Tag Archives: policy

What’s to learn from a culture of guns?

Earlier today, as I was walking back from my usual doctor appointment, I heard a young man in a car (and you always wonder how they got it) sending a voice message to someone, over the incredibly ethically sound messaging platform WhatsApp: “I’m gonna show you who runs the shit, and I’ll put it in your face”. He was talking about the barrel of a gun, and maybe contrary to rap culture, it wasn’t a sexy message at all.

Now there’s a lot to unpack here, but this blog will be short. I have several issues of my own to handle. This came right after a patient was telling about a conflict in my neighborhood, involving police and drug trafficking. Every neighborhood has its ups and downs, and as I told my social assistant and psychologist, most of us have learned how to separate. What I worried about, I continued, were the young kids, who sometimes didn’t even have a family and went on bike trips to rob people and smuggle.

Brazil has seen a culture of guns get imported from the United States of America. Statista shows that the homicide rates are pretty high in our country (27 per 100 thousand), but are beaten by other countries, which is not a trophy for humanity, especially not El Salvador (52 per 100 thousand). In the United States, the stats are lower. (7 per 100 thousand). However, turn on the news and you’ll hear about mass shootings in schools all the time, several times a year, besides police brutality.

That makes me think that the media has its own culture. There was an old newspaper in Brazil that, in popular culture, was said to drip with blood if you squeezed its paper. At a similar fashion, local news seem to talk about robbery, fraud, violence against women, hate crimes and also manslaughter, not to mention natural catastrophes, consumer issues and the poorly chosen words of politicians from today and the past. The latter, though, is a case for immunity. Hate crime perpetrators have been protected by Brazilians in positions of power, as we all know. To be fair, the narrative of corruption sweeps the country, but the tone has changed. It’s the truth versus the brainwashed minds of the youth.

If Brazil needs to organize and fight for something, then we might just quit watching soccer games and Big Brother Brasil. We might send less memes and get informed about the economy, in decisions taking place that have global consequences and which leaders have to carefully navigate, among public and private sectors; that aside, we have social media and personal lives, which people seem to forget exist for public figures, or at least devote their time exploring, regardless of a right to privacy — and, sometimes, national sovereignty questions.

Famously, the ex-president of Brazil went to Santos to ride jet skis. That’s exactly where I live. He was also on a trip to Jacksonville, home of far-right, book-banning, secretly closeted but nonetheless LGBT hater Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida. The city was named as the next home of the GOP (what Americans call the Republican Party, for the international readers). Despite Disney and its success stories that have endured the test of time, including in the business of streaming, this state is now home to Trump and Bolsonaro, the latter a refugee or asylum seeker. But that’s not what we say about criminals. He’s a man on the loose. And KFC seems to love him, or the contrary.

This man has spent his political career defending the role of the Armed Forces in taking control over the political system of Brazil; he defended that political opponents should be submitted to torture, including at the event of impeachment of ousted president Dilma Rousseff (and it’s worth remembering that was a very picturesque show of character of the Brazilian Congress, which gained two Netflix documentaries, one nominated to the Oscars). He also passed into law the easing of purchasing of guns, including for hunters and collectors (which was on Globo’s National News today).

What we can learn from a culture of guns is that we should drop the guns. It may sound like a cliché, but we should arm ourselves with books; and if you think that’s not your thing, seek knowledge. Seek fun, but maintain a minimal reasonable motive when you decide you want to behave like an animal. Let the internet know that your words are just for show, and that you’re not going to enact any of the said words, or written down, in this case. Let them know you’re a troll — there’s many groups that would accept who you are. But don’t mess with democracy, with working people, and with global institutions working for humanitarian causes. We are bigger, and we’ll win this one, even if we get hurt — in which case, the legal system will provide assistance for us, not to the violent perpetrators. These are the actual rules of the game. But go ahead and play your X-Box, that’s a totally different story.

Is Meta is looking for dating simulations? What about competition?

Since Frances Haugen’s testimonies and countless appearances on broadcast media, including the Brazilian Congress, people have come to realize that Meta is a monstrously big company — but without realizing moderation and marketing have a relationship not explored by many. They might talk about well-being to make it on the news; cite violent speech to invoke discussions within larger and more engaged groups of society; talk about prioritizing profits over maintanence of security and control of user behavior; but that control, the speech and also the well-being are all maintained by the sacrament of the First Ammendment, so the youth thinks, tuning into Fox Newsish channels one way or another (if not themselves in front of TV, in debate with their parents or strangers on the web).

The truth is a little more tangential. Everyone, look: hate speech! Cancelation! Intolerance! But scrolling over DMs is something you can do for yourself, and so is realizing that the number of people who really care about your own struggles is far smaller than the offers from that platform you love so much to be on. When you post, after all, in the best of scenarios, you get a certain number of likes, not a lot of people praising you for the success of your projects and asking how it went, or wishing it all goes well. It’s really just a double tap. Unless, of course, you’re talking about flirting.

That might have been where Meta focused. The idea that simulating reality on Facebook wasn’t good enough because you had identification, and then that emphasizing anyone creating additional accounts if they wanted wasn’t really a solution, made them go further than the finstas, a trend that’s been reported by few, but is allegedly gone. Well, is it? The article from Mashable ends with the conclusion that the thrill of attention is good, but the comfort of your trust network is far better. Well, they forgot to say Facebook invested in Dating officially, but that thing was probably the least accepted social media creation in history, and let’s be keep in mind there’s a clash here: Twitter Spaces might be at the top not in terms of innovation, but role. Sure, streaming on Facebook is cool, but when you talk Facebook, or Meta, you’re really talking about a monopoly, and there’s a tons of streaming platforms and even apps. Can we all keep that in mind? There was a Congress hearing scheduled to July 6, 2022, but if it’s true that you should put your mouth where the money is, then where’s the money? And where is the hearing that would talk about that money? If the president being banned from a social network doesn’t make you realize people take the web seriously, but there’s a number of people who don’t, I don’t know what will make you realize the importance of media literacy or, at least, common sense, the thing that traditional media tries so hard to convey, making people hate them instead for the nearly tragic ethical boundaries they choose to set for themselves.

It seems that some people believe we should refer to TikTok as the popular Brazilian booty social network, because nobody really cares. The friction in society that might cause is hard to predict or begin to understand. Of course, the Explore selfies on Instagram were a great thing, then Tinder came, stealing the company’s very first premise. Tinder is not a great thing, people came to conclude, so Bumble came. Nobody really gave it attention. And then teens were getting bored, so Wink and Hoop came. Everybody eventually paid attention and said: “stop where you are!” — but then we reviewed security, found huge crypto scams, identity theft cases and the heartbreaking language that teenagers use to talk to their peers, not to mention the people they don’t know, like it’s them versus the world. But if there’s really a money problem, aprehensions and fines go to the State, not anybody with saved passwords hijacked and reputations absolutely destroyed. That makes me think we might need to really investigate Snapchat or hope for better policy; we might want to reskill the consulting groups, or hope for better lawyers and precedents; we might see a future where the billions in the Metaverse are the excuse for teens wanting to sext in a safe space, and watch with a smirk when the last-letter-of-the-alphabet guy says “we should’ve gone with the real thing” when the booty network reports revenue, and all sorts of people start to admit that they capable of feeling jealous.

Revenge porn: accurate or misleading term?

If you clicked, I’m sorry. You’ve probably been threatened by someone online with the release of your private information and files. Of course, today, Microsoft’s main goal is to lead the cloud business, and we have companies like Snowflake that were valued at record stock prices in their IPOs… but nobody cares about the “initial public offering”. We’re talking about “initial private messaging”. There’s a big difference. You know, you meet a guy, he says hello and sends an emoji, the emoji isn’t a horny devil, he asks if you’re busy and sends a picture for you to make sure you know he’s real and looks decent (aka not like a psychopath). But some people operate differently. We’re in the midst of a discussion over making decisions about our bodies, for Christ’s sake. Except that Jesus Christ might be brought up for the wrong reasons, and when I say we, I mean women mostly, because I’m actually a dude. So let’s situate ourselves: we know some stuff about tech, but we wanna use simple mechanisms to communicate with people. Maybe a little more? The answer is a little more than conversation, not a little more tech; but it seems that this is where the lines are drawn.

Every girl looking for flirting in 2022 will look at what someone looks like before making a move. Girls make moves, everyone. But what kind? I can’t fail to mention that one time I was on Omegle and this young girl from Slovakia said she knew where I lived. This is way before I realized Jeff Bezos wasn’t worried about Wishlist privacy, but technology journalists were, and so they followed with investigations on Ring, which Vox reports: “[provides] information to government entities if the company believes that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person, such as a kidnapping or an attempted murder, requires disclosure without delay”. Adult world. So it happens that every teenager on Snapchat is GPS trackable, and that’s never been controversial, has it? Now, about the report, here’s what you should expect from this blog: a bit of debunking.

Guys make moves. When I was laid off of a company that literally installed cameras inside classrooms just to send a signal that employers were watching our online activity (and only the first class employees caught on), you can imagine that I put on my best performance, but regardless, I turned my laptop on and went looking for girl profiles. Not on Facebook, of course. This would be an interesting debate if anyone’s interested to know how some people had over a thousand friends in the year of 2010 or so, but we’re over that, aren’t we? And honestly, depending on who’s reading the blog (because of how educational it is), what was your favorite brand of baby formula back then? Now, fast forward. While Ring, a home device from Amazon; Windows Hello, a not-so-new feature of Windows; and even big banks like Santander (and many others, mind you) use facial recognition as security, we fail to connect the dots. Facial recognition technology is reported to have been in use in smartphones since Android’s 4th version (released in 2011; but pay attention: in October), then it grew exponentialy in effectiveness with efforts from, guess what, the big four. The 3D capabilities were disclosed in 2018, but 4 years ago, nobody had a banking issue because of a hacked camera. Wait… they hack cameras? Oh my God! What’s next? Streaming with no permission? It’s *my* Fortnite! Mine!

Most people get confused by lack of context. Writing a pedagogical text in the field of journalism, in 2022, should be considered a great merit if successful. And that is to say the least. But that’s not even about me. The tech reporters saying back in 2018 that facial recognition capabilities were growing exponentially couldn’t have predicted that hackers with ethnic cleansing intentions could target the program. And that is hypothetical. Worth mentioning that EFF has contributed a lot to the facial recognition debate and you can see for yourself, but personally, I don’t have knowledge of all they’ve done, especially considering a federal lawsuit. But we started with something way more simple, way softer: revenge porn. It’s not that your ethnic group is deemed inferior by my ethnic group; it’s that the boy you were sexting has a smaller dick and I can’t believe you gave him attention instead of me. It’s that the girl you were videocalling while my message remained unanswered had such a ridiculously flat pair of tiddies, and mine are two big fucking Everest mountains. And with that sense of sexual tension in mind and at scale, would you look at what they can do with Hunter Biden. Do you really think both parties (men and women) are amicable and standardly trust-worthy? Is it the web? Where, how? And what are the contexts?

Investigating the context is essential, but the web is only getting bigger. A leak has been called a leak for a long time, but then came the GDPR (too little, too late). My criticism of GDPR will continue: everyone made us sign digital documents saying we agreed with terms of use that go against data protection: that is, not in our favor. GDPR is a legal loophole for data-driven companies to overperform with marketing operations that are arbitrarily defined by how much a client is paying. Simple, but hard to swallow — and we’re doing it in glowing fashion. But when a girl gets a nude leaked (which is likely to get her more followers, who happen to be potential harrassers) or a guy gets less opportunity (which is likely to be because of conversations, and you’ll have to excuse me, but I’m not the one to crack down why it works that way), we should be thinking: why do we share? This culture is the culture of people who have no respect for privacy. They’re the ones checking your every move; sometimes, with a higher motivation of control, at higher levels. The answer is not recording more and leaking more; the answer is ignoring surveillance, and making your words count. Say what you mean, mean what you say, everyone. Paraphrasing, we don’t mean half the stuff we say online. But what we do has consequences. I can rest in relative peace knowing I’ve never participated in leak culture. I’m glad for the journalistic investigations, sure. It keeps me informed, more aware, but it’s not going to make me a fan of a company or a State that protects user rights at all costs, because these simply do not exist. What I know is everyone should be able to protect their reputation, not live under the threat that the simplest mistake might ruin it forever. Back to my hook: everyone watches porn; some people even make it for a living. But revenge?

Revenge is an ugly concept. We’re supposed to believe in justice. Of course, the justice system has problems, serious ones (and I’ve talked enough about the tech issues; time to focus on the human side). If you call me names, I don’t care. If you started going out with a girl I used to hang with, I’m probably happy about it, if you’re cool. No big deal, seriously. Life goes on. But for whom? It seems some people’s lives don’t. Why? Because of revenge porn? No. Because of revenge. People want to make justice with their own hands, and that’s why law enforcement exists. That’s why facial recognition exists, that’s why GPS exists. Every technological tool we’ve created works for a better well-being, and if the percentages of it are not fairly distributed, we’re on our way to address that too. But taxing the rich is not revenge. It’s justice. Moving on from an abusive relationship is not revenge, and it has nothing or little to do with justice: it’s about self-respect, and a hell of a struggle. Getting over the fact that people like to talk about you is very far from this debate, and closer to a K-12 requirement now; but apparently, politicians want to pay for advertising so their own ideas about what education kids should have will thrive (kids that they teach to make gun gestures here in Brazil) and on both freaking sides of the aisle, they do it with teens too (whose lives they monetize with zero criticism and an odd mixture of freedom of speech and anti-imperialism, on TikTok). Imagine if teens didn’t have other people’s businesses to mind. Hard to believe that, right? But they’re not business owners. And the actual business owners will always, inevitably, have a hard time explaining how such and such thing was allowed on their platform. What they fear is not revenge (a lawsuit against them, a basic anti-monopoly federal hearing broadcast internationally, and so on); it’s userbase dropping. It’s the faithful cusstomer that they want. They don’t give a shit about the nudes. And when you look at the bills you need to pay, maybe you should consider having the same posture.

Image: Pexels

In this economy? A look at verification and motive

Think about the web as a tool available for the power elites. You won’t be wrong: financial apps are booming; relationships have taken on new dimensions associated with what everyone calls user experience and community standards; job hunting is mentioned by many as a keyword game for machines to triage your need for compensation, which you might not get because you forgot to include arbitrarily determined essential skills. But you either go micro or macro. It’s not that some people don’t bother to look at the stats: they probably wouldn’t like to read that word, rejecting it strongly as it means something not just unknown, but absolutely useless. Analytics doesn’t integrate their vocabulary, content strategy isn’t paramount. But any business has been approached, if not online with ads for expanding their reach with specialized agencies, then at least in a conversation with a possible facilitator, like the guy who wants the stores in the neighborhood to start using a new payments processing machine. That’s the case for Stone, an Information Technology and Services company, committed to being the Brazilian entrepreneur’s partner. Started in 2012 and headquartered in Sao Paulo, it started trading in the NYSE in 2018, election year; with over 15 thousand employees (how many are on LinkedIn is another story), it attracts applicants from all over the country, perhaps because of its culture of “no bullshit”, or maybe the education partnerships, listed on their website. Considering the almost 2 million clients as of April 2022 and over 120 billion dollars in transactions over the past year, it’s definitely a big player; and recruitment manager Lívia Kuga prides herself of these achievements in almost classic corporate discourse: with the development of emotional intelligence and what she calls culture rituals, she seeks for “the most humanized approach possible with use of technology and machine learning”, reports Brazilian finance magazine Exame. But stock price last year was at almost 70 dollars, and it’s dropped to as low as 9. Why is any of this important, though, if investing is clearly for the elites, and not the common citizen?

Think about it this way: you wrote a tweet, but on the way, your Wi-Fi dropped. You weren’t connected anymore, and your reaction was to tap twice on your Android phone icon, so it recognized the network again and you could finally share your small message with your circle, and then each user could expand it, within their own circle, by reposting it. If they’re following, it takes a click on the app to see it. That’s what impressions are: the potential reach of your post. You see something exceptional, you make sure to share (using the button, not your wallet); but when you have groceries at hand (I’m one of those people who only grabs them when the payment has been approved), you don’t want to wait more than 5 seconds. That’s just the world we live in now. Why? Because financial services have always had priority in systems management, except there are many kinds of systems; in fact, considering what machine learning can do, one could argue we’re walking towards a myriad of undisclosed information, fed to the masses in homeopathic doses. Let’s be real about this: why did the network drop? Reports show that, in Britain, 44% of ISP clients have experienced connection issues, while Windows 11 is apparently working alongside Fing, a network security company that displays in real time service outages and shortcomings on your phone. Can you imagine the distress in a gaming competition, in case there was a glitch? For those who aren’t always up-to-date with every discussion, some gaming competitions have been reportedly tense, and the culture doesn’t seem to be very gender balanced. But regardless of the examples we might draw from this in a service quality kind of perspective, there’s an important concept that needs to be addressed: verification.

The world’s richest man reportedly bought the world’s biggest media company. That’s how I put it, before it was announced, when Twitter sold for 44 billion dollars to Elon Musk, both epic industry visionary and slow ranting entrepreneur. There’s been rising concern over what that might mean in relation to controversial figures banned from platforms, notably the case of ex-president of the United States, Donald Trump. Whatever the case, when it comes to inflammatory speech, a first test of concept is necessary: is trust verifiable? Some people would trust a person more when they hear their voice, instead of text; others prefer video; for a long time, presence was the most important aspect, in face-to-face interactions, but apparently the younger generation never thought about how they could afford a home (first theme on my pedagogical material, by the way). There are theories saying we assimilate stuff from visual, auditory and other sense-related stimuli; data on the new ways of communication will take this concept to the test, as well as educators in search for solutions for digital demands. It’s one thing to map out a student’s understanding of a broad theme over a videocall; another, completely different set of procedures, to ask them to answer a poll–and even traditional media has already started using this massively, to make sure people actually read and get informed. In a way, the media is verifying if we’re actually using it, not just scrolling; and that’s good, right? Now think about the economy.

When I was young, I didn’t have an allowance. My dad knew, before social networks existed, who my friends were. They came home, I introduced them (or they introduced themselves; it was 2003), and we hung out to play basketball. Surprisingly, for some, I did that; but it was mostly my brother, and I sat there doing nothing, hearing that particular sound of Nike and Adidas shoes against the court. Eventually, my dad even bought me one of those: Adidas Mad Handle, an interesting pair in grey and black synthetic leather. There’s so much I wouldn’t be able to handle in the future, and I definitely got mad; but that has nothing to do with basketball. My girlfriend at the time (after I left the boys’ club to have a relationship with a teenager, and meet her family, then stay for 10 years) was a great communicator in more than one language; but we found our ways, though I barely opened my mouth–except with her. I would later get mad, indeed. Not in the sense of angry: just overwhelmed and absolutely incapable of “handling” my responsibilities as a young adult, which I thought I could do when I was taking the stage to play the drums. If someone was ever in a position to confirm this story, it doesn’t really matter: the humanized machine processing isn’t there for deleted accounts, is it? As for sports, we now have camera footage which can be requested for verification of a foul, penalty or any kind of conflict during the game, at least in soccer matches. Why FIFA is headquartered in Switzerland, famous world tax haven? That is barely questioned. So what exactly do we want to verify?

Let’s suppose you go into a convenience store in the middle of the night. The lady at the cash register sees you struggling with your change, grabbing a beer from the freezer but putting it back, then going to the end of the line as party girls and boys come inside with their cars parked at the gas station, in front of the big mall, ready to go somewhere else and have loads of fun–metaphorically or not, mind you. They pay with their phones for a bottle of Red Label, and you learned to enjoy Jack Daniels, the oak taste, precisely what made you interested in tobacco; but now you’re a serial smoker. The banner behind most cash registers in convenience stores, bakeries, restaurants, coffee shops, bars and even newsstands will show discounts on the price of cigarettes. You check to see if you have 5 real, but unfortunately, buddy, you don’t. There’s 5 cents missing. And well, since nobody here invests in certain kinds of assets, what the hell is 5 cents, right? The newsstand guy shouted out to you as you walked away on the previous day, saying your count was wrong and you should give the product back. On a number of occasions, though, you knew it was absolutely right, having checked it before going there and counted all coins at the breakfast table; it was still breakfast for you, though it was 7PM. They’d be closing soon. You had to go buy or not have the money for a cheap pack, spending the night awake without access to your phone (and because this involves some level of paraphrasing, let’s address how verification plays a role in this story later). Unlike the newsstand guy (who refused to give you a pack you weren’t even supposed to be able to buy anywhere, since it never got a sanitary authority inspection or passed a national health risk and standard evaluation, all because of 5 cents), the lady at the convenience store says: “You know what? Since you’re always here, you can take it. You’ll bring it next time.” So you walk out past the ATM, and it’s raining. You don’t have a car, but thankfully it’s just 3 blocks. Of course, it depends if you count the blocks behind the blocks, but I’m sure nobody’s interested in that level of scrutiny. They’re not showing the components of the product anymore. Both sides now alert consumers of the harms it may cause; you still open it, light it up, sometimes with a match, eventually tilting your head down to the oven and maybe burning your own hair, because a lighter is actually more expensive than the freaking poison pack. And then you get on Twitter on your phone. Now, here’s an interesting question: when you unlocked your phone, after paying for a product in coins (literal coins, everyone), what were the party girls and boys doing? Apparently, nobody cares.

On the next day, you’d have to see about your bank’s digital signature. You forgot your letters password, which allows you to make ATM transactions, so you need to go there in person to sort things out; but if you’re thinking about digital payments, you don’t get to do that if you haven’t made a specific registration for any possible online transaction associated with your account. Today, whenever you say account, people will inevitably think of Instagram; but is that fair? As it turns out, the social network has more verification than the bank; but that’s very debatable, considering that biometric technology has been used in a range of institutions. But social media verification is a process few people understand. First, because Twitter championed it; second, because it speaks authority. But what authority? Katy Perry’s version of it? Nothing against sexual freedoms and discourse to be made available, but when it becomes mainstream to the point of elevating “I wanna see your peacock” to the most widely marketed message on the internet, we have to at least question something in there. And for many, it’s questioning the peacock–meaning, of course, the validity of that message, something you can do by actually asking people what they want to see. Unfortunately, some people don’t remember the former world’s richest man’s Op-ed on the newspaper he bought at the time of a scandal involving his sending of intimate images, and now The Washington Post, which arguably (or not) takes on difficult topics on internet culture, describes a pre-pandemic world where 25% of teens sent the freaking peacock, while the rate increased with lockdown. It doesn’t consider a particularly important factor that expands the margin of error: trust, sentiment and false reporting, not to mention the not-so-twenty-first century idea that, if we live online, we have sex online. Excuse me, but only 15% of teens have sex? I could believe that if I studied in a Catholic school, but not being promoted on an adult site. Hypothetically, of course (isn’t Twitter an adult site, since we’re touching upon this subject?)

But what if nobody asks? For example, another Brazilian NYSE listed company, Nubank, made possible that payments could be processed with card approximation. Technicalities don’t matter, for now. But I remember the time I had just left my family home to buy myself something different to drink, and I was paying with the new card; I had disabled the approximation feature because I didn’t think that was secure in any way: I’d been through a two-step verification nightmare, losing access to my social accounts in a mix of bad luck, bad anger management and frankly, bad management overall, when my phone number was cancelled and the 2FA feature was on. There was no way to get in again. And I should’ve thought reasonably: if the number had been cancelled and that was the problem, then, instead of looking for social media support solutions, I would have to see about the issue with the ISP, in this case the communications company, responsible for the data. The policy is inactivity can disable the account; but not that non-solicited, non-authorized SMS ads and messages searching for indebted citizens with a different name than my own were ever problematic; in fact, I used to get them every day and just ignore, but the important thing is that you enter your tax payer identification (a poor translation of Physical Person Registration, or CPF, meaning you’re not the owner of a business acting on a legal contract, just a regular citizen). Isn’t that what they should verify? We do have an option, on today’s new Android features, to report unknown callers and SMS as spam; but social media is a completely different game, and it’s going to take at least one more decade for finance to be completely understood in its contradictions and ideology, which some will catch up on, while others simply won’t–and may spread false information based on campaigns that are actually financed, and make scammer platforms for scammer users profit like no public servant or hard working independent ever would.

A system in Brazil tries to revert the consumer perception and what makes someone a “good payer”, which is otherwise assessed by online activity and purchasing power, with categorizations that third-party companies have used in mass scale through algorithms (Accenture and Cognizant are just two examples, when it comes to recently renamed Facebook, or Meta; reports have been linked previously on the blog). Some users are lucky to be found by certain agencies, organizations and influencers, with blue badges and all; some are not, and their pages on Patreon or even their campaigns on Avaaz get absolutely ignored. But in terms of verification, you might want to know if you’re breaking the law when you start a business or propose new directions for the company. That’s something I learned both with them and media coverage about monetization, hate speech and censorship online, but also with some good old Netflix (no, Netflix is not old, but there’s no book published with cringe on its title, as far as I’m aware). On an episode of the series “Billions” (spoilers), hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod ventures into an investment on the cannabis sector, with an assurance that everything was perfectly legal; that’s how he gets busted, after finding out his newly founded personal bank couldn’t have the company of such a product on its portfolio, given countless lawsuits by its owner and the risk factors that, in the end, made him lose a lot of money, but also the newly founded bank. To escape law scrutiny, he avoids facing the authorities and leaves to Europe. Back to the verification debate, many fictional narratives have explored that concept, either in the investigative kind, like the Law and Order franchise, or documentaries and even romance movies that deal with fidelity in relationships, none of which seeming to address properly and realistically the issue of online identity and freedom, except tentatively in Alyssa Milano’s Brazen, hated by the critics. Notably, nobody’s too excited to talk about how people in certain industries get paid, or even whether they should, considering what they’re doing; but the movie shows a different side of things, which can be very brutal and hard to swallow; the criticism is lack of rawness, not merit in the unprecedented approach of the theme of sex work and stalking, along with the softest of portrayals in a few seconds of sexually suggestive scenes—in comparison, you can do your own research, I’m sure.

As the word fluency gets overused again and the word participation seems to mean nothing, considering how easy it is to argue that nobody really participates in anything when it’s just something on the screen, verification takes on new interpretations; the fluent speaker can understand, but also read between the lines–and if a teacher is well-versed in media literacy, they know how to explore the topic well enough, which doesn’t mean the challenge is well-compensated or the troubles will ever be, no matter who’s associated with them. The algorithm recommends people you should follow, and even selects special profiles made just for you (Happn does, for example). The ethics of these already established practices (including data plans that include dating apps for free) aren’t going to be questioned by a generation that grew up normalizing this, but also reporting anyone that doesn’t like the newest pop artist that they relate to so much, and an ugly face instead of a beautiful ceiling. Of course, one day they’ll wonder if one million streams being multiplied by $0.04 is a good deal; but as long as we can gather in a stadium to celebrate sound and community, love and a thinking society, chaos and aesthetic value, experience and memory, then we’ll be just fine.

The reality, though, is stark here in Brazil and many other countries: the recent most downloaded app nationwide was the government emergency rescue, during a public health crisis; not Peloton, which curiously labels itself as a well-being initiative; The Wall Street Journal points out it went from 50 billion to just 10—emphasis on “just”—recently. I’m contemplative. What my dad tracks, to verify that he’s not going to have a difficult conversation with the doctor, is his blood sugar. Every single day, on a piece of paper that looks like a freaking parchment, brownish and filled with a table for annotating the number processed by a machine nobody paid for in the health sector or public service, but he bought by himself, he carefully injects insulin into his belly, his thigh, one side or another, changing spots eventually because it’s starting to hurt, and then takes the pen to write down the number displayed, first thing in the morning. In return (and I’m forced to indicate sarcasm), several telemarketing companies call the landline, but no voice is heard on the other side; more recently, we have atmosphere songs, interesting bass lines, and would you look at that, even jazz. Needless to say, nobody at home pays for Spotify Premium or has access to 5G.

Back to finance, we’d like to see the way forward. But that means something for the “common American“, who reportedly earns by year an average of $51.480,00; it means something else for the “common Brazilian”, with the average of $2.693,87 a year. Yes, ladies and gentlemen: a year. Important to mention: that is considering the minimum wage, but “informality” in Brazil reached over 47% in 2020–which, I need to point out, is often just another word to describe unemployment. Do you see now how it’s important to follow finance and who are these incredible problem-solving people who thrive in innovation so much they’re listed in the NYSE and have hundreds of millions in revenue?

But we like to keep things simple. Facebook, not led by Bobby Axelrod, wanted to become a bank; it had to answer a few tough questions from the FTC and Congress, which eventually resulted in a 5 billion dollar fine, but nothing compared to the 83 billion they made during the first year of public health crisis (the word is pandemic, and many suggest other terms, but let’s keep it classy–or we might see the words “special operation” pop up here and there; and I’ll avoid linking any more articles). Users are getting paid (abysmally less often than not) to work for the platform, and since the younger generations grew up thinking it was as normal as fire coming out of an oven for the meals they never cooked, while mom and dad did everything for them but their issues were so intense some of them decided to stick a pair of scissors in their arm, they also think it’s normal to find content so easily on their favorite apps. I’m from a generation that didn’t have internet access until I was 15, and that was because of federal and private social inclusion initiatives. I’d never spoken to a foreigner until I was 18 years old. One of them (and I won’t reveal her name or location) was surprised one day, after coming back from a Church group trip to Jerusalem, and we engaged in a bit of chit-chat: “You’re washing the dishes?? I mean, you don’t know what a dishwasher is??” I can’t help but imagine her “verifying” why the kitchen sink in my old family home had a plumbing problem, spending an hour cleaning the grease trap with her bare hands, like I did–along with several other unpleasant tasks. Verifying, it seems to me, has many meanings yet to be explored.