What do you want to know about online privacy?
August 31, 2013 4:27 PM   Subscribe

I need advice on setting up a resource that breaks down online consumer privacy in the simplest and most effective way possible.

I've been asked to help a really small nonprofit create a narrative and website layout that breaks down online consumer privacy issues, including why it matters, examples of privacy violations, and what is/can be done about it. I'm not an expert and I know this a pretty complex issue. Unlike an issue like poverty that is easier to rally against, there are many people who are apathetic about the issue or willfully turn a blind eye because they like the coupons they receive in the mail.

The nonprofit's mission is not to force their thoughts on consumer privacy exploitation on other people, but I think that a really clear and eye-catching website could be very useful for people who are on the fence and don't know where to start. The website would also offer more in-depth resources to people who are more knowledgeable.

I really like how the recent documentary 'Terms and Conditions May Apply' presented the information through easy-to-follow narratives. Zero Knowledge Privacy also does a great job (http://zeroknowledgeprivacy.org/library/) and I'll be looking at their work for inspiration.

But because there is so much information out there that I've just started parsing through I wanted to ask the hivemind what you think would be most valuable to see on the website and maybe some tips on the best ways to present the information (I think EFF is great but their website: https://www.eff.org is way too text heavy in my opinion).
posted by bluelight to Grab Bag (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This sounds like an idea that already exists via Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. How will yours be different/better, other than perhaps better designed? Or do I have the wrong idea?
posted by rawralphadawg at 4:47 PM on August 31, 2013

Response by poster: I think the gist will be pretty similar to what you linked to but with a heavier emphasis on protecting youth, minorities, and other underserved and vulnerable communities.

One thing I've noticed with other sites like PRC or EFF is that they don't often create visual, shareable content. It's just lots and lots of text that is hard for someone who doesn't have the time or enough interest to get into. So the idea is to make something more visual and better designed. So I want to figure out which topics/issues are the most interesting to people and put those on the home page and then nest the rest of the resources throughout the site for people who really want to know more.

Sorry if it isn't clear. I've been asked to help and I'm starting to try and read as much as I can about it right now.
posted by bluelight at 5:17 PM on August 31, 2013

I each technology to seniors and non tech savvy business owners. I'm not sure if this is the kind of trends you are looking for, but I can tell you these are what people ask about most :

Things that are of particular note -

- social media sharing and privacy controls
- photo tagging
- what companies can do with your private data that you've provided when becoming a database member
- spam laws
- how to opt out of lists (so many people do not even know you can unsubscribe to newsletters)
- if public wifi is safe to use
- how to manage passwords
- if online shopping is safe
- how to identify online shopping frauds (for example, "google earth packages")
posted by shazzam! at 8:26 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

You need to find a way to make it clear in concrete terms that this stuff impacts real lives. If you can do cartoons or video with a smidgeon of acting, I would compare posting it on the internet (etc) to things like announcing it with a bullhorn and publishing it on the front page of your local newspaper that your mother-in-law subscribes to and reads religiously.

You need to get across that other people will get wind of it. It isn't just boxes with blinking lights. It is potential employers, potential romantic partners, bank officers approving your loans and other people whose opinions can impact your life in concrete terms. Information security is a vague concept for most people, even more vague than money and honestly money is so abstract that a lot of people struggle with it.

You need to compare it to damning gossip, someone reading your locked diary, books, papers, announcements, "Talk" of the ugly variety...etc. You need to give it concrete visual metaphors and spell out cause and effect relationships. People tend to suck at making those connections for abstract things. You need to make it as concrete as possible.

(I worked for an insurance company for five years. Information security was a big issue and I got annual training in relevant federal laws, best practices, etc. I have also been a moderator in various forums. And I homeschooled my 2xE kids who are very smart but have some challenges. I got good at breaking it down without dumbing it down.)
posted by Michele in California at 8:26 PM on August 31, 2013

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