Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

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Parents Can Be Friends

“I do not believe teenagers ‘need’ privacy—not when it comes to the Internet. I track everything my kids do online. I search their bedrooms too. I’m the parent—I’m not their friend." -Christina

In my honest opinion, this statement is over the top. The fact that she goes that far to invade all forms of privacy of her kids has clear implications that she has an extreme lack of distrust between her and her kids. I understand that she is trying to be a "good" parent by protecting her kids from the unknown evil. It is also okay to state an opinion like this, but what I believe Christina is not recognizing is that this blatant treatment of her kids has a real potential to drive her kids to go even further to hide things from her.

As technology evolves, and as her kids get older and smarter, they will eventually find ways to maintain privacy on new platforms and the real world in general. She will have to deal with the fact that she wasted so much time and energy by not trusting her kids to be morally sound enough to make right decisions. This begs the question, why would you go so far, when you could have instilled in your kids the morals to the degree that you wanted them to have? She can do this, and still not be a "dictator" of her kids social media or their lives. It makes sense that she is not a friend of her kids. If my mother treated me like this, I would not want to be her friend either.

 

Mutual Trust is Key

In her book, It’s Complicated, Danah Boyd essentially sums up the problem of privacy on social media in a single sentence: “What’s at stake is not whether someone can listen in but whether one should” (Boyd, 58). Some will claim that since teenagers overshare on social media, they forfeit their privacy because they post everything to the world. But public expression does not necessarily equate to the rejection of privacy. For many teenagers, social media is a platform for self-expression and growth. Should adults, particularly those in authoritative positions such as parents and teachers, invade these spaces, teenagers will not be able to express themselves in the same way.

When I got my first social media account, my mom and I had a deal. I would give her my password and in return she would not use it unless I gave her a reason to. It was all about trust. I trusted my mom not to regularly spy on my Instagram account, and she trusted me not to post anything inappropriate. If I had found her logged into my Instagram on a random day for no apparent reason, I would have been offended. To me, that would signify that she didn’t trust me. Going back to Boyd’s statement, it wouldn’t have been a matter of whether my mom could access my Instagram, but whether she should. Unless she had a solid reason to suspect that my posts were inappropriate, logging on to my Instagram would be a violation of trust.

Parents will argue that they have to monitor their children’s online activity in order to protect them. Our society confirms this argument often, going so far as to imply that parents who don’t monitor their children’s online activity are “bad parents.” However, often children aren’t actually doing anything that should be a cause of concern to parents, and moreover, the parents are effectively disassembling any mutual trust that existed between them and their children.

Worry is a misuse of your imagination

“Teens often grow frustrated with adult assumptions that suggest that they are part of a generation that has eschewed privacy in order to participate in social media.”

I would agree that there definitely is a social pressure to “post nice pictures” on Instagram or Facebook or VSCO because there’s a recurring saying among users that if you didn’t take a picture and post it on Instagram, then were you really there?

But also I agree that the generation of parents fret too much over us being peer pressured into doing something that we don’t want to. That just isn’t always the case, because it’s up to that teenager to decide whether other people will dictate her feelings and the social pressure she puts on herself or just completely disregard the impact of social media and be carefree of it. People nowadays have more respect for exactly that—not caring how many “likes” a picture gets, but posting a picture plainly for the memory or to share what’s going on in their life. Sure, the pressure of being validated by the amount of likes you get will always be present because validation of existence and purpose I would argue is one of the basic needs of human life in the 21st century, but I think we can all agree that we can control ourselves mentally to not let that define our existence. If not, then that says a lot about how easily people can be manipulated today.

I think the reality is that teenagers are briefed so many times on the whole “keep your private information PRIVATE and everything posted online will stay there forever” shebang that there’s already a common sentiment that teenagers actually do want privacy. The stories about teenagers posting an indecent post that received much disdain and dislike that resulted in her/him being socially shunned that people are scared into are probably exaggerated and skewed to sound like it’s worse than it actually is. I’m sure that we’ve all posted something (not even risqué) that we look back on two years later and go “yikes.” But the whole mental game plays with your mind to make it seem like that post attracted a lot more negative attention towards your social standing than it actually did. And that’s the trap of social media and why parents have such a misunderstanding of how teenagers really understand use and sharing of private information on social media.

Technological Revolution of Teenage Privacy

“Every teenager wants privacy. Every single last one of them, whether they tell you or not, wants privacy.” - Waffle

I strongly agree with this statement for a multitude of reasons. One of the main reasons I agree with it is because I used to be like Waffle; Playing video games behind another personality and rarely interacting with the outside world. Also I am a very open person when it comes to my business but not when it comes to my memories or my personality. I strongly believe other people are like this as well. Though teenagers dress boldly and express themselves online while exposing themselves to the outside world there is still a lot or SOMETHING that they are unwilling to share with the world. The text mentions a quote talking about shame and how teenagers now a days have no shame. I disagree with this, I think that shame for teenagers not only is different from adults definition but it has also changed over time due to technology and social changes. With the ability for the world to know what you look like, added to the social tendencies of teenagers, it is logical to assume that teenagers will post scandalous things on social media. This includes pictures, drama, trends and more. From my perspective and from the people that I have asked around me, teenagers are sensitive when it comes to talking about their feelings or their "odd" opinion on something. Many teenagers want their feeling to remain hidden, even if they dress provocatively and have their drama on social media. This can be called the Technological Revolution of Teenage Privacy.

The Spectrum of Privacy

"Privacy is not a static construct. It is not an inherent property of any particular information or setting. It is a process by which people seek to have control over a social situation by managing impressions, information ows, and context."

In other words, privacy is what you make it. There is not a definite definition and it is varies from person to person. I think that everyone perceives privacy differently and that in someways it is a spectrum. While some adults struggle to understand how teens can demand privacy while maintaining a social media presence, it is completely feasible and possible for teens to do so. Privacy isn't synonymous with being off the grid and anti-social and it shouldn't be. I think, especially in the 21st century, there is an expectation that everyone has a social media presence and there still exists the expectation to keep somethings private. It all depends on what each person is comfortable with. Some teens are comfortable with sharing every aspect of their life on a public account while others control their social situations by maintaining a private account that only a select few can see. It all depends on the range in which someone is comfortable with sharing personal information about their lives. For instance, it lately has become a trend that many teens will have "rinstas" or real Instagram accounts where they may share less personal, general posts and "finstas" or fake accounts which usually are private and only followed by close friends. Finstas give teens the opportunity to be more open about their lives and many people use it has a place to post rants and more personal information, all while controlling more specifically who can see what they post.

I personally think that there is this connotation that if you have a social media presence, you must be comfortable sharing anything. That is not the case, I think when posting something online most teens put it through their own personal filter, their own definition of privacy. This filter questions whether something upholds the image they want to maintain and does it give followers a look into their life without revealing too much. This is the modern way that teens interpret privacy and seek more control over the social situations and expectations.

Becoming public to become private

“Much to her frustration, she finds that sharing at least a little bit affords her more privacy than sharing nothing at all.” (p. 74) This statement by Taylor, in Boyd’s book It’s Complicated is a true reflection of the world we live in. We live in the 21st century and due to ever-advancing technology, it has become easier and easier to exchange information. This information age that we live has meant that sharing information has become the norm and any deviation from this norm sticks out like a sore thumb -- or as Dr. Bruff would call it, a lead-lined coffin. So, when anyone, like Taylor, chooses not to share they immediately draw attention – the exact opposite of the what they were trying to achieve in the first place.

Boyd says that the thought process of Taylor as well as many other teens of “focusing on what to keep private rather than what to publicize” (p.77) is a difficult concept for adults to grasp. Boyd seems there are only two groups of people in this battle of privacy, parents and teens. The actual groups that Boyd should discuss are those that have been able to adapt to the information age and those who haven’t. While there is a correlation between being an adult and not understanding the above statement, there are many adults who do understand the nuances of privacy today, as we can see from the multitude of adult vloggers that publicize their lives. The reason that Boyd may think that the two distinct groups are teens and adults is because most teens have not known a world other than the information age and so they have been forced into adapting how they keep their lives private. It can also be argued that Boyd does, in fact, know that there are teens who don’t understand privacy in the 21st century as well as adults who do understand it but she just chooses not to in order to make her book more controversial or in order to widen the rift between parents and teens. Whatever the case may be, there is one thing to remember. There are always two groups, those who can adapt to the ever-changing world around them and those who do not, and consequently are left scratching their heads, wondering why things aren’t as good as they were “back in their day” and why the “new generation is the worst generation ever”.

Reference:

Boyd, D. (2015). It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.

New Type of Privacy

"I just think that [technology is] redefining what’s acceptable for people to put out about themselves. I’ve grown up with technology so I don’t know how it was before this boom of social networking. But it just seems like instead of spending all of our time talking to other individual people and sharing things that would seem private we just spend all of our time putting it in one module of communication where people can go and access it if they want to. It’s just more convenient." This was said by Alicia in Boyd's study. She believes that just because we post stuff on social media does not mean teens dislike privacy. Instead of having to talk for hours on end about our lives we post what we want online and can reminisce about it later. It is also said that adults find social media to be an oxymoron to teens wanting privacy but I believe that it is not. What is posted on instagram or facebook is chosen by the person. They decide what parts of their lives they want private. The idea of privacy changes with every generation. Today, we believe that privacy is choosing what we don't want to share. I agree with this idea. Just because I want to post a picture of me and my friends having fun on the lake or at dinner does not mean I want to share my entire life with the world. Instead I am saying that those are moments that I am ok with people knowing about. They do not know what was said during those moments or anything that occurred before or after. Just small snippets of my life that give nothing close to the big story.

The Complex Interplay Between Privacy and Publicity

“There’s a big difference between being in public and being public.… At first blush, the desire to be in public and have privacy seems like a contradiction…. teens’ engagement with social media highlights the complex interplay between privacy and publicity in the networked world we all live in now.” (boyd 57)

In boyd’s book It’s Complicated, he discusses many theses related to privacy and publicity. To my surprise, “many journalists, parents and technologists seem to believe that a willingness to share in public… is incompatible with a desire for personal privacy” (boyd 56). While it is true that by posting photos on Facebook, teens give up the privacy, of these photos, it does not mean that teens forfeit all their privacy. Emerging social networks lead to teens’ increasing online engagement with not just their friends, but also the public. As a result, we post more and more texts and photos, but we also become more aware of what to post, and with whom we share. We actually care a lot about our privacy, since we usually post things that are insignificant to be publicized, and communicate information of much significance with our close friends via texting, the more private medium.

However, the social norms mentioned by boyd are indeed quite complex on social media. Most people follow these norms in real life; for instance, when two people sit next to each other, one does not stare at the other’s phone screen to see what he or she is texting. Nonetheless, there exist conflicts between social norms and the concept of public social media. We post things, giving everyone the permission to see them, yet on the other hand we may not expect strangers and other unwanted people to view parts of our life. What’s at stake is not whether someone can view but whether one should. The reconciliation of online social norms and the public nature of social media is a challenge in today’s networked world, and should be solved as social media becomes more widely used.

Learning from your pre-teen angst posts

"In other words, when participating in networked publics, many participants embrace a widespread public by default, private through effort mentality." - (boyd 62)

I think this quote sums up the unofficial "terms of agreement" teens subconsciously accept when participating in social media. In the chapter, boyd argues that the amount of effort required to constantly monitor and have control over privacy settings is simply not worth it. I see this constantly when I scroll through Facebook, and it does to some extent irritate me when I see posts such as "hmu I'm bored" because I feel as though it's "clogging" my feed. However, it is important to remember that when friending or following people, you consent to having their content appear in your feed, whether it be something you desire to see or not.

I think the issue that arises from this "public-by-default" mentality is not so much that privacy becomes suspicious, but rather that teens are unaware of all the smaller agreements involved when posting something to the "public". For example, many teens feel frustrated if they have to manually unfriend someone, or clear their posts from years past in a tedious fashion, but they are forgetting that they are the ones who posted it in the first place. Admittedly, it is sometimes embarrassing to come across something you posted because at the time you believed it to be funny or quirky, but now just appears immature. However, I feel that that can serve as a valuable learning moment. While Shamika hiding her posts may save her drama or make it more difficult for antagonists to find evidence, she is losing out on a lesson that most teens must endure, which is learning by experience, in this case the experience being forced to reanalyze content you posted online in the past. Doing so will not only help teens filter their posts more cautiously in the future, but will also allow them to understand how they've matured or changed.

 

 

Paper #2 - Practical Crypto

Here's the info on your next paper assignment!

For a little inspiration, here's the Reply All episode we discussed today, "Is Facebook Spying on Me?"

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