Friday, May 8, 2015

Permanent?...Not for Long

How many times have been warned that what you do online lasts FOREVER? We have always thought of the internet as a place where everything is saved, but what if society changed and made the default thinking so that nothing is kept and everything is deleted unless the information is saved? This idea is called the “Erasable Internet.” The erasable internet was suggested by a New York Times journalist, Farhad Manjoo. He based this idea off of the Sony hack case where many important files, letters, and conversations were shared around the internet. If the idea of “erasable internet” were put to action, then it would be a good choice for the world.

Confide app, completely confidential?
I personally think that this concept of an erasable internet is beneficial because it not only would stop hackers because there would be nothing to hack, but it create a safer internet for people to use. For example, in the Sony hack case, every emailed conversation and every letter was saved, which became a problem after everything was leaked. Snapchat, which is an erasable messaging able, is also an excellent example of what the erasable internet could like because it was the first application made solely for the creation of this exciting topic. After the creation of Snapchat, there are more businesses and apps that are using and changing their security plans with information or subscribing to certain applications so that what they say is confidential within certain people. The co-creator of Confide (a private business messaging app),
  Howard Lerman said, “Everyone is so excited about the cloud, but the cloud is really a drunken Xerox machine making copies of pretty much everything that everyone has said anywhere and spewing it all over the place.” Mr. Lerman made a great point by saying that, even though, many people are so excited about the “Cloud” it also means that someone is storing your data and that someone has access to it. After reading about Mr. Lerman’s creation confide, I have started to use the app to compare its accessibility to other private messaging apps such as Snapchat. I was very amazed while using it because of how CONFIDEntial the app has showed itself. If the amount of users that use Facebook and Twitter see and use Confide, the internet would slowly begin to come private.

Many companies such as Facebook, Google and other social media’s would very much appeal to this idea because they have always saved everything and have thousands of “Server Farms” around the nation, which have cost not only a lot but also create tremendous amounts of revenue for theses companies. This idea which Manjoo has created is very interesting because if this idea goes viral, which it has with the app Snapchat, then it could mean drastic changes or the end to Google and Facebook. This is why Snapchat and Confide are extremely dangerous for Google and Facebook. In today’s age, it seems like nothing can stop companies like Google and Facebook which are buying out other businesses to be the two dominant companies and which are the top two resources used digitally. Now granted Snapchat and Confide are not search engines and you can not use it store data in the cloud, it can be used as “the first step” to an erasable internet. Many civilians are also very cautious about this idea because, many believe this idea could never work because nobody has seen how applications such as Snapchat work, without anything being saved. Many parents and schools disagree about the creation of Snapchat because the amount of control they have with kids sending inappropriate images through Snapchat. This means that teens feel, that because Snapchat does not technically save the pictures, they are not being caught for their actions.

Many people believe that this idea is also showing responsibility for the environment, because it would decrease the amount of server farms. These units are specifically, for Google or Facebook so they can save everything that is searched or everything that is posted. Most of these servers have to be carefully watched so none of the units overheat and cause fires. With the large fire risk that this can cause it creates the problem that these server farms can ultimately create tons of unwanted gasses in large areas of a country. If Google agreed to change which things they save, then they could sell back giant pieces land because it is no longer in use.

As an outcome of this idea, I expect that this plan would create greater amounts of positive attraction rather than creating havoc and unwanted press. If the idea of an erasable internet continues and companies use it as an advantage, then private communication and secrecy of messages will create a safer internet for people to use.

Bibliography

Conclusion:

The erasable internet, was an extremely interesting topic for me to tackle because of how often I apply it to my everyday life. The erasable internet concept needs to be a more active tool in the business world and  personal lives of everyday citizens. I often use apps like Confide and Snapchat. I have always thought of how it would be if nothing was saved or kept on servers. Many of the comments I received were very beneficial to conversing about this topic, but were never strong enough to actually change my opinion. One comment by Ellen Selkie was thorough and provided a well rounded idea of the erasable internet. In her third paragraph she talks about how the erasable internet might not be completely emerged in society, but with the push in device applications we are getting closer everyday. Through all my research, I became very knowledgeable about this topic.  To answer people’s comments, I did not need to do further research. Things I would change if I was to do this again is not procrastinate as much and create more time for me to look over my work. I really enjoyed making this blog because of how much information there was currently on this topic. Some of the comments I received helped me see both sides of the argument. In conclusion I really enjoyed creating this project because it was my first time ever blogging, and sharing my ideas with the rest of the world to see and give their opinion.

Sexism's Impact on Girls

Screen Shot from "The Breakfast Club"
Source: Ladygeekgirl.com 
Slut-Shaming: “An unfortunate phenomenon in which people degrade or mock a woman because she enjoys having sex, has sex a lot, or may even just be rumored to participate in sexual activity.” In society, women and girls are expected by men and media to present themselves as “hot” and “sexy”, but when they do, why are they degraded and shamed for it? Women in the media and in the normal world are viewed as sexualized objects. The objectification of women starts at a young age when girls start worrying about their weight and how they dress and act. We don’t see quite the same thing.

The women in advertising and media are usually viewed as “sexy” and girls in their teens or even younger see this and want to be it. But where is the line drawn between sexy and slutty? Young girls who are impacted by slut-shaming are often seen dressing or acting a certain way around boys or others. The word “slut” isn’t only used to torment or degrade people, but to also police their actions. If a girl is called a slut, she is less likely to freely express her desires or experiences and is more likely to regret them and feel shame about them. This kind of self- hatred or self-shaming, can affect her ability to relate to men and it will impact the kind of relationships girls have with them. Also, once a girl is labeled a slut or whore, she is more likely to experience sexual assault because men are assuming she will accept it.

Kim Kardashian’s “Break the Internet” is another example of a woman being objectified and sexualized even if she feels comfortable with it. Kim was accused of “overexposing” herself. I think that if Kim felt comfortable in this ad then she shouldn’t be being slut-shamed. Women in advertising are over-modified and have unrealistic body images and set too high of standards for women to uphold. Slut-shaming isn’t all about a woman's sexuality, but also about the fact that men get to announce their sexuality and women do not.

On the other side of things, men in particular may agree with slut shaming or sexism because it gives them power and also gives them the ability to express their sexuality freely without being held back by a woman’s also freely spoken experiences. Men like to be given power and by slut-shaming people, they gain power over girls because it makes them feel small and as if their wants don’t matter. Issues such as this tend to lead to bigger issues like domestic violence and rape. Many people say that rape is the victim’s fault for “dressing a certain way” or acting “somewhat suggestive”. They want an excuse to be sexual with someone who doesn't want it, that’s why they call girls sluts. Instead of no means no, we should live by yes means yes, a lot of people say that they didn’t know it they didn’t have the victim's consent, but you only have consent if they say yes directly.

Another reason for men to agree with sexism or slut-shaming, is because they like to look at the over-sexualized women in magazines and on tv. Men are sexual creatures, as are women. But they tend to overpower and take over the media. Social media uses women to draw in the attention of men, and other women because of the looks of the models. Yes, the body imagery is unrealistic for the average American to achieve, but if they use good looking models, more people will buy their stuff because they think it will look like that on them.

I disagree with this because it is not acceptable to shame women for their sexuality when men can openly express it. If a woman feels comfortable wearing clothing that is “revealing” she gets called a slut, and that is a major issue in society. Both women and men slut shame and it can lead to suicide and depression. Sex is a big part of society and our world is dependent on it and shaming people for doing what is idealized as an important aspect of our normal lives. It is far too hypocritical to shame people in taking part of something that is critical to our race.

Sexism causes women to think of themselves and others as less than men because they are objectified and sexualized. Women are pressured to look and present themselves as sexual beings. This issue of slut-shaming puts a burden on women to perform as sexual aspects of society. Women are used as a means of attracting men in advertising and television. The over objectified image of women in our society builds the mindset that all women need to be sexy, but with this double standard comes slut-shaming, the repulsive act of discriminating against women who are just trying to fulfill the social norms.

bibliography
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Conclusion updated 28 May 2015

In the journey of writing, editing and posting a blog, I have learned a few more things from my readers than what I had intended my post to contain. I learned that many people agree with my opinion on how women are over sexualized and objectified in the media, but also in our homes and just through what their parents and others say to them and teach them. I have also learned that many people, including myself, think that men have a great deal of sexism tied onto them in the media as well. Although my post was more focused on the female side of sexism, my opinion was altered a little bit because I thought more about the male side of it. I feel as if my initial argument could have been more appealing to readers if I had brought in the male aspect of sexism.

Along the way, I have discovered many more sources that informed me more on the subject of male sexism. The question of why girls are pressured into being sexy but aren’t supposed to be sexual and are shamed for it when they are, still stands. This is important because it lowers girls self esteem and makes them think there is something wrong them, even though they are doing exactly what society tells them to. It also teaches girls from a very young age that they should always look sexy. Furthermore, it continues to let the media think they can keep teaching young men and women to objectify themselves and others.

The Risks of Using Technology

According to geekofreak.com in 2014, there were 17 billion devices connected or related to the internet and the use of the internet. In the last century, technology has become a vital part of our everyday lives, whether it be the invention of the smart phone or the first man on the moon. Technology surrounds us all the time even though sometimes we fail to notice how it affects our lives in such a huge way. Our digital lives are engulfed by the internet. If technology continues to grow very rapidly, we will have little to no recollection of our past. If people realize that their life does not have to be centered around digital devices, then they can learn to appreciate life for the little things. Technology should be reduced in our lives.

Technology should be reduced in our lives because some people are too attached to their technology and it is affecting their social lives. This phenomenon was exposed when a school in San Francisco attempted a difficult challenge, to disconnect from technology for 3 days. They had to put away all technology and store it away. The whole school participated in it, including teachers and some parents, to raise awareness of how influential technology is in the lives of the school. Unlike most schools, they had an iPad program where every student had an iPad for their school work instead of textbooks, so this seemed particularly difficult to do. The results for this experiment were varied and interesting. Some students were so attached to their digital devices that they could not complete the challenge. It created anxiety because they felt they were missing out on something. Another student said that it gave him an opportunity to have a nice conversation with his parent when he needed help with homework. Normally he would have just looked up the answer, but because of the challenge he turned to his parent. One student said, "I usually take a really long time doing homework and that’s because I get sidetracked with technology and my phone." This a reason why technology negatively affects our lives because it shows how different our lives could be if we just took a second to set down our devices, looked up, had a normal face to face conversation, as opposed to texting or calling someone digitally.
Screen Shot from EWG

The Environmental Working Group says that it's not just your phone by itself that sends off radiation exposure, but its the technology in the phone cases that helps send off more radiation. Some phone cases are so poorly made that they intensify the radiation. According to Pong Research Corporation these
cases block the antenna making it work harder for a signal which then realizes more radiation. The chart above shows the amount of SAR watts sent off with no case versus with a case. SAR watts is the amount of energy absorbed by a human. The amount of SAR watts is higher with a case, with a 70% increase compared to no case.      
Another reason technology is negative in our lives is because if you store your life online then “you gamble with your memories.” One downside to this is that our daily lives are captured in digital form. Not many people keep physical records anymore. Not many people handwrite letters or print out photos as much as they used to. In the year 2500, if you were to visit a museum about the year 2015 there will not be much to look at because most of the data will not be saved because it will either be damaged or deleted. It is hard to keep technology updated all the time. It would be hard to run a floppy disk or VHS tape today even though it's only been around 20 years. Google Vice President Vint Cerf says that this is the “lost century”. One big negative is that our data is not always saved in one concrete thing, it is often saved to a cloud and can be accessed by a private company. We are nonchalantly putting our data into a big “black hole.’”

People disagree with the fact that technology is negative in our lives because the use of technology is innovative, efficient and easier. It is true that technology can make our lives easier. Email was the one first ways companies changed their way to communicate. Email is faster and takes up less paper than writing letters. They allow you to let a lot of information to many people without calling a meeting. The down sides to this are that poorly written emails can create confusion and frustration. Also writing emails take away from other projects that you could be working on.

Overall, the effects of technology on our lives is negative. We know this because when we get our technology, such as phones, tablets and computers, taken away from us we have a hard time coping with it. We need to look up every once in a while and communicate instead of being isolated within a different world. To add on we also cannot trust the places we store our data to to keep it safe. It may be damaged, lost or stolen if we are not careful. Sometimes we take for granted how lucky we are to have the technology that we have, but do not realize how much we actually use technology and how much it surrounds us. Our life does not have to revolve around technology if we just take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Bibliography

Conclusion-Updated 28 May 2015

This was a very hard topic to tackle. Right from the beginning I had to choose a side. It was either I thought technology was a positive thing or a negative thing. I could not choose to be on the fence. I had to take a stance and defend it. I choose to say the technology was overall negative and that it should be reduced in our lives. As I started my research, it was fairly easy to find sources that were clearly against technology. Further in my research I found it harder to find sources that supported my argument. I think the reason for this is because overall there are more positives to technology than negatives but those few negatives are so strong that they outweigh the positives. It’s like if you were to put a rock and one hundred feathers on a scale. There are more feathers than rocks but the rock still outweighs the feathers. Our class throughout the trimester has talked about some bad things that have happened specifically because of the internet and technology. I believe there is a direct correlation between the amount of people who are uneducated about proper use of the internet and social media and the amount of issues that frequently show up. There were some comments that did change my mind a little. One person said that they used Facebook to reconnect with their old friends from highschool. They also mentioned that they enjoyed facetiming their family members. This got me thinking. I never really took this into consideration that technology is a good way to interact with the friends and family that you do not get the chance to see very often. If you want to reconnect with an old friend or old teacher, technology is a good way to do so. If I was to rewrite this essay I would add in this argument that was brought to my eyes. Another point brought up in the comments was that technology has helped make things faster and more efficient. It allows things to calculate and process faster. I think this is also very important because technology has helped us understand disease and medicine better, which helps us live longer. To wrap up what I am saying is that technology in our lives can either be a bad thing or a good thing. You can have a good argument for both sides of the debate. When it comes down to it, at the end of the day you can either make technology a bad thing or good thing. It all comes down to you and your actions.

Social Media Kills People


In 2014 a cyberbullying study found that an astounding 52 percent of teens reported being cyberbullied over social media. I believe that social media sites could be doing more to protect their users from being cyber bullied online by paying a little more attention to what teens say and do online. If social media sites prevented cyber bullying from continuing on, then the internet and home life would be a safer place because it would prevent suicides from happening. All that social media sites would have to do is restrict commenting or keep a closer eye on what teenagers are doing on their sites.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 6.41.14 PM.png
Screenshot from Facebook
 Media sites have just now begun, in the past two years, cracking down on cyberbullying. Facebook has put new regulations on their site where teens can now report what is going on and Facebook will take a closer look on what has been reported. Unfortunately for one cyberbully victim, these changes came too late. October 16th 2013, two girls were arrested because they posted mean comments on Facebook about another girl. They drove her so mad that she killed herself by jumping off a silo in an abandoned concrete factory. The victim's name was Rebecca Sedwick. The two bullies were only twelve and fourteen years old. After Rebecca committed suicide, the fourteen year old girl said, “Yes, I bullied Rebecca, and she killed herself but I don't give a - and you can add the last word yourself.” Apparently, Rebecca and the fourteen year old girl had a little disagreement when Rebecca started dating the fourteen year old-s ex-boyfriend. That is when the cyberbullying and physical fights started to happen. Luckily her mom was smart and moved Rebecca to another school, but that didn’t help because the two girls could still attack her using social media online. This cyberbullying went on for over a year until Rebecca couldn’t take it anymore and she committed suicide. After Rebecca's death, Facebook still didn’t do anything; they just said that you can never get away from bullying now because of the internet. With the help of social media sites, we could make online a safer and better environment. There could be regulations on the cruel actions going on everyday around us. Social media could ban comments, they could check to see if people are following their community guidelines and terms of service and if they are not, then their account should be shut down as soon as possible.

"Shots of me" app logo
from "Wikimedia"
A popular social media site Ask.fm has anonymous commenting so if you post a nasty threat and send it to a person, they have no idea who you are. Ilija Terebin, who is the chef excetutive of Ask.fm, says that she understands that they need to take special care of their users and they say that they take that responsibility extremely seriously. Other anti-bullying groups say that there should be a restriction on social media where social media should be so restricted that it’s almost not there anymore. I don’t think that it should go that far, but social media sites do need to acknowledge the possibility that if you are posting anonymously, kids and teenagers can get emotionally scarred and might even take their own life. I think social media sites should go as far as disabling comments and not allowing anonymous commenting. For example, one social media site, called, “Shots of me” a photo posting app that disables commenting which is run by John Shahidi says that he disables it because it is better and has less drama for teens. This is a perfect example of a social media site that understand the problems of having comments enabled. They know that it can cause cyberbullying and suicide, so they disable it knowing that they might have saved a life.


In fact, people do disagree with my opinion that social media sites could do a better job of protecting teenagers from cyberbullying. They blame the kids for being immature and stupid, not the social media sites. Kate Harding author of “Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere” says that social networking should not to be blamed for cyber bullying because it is only a medium for teenagers to wage their wars. She blames the educators and parents who should teach students responsible online behavior. She believes that Facebook should not take the blame for cruel cyber bullying because they could not have done anything to stop the one-million children on Facebook alone were harassed in 2011 as reported by Consumer reports.

I disagree with these statements because in one of the major cases of cyberbullying history, a life could have been saved if Facebook got involved in helping find the killer. This major case was about Amanda Todd. The man started stalking her from Amanda’s webcam at just eleven years old. Then one night Amanda made a terrible mistake, she flashed in front of 200 people. The man that had been stalking her took a picture then proceeded to blackmail her with them over Facebook. He told her to flash again for him 2 times or he would leak these pictures to her friends and family over Facebook. She only flashed for him once, so he made a Facebook account of just her and her nudes and sent the link to everyone in Amanda's contact list on Facebook. If Facebook had made the report abuse button before this happened to Amanda, and actually paid attention to the things that people report abuse on, then this could have stopped immediately. It was only after Amanda's death on October 10th 2012, that Facebook tried to intervene and stop the man by contacting the police and showing them all the conversations Amanda and the man had before her death.

Over the years the Internet and social media have influenced suicide-related behavior, and if social media paid closer attention to the risks then maybe they could save a few lives and cyberbullying from continuing on. Then, the internet and home life would be a safer place because parents and kids could feel like they weren't being bullied 24/7. The only thing that social media sites would have to do is hire more people to check over their site to make sure there is no cruel and mean behavior going on. If they encounter this behavior, then they should talk to the owner of the account and make sure they know they are being watched.

Bibliography
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Conclusion, Updated May 28th, 2015

Internet and home life would be so much safer and happier if we all knew that kids were not being cyber bullying and bullied when parents aren't watching. So, If social media sites prevented cyber bullying from continuing on, then the internet and home life would be a safer place. I learned that cyber bullying really does affect others in their daily life even more than before. Many people agree with me that it should be taken more seriously and they are glad I wrote my blog about this topic to raise awareness in a student point of view. I think my argument was very deep and hit them hard and hopefully made them understand that I didn't just do this for a grade. I hope they realize that I really do care about the thousands of kids getting cyber bullied every day and not being cared for. With all the comments that my peer have left, I have discovered many links that I missed out on that would have fit in perfectly in my blog. Although, with those resources and new articles that I read, I learned a lot more and really understood my topic even more. My comments did not change my mind because everyone agreed with me and where I stood on my topic.They definitely clarified my thinking and made me look at my point of view in many different ways by asking me questions I had to really think and sometimes do further research, for an answer. Blogging was so much fun and really made me step into the shoes of some of the kids that don’t have a very fortunate life and I really enjoyed writing about how I could possibly make a difference in their lives by reinstating the issue at hand.

The Deep Web, a Controversial Puzzle

iceberg2.jpg
Modified from Image Source
It was recently estimated from the New York Times that the deep web is roughly thousands of times larger than the surface web and is currently expanding at an exponential rate,is roughly doubling in size every two to three years. The Deep Web, also known as the Dark Web, and the Darknet, is considered by many people throughout the world to be an online criminal haven filled with drugs, hitmen, and other illegal items and services which in no way can help the world with its anonymous and untraceable users. I am confident to say that I disagree. The Deep Web has value. Even though bad and illegal things can happen on the Deep Web, it can be used such that users benefit from anonymity and can voice their opinions and other thoughts without any fear of prosecution. This has been proven true in many countries ranging from Africa to Asia and also the Middle East.

Why does the Deep Web have such a bad reputation? It can be looked at in many different ways. You could say that the technology that makes it anonymous is its greatest strength, but because of the negative ways that it can be used, anonymity is also its greatest weakness. There are many things that happen on the Deep Web that make it look bad in the eyes of the public, including online drug trafficking, forged money and documents (ie. passports,id’s,etc.), Guns explosives, organs, hired killers, and pretty much anything else that can be considered illegal. If someone wants to buy something from a website on the Deep Web, that website will most likely not use an easily trackable payment method such as a credit card, but is far more likely to use an anonymous online currencies, like Bitcoin. This “cryptocurrency” allows its users to spend it without ever giving away their identities in the purchase so it can't be tracked, and also tor which is the completely anonymous search browser which filters all your searches through many computers around the world so your location can't be tracked.Basically if there is a market for an item that is illegal there will be some way on the Deep Web where you can purchase it or get it through other means.

The next stage in our journey into how the Deep Web can help people is how it can actually aid people in their quest for anonymity.In spite of the criminal aspect of the deep web, it has been shown as a positive thing in other parts of the world. For example, in emerging countries, or countries where citizens are censored by their governments, the deep web offers a way to communicate with the outside world. This has been shown to help in emerging countries, or countries that are being censored by their government and need to get information out on the situation there. This tactic by people and companies has been shown to be successful before by The New Yorker newspaper or even the United States Military. People are able to send in tips to The New Yorker about what really is happening in places, and the military uses it for secure and anonymous connections for their internet and also for people tipping them off if somethings going to happen.

Tor and the Deep Web are also beneficial in many other ways, in a recent study by Pew Research Center it was found that “[s]ix in ten adults feel as though they ‘would like to do more’ to protect the privacy of their personal information online.” This included using fake names or screen names like a nickname online which isn't your real name like an online alter-ego), and also fake information like fake phone numbers, email addresses, etc. Taking these steps can increase people’s online privacy, but by also doing it on a completely anonymous search engine like Tor, it adds a layer of security and privacy. Tor gives no location information or your Internet Protocol (IP) address (a unique string of numbers which identifies each and every computer on the internet which can be used to track you), which is helpful to a citizen who cares about his or her online anonymity. By having the Deep Web it also gives people a sort of online ‘alter-ego’(as talked about above) where they can say and do whatever they want to without fear of prosecution from their government.

Many people are concerned about their privacy online, as evidenced in recent research statistics stating that 66% of people tested believe that the online security and privacy laws are not good enough with the constantly expanding technological industry. These laws need to be amended to account for more recent trends in technology so it is up to date. These trends also have to do with the recent popularity in the Deep Web with Identity theft and selling these stolen identities online. In another study and survey it was found that young adults ranging from the ages of eighteen through twenty-nine are more likely to have their identities stolen in this way of not being blatant of who they are online and giving out information. This problem could have been avoided if they had used the Deep Web where almost everyone there is anonymous and the only way something like that could happen is if you voluntarily gave out information. The Deep Web’s power for good and also bad is one of the main reasons why it is controversial and some people don't use it even though it can be effective in preserving your privacy. Overall I believe the ways people can use it to benefit far outweigh its negative connotations and controversy.

The Deep Web by definition is “the part of the World Wide Web that is not discoverable by means of standard search engines (aka. Google).” It is a place where good and bad things can happen. But so is the regular web, isn’t it? Internet anonymity is a very important subject, especially when talking about the Deep Web because it relates so closely to why the Deep Web is a place of good and not just evil and illegal activities. I am confident to say that the Deep Web is a place where users can benefit from this anonymity and can voice their opinions and other thoughts without any fear of prosecution even though there are some so called “rough edges” which can be fixed in time and with adaption with the Deep Web and the people who use it.

Bibliography

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Conclusion, Updated[May,27,2015]

The Deep Web a part of the web where most normal internet users dare not to enter, it is a place that can be very controversial and for most people they consider to be bad, but for every bad side of something they're are also positives that can outweigh these negatives. This topic is very important to our class and our concept of digital citizenship with our constantly evolving age of technology and social media, but also for people who wish to be anonymous on the internet and to protect their identity and even benefit other groups of people by doing this. Over the course of this blog project it has taught me a few new things and also skills, also by doing this project i was able to see other peoples opinions on this topic of the deep web and how they can be interested in it and how it can be apart of people's lives also.Most of the comments that were given to me just helped me in solidifying my thinking that these positives outweigh the negatives, my opinion has not changed at all on the topic.Next, due to the comments and the constructive criticism i am now interested in ways that they can improve the deep web and its anonymity, i would also be more interested in the numbers of users it has.Overall, I have profusely enjoyed doing this blog project and putting something on the internet that relates so closely to our class digital citizenship and also all the people who use the internet and i would just like to be thankful for that.

Thank You, BowdenE

Safety First!

"Privacy"
Pixabay
Did you know that your location might have been shared over 5,000 times in the past two weeks? A study from Cult of Mac has revealed that when using a smartphone it can be very difficult to keep all of your data private. In the recent past, laptops and computers have been the target of hackers, but now the criminals have moved on to an easier target-the smartphone. It is very easy for them to get into your contacts and private info purely based on the fact that we use it for so many things now, from transferring money to sending private work emails. The smartphone is still developing and there are many flaws with the security precautions. Hackers aren’t the only concern to smartphone users when it comes to protecting your private information. App producers are notorious for taking advantage of the security and privacy settings on their specific apps. They make it difficult to see what they are asking to do with your data and don’t make it smooth and simple for users to change their settings. From your information they are able to build an online profile of you that can be sold to companies to make advertising for you easier. There are always risks that come with using smartphones, but there are ways to counter them. My goal in this blog is to educate the world on how to keep your private information as secure as it can be. In order to protect private info on smartphones, app producers need to make it easier to view and change the security and privacy settings, and we as users need to be wary of dealing with money and important work information on our smartphone devices.

First off, app producers need to make security and privacy settings easier to change and view. If we have easier systems to change, view, and understand our settings, it would prevent a lot of private data being shared. An example of having unreasonable and difficult to understand settings would be the terms of service for Instagram. They make it fairly difficult to understand and see what you are getting into due to the many categories and the rather wordy explanations. They also claim that they have the license to use the stuff you post for themselves, “ Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post,” which is something you might not want if you have personal information on there. It might be difficult to find this bit of information due to the sheer length of the terms and conditions, and this could deter people from using Instagram. Users should be fully aware of what they are getting into, and without an easy to understand terms and conditions it can be very difficult to do that.

Screen shot from
Pinterest's Terms of Service
Now that we have looked at a bad example for terms and conditions let’s take a look at how all producers should or could make them. Pinterest, is an excellent example of how app producers can help out users. Pinterest uses larger categories that can then break off into smaller ones if that is the category you are interested in. On the side they sum up the general premise of the category using relatable and understandable words. Even though Pinterest isn’t flawless, they are a much better example for how to set up terms and conditions so that they are easy to view and understand. These two examples don’t have the same security settings that other apps have, but it would be beneficial to also have accessible privacy settings in order to prevent unwanted data sharing. Users deserve the right to know what they are getting into when they download an app and they also deserve the right to alter settings in order to make their usage safer and more enjoyable.

The second way that we can prevent unwanted data sharing is to be more cautious with what we do on our smartphones. With the recent surge in using smartphones for all kinds of activities, it has left us vulnerable to hackers getting into our personal information. Smartphone attacks have increased fourfold over the past year. Two ways people can hack phones are by bluetooth and through non-private wifi. Once they are into your phone they can install software that can share your information with the hacker. Always be wary of using bluetooth or open wifi when in public areas, especially if you are sharing important or private information. Also, users should refrain from using their phones for as much business activity. Whether it be sending a confidential work email to depositing money. It is safer to do these activities on a computer because computers have developed stronger antivirus systems. Since smartphones are relatively new they don’t have as strong of security systems, but there still are some that can immensely improve your security.

On the other hand, some people believe that it truly is impossible to protect all of your private info. Due to the fact that the smartphone is still pretty recent in the world of technology, it leads to it having fewer security measures than a computer, and, hackers can use this to their advantage. There are also people who think that there are just too many security settings that users won’t pay attention to or won’t realize are there. Terms and agreements are just too long and only eight percent of users fully read terms and agreements. App producers don’t have to listen to the complaints for having easier to access security settings because often times they are making money off of your information by selling it to advertisement companies so that those companies can advertise directly towards you. Also many people, especially teens, flat out don’t care what is being shared about them and they understand it is a burden that comes with using free apps. Only 40 percent of teens are under the category of being somewhat concerned in a study done by the Pew Research Center. To conclude, the main con argument against being able to have a safe and secure experience when using smartphones is that there are too many ways for apps and hackers to get into your personal information. People are also not in an urgent state trying to change how secure smartphone usage is.

Although there are still many security measures that smartphone companies will have to develop, laptops had the same issues when they were first introduced. In time we will have strong security measures for all smartphones that will prevent hackers from gaining access to our data. Right now, however, phones are easy targets because we haven’t had time to create strong enough security systems (Infosec). If we are able to make companies have terms and conditions more similar to those of pinterest then we will be able to counter private information leakage. A study was done by Carnegie Mellon University on just how much data is shared when playing free apps and what the reactions would be for the participants. The participants were told to play one of two free games. After they had played the game they were told how much data was being shared. Then they used a system which showed how many times this happened and the participants were shocked. Once they had seen just how much was being shared, on average 29 times per participant, they immediately wanted to check and change their privacy settings. If we simply make it easier to read and understand then we will be taking a big step forward. If users want to use an app that is there choice, but they should be aware of the possible consequences.

In conclusion, it is possible to thwart information sharing. My goal was to inform people of the possible risks of using smartphones and how to prevent those risks from happening. If users are more careful about not using their phones for business related and financial functions and are aware of what we post on social media then they will be more successful in keeping their information confidential. We also need to be wary of using local wifi and bluetooth. On the other hand app producers also should make it easier on users by making terms of service and security settings easier to understand and alter. In the end the burden falls both on the users and the app companies in order to nip this problem of private data sharing right in the bud.

Bibliography

Conclusion
I learned many things from my blogging experience that can help me with technology and sharing my opinion in the future. After reading and commenting on multiple blogs from my peers I gained a greater grasp on how to present my opinion with strong facts to back it up. I feel that my argument was a strong one, but the con argument could have been better. I had never stumbled upon any essays or papers that required the use of a con argument. This project definitely gave me a better view and approach to using arguments that go against your own opinion in order to strengthen your own. When I responded to some of my comments I realized that other people had the same opinion as me, but I also realized that I could have clarified a few things. Ms. Gerla brought up that many people don’t read the terms of service. She made the point that if we don’t read them then why should we blame others for our security and privacy problems. I had to clarify this and it made me realize that there were still areas in my post that I could improve on. I did have to research a bit more in order to reply to my comments. Some of the questions asked were out of my range as I’m still somewhat of a novice on my topic, so I had to search and find more articles and information that could backup my opinion. The concept of digital citizenship is to leave a good digital footprint and know how to handle yourself and act appropriately when using technology. I think that my topic is a good example for digital citizenship because it shows that there is a responsibility for both users and producers of apps to use technology wisely. In order to protect private info on smartphones, app producers need to make it easier to view and change the security and privacy settings, and we as users need to be wary of dealing with money and important work information on our smartphone devices. The responsibility lays on both the users and the app producers if we wish to make a change and make the internet a safer place.

The Future is Now, Educational Gaming


Picture of MinecraftEDU cell by  minecrafteduelfie
Throughout the years, education had been taught through a very standard system in each classroom. Usually a traditional class would consist of notes, homework, quizzes, and tests. Now, there’s nothing wrong with boring your students to death every now and then, but eventually it affects the students motivation in the classroom. When their motivation for school drops, so does their motivation for their future. Now at this point you may be wondering how to fix the generic school setting, well don’t worry, there is a silver-lining. This glimpse of hope in the future of education will start with revolutionizing the way we utilize computers in school. Although we may use computers here and there to write essays or search up the definition to something, the best way to capture a student’s attention and motivate this student is through educational gaming. You may bethinking, “the last thing I want is my child playing video games instead of learning.” Believe or not, while gaming can become a distraction for children, “or simply a form of entertainment”, it can also be used for educational means. Educational gaming can be used in all kinds of different subjects to help students understand the material handed to them in an entertaining and educational way. Instead of lecturing kids about the colonization of America, you can create a virtual world for the kids to experience it themselves through the help of MinecraftEDU (Education). Instead of having kids peer edit other kid’s essays, you can drop them into a game that gives special powers to the kids whose essays were voted the best on World of Warcraft (World). Instead of trying to teach kids the alphabet by making them sing a song over and over again, you can introduce them to ABC.mouse and have them teach the kids in a fun and interesting way. Educational gaming is not only the future for the classroom, it’s the future of our world because it will help children prepare for the mostly technological jobs in the future. Along with this, it will also help them discover their own path to learning and really find out what works best for them.

Minecraft is a simple game where one is dropped into a virtual world and is forced to survive through building, hunting, collaboration, and the occasional fighting of a dragon. As soon as this game was created, it potential was realized by educational gaming experts around the world. This game encourages kids creativity and problem solving through many experiences in their endless adventure. These experts wanted to cultivate this creativity and utilize it for educational purposes, thus MinecraftEDU was created. MinecraftEDU is a more complex version of Minecraft which allows teachers to create worlds and quests that revolve around the topic they're studying. As an example, a physics teacher could have students drop a block of sand and observe how it falls. After this, thestudent must explain how gravity played a role in why the sand dropped and the certain rate at which it dropped. If you’re a digital citizenship teacher, you could drop your students in a survival environment and teach them the importance of collaboration and respect for one another through various tests. Or, if you’re a history teacher, you could create the ancient city of Pompeii for your students to discover. As these examples show, a simple game like Minecraft can be transformed to create a fun learning environment that captures the attention of the student. Through MinecraftEDU, students will be challenged towards learning new material but I can guarantee you, grades will improve because students will be more motivated towards learning these fun and engaging topics.

World of Warcraft
Along with MinecraftEDU, there are other games that can be used for educational purposes. One of these games is World of Warcraft. Generally speaking, World of Warcraft is an open world multiplayer game with cool quests, leveling up, and playing against other people. People can join guilds, little communities in World of Warcraft, where you can get help on a current quest or trade items with the other members. This guild system has been modified to fit the classroom. Students can create and join guilds where they can compare papers about their favorite parts of the game or more school-related topics like a current book they’re reading. The person with the best paragraph would win various World of Warcraft related prizes which would help them level up their online character. Along with this, teachers can also design school-related quests where the student has to complete questions based on the curriculum they’re learning to complete the mission. World of Warcraft engages students with their own online character that they’ve created (World). It helps motivate them towards learning the material taught in class so that they can level up their character.

Both of these games can be implemented in the classroom, but what about before your child starts school? ABCmouse is a great website which combines fun and learning for kids of a young age. It helps them achieve a head start before joining school by teaching them the alphabet, math, science, and many other subjects. With these skills already learned before starting school, kids can feel more confident in their abilities and will be well prepared for the classroom. A lot of parents are worried that the internet is a bad place for their children, but ABCmouse proves that there are many benefits to introducing your child to the online world at a very young age. Along with learning basic school skills, since ABCmouse is a website, it also teaches computer skills to children. Since children are introduced to the computer at the young age that they are, it's easy for them to learn these valuables skills for the future with the growth of technology. Overall, ABCmouse is a great website for both introducing your child to computer skills and helping them prepare for school so that they don’t fall behind.

With all of these positives about educational gaming, there are bound to be some negatives involved. Most people who don’t support educational gaming believe that these games will distract the students from school and will set them up for failure. Along with this, there also are students which don’t regularly play video games and aren’t as interested as others, or there are also teachers that don’t know how to set up the video games. The cost of bringing educational gaming into the school is also very expensive because of the price of fast computers nowadays. I don’t believe that kids will be distracted from video games, instead quite the opposite.Even though not every kid loves to play video games, the majority of these kids would prefer that over a boring lecture anyday. To teachers who aren’t very skillful with computers, don’t worry because most of these games make it really easy to customize the game to your liking. I can’t deny that the price of educational gaming is high, but it's for the purpose of education. If there is a way to improve grades and motivation for your students, then I say take it. With all these great games like MinecraftEDU, World of Warcraft, ABCmouse and many more, it shows that there is much to come from educational gaming. Instead of being bored to death by the generic lectures and other class activities, these games help cultivate the student’s attention by creating a fun and entertaining environment for them to explore. When students love doing their work, it shows in the quality of it. If they love studying for tests, then they’ll get better test grades. If they love doing they’re homework, then they’ll understand the material better. If they love listening in class, then they’ll know more about the subject at hand. This is what educational gaming is all about. The goal of it is to combine learning and playing so that students feel motivated towards completing their assignments, doing their homework, and listening in class. Educational gaming can be a very helpful tool if you truly wish to both teach kids necessities and life and prepare them for the future that technology awaits for them.

Bibliography

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Conclusion, Updated[28,May,2015]

Educational gaming is the future of learning and education, because it can cultivate a kid's attention to motivate them towards achieving their personal goals in each class, and eventually in life. This relates a lot to digital citizenship because as computers are introduced to the classroom, while there is a lot of fun to be had, kids also have to be taught manners and respect as well as cooperating with one another. While I still hold firmly to my ideas about the controversial topic of educational gaming, the comments from JX and Shelley Schanfield really opened my eyes more to the negatives that educational gaming can have on certain students. One particular point from JX on how kids with learning issues can have a hard time paying attention to video games was a really great point and I never thought of it that way. JX's article that he sent me was also a great help to researching more about the cons of educational gaming in order towards respond to his comment as well as Shelley Schanfield's comment. Also, on a more positive note, I thought that Ashley Nelson's comment was really helpful and I loved the article she sent me. I really loved this project and I hope that I helped more and more people understand the importance of educational gaming. At the start of this blog project, I was a little bit skeptical of this project because it seemed really long and boring. However, as I chose my topic, I began to realize the true potential. Overall, in the end this project was really fun and I was really happy to help people open their minds up to this controversial topic.

Your security and privacy are all in risk!

Privacy, Pixabay
When you were watching a funny video from Youtube or emailing your friends, you may be just enjoying the fun that the internet provides. But have you ever paid attention to how the Internet tracks you so you know how to protect your privacy and security details? Sometimes we do not know how internet products work and how to protect ourselves. Our lack of knowledge and sharing of personal information causes our security and privacy details to be violated. Maybe you heard about an event when celebrities’ nude photos were shared by the hackers. Those photos were mostly from very famous actresses. It made the event very popular in the world. It also became a scandal for celebrities. It might be a fun news for us. But it reminds us of the importance of Internet security and privacy. So who is responsible for ensuring individuals’ online security and privacy?

According to Maxwell Strachan, this sharing of the nude photos event was caused by a bug called “iBrute” which is from Apple service. He explained how the nude photos event happened and how it works. Hackers used the function of Apple called "Find My Phone" to try the users' password and get into their account to steal the nude photos. The bug allowed them to try as many times as they wanted, without fear of being locked out of the account. The problem was made by the Apple company’s program and Apple spent a lot of time to find the bug from their program. The nude photos of celebrities is a true and a little bit scary example of how easily our privacy can be compromised. It has already happened. So we have to try to protect our security and privacy. But who is to blame in this case? The users? The company? I think both individuals and companies are responsible for ensuring individuals’ security and privacy.

Most individuals do not understand how easy it is for unethical companies and hackers to invade their privacy and security. In Kristin Burnham’s view, Snapchat violates users’ privacy and security in five ways. Snapchat has a similar problem with keeping user data private. Snapchat promised that they can send images and videos with other Snapchat users. The images and videos will disappear forever after the sender-designated time period expires. But they did not disclose that users could save the private images. They also kept the users' privacy details from their account. First, recipients can save the images that others send them. This violates our privacy and security. Snapchat did not followed their products’ claim to protect our account’s security and privacy. Second, recipients also can save our videos. They also can keep it on their computer and upload it. Sender also will lose their security details. Third, our friends in Snapchat also can know our location when we are using Snapchat. Fourth, Snapchat may have collected contact information from our address book. Fifth, the “Find Friends” feature is not secure. All of these five ways that Snapchat might violate our security and privacy details tell us how Snapchat violates our account and the mistakes that the company’s service made. Individuals should not share their privacy and security information like photos, credit card, passport, etc. Individuals also have to learn how the internet works and try to get other efficient protections, like set up the double password, set up security password or set up security questions to protect the privacy and security. According to Amanda Lenhart who found a lot of details about teen users. Because the teen users don’t have enough experience in their life as adults, and because their minds are still not mature, they are the easiest group for companies to target and to violate their Internet security and privacy.

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat Top Social Media Platforms for Teens
Top media platforms from Pew research center
According to a recent Pew study, more than half or 56% of teens — defined in the report as those ages 13 to 17 — go online several times a day, and 12% report once-a-day use. Just 6% of teens report going online weekly, and 2% go online less often. Approximately 92 percent of teens use the Internet every day. Much of the access is facilitated by mobile devices. One of the reasons teens use the Internet is they have phones and computers very early. Most male teen users are just using the computer to play games. Females are more likely to use the Internet to connect with others. Their lack of life experience causes them to lose their security and privacy information to the Internet. It also give hackers the opportunity to violate their privacy and security. So it is very important for us to protect our privacy and security details.

Sometimes the privacy and security problems are caused by companies. Some of them just ignore the importance of security and privacy to make money. They might share and sell our privacy details with other companies which make ad products to make more money or they publish their products with a lot of privacy problems. In Lisa Vaas’s view, a new product made by Twitter called Periscope does not have a completely safe system for users. When the users forget to turn off the function, it is very easy to lose their privacy and security details. Although Periscope is a very great service to get the news and watch videos. But it does not provide a safe environment for users. They published the products too fast and didn’t do many tests on their product. The product is not very safe for users to use. The mistakes that the companies made also remind us we can not completely trust all companies’ service. We should know more details about the companies’ service and know how safe the company is. However for some companies, their purpose is to provide a safe internet environment for users. They protect users’ privacy and security with very completely secure systems to gain users’ trust. Their response to users is positive. They ensure our privacy and security. So when we are trying to use internet, we have to check the security system and the safety of the system.

Whether the online privacy and security problems are caused by the individuals or the companies, as Internet users, we still need to be careful about our privacy and security. It is very important for us because it could influence our future and our physical safety.

Bibliography


Conclusion, updated(29 May 2015)



When you were watching a funny video from Youtube or emailing your friends, you may be just enjoying the fun that the internet provides. But have you ever paid attention to how the Internet tracks you so you know how to protect your privacy and security details? Sometimes we do not know how internet products work and how to protect ourselves. Our lack of knowledge and sharing of personal information causes our security and privacy details to be violated. Through my article, I just want my readers know our account and privacy are all in risk. I want to let them pay attention on protect our account and privacy and get know more details about how the companies work for protecting our account. I got a lot of positive response to my article. It helps me develop my essay. They discussed with me about the deeper issue. I also need to provide more informations to support my opinion. They also gave me a lot of helpful resources to my article. They also knew the importance of privacy and security from my article, and they also want to pay more time to search and help me improve my article. That told me people are very interested in privacy and security problems. My readers also helped me find my lacking of data. I should find more sources and find the programing reason that caused the privacy and security problems. I also need to separate one part to talk about the problems are from the hackers. They also are the main part that caused the privacy problems. For readers, they are more prefer to know how their account got violate and how to protect their accounts. Finally, I am so happy that my article can change other’s mind and help them know more about the Internet privacy and security problems.

Social Media or Racist Media?

"Stand Up Don't Stand By." Vimeo
Did you know that at least 43% of kids are bullied and that 51% of that bullying has to do with their appearance? Racism has had a long history all around the world, but with modern technology and social networking sites becoming more readily available, it is now easier than ever to harass or bully someone anywhere in the world because of the color of their skin. Racism is still very prevalent, especially in our “American culture", where everything offensive can be turned into a joke or conversation about freedom of speech if pointed out. Luckily, we can all do something to try and stop this. How can we, as digital citizens, help change online culture and help put a stop to the very prevalent racism going on in social media outlets? We can start by reporting racist language. If social media accounts that post racist comments or posts are reported, the account should immediately be suspended or deleted. More people need to realize how much their digital footprint matters, and that they have the power to step up and say something about what's going on.

Some social media sites have already taken action and tried to minimize the problem of cyberbullying and racism online. Twitter has already tripled the number of people on their response team tremendously, allowing reported issues to be looked over and taken care of much quicker. Twitter is also going over their safety policy, trying to rebuild it in such a way that every Twitter user can feel safe to use the site and not worry about being targeted by cyberbullies. If more sites started following Twitter’s lead, then I think we would see a positive change in the digital community. I think the next step that social media sites should take is enforcing a policy that would have accounts suspended or deleted after posting a racist comment or post.

Unfortunately, however, you can not always do something about racism online. An example of this happened earlier this year and is still happening. A blog meant for retired and active NYPD officers has filled up with racist comments. Comments addressing Puerto Rican women as “old obese tatted up women stuffed into outfits that they purchased or shoplifted at the local Kmart store” can be seen on the blog, as well as African-Americans being called “apes". The police department can not do much about this situation because they can not track which officer posts the comments and it is not in their power to search for who they are. Luckily, if enough attention is brought to these situations by those who see it, then more action can be taken by those in charge of sites against them. According to a 2015 survey on bullying, 45% of people that saw bullying did not report it. Hopefully, if racist cyberbullying is taken more seriously when reported, it would allow more people to feel like they can report racism that they see online and reduce the amount of bullying going on. This would lead to less racism online and show people that part of being a good digital citizen means making everyone feel welcome online.

"Every White Girl's Father's Worst Nightmare Or Nah?" Buzzfeed
I do not think that the people that target certain racial groups online realize or care about the effect that bullying and racism has on people. They may also feel like what they are saying is not racist. This is why they feel like they can say whatever they like without taking the other person’s feelings into consideration. If their actions are called out, they always have an excuse or some sort of justification for their actions. In 2014, an assistant high school principal retweeted a racist tweet from a parody account. A group of students at the school she works at staged a walkout after discovering this information. The assistant principal tried to justify what she did by saying that she has worked with African-American students before and that her daughter went to prom with an African-American date. I feel that this does not in any way justify what she did. I don’t think she realizes that just because she thought it was funny and reasonable at the time, that it wasn’t offensive to others with a different perspective. This is a perfect example of the ignorance towards racism seen all over the internet.

There are people that disagree with my opinion because they feel that if racist speech online is restricted or banned, then freedom of speech is getting taken away. They also think that racism doesn’t really matter and no one is really affected by it. First amendment lawyer Marc J. Randazza wrote an article on how if we ban racist speech, then we would be giving up our freedom of speech. He believes that “some things are worse than racism -- like a loss of the right to speak your mind and think your own thoughts. Unfortunately, that is a price that too many of us are willing to pay." I disagree with his opinion because there is nothing worse than being targeted for something that you can’t change. I know what it feels like to be bullied and made fun of for my race and how helpless you can feel in those situations. You can feel attacked and vulnerable, especially online when the bully is not always identifiable. It can be hard for some people to relate to this feeling, but it is not pleasant. If more people would realize this, then there would be less ignorance and more of a positive change in people’s online actions.

Racism on social media is still a huge problem today. The number of kids being cyberbullied because of their race is countless, and not enough people are speaking up about it. Hopefully if social media sites begin to update their policies and terms of service to delete or suspend racist aggressors, we will see a decrease in racist cyberbullying. More people need to realize the effect that their words have on people and that what they say really matters.

Bibliography

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Conclusion, updated May 28th 2015

Throughout this whole process, I still wholeheartedly believe that if social media accounts that post racist comments or posts are reported, then the account should immediately be suspended or deleted. More people need to realize how much their digital footprint matters, and that they have the power to step up and say something about what's going on. Having good digital citizenship is a skill that will get you far in the online world and is something that we should all strive to do. The comments I got from other bloggers were extremely valuable to me and I truly appreciated every one of them. Though I can’t say any of them changed my mind, I can say that they made me think. I understand when bloggers such as Josephine and Kattikes say that the word “racist” is overused. I definitely agree with this and there are many cases when the word “racist” is misused and wrongly applied to certain situations. This made me think that maybe people use racism as an excuse just to point fingers at each other so they are not the ones in the wrong. In order to effectively reply to the great comments on my post, I had to do some more research which led me to some fantastic articles that I would have otherwise not seen. Overall, I would say that the blogging process and experience really showed me a new side of the internet that I had not thought to previously explore. Researching this topic rekindled my interest in the subject and gave me a newfound motivation to really try to make a positive change online. Publishing a blog like this one and any of the others on this site is a great experience that I think everyone should have at least once in their life.

Gold For Nerds

Bitcoin logo (Wikmedia)

“It’s gold for nerds.” This is a quote by American writer, comedian, and (former) television host Stephen Colbert. No, he is not referring to the Samsung Galaxy s6 or even the new Apple iWatch. Mr. Colbert is talking about the Bitcoin. What is the Bitcoin? I’ll tell you. The Bitcoin is an encrypted, computer-based currency whose network is independent of a central bank. It is better known as a “cryptocurrency.” When it was first developed, the Bitcoin was considered to be a breakthrough in computer science and cryptography. It was the first currency that was able to transfer data anonymously and safely. Once a Bitcoin had been sent, only the intended recipient could receive the money. Bitcoins could be bought and sold by anyone, and its popularity was growing rapidly. Things have changed a lot since the Bitcoin first started up, however. Lately, the Bitcoin has been having major troubles dealing with hacking. Additionally, its market value has been fluctuating rather wildly, rising and dropping in the most unpredictable manner. Can Bitcoins be policed in a manner that promotes their legal usage and stabilizes the currency, but prohibits their usage for criminal activity? I believe the answer to this is no. The economic risks and legal issues of the Bitcoin outweigh its benefits; therefore, the Bitcoin ought to be removed from circulation as a viable currency.

Contention 1: The Bitcoin can be easily used for illegal activity.


Let me introduce Ross Ulbricht to you. Ross is the creator of a group called the Dread Pirate Roberts. This group created the first major drug-selling website: the Silk Road. Ross and the Dread Pirate Roberts are just common criminals who have used the technology around them to make themselves virtually untraceable. How? First of all, they used a tool called Tor. Tor is a technology that allows a website to be created with anonymous servers. In layman terms, Tor helps you make and access sites that are part of the infamous “Dark Web,” a large part of the internet that is completely untraceable. Second, the Dread Pirate Roberts used the Bitcoin for all transactions within the site. Because Bitcoins are also generally untraceable, all buyers and sellers using the Silk Road remained anonymous. After several years, the FBI finally caught the Dread Pirate Roberts and located their servers in Iceland. They also discovered a large stash of Bitcoins on Ulbricht’s computer. There is one very important thing about this story. The FBI only caught Ulbricht because of an identity error he made when the Silk Road was just starting up. If Ulbricht had not made this error, the FBI would still be searching hopelessly for the group responsible for the Silk Road. As stated in the Economist, “Installing backdoors into encryption on popular chat apps, as Britain’s prime minister David Cameron would like to do, would not have caught Mr. Ulbricht, and they will not catch any of the entrepreneurs who have copied and improved his design since. As a result, dark web marketplaces will continue to thrive for as long as it is possible to post vacuum-sealed drugs without their getting intercepted.” The Bitcoin has opened the doors to a countless number of problems starting with its ability to aid criminals in the creation of illegal marketplaces. For this reason, the Bitcoin ought to be removed from circulation.

Contention 2: Contrary to its claims, the Bitcoin is vulnerable to cyberattacks.


In truth, the Bitcoin is not as secure as its creators and promoters claim it is. One of the main reasons why the Bitcoin was originally considered as such a bright prospect for the future of currency was because people thought it could never be stolen. This was proven completely false after half a billion dollars worth of Bitcoins were stolen from Mt. Gox, a company based in Tokyo. As stated by Michael Casey and Paul Vigna in their book Bitcoin and the Digital Currency Revolution, “[Bitcoin] wallets have proven vulnerable to cyberattack and pillaging, including the wallets of big exchanges such as Tokyo’s Mt. Gox and Slovenia’s Bitstamp. Even though the core program that runs Bitcoin has resisted six years of hacking attempts, the successful attacks on associated businesses have created the impression that Bitcoin isn’t a safe way to store money. Until these perceptions are overcome or Bitcoin is replaced by a superior digital currency, the public will remain suspicious of the concept, and regulators will be tempted to quash it.” As a result, market price of the Bitcoin has dropped from $675 in June 2014 to $228 in April 2015. This is a major blow to the Bitcoin and is simply another reason why it is not a viable currency.

Out of all of the arguments brought up by supporters of the Bitcoin, there is one that stands out. The Bitcoin has very little or no transaction fees. Having zero transaction fees on all of your charges can be quite an attractive option. Nowadays, this is especially nice because credit card companies are constantly adding their own surcharge to every one of your transactions. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Bitcoin’s absent or significantly lowered transaction fees could save the United States government trillions of dollars. The second major opposing argument is that the Bitcoin has potential to connect the entire world to the modern economic system. Currently, there are many third-world countries that are unable to develop due to their severely unstable economy. Bitcoins can be bought or sold by anyone in the world; therefore, people from developing countries simply require a computing device to become connected to the global economy. As stated by Marc Andreessen of the New York Times, “Many people in many countries are excluded from products and services that we in the West take for granted. Even Netflix, a completely virtual service, is only available in about 40 countries. Bitcoin, as a global payment system anyone can use from anywhere at any time, can be a powerful catalyst to extend the benefits of the modern economic system to virtually everyone on the planet.” These are the main reasons why others believe the Bitcoin has great potential and ought to remain as a currency.


Extreme fluctuation of Bitcoin market value can be seen in the graph above (Blockchain)

I disagree with the opposing arguments for several reasons. Though I cannot disprove the fact that the Bitcoin has very low transaction fees, I can show that this benefit is meaningless. First of all, the market price of the Bitcoin fluctuates wildly. As aptly put by the Wall Street Journal, “Who wants the cost of their groceries to vary by 10% from week to week?” This trend can be seen in the graph shown above. Second, there are very few people that use the Bitcoin. Some have even declared the currency to be dead. Billionaire Warren Buffett’s advice in relation to the Bitcoin was strongly voiced: “Stay away.” A simple analysis of these two points show that the Bitcoin has not been attracting many people lately. Low transaction fees have not been able to change this, rendering it immaterial. The second opposing point was that the Bitcoin could connect the world to the modern economic system. As I have shown previously, if the Bitcoin is not being commonly used, there is no economy that the world can be connected to. In addition, the Bitcoin is supposed to help developing countries stabilize their economy. As seen previously, the Bitcoin is perhaps one of the most inconsistent currencies there are. For these reasons, I disagree with the opposing arguments.

The Bitcoin is not a viable currency for several reasons. As I have shown, the Bitcoin has and can be easily used for illegal activity. The biggest example of this was in the case of the Dread Pirate Roberts and their Bitcoin-based, drug-selling website. The second reason is that the Bitcoin is vulnerable to cyberattacks. This was seen in the scandal involving the Tokyo company Mt. Gox when 500 million dollars worth of Bitcoins were stolen. Third, the market value of the Bitcoin fluctuates too much. Everyday shopping would become more of a gamble than an errand. Finally, there are few people in the world that use or accept the Bitcoin. All of these reasons stated show that the Bitcoin has very little potential. In conclusion, the Bitcoin ought to be removed from circulation, for it will not be a viable currency.

Bibliography

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Conclusion, updated 28 May 2015


The economic risks and legal issues of the Bitcoin outweigh its benefits; therefore, Bitcoins ought to be changed so that they contribute to positive digital citizenship in the online world. During the time that my blog was published, I received many thought-provoking comments. The first comment was from Jonathan Pelster. In his comment, Jonathan stated that Bitcoins could be used as an international currency. When I first started this blog, I thought that everything about the Bitcoin was absolutely horrible. Later on, I read Tommy’s comment, which talked about how Bitcoins could help with lots of things, such as transferring funds to start a business. Both Jonathan’s and Tommy’s comments have helped clarify my thinking by showing me that even though the Bitcoin might be ineffective, it opens up many possibilities for future innovations. The next two comments came from Ms. Gerla and Coley. In the former comment, Ms. Gerla talked about the extreme fluctuation in market value of the Bitcoin. After reading the comment, I really wanted to find an article that explained why this fluctuation occurs. While looking for this, I found the following article about Why the Bitcoin’s Value is So Volatile. The latter comment by Coley asked me why the Bitcoin was so relevant. After answering this question, my opinion changed. I now believe that the Bitcoin should not be removed from circulation, but should be shown to young scientists around the world to spark new ideas and innovations. I will leave with one final opinion. This one is about my entire blogging process that has led up to today. I really enjoyed the blogging, because it is a great way to not only put information out there, but receive constructive responses. Honestly, comments are huge. They can completely change your mind, like they did for me.