facing trial for a Facebook post. You can support the the journalists by writing to the Minister of Justice and the Public Prosecutor to demand their release.

Internet censorship. Image CC from OpenSource.Com, at https://flic.kr/p/aZbzAx

Internet censorship. Image CC from OpenSource.Com, at https://flic.kr/p/aZbzAx

Social networking ethics in CALL

This weekend the Japan Association of Language Teachers special interest group Computer Assisted Language Learning (JALTCALL) will be holding their annual conference in Nagoya at Sugiyama Jogakuen University (5min walk from Hoshigaoka Stn on the Higashiama (yellow) subway line). Details: http://conference2014.jaltcall.org/ I’ll be presenting my topic of Social networking ethics in CALL. As I’ve been doing additional research for this presentation I’ve come to realise that the main conceptualisation of this topic is about privacy, first and foremost. I’ve also realised how important the maintenance of privacy is for trust and bonds between friends and family, and by extension for classroom dynamics, too. Learn more at the conference, and I hope to see you there. The blurb:

This presentation is a follow up on the article published in ELT Journal by Blyth (2010). It calls for careful consideration in using social networking services (SNS) like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others. Whilst using SNS may facilitate more efficient language acquisition, there are certain risks that have not been discussed. Traditionally, classrooms are closed environments, where the outside world cannot see in, providing students with a private sphere to practice and experiment with their interlanguage. The use of SNS is effectively allowing the outside world to peek in and see students’ attempts at language use, not as a moment in a process, but as like a product. The effect can be negative, and potentially damaging to personal and professional reputations. Particular word choices or sentences may be misconstrued or misinterpreted, and may harm the students’ reputations now, or in the future. Especially when comments are published on long forgotten websites like the future equivalents of Friendster, Geocities, Tripod, or abandoned personal blogs. This presentation will conclude with a discussion, and key points may be published in the conference proceedings.

Currently the presentation is scheduled for room 502 at 3.40 to 4.20pm. I’ll eventually have PowerPoint slides uploaded so you can view them during and after the presentation at Winjeel.Com/research.htm. Hopefully I’ll remember to audio record the presentation so audio would be available via SoundCloud.