Noting the propensity of “social” Internet services to pat themselves on the back for their role in various uprisings against oppressive regimes, an activist in Bahrain politely asks these companies to please extract their collective head from their ass.
Many prominent internet companies brag about offering services that help people “connect” with one another, making information more “open” and “transparent” and that they seemingly promote freedom of speech, access to information, and are sympathetic to the various struggles for human rights.If these activists actually mattered as much as the titans of “social” claim they do, their problems and needs could have been addressed in ten minutes, years ago. Companies with the size and cash-flow of Google or Facebook could put a team of 100 people onto this and figure out how to make the necessary execeptions by lunchtime tomorrow. It’s obvious what actually matters to them.
It therefore baffles me how little consideration they have for those individuals who need to be protected online especially if they use the internet as a resource to engage in risky (but necessary) activities. Anything from discouraging anonymity on the likes of Facebook and Google+ to requiring legit photos on sites like LinkedIn, not realizing that some of us live in areas where human rights advocacy is not just frowned upon but severely punishable by our governments. Anything you do to protect yourself—these companies consider to be against their “user agreement” forcing you to reveal sensitive information, making this field 10 times more dangerous just so these companies can be more “relevant” and therefore profitable. The problem is that we can’t just simply quit these services. We need them as tools to empower our work.
Every other week I’d get an email from an internet service stating that my account has been deleted or disabled.
Why? “You’re not using a real photo.” No, I use an avatar, which they deleted, and then another avatar, which they also deleted, and attempted to keep it empty, which they didn’t allow, and then finally resorted to just having a logo—but uh oh! Disabled again. This is despite my several attempts at communicating this to customer service reps at these companies. They couldn’t care less. Regardless of what their CEOs say at tech conferences. Irrelevant. They do not abide by these values when it comes to managing their companies and reviewing their user agreements and privacy policies. Do we matter?