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I had an interesting experience on Facebook recently. I don’t provide Facebook with much accurate personal information, and it’s fun to see the algorithms try to puzzle out what kind of advertising to serve up to me when I refuse to make it easy by offering demographic information such as my age or gender. When I uploaded a photograph of my schoolbooks this semester with the words “Social Work” front-and-center, those advertising robots jumped right into action. They filled my feed with advertisements for social work schools, having figured out it was something I might be interested in. I consider myself pretty savvy about these things (others might even say paranoid), so I was amused to have stumbled into proof that Facebook searches our snapshots with photo-recognition technology in order to find advertising opportunities. Other looks behind the curtain can reveal less innocent events, as discussed in the Painted Brain News article, TERMS OF abUSE.
The new social network ello has gotten a great deal of attention recently for being an alleged haven from the sinister policies of big networks like Facebook. Ello promises not to sell your information to advertisers and also allows pseudonyms. This is a necessity for people who have a reason not to be identified by their legal name, which includes many transgender individuals. Since I’m working to develop Painted Brain’s presence on social networks, I immediately noticed that we already happen to offer the very same freedoms in our own blog system. Here one can explore what it means to be mentally ill, or queer, or neuroatypical, or in recovery, or, or, or, without having to out oneself to the world at large.
Anonymity has its drawbacks. It has allowed misogynistic and violent harassment to flourish on Twitter and message boards in the name of GamerGate.
As we deal with the many sensitive and controversial issues at Painted Brain, we are discovering ways to allow those who live with mental illness to share their experiences freely without subjecting themselves to harassment by those who would abuse the shield of anonymity.
Jules is a social work intern at The Painted Brain