Riseup and Texas MEP on Social Networking

2008-01-08 2-minute read

Riseup and Texas MEP put together a workshop on social network from a critical perspective. It was interesting to watch the tensions within the presentations. Texas MEP were full-on Facebook/My Space/etc. users. While being conscious of the risks, their position was that they are careful to only put on information that is public.

Brenna from Riseup demo’s Riseup’s installation of crabgrass - a social networking site designed from a collective/organizing perspective rather than an individuated perspective. She provided much of the critical analysis of the risks involved with corporate social networking sites (lack of privacy, reliability problems, etc.).

Brenna also provided Riseup’s 5 horseman of the privacy apocalypse:

  1. relational surveillance: analysis of social networks via email and phone transactions (by the government) relational-surveillance

  2. data profiling: the aggregation of consumer data in order to build detailed profiles on the consumption habits of everyone. data-profiling

  3. tethered computing: devices that are controlled via a ‘tether’ by the manufacturer. On the desktop, trusted computing can be seen as a way of achieving tethered computing on an otherwise agnostic and innovative device. (by corporations and the government). tethered-computing

  4. Geo spacial surveillance: location tracking via RFID, cell phones, IP addresses (by corporations) Geo spatial-surveillance

  5. biometric surveillance: biometric scanning via CCTV face recognition, DNA databases. biometric-surveillance

That alone made the workshop worth it. I think we struggle a lot to figure out how to communicate security concerns. The organization of these concerns - specifically the way these 5 issues are abstracted from the specific applications - is really helpful.

We had some good discussion - one person mentioned how she’s uncomfortable with publishing our networks on corporate run servers.

The parting words of the workshop: We’re not just fighting to get our media out, but fighting to build and own the infrastructure.