The Unintended Consequences of Communication & Technology

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unintendede-consequencesMany years ago while in college, I recall memorizing the seven learning style of students . However, in the 1970’s it was generally difficult to satisfy the learning needs of every student. Heck, most of us were stuck listening to some age-worn professor pontificate his/her views while they fumbled with faded film strips or an overhead projector. Then again, I wasn’t the best student in those days.

With today’s advancements in technology, it is much easier to accommodate the needs of students using flipped or blended learning. Such schools leverage technology for visual, solitary, social, logical, physical, verbal and aural learning.

Technology has indeed created multiple options in the world of education. Conversely, it has also created its own share of unintended consequences throughout society.

During our Cincinnati Bell RESPONSIBLE TECHNOLOGY speaking series it is impossible to meet the needs and learning styles of each student. This is particularly true when you are limited to 50 minutes and addressing as many as 600 students in a warm and crowded auditorium. To that end, we try to make the program as entertaining and informative as possible.

Our goal is to always show real-world, up-to-date examples for the students. Recently I came across a video produced by producer Jack Vale. Jack is somewhat legendary for video pranks featured on his YouTube Channel. While some of his videos are a bit sophomoric, he has produced several that illustrate how easy it is to find people on social media if they don’t know how to manage their privacy settings.

Below is one such video titled: SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERIMENT. Nearly 4 million people have seen this video. But I wonder how many have changed their privacy settings after watching the video.

Since 2011, we have addressed the growing issue of online privacy to over 150,000 students and parents.  However, so much has changed during that  brief time. For example: The best illustration regarding the evolution of digital privacy is the practice of “social listening.”  Social listening is done by most major consumer products companies in order to better understand what their customers are saying about their products or services. In essence, it’s much like a net capturing the comments and identities of users that mention their products online. It can also be used by law-enforcement searching keywords posted by criminals.

Such software comes in many flavors with such names as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Raven, Meltwater and Geofedia. Below is a link to a demonstration of Geofedia in downtown Chicago during a rally. You’ll be amazed at what data is captured in this brief Geofedia Video

Such social listening “eyes” and the approaches used by Jack Vale can generally be avoided by simply making certain your privacy settings are locked down to FRIENDS or FOLLOWERS only. However, 40% of teens have no privacy settings on their social media accounts.

Take three minutes and view these videos with your children. Hopefully it sparks a conversation about what can be discovered about them.


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