👓 We Are All Public Figures Now | Ella Dawson

Read We Are All Public Figures Now by Ella Dawson (Ella Dawson)
A woman gets on a plane. She’s flying from New York to Dallas, where she lives and works as a personal trainer. A couple asks her if she’ll switch seats with one of them so that they can sit together, and she agrees, thinking it’s her good deed for the day. She chats with her new seatmate and ...

This story brings up some interesting questions about private/public as well as control on the internet. Social media is certainly breaking some of our prior social norms.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

To summarize his argument, the media industry wants to broaden our definition of the public so that it will be fair game for discussion and content creation, meaning they can create more articles and videos, meaning they can sell more ads. The tech industry wants everything to be public because coding for privacy is difficult, and because our data, if public, is something they can sell. Our policy makers have failed to define what’s public in this digital age because, well, they don’t understand it and wouldn’t know where to begin. And also, because lobbyists don’t want them to.  

We actively create our public selves, every day, one social media post at a time.  

Even when the attention is positive, it is overwhelming and frightening. Your mind reels at the possibility of what they could find: your address, if your voting records are logged online; your cellphone number, if you accidentally included it on a form somewhere; your unflattering selfies at the beginning of your Facebook photo archive. There are hundreds of Facebook friend requests, press requests from journalists in your Instagram inbox, even people contacting your employer when they can’t reach you directly. This story you didn’t choose becomes the main story of your life. It replaces who you really are as the narrative someone else has written is tattooed onto your skin.  

What Blair did and continues to do as she stokes the flames of this story despite knowing this woman wants no part of it goes beyond intrusive. It is selfish, disrespectful harassment.  

Previously this was under the purview of journalists who typically had some ethics as well as editors to prevent this from happening. Now the average citizen has been given these same tools that journalists always had and they just haven’t been trained in their use.

How can we create some feedback mechanism to improve the situation? Should these same things be used against the perpetrators to show them how bad things could be?  

A friend of mine asked if I’d thought through the contradiction of criticizing Blair publicly like this, when she’s another not-quite public figure too.  

Did this really happen? Or is the author inventing it to diffuse potential criticism as she’s writing about the same story herself and only helping to propagate it?

There’s definitely a need to write about this issue, so kudos for that. Ella also deftly leaves out the name of the mystery woman, I’m sure on purpose. But she does include enough breadcrumbs to make the rest of the story discover-able so that one could jump from here to participate in the piling on. I do appreciate that it doesn’t appear that she’s given Blair any links in the process, which for a story like this is some subtle internet shade.

But Blair is not just posting about her own life; she has taken non-consenting parties along for the ride.  

the woman on the plane has deleted her own Instagram account after receiving violent abuse from the army Blair created.  

Feature request: the ability to make one’s social media account “disappear” temporarily while a public “attack” like this is happening.

We need a great name for this. Publicity ghosting? Fame cloaking?

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👓 “Did you even READ the piece?” This startup wants to make that question obsolete for commenters | Nieman Lab

Replied to “Did you even READ the piece?” This startup wants to make that question obsolete for commenters by Christine SchmidtChristine Schmidt (Nieman Lab)
The battle against the uncivil comments section is also a battle against high bounce rates for reallyread.it.

This is an intriguing little company. I could see this being some great opening infrastructure for creating read posts.

On my own website I’ve got a relative heirarchy of bookmarks, likes, reads, replies, follows, and favorites. (A read post indicates that I’ve actually read an entire piece–something I wish more websites and social platforms supported in lieu of allowing people to link or retweet content they haven’t personally vetted.) Because I’m posting this content on my personal site and it’s visible to others as part of my broader online identity I take it far more seriously than if I were tossing any old comment into an empty box on someone else’s website. To some extend this is the type of value that embedded comments sections for Facebook tries to enforce–because a commenter is posting using an identity that their friends, family, and community can see, there’s a higher likelihood that they’ll adhere to the social contract and be civil. I suspect that the Nieman Lab is using Disqus so that commenters are similarly tied to some sort of social identity, though in a world with easy-to-create-throw-away social accounts perhaps even this may not be enough.

While there’s a lot to be said about the technology and research that could be done with such a tool as outlined in the article, I think that it also ought to be bundled with people needing to use some part of their online social identities which they’re “stuck to” in some sense.

The best model I’ve seen for this in the web space is for journalism sites to support the W3C’s recommended Webmention specification. They post and host their content as always, but they farm out their comment sections to others by being able to receive webmentions. Readers will need to write their comments on their own websites or in other areas of the social web and then send webmentions back to the outlet which can then moderate and display them as part of the open discourse. While I have a traditional “old school” commenting block on my website, the replies and reactions I get to my content are so much richer when they’re sent via webmention from people posting on their own sites.

I’ve also recently been experimenting with some small outlets in allowing them to receive webmentions. They can display a wider range of reactions to their content including bookmarks, likes, favorites, reads, and even traditional comments. Because webmentions are two-way links they’re audit-able and provide a better monolithic means of “social proof” relating to an article than the dozens of social widgets with disjointed UI that most outlets are currently using.

Perhaps this is the model that journalism outlets should begin to support?

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