Social Media, Personal Information, and Children

Time with a child is finite and priceless. Documenting the good times in journal notes, travel photographs, and family videos is a fine way to relive happy memories in your old age. BUT … Do not put them online! And keep the kid(s) off social media as long as possible.

  • The information shared online today will most likely survive well into the future.
  • Peoples’ digital information footprint will affect future people more than today’s data profiles affect us now.
  • Data sent today is likely to be stored by individuals other than the intended recipients,
    • and used for unintended purposes.

These factors combine perniciously to undermine the future freedom and wellbeing of children by burdening them with an information history which they had no informed consent in crafting and that will be used to target them (to influence their behavior commercially and politically) and profile them (to automate judgement of their suitability for educational and financial opportunities).

If our great grandparents made a poor decision which they couldn’t live down, they could move to a new city, state, or country where they were unknown. Information today – every photo, text, and tweet – inescapably follows people from birth to grave; the only escape from the internet is suicide. Social mores and norms are changing faster than they used to and no one is safe from retroactive social opprobrium even if many people are legally protected from ex post facto laws. What might future people think of your children’s Halloween costumes, and what those photos say about the rest of their upbringing?

With technological progress, the information we create today might not be only what we think it is. For example, someone who took and shared a family photo from a crowded beach in the 1990s probably thought they were only sharing their family, but that photo now also encodes the known location and identity of everyone whose face is visible in the photo because of today’s advanced facial recognition technology. Are your photos today accidentally sharing your children’s iris scan, fingerprints, or something else? What might a mortgage company’s machine-learning “AI” think about how many beach photos you’ve shared, or the quality of the grammar in your emails? What might an automated social credit system think of your children’s childhood friends?

Many people today don’t store and process their data entirely on their own; they use “cloud” services to store and use it for them (because these services are much easier, cheaper, and more convenient). However, no information which touches the internet appears safe from theft. And then of course sometimes data is simply given away, or sold to a new third-party, or shared with an unanticipated “partner” or customer.

It’s one thing to take these [almost unavoidable] risks for ourselves as adults in exchange for important financial services and career networking. It’s something else to divulge a child’s data for mere curiosity and amusement – something entirely unacceptable.


Some links informing my thoughts on this:

We Post Nothing About Our Daughter Online |Slate, by Amy Webb

Don’t post your naked child on social media | Reddit

Should you invest in your kid’s digital footprint? | Reuters, by Chris Taylor

How Social Media Is Affecting Your Parenting | Parents, by Mackenzie Dawson

Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids | Psychology Today, by Victoria L. Dunkley

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? | The Atlantic, by Jean M. Twenge

Dear Parents: The Internet Never Forgets / Sharenting: Are Parents Violating Kids’ Internet Privacy? | The Atlantic video, by Taylor Lorenz (YouTube link)


Three challenges for the web, according to its inventor | World Wide Web Foundation, by Sir Tim Berners-Lee
The web is under threat. Join us and fight for it. | World Wide Web Foundation, by Sir Tim Berners-Lee

An Apology for the Internet — From the Architects Who Built It | New York Magazine (NYMag): Intelligencer, by Noah Kulwin

Sean Parker unloads on Facebook | Axios, by Mike Allen
Sean Parker interviewed by Axios’ Mike Allen Wednesday (video)

‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It | The New York Times, by David Streitfeld


The nature of the self in the digital age, by Aral Balkan

Social-Media Outrage Is Collapsing Our Worlds | The Atlantic, by Conor Friedersdorf
The Costs and Benefits of Worlds Colliding | The Atlantic, by Conor Friedersdorf

Why Technology Favors Tyranny | The Atlantic, by Yuval Noah Harari

The Last Free Generation, by Austin G. Walters

The American Democratic Republic

Source: The American Democratic Republic | Amalgamated Contemplation

How the American Democratic Republic works, and sustaining the American Experiment:

There are real boundaries beyond which our society and system of government can and will break down. There is a minimum level of solidarity required for a nation to survive with citizens rather than subjects, and a minimum level of social stability required for it to function. We can fall too far and merely avoiding disintegrating society is not enough. We must do far better, for ourselves, for the world, and for the future.

Swatting is Attempted Murder

RE: Kansas Man Killed In ‘SWATting’ Attack | Krebs on Security

Swatting is not a “dangerous hoax”. It is not a “prank”. Swatting is attempted murder — in this case, successful murder.

The police are not the target of swatting — they don’t receive the call and possibly break their station with their breach equipment or shoot each other. The innocent people at the address the SWAT team is sent to are the target; they are at risk of property damage at best and getting shot by police at worst.

The swatter is sending 10-60 officers, mostly lethally equipped and expecting a dangerous situation, sometimes including snipers, to the swatting target’s address. This can reasonably be expected to eventually and occasionally lead the the death of the swatting target.

+ How SWAT Teams Work | HowStuffWorks

Bernie Sanders’s Religious Test for Russell Vought – The Atlantic

During a contentious confirmation hearing, the Vermont senator questioned the faith of the nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Source: Bernie Sanders’s Religious Test for Russell Vought – The Atlantic


There are many religious sects which hold strongly that their specific and particular beliefs are the one and only true collection of such belief/knowledge and that all other people are damned for failing to learn, understand, and follow such information and practices as they have.

If any country is to include these people as citizens and strongly support “freedom of religion” and “freedom of speech” for all, including government officials and public representatives, then those people must be allowed to accurately state their beliefs, especially/particularly outside the context of acting *as* the government.

The important question is not “What does Vought think defines a good/true/proper Christian?”, nor is it “Does Vought think everyone other than proper Christians is condemned?”. The important question is whether or not Vought can act in the public interest to the benefit and respect of all citizens. Bernie Sander’s narrow line of questioning did not explore this, nor was his conclusion appropriate by this reasoning.

Basically any core religious argument could be seen as fantastically disrespectful to people of all other beliefs. If an atheist writes “Religion is outmoded, magical thinking which ought to be avoided.”, is that respectful to those with deeply held religious beliefs? Is it respectful to Christians when a Muslim argues that Christians are condemned for not following the prophet Mohammed?

And yet I would say that both of the above *and* Vought’s writing can be seen as respectful of other citizens insofar as they are communicating, explaining, clarifying, etc. their own religious beliefs (and potentially the actions and positions of religious institutions).


Every country *totally* has religious litmus tests — limitations on both the speech and actions of public officials and of private citizens. No country on earth permits it citizens to murder each other and claim “My religion demands I do it.” as a legal defense. Religious freedom ends where the collective ethics and values of the body politic begin. Less extreme examples include the restrictions on drugs taken for religious reasons/purposes, restrictions on sacrificing animals, and policies against awarding custody to a parent guilty of child abuse.

What to do…

Trumpism will expand its base of believers and practitioners if it is not strenuously opposed, just like Nazism, Communism, Capitalism, Liberalism, and every other -ism. Trumpism is an idea. Ideas can only be defeated through the greater popularity of a competing, alternative idea.

Ideas have currency because of the moral values which underlie their motive, reasoning, logic, and their intent. Ideas can also sometimes have currency due to the experienced reality of the outcomes of actions based on them, but that comes later (it takes time) and is frequently overlooked through selective perception and/or other cognitive biases.

Still, there are concrete steps which can be taken and are not token echo chamber participation.

Continue reading What to do…