Last month in Canada, a judge sentenced a man to six years in prison for cyberbullying:
An Ottawa man who targeted dozens of people with fake social media accounts and doctored photos in an international cyberbullying campaign has been sentenced to six years in prison.
If you think that his sentence sounds severe, it is worth knowing that he harassed one of his victims for twelve years, after working with him for a few months early in this century. So his sentence was actually half the victim’s losses…
How does the presence of mobile phones in schools impact student achievement? This is an ongoing debate in many countries today. Some advocate for a complete ban, while others promote the use of mobile phones as a teaching tool in classrooms. So, the question is: Should schools allow the use of mobile phones?
While views remain divided, some schools are starting to allow a restricted use of mobile phones. Most recently, New York Mayor de Blasio lifted a ten-year-ban on phones on school premises, with the chancellor of schools stating that it would reduce inequality.
A number of books have been written recently about how the new online world has, no surprise, turned into a haven for tyranny. In the past, Western societies sometimes censored books thought to harm popular culture. Today, under new secular rulers, a vast variety of communication is censured or censored on university campuses because it does not reliably lead to a progressive point of view.
Recently, we’ve looked at a number of ways the Internet can help or harm our lives. The major harm is that in a virtual world, fakery succeeds much better than in an actual world. Our lives could be guided by artificial news, and dominated by fake friends. We could be bullied,harmed, or shamed by myriad people to whom we have no connection at all. People who are not good for us who need never have mattered to us.
Obesity in children is definitely a problem today. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control tells us (April 24, 2015),
The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.
Obese children may find it hard to lose the weight that compromises their health in adolescence and adulthood. And the relationship between sedentary lifestyles, which the Internet encourages, and obesity is common sense as well as research. But to understand the problem, we need to go back a few decades.
We’ve looked before at public shaming on the Internet: "Good? Bad? Think before we retweet? "One key irony is captured by commentator Ed Driscoll in the title of a recent post, “How an Internet Stuffed to the Gills with ‘Nonjudgmental’ Users Became a Shame-Storm.”
Indeed, many of the worst offenders at starting unjustifiable persecutions probably think of themselves as non-judgmental. And there are a lot of them out there, launching persecutions on a a hair trigger in many cases.
Driscoll worries that shaming harms society because it causes people to hide bad beliefs:
Earlier, I discussed how social media can empty relationships of significance (here). Heck, if we aren’t careful, we adults could be receiving computer-generated “posts” from a deceased cousin, in which case we have to know something is wrong.
And we noted in passing that in some cases, it might be wise to rename the smartphone the “Dumbphone,” based on a documented reduction in users’ problem-solving abilities, cue lazy thinking.
Now British psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist has warned that smartphones risk making children borderline autistic:
A while back, we noted that those social media friends and followers who think we are cool might not exist. For some people, that’s no problem. They will settle for the appearance of popularity, so they turn to a click farm. From the The Guardian:
How much do you like courgettes? According to one Facebook page devoted to them, hundreds of people find them delightful enough to click the "like" button – even with dozens of other pages about courgettes to choose from.
The use of artificial intelligence in mainstream news writing is advancing rapidly, according to Caleb Garling at Wired:
Two years ago, the Los Angeles Times became the first major outlet to report on an earthquake—almost instantaneously—with a bot. Today, companies like Automated Insights and Narrative Science are powering the production of millions of auto-generated “articles,” such as personalized recaps for fantasy sports fans. A similar metrics-based formula can be used to recap a customer’s stock portfolio performance. Here’s a snippet of auto-prose from one of Narrative Science’s investment reports:
Connecting is MercatorNet's blog about social media and the virtual self. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your tips and suggestions. Post comments. We want to make it as lively as possible. The editor is Denyse O'Leary, a Canadian journalist.