Your Data Detox Starts Here
On this page, you will find the following:
- Learning Goals
- Workshop Outline
- Further Reading and Resources
This workshop gives participants the chance to explore the reasons why online privacy is important to them. Through discussions and hands-on application, participants are introduced to the data collection industry and explore the effects on individuals and societies.
- Duration: 85 minutes
- Ideal for 10-25 participants
- Reflect on the right to privacy
- Learn about the data industry
- Discuss the effects of the data industry on individuals and societies
Below is an overview of the workshop outline:
- Warm Up: What do you care?
- Presentation: The Data Brokers
- Activity: A Drop in the OCEAN
- Reflection: Takeaways
Time needed: 5 minutes+
Purpose: to welcome participants as well as setting expectations and goals.
- Introduce workshop title
- Facilitator introduces themselves
- Explain the learning goals
- Review the ground rules
- Develop collaborative ground rules along with participants if there is time.
- Ask participants to go around and introduce themselves if there is time.
Warm Up: What do you care?
Time needed: 20 minutes
Purpose: to engage participants and encourage them to begin speaking up and sharing their thoughts as well as learning from others.
- For 2 minutes, participants will quietly reflect on the following prompt:
- In which moments of your life is privacy important? (offline or online)
- Then, ask participants to turn to the person next to them and share if they feel comfortable. Here, you can give them 5 minutes.
- Get back together in the main plenary and invite anyone to share if they feel comfortable. You can ask them follow-up questions to dive deeper:
- In which ways do you seek privacy for yourself? And in which ways is privacy appropriate on a more collective or societal level?
- In which ways can you imagine data collection affecting not only yourself but also your neighbors? What about the most vulnerable people in your society?
- You can share a quote from Edward Snowden where he said: "Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say."
- Don’t forget to tell others why you care about privacy if you feel comfortable sharing. It may inspire them!
Tips: If people don't speak up, they might be shy, or they might feel insecure or that their reasons are private. Don't coerce people to share if they aren't volunteering to do so.
Presentation: The Data Brokers
Time needed: 10 minutes+
Purpose: to share context of the data broker industry to participants, and get everyone up-to-speed on the topic.
Describe The Dating Brokers project. You can use the following script if helpful:
In May 2017, Tactical Tech and artist Joanna Moll purchased the data of 1 million dating profiles for the small price of 136 Euros. This purchase was completely legitimate, legal, like buying potatoes at the supermarket. Who did they buy the data from? Data brokers. Data brokers are businesses who collect and sell data. There are more than 500 of these businesses and many of them work in the field of “persuasion” both for e-commerce and elections.What data did they receive? So just remember they were 1 million dating profiles. On average, there were 5 photos per person: 5 million total photos. There were descriptions of careers and families, hopes and fears.
How is the data used? It depends on who wants it. We’ll talk more about this in a moment. Most people don’t realize this business of data brokers, and it’s important to make people aware. Please visit the website datadating.tacticaltech.org to read more about it and explore the Gallery.
While this example is about dating apps, the same issue affects social media apps, shopping websites, streaming services, news services, parenting websites, games, health apps, political apps, and more. In fact, Tactical Tech’s The Influence Industry project has identified over 500 data broker companies around the world who work with political parties for data-driven campaigning. (number accurate as of 2021)
How is my data used? Well the answer to this is very dependant on a number of factors and contexts. Let’s just focus here on the most common apps and websites like those for shopping and social media.
Typically, on a larger scale, your data may be collected by data brokers in order to categorize your personality. How open are you? How conscientious? How much are you an extrovert, agreeable, or neurotic? (This is the so-called “OCEAN” psychometric pattern however other models exist. You can take the test yourself if you’re curious in 14+ languages at ocean.tacticaltech.org) This information is interesting to companies because as soon as you can be categorized into a personality group with thousands or millions of other people, you will begin to get certain advertisements, headlines or misinformation, website designs (like button placement and colors) which have been optimized to get you to click, read, watch, share, or vote, to name a few.
On websites like Facebook and Instagram, these personality profiles may be collected through quizzes like “Which TV or Movie character are you?”
The results of the personality quizzes can help companies determine which advertisement will be most effective at getting you to click on it or to change your mind. When we talk about advertisements targeted at you which try to get you to buy a certain pair of shoes, you may find that is not so bad... but some advertisements try to convince you of a different reality, or push you to think a certain way about a religious or ethnic group or a political figure. Are you more likely to click on the blue or the orange? More likely to be interested in the smiling faces or the serious one?
Variations: If you have a screen, you can display the website of The Dating Brokers project and The Influence Industry Project: Explorer in order to visually show them the results.
Activity: A Drop in the OCEAN
Time needed: 30 minutes
Purpose: to give participants the chance to explore personality profiling in action.
- If available in a compatible language for the group, ask participants to visit the website: "A Drop in the OCEAN". This website is optimized for laptop or desktop screens.
- Give participants 10-15 minutes to answer the quiz questions and read their results on their own.
- Open the room for participants to ask questions, and you can also ask follow-up questions to explore to topic further. For example:
- How can the use of psychometric profiling influence us as individuals?
- What about our neighbors?
- What about people who have received different levels of education?
- What about young people or older adults?
- Is influencing always a bad thing? Where is the line between "care" and "control"?
Variations: If you don't have access to laptops or desktop computers, you could either ask participants to try it on their mobile phones OR you can collectively take the quiz together and walk through the results step-by-step.
Time needed: 15 minutes
Purpose: to get a sense of what your participants have learned.
- Ask participants to create a takeaway poster by sharing their answers to the following question in the shared whiteboard / drawing board: What are your main takeaways from today's workshop?
- Give participants a few minutes to write and/or draw their thoughts.
- Ask participants to share their posters, either by presenting or hanging them on the wall.
- Highlight some of the points brought up to the group.
Time needed: 5 minutes
Purpose: to give a chance for participants to review what has been covered.
- Wrap up the workshop and sum up its contents.
- Run a quick feedback session to gather participants' reactions. Each participant can share:
- one thing they found very good about the session and
- one thing they would improve for the next time
- Encourage participants to ask questions or give some final tips.
- Share resources and any follow-up details.
- Take notes of the feedback points.
- In case you have trouble accepting critical feedback, try to respond with a simple "thank you" and think about it later when you have the headspace for it.
Further Reading and Resources
If you liked this article, check these out: