Liked Free protection for your home Internet.

Although I have an awesome, trustworthy ISP, I’ve used a DNS resolver for years. Recently I switched from using Cloudflare’s locally on my machines, to using for families on our home router. This blocks both malware and adult content.

via Doug Belshaw
Bookmarked There’s a reason your inbox has more malicious spam—Emotet is back

Emotet is yet another reminder that people should be highly suspicious of files and links sent in email, particularly if they seems out of context, such as when a friend sends an invoice. People should be doubly suspicious of any Word document that requires macros be enabled before content can be viewed. There is rarely any reason for consumers to use macros, so a good household rule is to never enable them for any reason. A better policy still is to open Word documents in Google Docs, which prevents any malware from getting installed on the local computer.

I never knew that opening a document in Google Docs provides a level of protection in regards to email.
Bookmarked It’s Time to Rebrand ‘Cookies’

If we could agree on a more accurate name for cookies (or at least third-party cookies), like “tracking beacons,” it would help give users some much-needed pause the next time they’re asked to accept them.

Owen Williams dives into the world of cookies and data tracking. He explains cookies as:

At their core, cookies are simple plain text passed from a website to your computer and stored by your browser for later use. That text is passed back to the server when you request a web page, and it’s used by developers for an array of tasks. For example, when you click “remember me” as you log in to a site, a cookie is set so the site doesn’t ask you to log in again. Without cookies, the internet would be much more annoying and forgetful. But that same useful technology also allows other sites, services, and advertisers to invisibly track you.

He discusses the difference between a first-party verses a third-party cookie.

Third-party cookies, are placed by advertisers and marketing companies to track you across websites, allowing them to figure out who you are even as you leave the original site that set that cookie.

Although there is a significant push to limit third-party cookies, there is still no consensus on what a solution looks like.

In another post, Ariel Bogle explains why the removal of third-party cookies only strengthens Google’s position in the ad market as they are able to collect data associated with users of their own applications.

RSVPed Interested in Attending New MOOCS on Teaching Cyber Security and Awareness

This course is designed to:
Build your confidence and capability in delivering cyber security education in the classroom as part of the Foundation to Year 6 Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and ICT Capabilities.
Increase your awareness of and access to high-quality cyber security education resources that you can use in the primary classroom.
Deepen your understanding of the challenges and risks of digital technologies and how to teach students about proactive behaviours in using technologies safely and securely.
Inspire awareness of jobs in cyber security, with a range of fascinating roles and real-world applications.
Although this course references the Australian Curriculum, anyone in the world is welcome to participate! Participants who complete the course receive a Certificate of Completion.

I am glad that the conversation seems to be moving away from what we can do with technology to a wider discussion of what we should do.

Katelyn Bowden discusses the problems we are currently facing where on the one hand there are those promoting highly technical solutions for protecting our privacy, when there are still so many out there still trying to come to grips with the basics:

Yet, we are more concerned with creating advanced systems that only the most tech-savvy can use, while our most vulnerable and necessary populations struggle to grasp the basics of security.

Bowden suggests beginning with the basics:

We all want to make the world a better place, right? So, do me a favor? Talk to someone outside of the industry. Tell them about multifactor authentification, password managers, or red flags for phishing schemes.

Bookmarked Are your words doing damage: how to talk to your teen and help stop cyber bullying (Parent Hub – Dolly's Dream)

The Dolly’s Dream video made by 15-year-old Charlotte McLaverty has taken our understanding of the impact of cyber bullying out of our heads.

Another great piece from Dan Donahoo on cybersafety and the importance of environment.
Bookmarked Teaching Digital Citizenship: 10 Internet Safety Tips For Students (With Cyber Safety Posters) by Kathleen Morris

While it’s unlikely young people will never experience an issue online, I believe it is a good aim to both minimise potential harm and ensure students feel like they always have someone to talk to.

Digital citizenship education is an ongoing process, and the work of one teacher is not enough. Ideally, we need parents, students, educators, community members, and school leaders to unite.

Most of all, we need to create a positive culture where students feel empowered to use technology safely and purposefully.

Kathleen Morris outlines her four layered approach to teaching digital citizenship. This focuses on integrating the various skills within the curriculum, providing real world stories to reflect upon, building up student toolkits and developing lines of communication. Associated with this, she also provides ten tips for students.
Liked Statement: eSafety advice on the Momo Challenge (Office of the eSafety Commissioner)

Five top tips to help limit your child’s exposure to harmful content online:

  • Engage in your child’s online activities – ask what apps, sites and games they’re using and make sure they’re age-appropriate
  • Use parental controls on devices to help limit what your child is exposed to
  • Let them know not everything they see online is real or true.
  • Help them report and block upsetting content they see on social media sites or apps.
  • Let them know they can come to you about anything upsetting they see online, and contact Kids Helpline if they need further support.
Liked Web Literacy Across the Curriculum by Mike Caulfield

These issues seem a million miles away from Pizzagate and blogs that tell you that sea ice is increasing and climate change is really a hoax. But they turn out to be adjacent. What happens if my daughter’s search for critical thinking lands on one of the recently politicized redefinitions of that term, which she ends up presenting to the school board? And you’re here at this blog, trusting me — but there are of course other blogs and articles that are written by people in the employ of ed tech firms, and those by people that have zero experience in the domain on which they write. Giving your attention to those sites may actually make you worse at what you do, or lead to your manipulation by corporate forces of which you are unaware.

Bookmarked Momo Is Not Trying to Kill Children (The Atlantic)

Like eating Tide Pods and snorting condoms, the Momo challenge is a viral hoax.

Taylor Lorenz explains that the ‘MOMO challenge’ is another hoax built around fear and hysteria. The real issue is that the internet is changing the world of young people with much of this out of our control. In part, this is something Julian Stodd touches upon in his discussion of the algorithmic wars.

As ever, our challenge is this, and it’s a challenge we must face up to in the middle of this war: technology will take us into places that we are ill equipped to deal with. But our ability to deal with it cannot be framed in the old understanding of knowledge, decision making, and power. It’s a new type of challenge that is faced in a new kind of space. And it will require new types of thinking to ensure that, on balance, the change takes us into a new type of space that we can comfortably inhabit. Primary interpretations of the current swathes of change according to know and well understood frameworks may be dangerous: it may comfort us to think of small groups of elite enemy agents undermining our democracy, but this is but one facet of change

Some other read on digital control is Alexandria Samuel’s discussion of parenting styles, Cory Doctorow’s reports on griefers and Alex Hern’s news about YouTube comments and paedophilia.


All of these challenges and trends follow the same formula: A local news station runs a piece overstating a dangerous teen trend. Concerned parents flock to social media to spread the word. Actual teenagers and anyone else who lives their life Extremely Online mock them for their naïveté. Brands and influencers hop on the trend, parodying it and exploiting it for their own gain. And trolls take advantage of those who believe it’s real, often by creating and posting content that seemingly confirms parents’ worst fears. SNL brilliantly parodied this cycle in 2010. Since then, it has only gotten worse.

The problem is, these stories are only ever a distraction. They offer false reassurance and an easy fix to the wrong problem. If you can protect your child from the Momo challenge, the thinking goes, you can protect them from bad things on the internet. Unfortunately, maintaining kids’ safety online is a much more complicated and delicate task. “This whole ‘Momo is making kids commit suicide’ is a digital version of playing Beatles records backwards to hear Satanic messages,” says Ben Collins, a journalist who covers misinformation. “It does a real disservice to all the harmful stuff targeting children and teens on YouTube.”

What many parents miss is that the platforms themselves often perpetuate harm. Their automated moderation systems fail to flag inappropriate content. Their skewed content-recommendation algorithms promote extremist beliefs. They don’t protect kids against cyberbullying from peers, they milk kids under the age of 13 for money and engagement, and they promote truly gruesome content.

Listened Episode 116: A Climate of Safety from

Doug Belshaw and Dai Barnes discuss the development of social credit in China. Barnes shares how he got his students to think about this by creating their own social credit for the school space that steps away from teachers dealing with discipline and detentions. This reminds me of Google’s thought experiment associated with the human ledger.
Liked 🗣Forgive fast, block even faster (and other rules) (The Discourse)

Below is an early attempt at an “Rules for Online Sanity” list. I’d love to hear what you think I missed.

  • Reward your “enemies” when they agree with you, exhibit good behavior, or come around on an issue. Otherwise they have no incentive to ever meet you halfway.
  • Accept it when people apologize. People should be allowed to work through ideas and opinions online. And that can result in some messy outcomes. Be forgiving.
  • Sometimes people have differing opinions because they considered something you didn’t.
  • Take a second.
  • There’s always more to the story. You probably don’t know the full context of whatever you’re reading or watching.
  • If an online space makes more money the more time you spend on it, use sparingly.
  • Judge people on their actions, not their words. Don’t get outraged over what people said. Get outraged at what they actually do.
  • Try to give people the benefit of the doubt, be charitable in how you read people’s ideas.
  • Don’t treat one bad actor as representative of whatever group or demographic they belong to.
  • Create the kind of communities and ideas you want people to talk about.
  • Sometimes, there are bad actors that don’t play by the rules. They should be shunned, castigated, and banned.
  • You don’t always have the moral high ground. You are not always right.
  • Block and mute quickly. Worry about the bubbles that creates later.
  • There but for the grace of God go you.
via Kottke
Bookmarked Encountering harmful discourses in the classroom (W. Ian O'Byrne)

Howard C. Stevenson from Penn’s Graduate School of Education indicates three steps to address these harmful discourses as they enter your classroom.

  • Start with you – Process your own feelings, and address your own vulnerabilities before entering the classroom. Develop a support system with your colleagues.
    Practice – Classroom reactions usually happen in a split second. Prepare yourself for these instances by role-playing with colleagues in your building, or online with your PLN.
  • After an incident – Resist the urge to condemn the action or content. First try to understand the motivation if is disseminated through your classroom or building. Allow the school’s code of conduct to address instances where students actively spread this information. Strongly explain to students that these harmful discourses and the messages being spread about individuals and groups are not accepted. You will not accept the silencing of voices.
  • Keep talking – After these events, the best course of action is to keep talking. Difficult discussions will often ensue, but children and adults alike need to be able to process their feelings and reactions. This is an opportunity to shut down and be silent, or engage and promote change.
Ian O’Byrne discusses the challenges of engaging in harmful discourses. He provides some ways to responding, as well as a number of ways to be proactive. This touches on what danah boyd describes as the weaponisation of worldviews.
Bookmarked Thirteen and Insta-famous: How Aussie tweens are ‘brand-managing’ themselves (ABC News)

You definitely do need to have two accounts, says Meika Woolard, a 13-year-old with 335,000 Instagram followers. She is one of Australia’s most prominent teen Insta-influencers, and part of a growing trend of users harnessing the power of multiple accounts.

This touches on piece in Boing Boing highlighting that young people do not want a single identity. Uses of social media like this has me thinking about the way that IndieWeb and Domain of One’s Own centralise identities. Is this something unique to social media? Is this a limit of the ‘Rel=me’ approach?
Bookmarked Factors that Influence Parental Views About Online Safety (Leif Rask)

In the end, it is up to you whether you believe that risks exist on the internet and whether they affect you. Personally, I hope that you will take a moment to understand how the internet works, and the risks involved for you and your children. I also hope that you will help your children to understand internet safety so that they are better prepared when you’re not around. I can’t tell you what to think and what to decide. I hope that you make an informed decision, a decision that helps your children lead safer lives.

Leif Rask provides a useful provocation in regards to online safety. It reminds me in part of watching Mr. Robot or Zeynep Tufekci’s work. My only concern is that it does not necessarily provide any sort of alternative. Maybe that would be a separate post? The hard thing is that there is no ‘informed’ choice that is magically the ‘right’ choice. I choose a self-hosted version of WordPress, is that worse than Rask’s choice to use I realise that I may open myself up to more risks needing to manage my site, but the lessons learnt in doing this are priceless?