Political lawn sign tracking devices got me thinking.

I was just reading this article: https://mashable.com/article/beacons-location-tracking-republican-campaign/ ew. ew. ew.

A Republican presidential primary candidate attached devices known as beacons to campaign lawn signs in 2016 to track the phones of people who passed by, according to a company that sells them.

To be safe from this tracking, I need to do this while I walk around town:

  • turn off location services
  • turn off wifi network discovery
  • turn off bluetooth
  • turn off wifi
  • turn off cellular data
  • turn off my phone entirely
  • live inside a Faraday cage

… basically turn my modern-day iPhone into my beloved 2002 StarTAC. That’s cool - I can call my mom, play snake, maybe send a 120-character text, and not do much else. Maybe that’s why so many people throw up their hands and say “we’re in a post-privacy world!” It’s no fun to have technology and feel like you can’t freely use it.

This is on the heels of a conversation about deleting Facebook and suffering from the associated FOMO. And listening to this week’s This American Life where they interviewed an anti-protester in Hong Kong who said he’d rather live with Chinese surveillance than deal with the disruption of protests.

So what do we do to keep this world fun? How do we get more people on our side?


We have to make our side look a lot more cool and fun and welcoming, and with better people in it. It’s like any political propaganda.

Like the “So I’ve left Facebook” cards that we were talking about making on Twitter (for everyone else: we have Mike working on another small project of cards for people to hand out when they leave Facebook). That kind of stuff is eye-catching and thought-provoking. It’s not the only method of course…different people will connect to different things. But I think when you’re asking people to commit to some difficult and inconvenient change where the rewards aren’t immediately obvious, you need to show them that there’s a group waiting for them there that they want to belong to.

Also, I just reserved Edward Bernays’ “Propaganda” and it’s waiting for me at the library, so I hope I’ll have some more thoughts soon about convincing messaging.