How can we make a difference?
You don’t need to know all the technical details to know that something is wrong. We have voices, rights, and actions we can collectively take to say this is not okay.
There is great power. Protests are powerful. Just take the pushback Zoom faced at the beginning of lockdown – they had promised end-to-end encryption, but they weren’t offering that. Because of pushback they had to update it.
Even recently, the government is trying to digitalise NHS patient data being put into a singular database. The problem is the lack of transparency about any of this process – from how to opt out to who might receive this information. Originally the opt out period for this was a few weeks at most but it sparked so much conversation that the NHS extended that time so we could make a more informed decision and have the opportunity to opt out.
But there’s other ways. Support tech unions. Report misinformation. Seek world news voices (look at places like Rest of the World). Use Signal instead of WhatsApp. Or use Duckduck Go instead of Google.
And if you’re a designer, UX lead, copywriter or anything else in the creative industry – take time to familiarise yourself with the tech you use and helping others to use as well. How are you talking about data to your users?
The most important thing is that you seek out ways to feel comfortable with being online. Whilst we continue to gather momentum and hold the bigger players accountable.
The 21st century demands the need for technology, but at the cost of stripping away our identities. Each generation moves further away from understanding their culture when they search ‘beautiful’ or ‘successful’ on Google, only to find a white algorithm ready to minimise them.