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Posts Tagged ‘democracy

PositionDial is anonymous – if you want it to be.

Last night I attended an excellent event hosted by Involve at the University of Westminster – entitled ‘Technology and Democratic Participation – friend or foe.’

Involve

A point well made by Catherine Howe was on paying attention to the architectural layer, not just the application layer. And the ‘why.’ Including the choices we make about identity as we build opportunities to participate online.

I have spoken and written on the importance of anonymity and flexible identities online many times, and this is very much built into PositionDial‘s architecture.

PositionDial helps you work out where you stand, see who matches you, and explore the issues you care about. We have several levels of identity on site (and are at this moment building an even more super-secure identity system for y’all):

  • Anonymous – you can use PositionDial, and get your PositionDial, without registering with us or logging in. We use cookies to remember you and help you build your dial as you browse from page to page. But we don’t store your IP address. So there’s no way of us storing your activity or your PositionDial with your location or identity once you close your browser window.
  • Pseudonymous – You can register with any username you like / or Twitter – we don’t force you to use your full, real name
  • Full name – but if you don’t mind, we’d love you to know your real name. We’ll only use it for keeping in touch and making  PositionDial better for you.

Transparency is the only way

There’s a lot of valid, and invalid concern about data sharing and privacy on social media and discovery sites. Transparency is of course the best and the only way to handle this.

For our part, PositionDial offers agencies, charities, businesses and others analytics and insight into where their target customers, stakeholders and partners stand on important issues (we strongly believe this is win:win, if ‘they’ know better, they can do better for all of us). These analytics are based on aggregated, anonymised social PositionDials, and aggregated action PositionDials (from data about MP voting and companies etc. which is already public).

In other words, we would never, and have no reason to, share any personally identifiable data about you.

Furthermore, as stipulated in our privacy policy, we would, as Twitter and others have done before, closely interrogate and strenuously resist outside requests to access your data.

You also have the right to be forgotten (by us). That is, seriously, even if you’ve signed up and got your PositionDial and it’s all saved nice and neatly in our system. If you want out, we’ll delete you. Simples.

Image credit: Triple Pundit

Reposted from PositionDial’s blog

Since way before my first big project at openDemocracy.net I’ve been interested in the line. Separating ‘author’ and reader, broadcaster and receiver, powerful and powerlesser. In the physical world innovators are moving to challenge the authority / audience divide also, to “turn museums into social, participatory organisations – with all the challenges this entails.”

In online forums, we write for positive and negative response, for the conversation, for the pursuit of deeper understanding, for the feedback we get and the resulting whole. I love this line on Gransnet which sums it up neatly:

 it isn’t my thread. Once I’ve pressed the “post message” button, it belongs to everyone on gransnet

Bags

This sentiment is endlessly difficult to sell or even explain to those whose livelihoods have depended on the commodification of information, ideas and opinion. As the recent Leveson report has shown, the advent of the industrial press has led to cultural particularities both positive and negative, but ultimately a participatory attitude is hard to adopt, by people below and above the line(PDF), when equity is not appreciated or sought.

While there is any inbalance of financial and reputational consequences for what is written, the public conversation cannot be the best, most inclusive, most honest version of itself. But we can attempt to aid it in this direction, starting with:

  • Payment for both starting and continuing the conversation
  • Pseudonymity so that one participating individual’s reputational and legal liability does not outweigh the others
  • A standard for clear and attributable apologies / corrections for inaccuracies and mistakes by those on any side of any lines

Authoritarian governments are increasingly aiming to control images and control information getting out of their countries. One of the strategies they use are cyber assaults and this is when they focus on attacking activists online… Women face a specific threat online and off-line because certainly a lot of the cyber-attacks try to defame them and dishonour them, accusing them of being prostitutes or other culturally relevant threats. 

 Courtney Radsch via Kate Russell

This appeared in a Daily Mail piece yesterday in relation to Sally Bercow’s latest mis-tweet. (Bercow – whose Twitter account has now been sucked down the memory hole – had identified an under-aged person in a tweet that a UK court order had banned from being named.)

I’d just like to focus in on the unnamed ‘legal experts’ here stating that using Twitter constitutes publication. In my view it is rather odd and irresponsible for Sally to have named the person in the way she did (and if this was knowingly done, is clearly in ‘contempt of court’). But overall, I maintain we need different rules for sharing and discussing on social media.

On social media, individuals should be treated as citizens, with special protections for their freedom of speech and right to share, until they write or speak with the authority of a collective, institutional platform.

First of all, because restrictions on public civic discourse are generally harmful and counter-productive, and secondly, because collective media institutions have a special legal status (and usually access to far superior legal counsel) which means they can be pursued by authorities (and wronged individuals like Lord McAlpine) as institutional collectives.

Without separate rules for individuals on social media, people will frequently foul of the law at great expense just for airing their views or unwittingly sharing problematic items they have come across in public environments or from bigger media. Or fall silent – and we surely don’t want that..

Last weekend I took part in a Cambridge Festival of Ideas panel discussion on whether we are being ‘sold online’ alongside Michal Kosinski of Cambridge University, Professor Bill Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute and Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch.

During this I proposed that practitioners who deal with collecting, processing, analysing and sharing social media data can operate according to a simple principle, to weight privacy in favour of individuals, and transparency towards institutions. For indeed, such responsible data dealing is essential for attaining and retaining trust in 21st century institutions…


Delving further into what this means in practice I put forward the following framework, which can be used by marketers to clearly document and ask questions of social data usage:

Best Practice Data Dealers Recipe Card

Note: my recipe card is loosely based on Tony Benn’s five questions to power

We live in an era of deep technological and economic change that has not been matched by a similar development of public institutions responsible for its regulation… We need to move forward to new, more extensive and deeper forms of democracy…

The existing national-state organisations have to be part of a wider and much better coordinated structure, which involves democratic regional institutions on all the continents, the reform of the International Court of Justice, a fairer and more balanced International Criminal Court and a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly as the embryo of a future World Parliament.

Yet, this institutional change will not be successful if it only accrues from the actions of a self-appointed elite. On the contrary, it must come from a socio-political process open to all human beings, with the goal of creating a participative global democracy.

David Hayes, sharing the Manifesto for Global Democracy, signed by Daniele Archibugi, Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, David Held, Fernando Iglesias, Lucio Levi, Giacomo Marramao, George Monbiot, Heikki Patomäki, Mary Kaldor, Saskia Sassen, Richard Sennett, Vandana Shiva, Andy Strauss

Disclosure:  David Hayes is a former openDemocracy colleague

changes in media (broadcasting to mass participation, towers to platforms, scarcity to abundance) are changing the whole cultural landscape. I would argue that this new landscape affects the context within which we act, even if our actions are entirely offline. It engenders a growing expectation of, and desire for, individual creativity

 Amy Twigger Holroyd


This blog is about utilizing and optimizing the social web for business, pleasure and social change

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