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Online Identity and the Fragmentation of the Internet - Tobias Matzner


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Online Identity and the Fragmentation of the Internet - Tobias Matzner

  1. 1. International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and HumanitiesOnline Identity and the Fragmentation of theInternetMarch 2nd 2013, Tobias Matzner
  2. 2. In acting and speaking, men show who they are, reveal actively their unique personal identities and thus make their appearance in the human world [...]. This disclosure of “who” [...] somebody is [...], is implicit in everything somebody says and does. [...] [I]ts disclosure can almost never be achieved as a willful purpose [...]. On the contrary, it is more than likely that the “who,” which appears so clearly and unmistakably to others, remains hidden from the person himself. The disclosure of the “who” [...] always falls into an already existing web [of human relations] where [its] immediate consequences can be felt.Hannah Arendt (1998). The Human Condition. Chicago: Chicago University Press, pp. 179, 1832 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13
  3. 3. personality online • I am the person in the stories that others tell about me - no distinction of person online and offline - distinction of online and offline contexts - possibilities to act/interact determine possibilities of disclosure of personality • visibility is something that is wanted - privacy is a concern, but not the only one - important not to forget who remains invisible • ... but not always - feeling exposed/under surveillance might deter peoeple form acting - surveillance as social sorting • Two important questions: - Who is visible? - What are the modes and possibilities of disclosure? (How is someone visible?)3 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13
  4. 4. Inspired by Philip Brey’s and Lucas Introna’s work ondisclosive computer ethics: • “The process of designing technology is as much a process of closing down alternatives as it is a process of the opening up of possibilities.” (Introna 2005) • “Imbedded in the software and hardware code of these systems are complex rules of logic and categorisation that may have material consequences for those using it, or for the production of social order more generally.” (Introna 2005) • Design of technology makes certain – often implicit – assumptions about the users and context.Philip Brey (2000). “Disclosive computer ethics”. In: ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society30 (4), pp. 10–16Lucas Introna (2005). “Disclosive ethics and information technology: disclosing facialrecognition systems”. In: Ethics and Information Technology 7 (2), pp. 75–864 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13
  5. 5. the fragmentation of the internet • social networking sites and other popular internet services like Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter (“membership sites”) increasingly limit access for non-members via the World Wide Web or open standards like RSS (replaced by APIs) • “apps” are replacing access to internet services via the more universal and integrative web browsers5 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13
  6. 6. perspectives for analysis • technology and code • legal aspects • surveillance and social control6 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13
  7. 7. technology and code: developersHTML and related markup languages vs. app development • not much of a difference concerning technical limitations (e.g. necessity of formalized content) • differences concerning who can use the technology (accessibility) • promising accessibility features via apps • less adherence to standards in app development • better policies for HTML (e.g. WCAG Guidelines by the W3C)7 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13
  8. 8. technology and code: usersfree description vs. formalized descriptionformalized environments... • simplify participation in online communication • provide a kind of “semantics” that enables accessibility technologies • restrict the features or perspectives a person is disclosing • restrict the content of these features • just the existence of a data field makes a difference (not disclosing something is disclosing something) • the acts of the persons in the context have less or no influence on the “semantics” or customs8 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13
  9. 9. legal aspectshosting own website / blog • to an extent possibility to choose legal framework (nation of hosting company): - seek protection (e.g. minority rights) or evade persecution • usually considered as part of the public sphere - protection by basic rights to freedom of expression, participation - possibly protection by rights for journalists/publishers (can lead to undesired exposure)9 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13
  10. 10. legal aspectsmembership site / apps • more legal parties: service provider, app market, app developer, mobile carrier - increasing importance of civil law - netiquette becomes legal agreement (terms of use) - to what extent basic rights (e.g. privacy) can be yielded in civil contracts matter of debate • “market driven morals” • necessity to deal with foreign legal systems • rights to contents that reveal one’s personality have to be yielded to a company in exchange for visibility10 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13
  11. 11. surveillance and social controlformalized content about personality allows easy, fine-grained andautomated search • enables contacts based on features which are not easily disclosed in most offline contexts • enables fine-grained management of visibility / interaction • facilitates control and surveillance - service providers - law enforcement • personal appearance competes / conflicts with convenience, trends, friends from overlapping contexts, privacy concerns, ... (social pressure to enter and conform to the context) • can contribute to social pressure on certain persons / groups to leave the context11 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13
  12. 12. surveillance and social controldependance on service / “lock-in” • need to accept norms and customs of membership site / app for visibility • difficulty to migrate to new services and increased legal regulation destroys trust12 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13
  13. 13. Thank you! International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities Wilhemstraße 19 72074 Tübingen Germany +49 7071 29-77988 tobias.matzner@uni-tuebingen.de13 | Tobias Matzner #TtW13