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How to protect yourself online while planning an abortion

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In 2017, an online search was conducted for a file Misoprostol abortion medicine It was used to charge a woman with second-degree murder. In 2015, a series of Text messages with a friend About abortion helped in another conviction of stillbirth and child neglect. In the same year, activists Monitoring technology used To target anti-abortion ads on women who visit abortion clinics.

This happened despite the protection of the historic Supreme Court decision Raw vs. Wadewhich has defended the right of people to have an abortion since 1973. But with a opinion draft noting that The Supreme Court will eliminate Ro And leave abortion legislation to individual states, pregnant women trying to have abortions in the United States 23 countries set to ban it They will have to deal with a digital surveillance device that can be used against them.

Although the scope of this monitoring has not yet been fully realized, Internet searches, Internet history, and information collected by digital health apps can all provide evidence against people seeking abortions in post-Raw America. This makes digital health tools and technologies a vital means of protecting people of childbearing age as they navigate a new reality.

“There are many people already advocating in the area of ​​privacy and protection online – we are well equipped to approach the reproductive justice space with the same urgency,” Dale Barnett, a technical expert at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said recently. Digital security tips for abortion accessfor BuzzFeed News.

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It is important to note that the draft Supreme Court opinion, obtained by Politico, is not yet a legal statement. today, Raw vs. Wade Still the law of the land.

Given how pervasive modern technology is, everyone can benefit from anti-surveillance best practices — and something is better than nothing. Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight For The Future, a digital rights group, said List of useful tips on Twitter. “But the truth is that even just doing a few basic things, like putting a strong passcode on your phone and turning on two-factor authentication on your email, will make you dramatically more secure.”

Here are eight steps you can take to protect yourself online when planning an abortion.

1. Divide your online activity and set clear boundaries

To ensure that personal information is not inadvertently disclosed online, Barnett recommends segmenting browsers, email addresses, and phone numbers, and assigning certain accounts to sensitive activities. For example, create an anonymous email account and Google Voice number to sign up for the services.

Additionally, when interacting with online or in-person communities, such as a group of individuals in the abortion access space, it can be helpful to set limits on what can and cannot be shared. Barnett said consent agreements about sharing photos, for example, are important. Some people may also choose to adopt linguistic masking or code words to obscure the nature of their conversations.

2. Use the burner phone

Apps and platforms track you. It’s one of the primary ways developers can monetize your precious data, which can be Harvest and sell to advertisers We are eager to spread this information to better target you online.

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To make it more difficult for your information to be harnessed against you, consider a no-frills phone. In the past, women were waiting for their appointments in family planning Served anti-abortion propaganda that are geotargeted for their specific location. SafeGraph, the data broker, has Also specifically collected and sold Information about the identities of people who have visited abortion clinics. For anyone participating in a pro-abortion protest, burner phones – or even just leaving your device at home – can ensure that your data and information about your personal network cannot be accessed by authorities such as law enforcement.

3. Be vigilant about who you share personal health information with

The legal scheme Behind Texas’ latest anti-abortion law, it allows private citizens to claim “bonuses,” or monetary prizes, for suing people who believe they have had abortions. This could motivate anti-abortion activists, stalkers, or vindictive ex-partners to try to collect private information about your health online.

Bad actors can try to get this information directly by hacking your accounts. They can also obtain it by purchasing data about you from data brokers who collect comprehensive information about the websites you visit, the news you read and even your physical location.

4. Turn on two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is always a good option, whether it’s adding an extra layer of security to your Gmail account, telehealth, or messaging app. If you haven’t enabled this on your accounts already, do it now.

5. Browse privately when you can

Private browsers like Tor and Brave, which intentionally hide your data and online traffic, can be useful tools for safely searching for abortion medications or coordinating a trip to a health clinic.

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Abortion Privacy Guide Issued by the Digital Defense Fund It also recommends disabling the unique mobile advertising identifier on your smartphone that gives your device permission to track you. To do this on iOS, go to Settings > Privacy Ads and tap Limit Ad Tracking. On Android, you can go to Settings > Privacy > Ads and tap Delete Ad ID.

6. Chat on encrypted messaging apps with texts gone

Encrypted messaging apps like Signal are a mainstay of digital privacy guides. The Toolkit published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation contains an introductory book on How and why to use encrypted chat services. Signal, which can be downloaded for free from app stores, allows users to send end-to-end encrypted conversations, meaning their content cannot be coherently intercepted. Users can also enable hidden messages, which deletes chats after a specified period of time.

But remember, it takes two (or more) to practice digital safety. Make sure everyone you chat with follows the same precautions.

7. Be careful of fine print

Many women have relied on health apps such as fertility trackers to better understand their menstrual cycles. However, a number of such applications were Quietly share user data with third-party services Like analytics partners and marketers. While it might seem logical to read the product terms and privacy policy, don’t expect to learn much, Barnett cautioned. Companies often publish “complex agreements filled with confusing legal issues” to force users to provide more personal information than they intend to provide.

Alternatively, consider the analog option for tracking your period on a traditional calendar.

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8. Consider professional deletion service

You can often require data brokers to remove information about you from their files. But the process is difficult and time consuming (there are a lot of data brokers). If you can afford it, there are services you can pay to do the job for you. delete me It routinely searches the internet for personal information about its customers — things like email addresses, social media handles, and marital status — and order files asking the brokers who sell it to remove them. If you live in a country where information of this nature can be used as weapons against you and you have the means to withstand such a service, it may be worth it.



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A professional artist has been wrongfully accused of using artificial intelligence

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Minh An Nguyen Hoang, 30, is the lead artist at the age of three Studio Kart, based in Vietnam. Huang who makes art by name Ben MoranShe learned to draw properly in 2019, after obtaining a degree in economics.

“Drawing was just my hobby when I was a kid,” Moran said in an email conversation because they were less confident speaking English. “I started getting serious about drawing when I realized I could be really good at it. The artists who mainly inspire me are Ruan JiaAnd Huang GuangjianAnd Piotr JablonskiAll contemporary fantasy painters.

Moran is now at the center of a Reddit controversy, thanks to a piece they were commissioned to produce for $500 to cover a fantasy writer. Selkie Myth’s books. (Legend plans to use it for his upcoming 11th title, which he said will likely be named Heaven’s mandate.) “I ordered a lot of artwork [Moran]”Because they’re so good at what they do,” said Meath, who is 31 and lives in Nebraska. “It is an absolute steal of that quality and commercial use.”

In late July, Myth contacted Moran via email and asked them to produce work that would prove controversial. The final piece, chosen from four options, was produced by September 7 and modified by Moran to Myth’s specifications; The cover was designed by mid-October. “It takes a month to fix and complete,” Moran said.

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In late December, Moran, a rare Reddit user, decided he wanted to do some self-promotion. So they published the final design, called Inspirational in Warzonel p / art, and a subreddit with 22 million members. They were quickly banned by the moderators of the subreddit on suspicion of using AI-generated art, which is against r/Art’s rules.

When Moran reached out to the brokers to explain that they weren’t using AI, and sent them a link to their wallet, they were blown away. “I don’t believe you,” wrote one of the depositors in a message Moran posted on Twitter. They went on to say that even if Moran drew it, “it’s clearly an AI-driven design and it doesn’t matter.” The supervisor signed the letter with, “Sorry, it’s the way of the world.” They then silenced Moran, forbidding them to proceed with their case.



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This student tool detects whether essays are written using artificial intelligence

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High school English students who were hoping to use AI to write their homework have a new enemy: Edward Tian, ​​a 22-year-old at Princeton University, who built a website that can detect if a piece of writing has been created using the AI ​​tool ChatGPT. .

Meanwhile, teachers everywhere rejoice. “A lot of teachers have reached out to me,” said Tian, ​​whose recent tweet about the tool, GPTZero, went viral. From Switzerland, from France, from all over the world.

The latest version of ChatGPT, called GTP3, was released to the public in late November. The tool is capable of producing amazingly coherent writing, which has endless possibilities, starting with the cool stuff (such as allowing the The installer combines with dyslexia to connect effectively with his clients via email) to more nefarious uses.

Teachers are afraid of high school or college students may use this technology Say, for example, writing their homework summarizing the major events of the Battle of Tippecanoe. Their concerns are not misplaced: The Wall Street Journal reporter recently succeeded In using ChatGPT to help her pass the AP English test.

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According to Chalkbeat, New York City public schools blocked access to it to ChatGPT on school machines and the Internet. Anxiety comes even from within the home: A high-profile conference on artificial intelligence has been banned Submission of academic papers written entirely by AI (although it will allow some tools to “polish” the writers’ work).

“AI is here to stay,” said Tian, ​​a computer science and journalism major who coded the tool over a few days over the winter break. “AI-generated writing is only going to get better and better. I’m excited about this future, but we have to do it responsibly.”

He is not opposed to using AI tools in writing, but he sees this as a risky moment. He said “I want people to use ChatGPT”. “It will only be normalized, but it must have guarantees.”

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How TikTok’s anti-aesthetic has molded popular culture

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If Franz Kafka were to reconceive “The Metamorphosis” for our era, he might decide to ditch the novella in favor of a series of surreal TikToks — Gregor Samsa as eyes and mouth green-screened onto a picture of a roach jacked from the web.

Kafka is long gone. But thankfully, we have Kendria Bland, a Mississippi comedian who does a semiregular bit on TikTok about the travails of a pack of domestic roaches who like to party behind the refrigerator and sneak Popeyes when the humans aren’t around. One defiant arthropod, Roachkeishiana, refuses to scuttle when the lights come on and crafts a wig out of hair she finds in the bathtub. “You know how many times I got stepped on?” she says with a haughty hair toss. “I’m still here.”

The skits bring together a complex array of sight gags while winking at the tropes of ’hood films and sensationalist talk shows. But the production values couldn’t be more lo-fi: Bland plays every role with different wigs and uses TikTok’s editing tools to green-screen herself twerking on a kitchen table and fighting a pair of beetles. The crude special effects won’t win her an Oscar, but on TikTok, perfection takes a backseat to wit.

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Bland’s comedy represents TikTok’s promise. The app, which presents short-form videos in a frantic endless scroll, is governed by (famously creepy) algorithms that deliver posts to those deemed likely to enjoy them — which is how a one-minute cockroach skit by a comedian in Vossburg, Miss., can draw 1.3 million likes and be shared almost 90,000 times, including by me. (I am here for all cucaracha content.)

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Despite — or rather because of — its ubiquity, TikTok finds itself in the crosshairs. The app has long raised concerns for the ways its parent company, the Chinese tech firm ByteDance, may employ the mountains of data it harvests from its users. Just before Christmas, a report unearthed evidence that ByteDance employees — already criticized for suppressing content such as Black Lives Matter posts — had taken an even more Orwellian turn, using location data to track journalists. Some university campuses in the U.S. have banned the app from their networks and numerous states prohibit it on government devices. And a newly signed federal law has extended the ban to all government devices.

The alarm over security hasn’t put a damper on the app. TikTok couldn’t be more popular — especially among teenagers. It has had more than 3 billion downloads globally and its engagement rates outdo Facebook and Instagram. It is relentlessly sticky — addictive, one might say. And whatever its fate, it has already transformed culture: reshaping language, turning dance moves into social currency and making video into something we watch vertically rather than horizontally. When Noodle, a TikTok-famous pug died last month, obituaries proliferated across news media. The last pop concert you went to? Its set may have been inspired by the aesthetics of TikTok.

What are those aesthetics? An app as acutely atomized as TikTok can make those a challenge to articulate. So I have borrowed the format of “Notes on Camp,” in which the ultimate high-low interpreter, Susan Sontag, attempts to pin down the elusive sensibility that is camp. “Many things in the world have not been named,” she writes in the opener, “and many things, even if they have been named, have never been described.”

So with apologies to Sontag, here are my notes on TikTok:

1. The TikTok aesthetic is an anti-aesthetic.

Instagram, with its historically square frame and vaguely cursive font (formally known as Instagram Sans), is the “Live Laugh Love” pillow of the social media apps — evoking high gloss and photogenic meals. Facebook’s dull-blue interface feels so bureaucratic that critic Joanne McNeil once wrote that it looked “as if a government body were running it.”

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TikTok’s design, by contrast, is almost no design. On a phone, practically the entire window is handed over to video, with controls discreetly laid out around the right and bottom edges. There are no brightly colored frames. TikTok’s logo rarely even comes into view — usually only appearing when a video is shared.

This design reduces the presence of any one person or brand. Handles and avatars of content creators are so minimal they almost elude legibility. I am a fan of numerous creators on TikTok. I’d be hard-pressed to name more than a few of them.

If Instagram is the airbrushed influencer, TikTok is the friend you talk trash with at the end of the day. TikTokkers face the camera in bathrobes and hair bonnets while sitting in their cars or standing before their bathroom mirror. A common convention is for people to film themselves while tucked into bed.

I follow Shabaz Ali (@shabazsays) for his biting duets (these allow TikTok users to place their own video side by side with another). In his bits, Ali offers running commentary on videos that feature ostentatious displays of wealth — such as a poolside doghouse or a heated driveway. In each post he is lying down, wrapped in a fuzzy fleece blanket. If you happen to be sprawled on a couch while scrolling TikTok (which I overwhelmingly am), the sensation is of being on a video call together, sharing an eye roll over the worst rich people habits.

Except that you’re not.

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3. On TikTok, you don’t follow people, you follow an algorithm. Or, rather, the algorithm follows you.

Unlike other apps, TikTok doesn’t require you to follow anybody in order to view videos. In fact, the app undermines the practice, shooting videos straight to the For You Page (a.k.a. the FYP), which greets you every time you log on. That feed is driven not by your careful selections but by algorithms.

In 2020, TikTok offered a cursory explainer on this recommendation system, which is drawn from your device’s settings as well as your habits. “A strong indicator of interest, such as whether a user finishes watching a longer video from beginning to end,” the post explains, “would receive greater weight than a weak indicator, such as whether the video’s viewer and creator are both in the same country.”

Alex Zhu, the Chinese tech entrepreneur who devised TikTok’s progenitor, the lip-syncing app Musical.ly, has likened these algorithms to a set of “invisible hands.” But the New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino has a better metaphor: “Some social algorithms are like bossy waiters: they solicit your preferences and then recommend a menu. TikTok orders you dinner by watching you look at food.”

When you first land on TikTok, it is a fire hose of random content. But once the algorithm plugs its feelers into your brain, it starts feeding you videos suited to your sensibilities. I currently sit at a confluence of various socially useless Toks — among them, Latin American Meme-Tok, Awkward Christianity-Tok and Rudy Valencia-Tok (the unfolding story of an everyday cuate who appears to have been busted on the app for cheating on both his wife and his mistress, inspiring telenovela levels of plot deconstruction).

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This hyperspecialization makes TikTok incredibly sticky. Imagine a TV channel geared to your most peculiar tastes. (There is, indeed, a whole corner of TikTok devoted to lampooning TikTok’s habit-forming qualities.)

But it can also suck you into an algorithmic hole. Vox’s Sara Morrison recently wrote about how TikTok’s algorithm had pummeled her with videos related to trauma and death. “What I am getting is a glimpse at just how aggressive TikTok is when it comes to deciding what content it thinks users want to see and pushing it on them.”

4. TikTok’s megastars get the spotlight, but it’s the randos who feed the addiction.

The big TikTok influencers with tens of millions of followers — such as Charli D’Amelio and Khaby Lame — are the ones who land media profiles and sponsorship deals. But ultimately TikTok’s appeal rests on that endless scroll of content being shoveled into your lizard brain. That means lots of little posts from people whose content you’ve never seen before and are liable never to see again.

A good night on TikTok — my TikTok, at least — is a thoughtful armchair analysis of Netflix’s “Harry & Meghan,” a Korean grandma transforming leftover Costco chicken into a sumptuous kalguksu and an old man riding a cow along a major thoroughfare in the Central Valley. On their own, these videos would never rise to the level of must-see anything. But in the aggregate, it becomes entertaining — like chatting with a group of witty (algorithmically selected) friends at a party: “You won’t believe it, but on the way over here, I saw a guy riding a cow.”

Naturally, this raises questions about the ways in which we all labor for free to generate content for social media companies. (That’s a story for another time.) But it’s also indicative of how a virtual nobody can become TikTok famous overnight. Put up a compelling post — say, a toddler dancing on a table at a mountaintop rave — and it will be dueted, parodied, imitated and shared ad infinitum, including by Ukrainian soldiers on the front line.

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5. TikTok prizes performance.

Kylie Jenner’s posing might work as a still image on Instagram, but it feels like dead air on TikTok. The short-form video format favors action, which is why spoofs about the Kardashians are far more engaging to watch than the Kardashians themselves. (I’m a devotee of Yuri Lamasbella (@yurilamasbella), who, armed with a few wigs and a ring light, perfectly skewers their expressionless affect.)

Commentary, comedy, music, movement, dance, clever cuts, found footage, catchy audio and animals doing funny things are all grist. Sometimes it’s a truly bizarre combination of all of the above, such as a surreal nine-second collage of tigers and a motorcycle racing through a cornfield with footage of Turkish TikTok influencer Yasin Cengiz — known for making his belly bounce when he dances — superimposed on top.

The manic nature of these short films — which began as 15-second videos when TikTok launched in 2016 and can now run to 10 minutes in length — feel like a return to the roots of cinema. Thomas Edison’s early Kinetoscope films from the late 19th century, short looped films seen via a viewing cabinet, come to mind. These mini-movies featured boxing, acrobats and a body builder flexing his muscles — films full of frenzied physical activity to convey the radical nature of the new motion pictures.

Naturally, fragments of old Kinetscope films have made their way onto TikTok.

6. TikTok prizes repetition.

Manic performance reads well on an app on which you have about six seconds to grab someone’s attention. So does repetition. If a concept or visual gag gains traction, repeating it can extend the moment.

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A man dancing in a public square in Asia set to Boney M.’s “Ma Rainey” becomes popular, so the account holder posts endless variations. Fijian TikTokker Shaheel Prasad (@shermont22) goes viral for his spoofs of runway models, strutting barefoot while bearing pieces of hardware as if they were haute couture, so he produces dozens of similar posts. “This is a trend that will be bound to end,” he told the New York Times’ Guy Trebay. “But meanwhile I will try to keep doing it as long as I can.”

Repetition moves across accounts too. A popular tune — say, a remix of Busta Rhyme’s “Touch It” or Armani White’s “Billie Eilish” — can become a staple for videos featuring smash-cut wardrobe changes. Songs, settings, movements, dances and concepts are relentlessly rehashed, wringing a measure of soothing predictability from TikTok’s general anarchy. It also creates a low barrier for entry: Users don’t have to be original to achieve prominence; all they need is a clever spin on a trending hashtag.

Ultimately, the endless repetition can feel like a trap. I’ve seen some creators repeat concepts to the point of exhaustion. It brings to mind an early episode of “Black Mirror” in which Daniel Kaluuya plays a man in a technological dystopia: Suffering a break over the exploitative practices of a nameless entertainment state, he threatens to kill himself with a shard of glass during a live broadcast. This reckless act of candid expression proves so popular that he is condemned to repeat the act every night.

7. TikTok is an ouroboros of looking.

On Instagram, if you feel passionately about a post, you can leave a comment. On Twitter, you can retweet and add a comment. But TikTok is unique in its duet function, which has spawned a near-infinite array of reaction videos commenting alongside other posts — like a hall of mirrors, or that Greek snake of antiquity eating its own tail.

A staggering number of duets involve one person commenting on the kitchen prep of another. (TikTokker @chefreactions is a master in this category, a professional chef known for verbally dismembering hack recipes: “That looks as if E.T. ended in a tragic house fire.”) And, of course, there’s the duet train, in which one user pairs her video with another who pairs it with another and another — like a digital exquisite corpse. The format was employed to terrific effect on the sea shanty “Soon May the Wellerman Come,” which went viral last year, allowing performers to add successive layers to the original song.

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The duet is one of the most intriguing aspects of the app: a form of looking that is far more active than clicking “like.” Even more intriguing: Many duets are very simple in nature, featuring one person quietly observing rather than offering a judgmental reaction. These calm expressions of looking rarely go viral. But there is something affirming about them.

It recalls a point once made by critic John Berger. “Soon after we can see, we are aware that we can also be seen,” he wrote. “The eye of the other combines with our own eye to make it fully credible that we are part of the visible world.”

8. TikTok is real life.

If all of this seems irrelevant because you aren’t on TikTok, well, TikTok has found its way to you regardless.

The TikTok effect has sent Big Tech back to the drawing board on long-established apps. In July, a Google exec revealed at a conference that, according to internal studies, 40% of young people turn to TikTok or Instagram when looking for a basic service like lunch — not a search engine like Google. Since then, Google has made user reviews much more prominent on its maps and now delivers many more images, graphic text boxes and social media feeds in its results.

Illustration for TikTok story

And the influence extends beyond the internet. TikTok has inserted new slang into the language and generated new works of theater. (Remember the fans of Pixar’s “Ratatouille” who essentially crowdsourced a musical that wound up on a New York stage?) And the app is a juggernaut in the music industry, where new songs and old ones alike can become hits — like Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” which became a cultural touchstone after being resuscitated by an Idaho skateboarder with a taste for cranberry juice in 2020. Now performers such as Megan Thee Stallion collaborate with TikTok to test the waters on singles releases.

But the TikTok effect goes beyond basic virality; its aesthetics manifest within the literal architecture of art.

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Rosalía‘s Motomami tour featured a stripped-down set with three vertical screens that projected live images of the singer and her dancers. Green-screen effects were employed, showing the singer playing piano, for example, against a backdrop of rolling green hills. (Very TikTok.) The climax was the moment Rosalía launched into the hit “Bizcochito.” The choreography begins with a familiar viral gesture of the singer standing with her hand on one hip, pretending to chew gum while looking annoyed.

When I attended her concert in October, this pantomime had been all over TikTok for weeks. When the sequence began, the crowd roared in response. Cellphones went up. And the young woman seated in front of me recorded the sequence and uploaded it to TikTok. TikTok came to life, then promptly became more content for TikTok.

To TikTok, we submit our gaze. And through the filter of the algorithm we find it projected back at us — broken down and commodified into bite-size morsels that might feel like the intimate dispatches of a thousand individuals but, in the end, are simply the output of an opaque, all-knowing machine.



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