Sonia Livingstone on Children and the Internet on Social Science Bites (SAGE)
Nigel Warburton – You mentioned exposure to pornography, to racism, to cyber-bullying, is that the limit of risk for a child online?
Sonia Livingstone – Among the most common risks are exposure to pornography and cyber-bullying, though those remain relatively low level. The other risk that people really worry about, it the risk that strangers, paedophiles, ‘weirdos’ (as kids call them) will locate a child, especially a vulnerable child and will exploit and abuse them. And we spent quite a while thinking about firstly how to ask children about that, if they are not aware of those risks, because there are ethical issues in the research we are doing. And then, how to decide what is a risk, because many children go online precisely to meet new people and make new friends. And a ‘new friend’ before you get to know them is a stranger. So, working out which are the strangers who are going to become good friends and which are the ones who are going to harm you is a really subtle judgment that we are asking a child to make. Many children do the kinds of things that allow them to make new friends, like they post their personal information, and they add contacts to their social networking or their instant messaging that they don’t otherwise know, they put out all kinds of information about themselves. But, mainly, they don’t meet strangers and they certainly don’t meet weird strangers out to sexually abuse them.
Image: The Guardian
“The initial installment of the Twitter Political Index, called the “TwIndex” for short, shows Obama with a score of 34 and Romney with 25, based on tweets posted on Tuesday. Since the TwIndex compares tweets about the candidates to all tweets on other topics, that means that tweets about Obama are on average more positive than 34 percent of tweets not mentioning him. It also means that tweets about Obama are generally more positive than tweets about Romney. The plan is for the latest Twitter Political Index will be posted each day at 8 p.m. at election.twitter.com.” (NextGov.com)
“Crowdsourcing is not entirely flawed in the Mexican context, though. We have seen people in various Mexican cities organize organically to alert one another of violent events, in real time. But these urban crisis management networks do not need institutions to function. However, law enforcement does, unless one is willing to accept lynching and other types of crowd-based law enforcement.” (Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Social Media Collective)
Image: Carnegie Mellon
“Researchers in Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science analyzed millions of Chinese microblogs, or ‘weibos,’ to uncover a set of politically sensitive terms that draw the attention of Chinese censors. Individual messages containing the terms were often deleted at rates that could vary based on current events or geography.
In China, where online censorship is highly developed, the researchers found that oft-censored terms included well-known hot buttons, such as Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned by the Chinese government, and human rights activists Ai Weiwei and Liu Xiaobo. Others varied based on events; Lianghui, a term that normally refers to a joint meeting of China’s parliament and its political advisory body, became subject to censorship when it emerged as a code word for “planned protest” during pro-democracy unrest that began in February 2011.” (Byron Spice, Carnegie Mellon News)
Image: Wikimedia Commons
“Much as in a grass-roots lobbying campaign, the hackers spent weeks spreading their message through their own Web site and social sites like Twitter and Flickr. Their Facebook page called on volunteers to download free attack software and implored them to “stop child abuse” by joining the cause. It featured split-screen images of the pope seated on a gilded throne on one side and starving African children on the other. And it linked to articles about sexual abuse cases and blog posts itemizing the church’s assets.
It took the hackers 18 days to recruit enough people, the report says. Then the reconnaissance began. A core group of roughly a dozen skilled hackers spent three days poking around the church’s World Youth Day site looking for common security holes that could let them inside, the report says. Probing for such loopholes used to be tedious and slow, but the advent of automated tools made it possible for hackers to do this while they slept.” (Nicole Perlroth & John Markoff, NYTimes.com)
Photo: State Dept.
“Responding to a call by Washington, D.C., election officials for outsiders with no previous access to test system security, Halderman and his students penetrated the pilot system within 48 hours of it going online. Their successful attack went undetected for another 36 hours, they say, despite the fact that they left a calling card in the form of having the vote confirmation screen to play the University of Michigan fight song after 15 seconds. Even then, the detection didn’t occur because D.C. officials spotted anomalies in intrusion detection system logs, or even stumbled on the fight song itself, but because someone on a mailing list monitored by the city asked, ‘does anyone know what tune they play for successful voters?’ ” (David Perera, Fierce Government)
Photo: Damian Dovarganes/AP
“But Everyone Counts’ security claims have been met with deep scepticism by a computer scientist community which has grappled for years with the problem of making online elections fully verifiable while maintaining ballot secrecy – in other words, being rigorous about auditing the voting process, but still making sure nobody knows who voted for what. So far, nobody has demonstrated that such a thing is possible.” (Andrew Gumbel, The Guardian)