Bring Back the Away Message [Content Made Simple]
Issue: 272: Shooters are online, social media surveillance in Uvalde, and more.
TOP OF THE WEEK:
It’s Time to Bring Back the Away Message
In the beginning, there was AOL Instant Messenger. That wasn’t actually the beginning. Talkomatic, Compuserve’s CB Simulator, and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) all preceded it. But AIM was the beginning of something, a gateway to real-time, all-the-time internet communication for the normies.
You didn’t need to be a computer nerd to ride the AIM train. Your parents got the compact disc in the mail, you plugged your clear plastic corded phone into a modem connected to your Gateway 2000, and you were off. Rather, you were on. Very online, and unaware at the time that the portal would disappear behind you once you crossed through, that you would never again live a wholly offline life.
I loved this article so much. As one who was on AIM in the first grade, I enjoyed reading about those simpler online times. But I also happen to agree with the idea that away messages, made popular by AIM, would be great to have on all of our messaging services today.
HITTING THE LINKS
Link #1: Shooters Are Online Before They Are IRL
I appreciated this piece from Ian even if the actual idea of having “online security checks” sounds a little problematic and difficult to implement. I think Ian has the right idea.
He said he was going to do it.
Salvador Ramos wrote, “I’m going to shoot my grandmother,” on his Facebook page 30 minutes before he entered Robb Elementary School to commit the biggest school shooting in 10 years. Minutes later he wrote, “I shot my grandmother.”
Link #2: After Uvalde, social media monitoring apps struggle to justify surveillance
As a sort of counterpoint to Ian’s piece above, this article from The Verge explains that some social media surveillance actually existed and it wasn’t enough to stop the tragedy. Fascinating peek into a creepy industry here.
It’s an increasingly common service as schools grapple with the chaos of social media, often raising serious privacy and speech concerns along the way. Systems like Social Sentinel promise to give genuine insight into the huge volume of information posted on social media every day, parsing out the signal from the noise so that educators can be informed of threats before harm takes place. For these firms, it can be a lucrative business — but often, they’re mining shallow insights from available data, providing few benefits to outweigh the privacy harms.
Link #3: Social Media Giants Are Failing Women
Interesting data here.
“I think there’s a lot that the social media companies can do. We think they need to look at their algorithms and what goes viral because too often companies place their growth and their revenues above public safety. And some of the worst harms are caused, not so much by individual posts, but actually when things go viral and are shared with hundreds of thousands of people,” she said.
“I’d also say to the social media companies look at yourselves, look at where the women are in your businesses — because we know that most tech and engineering teams, these are the people who are actually developing new services, are made up of men so the companies need to make a special effort to get women’s voices heard.”
THE FUNNY PART
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