Week 4 - Talking Points Assignment

Shall we add these here?


Every couple months I meet with the three other library staff that plan and provide computer instruction. I shared with them that I’m putting together a class on protecting your privacy while using social media. I identified the talking points below as conceptual content to bring up in class apart from the nuts and bolts of settings. At the time of our meeting, I didn’t have them written out as succinctly as below, but we chatted a bit about these topics in general. My coworker brought up that we sometimes get a diverse cross-section of the community in classes, and that it would be interesting to hear different perspectives on these points. I also shared with them that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has lesson plans available and encouraged them to check out the Security Education Companion. Our discussion was brief, but I think it’s important for librarians and library staff to discuss and think about how these issues should inform their teaching.

Talking Points:
• Facebook uses a complex algorithm with over a hundred inputs to suggest “People you may know.” It can connect people from circles that you want to keep separate.
• Social media allows advertisers to engage in discriminatory activities such as racial profiling and redlining, though they have made some steps to correct this in accordance with anti-discrimination laws.
• Facebook sells nuanced and specific information about you to companies that use it to target you with (unnervingly) personal advertisements.
• Google syncs information about you across their platforms, so that YouTube views, Google searches, calendar info, etc. can be aggregated for marketing purposes.

Thanks for getting this started, @Sarah_in_Oregon!

I decided to fold my talking points into web search classes I conduct at the community
college library. The talking points are:

  • Online advertising and discriminatory practices related to it.
  • You aren’t getting to use Google & Facebook for free.
  • What you can do to influence policies related to the internet.

The full details are here in my assignment :slight_smile:

Definitely! I’d also be interested in hearing about the shared perspectives. What talking points resonate the most, with the greatest number of people? In my experience, hatred of invasive advertising is the Great Unifier. So I think your third point is gonna be the biggest hit, but I’m curious to hear more. When are you thinking of offering this class? BTW, your talking points are great – succinct and covering a lot of ground on this very large issue.

@mtkinney – love the idea of incorporating advertising talking points into a web browsing/search session. it’s a huge part of the experience of using the web. and the ProPublica articles provide such an important and relevant case study. Love the discussion of what “free” means, and I definitely +1 the idea of using a talk from Safiya Noble (we’ve mentioned her book Algorithms of Oppression in discussion before but it bears repeating how good it is). I think that rebranding Google as “an advertising company” is so effective at hammering this point. And to your last point about communicating to patrons about what policy changes are proposed and how they can support them – I asked Gary Price, our week 12 speaker, to change his talk JUST to be about this kind of stuff. He’s been writing about privacy for years on Library Journal’s INFODocket, and he lives in DC, so he’s really familiar with the regulatory environment (or lack thereof).

I feel like a lot of our talking points will overlap. But here are mine. These are just a rough outline. This is how I make notes for most presentations I’m going to give and then go in and firm them up with recent examples closer to actual presentation/discussion. Hope it’s ok!

Hi folks, here are mine, and they do mirror a lot of others. I think it might be something I could turn into a short presentation or talking points for a Q & A at one of our All College staff meetings.

Week 4: I may upload larger pics of Lightbeam: https://github.com/alisonLFP/libraryfreedominstitute/blob/master/assignments/week4/B.N.%20Jones%20LFI%20Week%204.pdf

@AllyM – pithy, attention-getting lines like “a data spill can’t be cleaned up” are indeed sooo powerful. makes people wanna know more, and they don’t forget it. and then having on hand a few specific examples or stories really makes it personal and drives the point home. likewise having some poignant stats like @clobdell has done. Claire and @librarianbryan I like how you’ve each incorporated better practices/alternatives into your points. I especially like the inclusion of Lightbeam on yours Bryan – such an illuminating visual when you see all the companies and links of data collection. and it seems like a lot of yall are focused on bringing it back to how powerful these companies are and how lucrative our data/attention is for them which is so important. Google is an advertising company. free services are not really free. big data is big business. and so on. I love April’s lecture style because I feel like she’s just an endless source of talking points that can be reused!


“We are very explicit about our use of Google Analytics and how to opt-out if you wish, but I’m working for a similar frankness about our third party vendors. Their policies are not ours. I want ours to be clear about that.”

@librarianbryan - Would you be open to sharing how your explain Google Analytics to your users in this way? I think my next workplace uses them, and I’ve always wondered how patrons can be made aware in a way that makes sense to them. I haven’t played with GA much, but have some knowledge of how schools use it in their libraries.



Can we blindly trust that these companies will value customers privacy and information over making money? Read up on privacy policies. Know what type of information they are collecting before signing up for a service/purchasing a product.

Sometimes I think about this, and how common it is for companies to buy other companies (such as the consolidation of so many info services we use in libraries now being owned by a small handful of entities). While I hope they inherit privacy practices with these acquisitions, I can’t help but be skeptical that one companies ethos doesn’t follow in one of these transactions. Even if it does in writing :wink:


The library and its third party vendors do keep track of how users navigate our web sites: which pages are most frequently used, popular search paths, domains of users (to find out where our users are visiting from), and other information that helps us make adjustments and improve our service. This information is not shared, and is used by us for general and not individual statistics.

The library uses Google Analytics and a Google Analytics Advertiser Feature called Google Analytics Demographics and Interest Reporting to count website visitors. If you would like to opt out of Google Analytics Demographics and Interest Reporting, you can use Google’s available opt-out tools.


they totally don’t inherit old privacy practices (or at least they are under no obligation to. it reminds me of one of the stories that broke around the FB/Cambridge Analytica scandal about how MySpace collected tons of data too and then was bought by a huge ad firm, which is still mining/selling that data; https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/43bbbn/myspace-tom-viant-time-inc-facebook-cambridge-analytica

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Here is the link to my talking points. https://github.com/alisonLFP/libraryfreedominstitute/blob/master/assignments/week4/Rebekah%20Week%204%20Talking%20Points.docx

I’ve been talking to some of my colleagues about these points and shared the link about smart devices that @librarianbryan posted (thanks for that!) with our digital privacy committee. The training we’re trying to do at our branches is small-scale at this point and involves giving patrons one or two tips when using computers. I really like the Risk Assessment that @lucedeira (thanks!) posted. I think this will be really useful in helping us to focus on different groups of people when providing tips and suggestions for keeping data safe.

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@rebekah I’m glad that one of your talking points is about your state’s new consumer privacy law. It’s so important to give people something to be hopeful about after giving them all this bad news!

Here are mine (…belatedly).

Note: Our programs are scheduled further at least a month out, and I haven’t had the opportunity to discuss any of this individually with patrons or at a staff meeting (mainly because we haven’t had one) in the interim. I did raise point #1 when we started loaning out Chromebooks but was told that the decision was already made and related documentation – including a use agreement patrons must sign where we could have included information about staying safe® while using Google Docs – was not open for that type of revision. When patrons have asked about using the Chromebooks for word processing, I’ve sometimes mentioned Google’s privacy issues, but usually the transaction is so brief that I’m not able to get into more detail and/or patrons don’t ask for more info. I would like to do better here.

Also: our system is in the process of standardizing our tech classes’ curriculum and I am going to request that we include at least basic information about safe browsing online and privacy issues with free email providers where applicable (mainly Introduction to Email and Introduction to the Internet classes). If those changes aren’t incorporated, I have no problem adding in info about, for instance, privacy-focused alternatives to Gmail in the Introduction to Email class or DuckDuckGo in Introduction to the Internet classes that I teach, and suggesting that colleagues at my branch do the same. I’ll also still be able to reach privacy-focused classes separately, but I’d prefer that at least basic info also reach people system-wide through the introductory classes.

@sjbrown totally hear you about feeling like the “nothing is free” point is so obvious, but you are also so right in what you said next – what feels obvious to those of us who’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff isn’t necessarily obvious to others. and even if it’s not exactly surprising to people, It’s still something worth repeating and making into a more mainstream concept. There’s a tremendous amount of undue trust placed in companies like Google because they’ve done a good job at convincing us that they’re trustworthy. Bringing the conversation back to their bottom lines is the best way to counter this – they’re in this to make money, and they make money off our data. Great idea to use yourself as an example, which is so much more effective than telling other people what they are doing wrong. And these concepts absolutely should be embedding into other (all) tech literacy programs that we offer, because they are fundamental to the way the internet works. Likewise, bringing up the biases reflected in tech in #3 is another totally essential point. Just as we put undue trust in Google, we imagine tech as this mythical neutral thing that just exists, rather than code written by flawed humans that reflects all their flaws. Helping people understand technology in these holistic ways can lead them to make much more informed choices.

Trying to catch up before we meet in New York. July was a very hectic month, I’m sorry I haven’t been as active. So, here is my week 4 assignment.

don’t sweat it @josh. great talking points! simple and clear!

Super duper late on this, but here’s my assignment for Week 4. I presented to a group of probably 15-20 people as part of our library’s annual in-service today. I had 50 minutes, and managed to pack in a discussion activity based on the speed-comrading that Mallory modeled for us in NYC, a little of me just explaining what LFI is, and four mostly self-guided stations. (@AllyM, I used your diceware flier in a little stand at the diceware station, which seemed to be very effective.) The stations were basically because there was too much I wanted to cover, but I think it worked pretty well for this material.

Overall, things went well – demoing Tails/Tor at a station definitely reminded me that I need to practice explaining what Tor is and how it works, bc I was struggling to make that clear. I know I learned it! I just need to practice more. Also, I think it will help to have some activities for people to do to see what makes Tor interesting – I pointed out how to see the circuit, but people didn’t seem to know what to do to test it out. I remembered too late that there’s an onion site for Facebook, so I didn’t have that for people to type in, but we did discuss it, and it was a helpful counterpoint to the “Tor is for criminals” narrative. (Several people specifically said they had only heard of Tor for doing bad stuff.) Also, I still can’t get on any network using Tails on Macs, so that’s kinda a drag.

This was just one of several concurrent sessions, so the people who showed up were self-selecting, but there was a lot of enthusiasm. It included public services and behind-the-scenes staff, and I was overt in stating that part of my goals around LFI is to help us all make privacy part of our work. Most people had heard of LFP; hardly anyone had used Tor before. At the end, I asked them to fill out a little minute paper, and will use the answers to guide what comes next, both for internal and external projects and training. There is a lot of interest in having thumbdrives with Tails available for checkout, and in figuring out why our library databases don’t work with Tor, so that we can justify installing Tor on all the learning commons computers.

Also, our library director requested that I do a longer training available to all library staff, so THAT’s good. Based on this experience today, I’m thinking of tagging onto the Office Hours that our emerging tech department does – it would be pretty easy to just hang out and have some mostly self-guided activities, and that is also something that I could translate to some of our student environments as well.


This is awesome. I’m “borrowing” all of this.