I had wanted to start with some other subjects but as always some other subject rears its ugly little head. But turning things into a positive this is a great gateway into other subjects I want to eventually cover on this blog. Two days ago news broke of the slur incident at Daniel Boone High School. Racial slurs were written on bathroom rooms and there was legitimate concern of real violence at the school. No problem there from what I see the school did the appropriate thing. But it wasn’t that in itself which peaked my interest it was what Garry Otto, Superintendent of the school district said:
“That’s the problem with Facebook, there’s no accountability for what you say,”
Then add to that this statement in another article:
“I wish the social media would start to police their own,” he said. He noted that he recently heard Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg is now a billionaire. He suggested he put some of that money into policing Facebook.
“You know what Mark, why don’t you start something called ‘Safebook,’” Otto said. “When you see garbage like (what students may have been posting), you should be kicking kids off Facebook, shutting (their accounts) down.”
“It’s a great thing, Facebook, (but) as great as it is, on the other side of the coin, obviously, it’s led to a lot of negative situations and freedom for kids to bully and say what they want,” Otto said.
Those diatribes on the subject of Facebook did it for me and so born forth a child in this article you are reading. As with all things I stepped back and before letting anger over ignorance, of what I was reading, set in I wanted to let this subject sit in my mind for a while. With all things I want to be open to being wrong, because let’s face it we all are humans and make wrong assessments of situations. But I also don’t like off the cuff opinions being made without rebuttal. Especially when opinions are thrown into an already emotional situation.
I have to admit I don’t know Gary Otto nor how well his policies have or have not worked. But what I do know is the computer world, or at least what all these years of working with these computer type things have taught me. I have a degree in Information Technology and have been around computers since I was in elementary school. I also know a thing when it comes to security, having dabbled in White and Black Hat arenas. In computer and network security there are two types of hackers those who were the Black Hat type (bad actors who do bad things,) and those that are White Hats (good actors who try to set the bad right.) There is a third but that is questionable (Grey Hats.)
I had so much interest in the subject I had thought about going into security, possibly looking at Government work. I took a network security course at college which confirmed a lot of what I already knew. It also confirmed some fears I had, that ethical hacking (the White Hat stuff) was frowned upon by organizations, but at the same necessary to learning the security world. To be network security specialist you have to know the Black Hat arena and know the enemy to combat them. That takes understanding of fun terms like Honey Pots. Honey Pots are a security trap based on that ever famous bear (Winnie the Pooh.) The idea is to put out fake data in a semi-secure spot, data that disguises itself as something very lucrative to the hackers. Then when they grab the data you have them caught red handed and they have useless data. It’s a virtual version of the dye packs used by banks. The other fun thing you learn about security is threat assessment.
And here’s a fun fact: Network security is very similar to real world security.
So going back to the situation at hand one might already see where I have issues with Otto’s jeremiad against the “evils” of Facebook. It shows a lack of knowledge on his part of the state of technology in this day and age. Hate to break it to some people, but we are in the midst of revolution and leadership who don’t understand that fact are ignorant. And this can be a danger in itself, because of helping situations they can harm situations also. This is a subject I’m going to cover in more topics as this blog goes on but let’s look specifically at the situation here.
The problem doesn’t lie in the assessment to protect children from harm, the problem lies in not understanding the technology that could help. Going back to what I laid out in terms of network security Facebook in this instance is the Honey Pot. Students freely posted information that could leave them with dye-stained hands and instead of embracing this fact we have a leader lamenting the “evils” of technology, ignorant to the benefits.
I can’t tell you how many times I had to laugh to myself when someone pointed out the evils of some new technology like Youtube. What sometimes fails to be mentioned is that while kids may be following trends they see, they are also posting publicly their crimes which is sometimes surprising. In the day and age of openness we have children who are freely admitting crimes and giving all the evidence police could have ever dreamed of. And to top it off they can’t even claim privacy when they make it public.
I’m not going to sugarcoat things, there are negatives with technology. Like all things technology needs to be balanced with other parts of our lives. And I do see how social media has accelerated peer pressure like never before. But there are two things hard pressed to forget. Again people publicize their transgressions for the whole world to see freely. And second when has peer pressure not existed. Is someone going to tell me that huffing didn’t spread in the 80s because of lack of social media? What about drug abuse? Seems to me that humans were good at social media way before social media existed.
The other thing I never have understood in the crusade against the “evils” of technology how people don’t understand that these thoughts have always existed. What people share in social media have always existed in human’s minds. If you don’t understand then read about the Milgram Experiment.
Yes I know the experiment is about authority. But here’s the point: In all that time since the first experiment think about how much of society has changed. With all the push for political correctness, treating everyone equal, the quest for a better world people still pushed the button. Lamenting that Facebook should be policed because people are expressing thoughts you don’t like, shows lack of understanding of the present age, let alone the lack of knowledge of the human condition. It also shows poor leadership.
At least not all cases show such ignorance. But still as has been pointed out we need leaders who understand the day and age and the future who can address these problems head on. The ultimate problem is we have leaders who aren’t leaders.
As spelled out here, which summed up how I feel when I read these stories:
This used to be funny, but now it’s really just terrifying. We’re dealing with legislation that will completely change the face of the internet and free speech for years to come. Yet here we are, still at the mercy of underachieving Congressional know-nothings that have more in common with the slacker students sitting in the back of math class than elected representatives. The fact that some of the people charged with representing us must be dragged kicking and screaming out of their complacency on such matters is no longer endearing — it’s just pathetic and sad.
In other words:
That follow, floating with the tide