Friday, 29 March 2019

#ForTheWeb? FFS! #DigCit #Cybernat Mission to Help Recruit Elle... The Jambo?

Image result for waiting for superman
In 2017 my 7 year old son went on a mission as a #BeMorePirate spy guy to help recruit a P1 teddy called Ellie to go on a #DigCit trip to support a number of people and organisations that I was connected with at the time.

As the saying goes there is no 'I' in team (But there is a me), so we've dropped the I in Ellie... and with people like Asqa Mahmood encouraging young people like Shamina Begum to leave home to join ISIS, it might be an idea to call in some grown ups to help keep our kids safe online from the kind of threats that Begum faced. But who we gonna call?

Ghost Busters to help with all the people who hide behind anonymous accounts who dress as ghosts IRL?

Will we wait for superman? As the documentary about school reform highlights... He ain't coming.

A LOT has changed in both mine and my sons life since that Classroom Skype call and in the world of social media today... 

This includes the definition and nature of how we keep young people safe online. 

This post looks at some of these changes and is written in the hope that either politicians and/or people in my network will help to recruit @ElleTheJambo to see if she can help address some of these rather serious issues.

On the week that the web celebrated it's 30th Birthday and Tim Berners-Lee encouraged people to fight #ForTheWeb... by the end of the week a far right extreme hate group video'd their attack on mosques in Christchurch. 

The far right have been in the news almost every day since (Anna Soubry court case, Birmingham Mosques etc) 

#DigCit 2015 Vs 2019
In 2015 #DigCit was all about 

'Be the same person you are online as you are offline'


'If you've nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all'

In 2019 we have:
  • The US President surrounded by advisers who are going to jail
  • Shamina Begum losing her babies and 
  • The far rights online hate spilling onto our streets days after Tim Berners-Lee calls for people to fight #ForTheWeb. 

#DigCit & Politicians Part of the Problem? ...Definitely! 
You might expect politicians to be doing something about this, but they are not.

During the 2015 election the MPs were throwing their hands up saying 'What can we do about it?' (See Online Abuse I Blame the Politicians)

In 2019 not only are parties like The SNP doing nothing to reign in #Cybernats like 'Wings Over Scotland' (Rah! Rah! Rah! IndyRef...all the way from Bath?!)

...But Alex Samlond's support make people like this front page news by jumping to this 'kind, well mannered and model SNP supporters' (Bear in mind he's suing Ms Dugdale, so I'll err on the side of caution... Great guy!) defense by claiming that You Tube is politically biased.

The tribalism of groups like the 'Cybernats' Vs 'Tthe Yoons' not only suits these political parties BUT the (so called) political 'Leaders' seem to be following Mr Trumps playbook, according to the #FakeNews at least, as Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg and other contenders for taking over Theresa May's role are speaking to Steve Bannon... who is openly declaring what his intentions are.

And even if #Cybernats like Wings Over Scotland were not being defended by the SNP and Bannon wasn't being courted by self interested Old Etonians like Boris & Gove... given the obsession (and MPs uselessness) with finding solutions for Brexit =

I would not expect any solutions regarding cleaning up 'The Wild West of the Internet' from this group any time soon. 

That is, of course,  if they were even to accept the facts regarding what is going on... which they are not!

On the BBC's This Week last night Frank Luntz highlighted the dangers... Only for Michael Portillo to dismiss the concerns and the threat out of hand. And YET! at the time of writing Tommy Robinson is trending as he is speaking at Nigel Farage's Ukip Brexit leave march.

(Scotland is Now 'Scotland is Open' message gets 2,000 Retweets... Tommy Robinson 16,000 and rising)

In 2015 I made an arguement where the politicans could be blamed for some of the problems associated with online abuse. 

In 2019 there is no change with this view... but with tragic situations like Shamina Begum and Christchurch, it's a lot more serious today!

'Network Effects' & 'Feedback Loops' Online = Creates 'Social Proof' Offline
In 2014 I was super supportive of The SNP and wrote 30+ posts in support of the party. 

But I was never supportive or The SNP or #IndyRef per se, but of the cultural conditions that the post vote momentum created.

Upon reflection, I realise that I wasn't even writing in support of The SNP/IndyRef... but was writing posts to detail what they needed to do to maintain the positivity of the extremely powerful 'Network Effects' and 'Feedback Loops' where a single event (The night the BNP came to town to celebrate the #NoThanks result) delivered record results for the SNP during #GE2015.

If the extent of the threat is not recognised and addressed, then the 'network effects,' 'feedback loops' and 'social proof' from Christchurch may well be set to have the same impact... but for hate groups.

As I've stated a number of times, the online momentum for #IndyRef in the last 2-3 weeks of the 'Yes' campaign influenced the offline, IRL rallies as they grew and grew and grew and saw the polls go over 40% for only the second time ever during the campaign.

The night of the vote with the rioting in Glasgow's George Square ignited the post vote movement.

As the book New Power highlights:
"Those on the side of the angels, who want to spread compassion, promote pluralism or defend science must grapple with a painful reality that New Power can supercharge hate and misinformation"

I would add to this a comment from Sam Conniff Allande's Be More Pirate Tedx Talk:
No One Is Coming to Save Us 

(Especially not those #Cybernat-supporting-Bannon-consulting-Brexit-Shambles pointless politicians)

Educators? Look for the Bright Spots... Help Recruit Elle
New Power highlights that after a number of false starts in creating a solution to effective ISIS recruiters like Asqa Mahmood includes educators who 'Connected Connectors' and 'Crowd Leaders' to build a network of positive messengers who create alternative narratives drawing people away from more extreme positions and amplifying messages of groups like religious leaders and their schools.

HOWEVER! Taking on people with opposing views and getting into a heated debate in the hope of 'dialing the conversation down' a little and looking for common ground (Even, as happened with one conversation I had the 'Let Begum rot' protagonist I was chatting to declared 'I wasn't looking for any common ground!' once we'd established some), is NOT easy! But it can be done.

But before we can expect educators to go from the current position of 

'If you've nothing nice to say don't say anything at all' 


'Hey that's not right' and/or 'I think you need a virtual hug'

Will need people to path-find some solutions to this.

Where to look for the bright spots?

If MPs are not actively adding to the problem with the future UK Prime Minister speaking to Steve Bannon... they are certainly doing nothing by advocating for people like 'Wings Over Scotland' and/or not calling out their own supporters who look to troll those who have a different political view. 

After all this is the democratic UK, not Alex Salmond's employers Russian based RT, where MSM highlights that it's a Russian sponsored propaganda channel  

Social Media does not come with the job for educators (Yet!) today. There is no remit for them to try to 'swarm' in an attempt to prevent people like Asqa Mahmood and protecting vulnerable people like Shamina Begum with the same 'sense of belonging' online that Mahmood clearly did.

Taking on Far Right groups, ISIS recruiters and political trolls like the #Cybernats could affect the educators digital footprint and end up getting them into trouble with their employers... even though a virtual hug could help them before it was too late: Imagine an educator providing an 'Alternative Narrative' in the way that a Muslim did with Ivan Humble (@NewDayStarts) to turn him away from The English Defense League.

I see a few brave educators like Justin Schleider (@SchleiderJustinwho are doing this and IMHO should be encouraged, supported and their example followed. I hope that educators like Justin will be collaborating with change agents and fellow 'Crowd Leaders' like Elle. 

Cybernats? Help Recruit Elle?
When experimenting with engaging with the 'Cybernats' (Engaging with them because I made a data prediction that - based on the data - The SNP were in trouble at the next election), I connected with someone who also got excited about the 2014 Yes/IndyRef/SNP movement for the same reasons that I did:

The potential for change and the participatory politics... but which never came.

If there is one group online that is not afraid to chase people away from a topic of conversation, it's those #Cybernats... what if they were turned into an SNP liability to a huge #IndyRef2 asset?

How easy would this be to do? IMHO Very!

Instead of attacking others who have an opposing - and perfectly legal and democratic - political view in the (Un) United Kingdom and/or (Less than) Great Britain's democracy... why not turn their willingness to have a fight online with those who are turning to violence offline and extreme groups like the far right?

Alt Right has been on spaces where our young people are for years and people like Michael Portillo say that the links are unconnected, yet Bannon openly declares that he wants to connect the far right across the world and the self interested, power hungry, Old Etonians of Gove/Boris/Ree-Mogg are speaking to this guy?!

No One Is Coming to Save Us #ForTheWeb #FFS #Cybernats Help Recruit @ElleTheJambo!  

Give Elle a follow and/or share her call for people to use Twitter as a force for good (Like the early days of #IndyRef) and see what happens... A quick '5min favour' might even go a big way to cleaning up

"The Wild West of the Internet"

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