Do You Own Your Face Online?

Image: Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Who owns the rights to my face? I assumed it was me until I read an article that reminded me that when we create social media accounts, we pretty much agree to grant those platforms a free license to use our content as they wish.

In most cases, you hold the copyright to any content you upload to social media platforms. But when you created your account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, or any platform you agreed to have a free license to use your content as they wish. How can they use it> It depends, but did you read the user agreement or just click "continue?"

How would you feel if you saw one of your tweets used in a Twitter ad campaign? Violated? Angry? Excited? Feel as you wish, but don't expect any cut of the ad's revenue.

In that article, a person sees a sponsored Instagram Story ad with a video of a person putting on lip balm. The person was her. She watched herself apply the balm and smile at the camera, but Abby never agreed to appear in a nationwide social campaign. How is this possible?

Usage rights dictate who owns an image or asset. It determines how and where it’s allowed to appear, and for how long.

The author had worked in media and knew that employees are often "pressured" to appear in campaigns but it is not a part of the full-time job and it is likely that it will go uncompensated. 

In this case, she had been told to participate in a photoshoot demonstrating the product’s healing benefits. She recorded for the work day, was not paid, and she believed the campaign was only going to run on the employer’s social media accounts for a few months. But this was more than a year later. Probably her former employer passed the content to the skincare company, though without her permission.

There's an old saying that if you're not paying for a product, then you are the product. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are completely free to use for the average consumer because advertisers pay for your attention (and sometimes your data). This is not a new model. In commercial TV broadcasting, you watch content for free because there are commercials. A more cynical explanation is that you pay for the privilege of having yourself sold. You are consumed. You are the product. They deliver you to the advertiser,. The advertiser is their customer.

Think about that the next time you read - or choose not to read - the terms and conditions and agree with a click.

 

This article is also crossposted at One-Page Schoolhouse

A More Musky Twitter

Elon Musk
Does Musk want to set Twitter free?
                               Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

On April 14, 2022, business magnate Elon Musk proposed to purchase social media company Twitter, Inc. for $43 billion. He had previously acquired 9.1 percent of the company's stock for $2.64 billion and thereby became its largest shareholder. Twitter invited Musk to join its board of directors and he accepted and then changed his mind. Musk is certainly one of the most unorthodox business leaders of our time. The general opinion seems to be that he would likely make changes to the platform that go well beyond revamping its content policies.

Twitter was generally not in favor of Musk taking control and so used what is known as a "poison pill" strategy. They would allow shareholders to purchase additional stock in the event a buyout should occur. But on April 25, Twitter's board of directors unanimously accepted Musk's buyout offer of $44 billion. There was also talk that Musk would make the company private.

Besides the business aspects of all this, many users were apprehensive about a Musk takeover and really about anyone taking over. The fear was not about stock prices or advertising. It is about how the platform would change.

Elon Musk published his first tweet on his personal Twitter account in June 2010. He had 80 million followers at the time of the purchase. Musk's most vocal comment about the purchase was that he wanted to protect "freedom of speech." Of course, that is something protected by the government and doesn't really apply to most private companies.

Elizabeth Lopatto of The Verge made some predictions about what a Musk takeover might mean. She thought that a mass employee exodus might occur. She also saw the reinstatement of some accounts, such as Donald Trump's account.

The New York Times wrote that Musk's acquisition was "about controlling a megaphone" rather than free speech. Kate Klonick, a law professor at St. John's University, went as far as to say that allowing "all free speech" would open the door to the spread of pornography and hate speech on Twitter.

A number of commenters have said that Musk's purchase just adds fuel to the controversy about the power that wealthy people have in influencing the democratic process.

Musk has said that he thought that Twitter should make the algorithm that determines what users see open-source and more transparent.

READ MORE
https://www.wsj.com/articles/twitter-under-elon-musk-what-an-open-source-and-free-speech-oriented-platform-could-look-like-11651091515

Educating in the Metaverse

AR use

Using augmented reality to see what is not physically there.

There is not much mention of education in all the discussions this year about the metaverse, but it is thought that it will better allow students to have a cyber-physical learning experience. The virtual world will merge with the real one more and more seamlessly.

For the past 20 months, there has been a global educational experiment in online learning. But don't think that what has happened in education because of the COVID-19 pandemic is an accurate account or prediction of what teaching and learning are at their best, or what they will become in a metaverse. The forced move to online education was awkward for most schools, students and teachers, particularly in the first two semesters. By the spring of 2021, all parties were better adapted to learning online. For the fall 2021 semester, many schools were able to go back to their pre-pandemic methodologies and content delivery. The best schools and teachers have not abandoned what was learned in those online days, and for them learning has continued to shift between online and in person. Online delivery has become more of an integral component of education. The whole move online in 2020 and 2021 should lead to more inclusive and creative pedagogical solutions.

My earlier post on the building of the metaverse did not consider education. No one should think that what we now call online education looks anything like the metaverse. Actually, some online worlds from decades past, such as Second Life, are closer to the metaverse than current online education. The building game Minecraft is enjoyed by millions of young and old learners and has found a place in higher education too. Both of those products have been used to enhance lectures, allow virtual field trips and make students creators. I took tours of campuses in Second Life at the start of this century. They were crude by today's tech standards but they didn't require a clunky headset. I did it once in front of a giant screen and it was more "immersive" but no metaverse.

Current virtual reality (VR) simulations allow students in medicine, engineering, and architecture to practice skills that are difficult to rehearse in real life.

Most followers of the metaverse will say that some forms of it are already here. I discussed in the previous article some companies that already offer applications and platforms that fit part of the definitions (and there are multiple definitions as of now) of the metaverse.  Another company that is making inroads to educational use is Roblox. In its current version, it looks very much like a game, which is often a serious deterrent for educators to consider using technology. But they are expanding the tools offered and giving users and developers more opportunities to create experiences of their own.  with an emphasis on safety.

Roblox has more than 203 million monthly active users in their virtual world. Some might call this platform a "proto-metaverse." But so far, it lacks the VR and AR that are part of all definitions of the metaverse. There is also caution required here for safety since many of those users are children. Roblox CEO David Baszucki may have used some hyperbole in saying during an interview that his company’s business model predicted the metaverse 17 years ago.

The media is already countering any metaverse visioning with cautionary tales of the dangers it might also offer. It ranges from fears that predators might use it to lure children. Since the porn industry has been at the lead with many technologies from VHS tapes and DVDs to online video, there's a good chance that they will want in on the metaverse. A lot of warnings currently come from a lack of understanding about what a metaverse will look like, and the misperception that somehow Zuckerberg and Meta will be THE metaverse rather than a part of it.

John Preston (Professor of Sociology, University of Essex) believes that some aspects of the metaverse are already in universities. His fear is that it will offer revolutionary potential for greater profits to be made in higher education. His research on digital technologies in higher education shows that a metaverse could monetize the student experience even more than now and also exploit the work of academics.

Jaron Lanier, who was an early promoter of VR and founded the first VR company (VPL Research) and made Virtual Reality the term for the head-mounted display has changed his mind on the metaverse. I attended a workshop he did at a conference in the late 1990s and wore his headset and put on the wired gloves to walk through a virtual world while moving around a small room that had a few ramps and objects that became something else in my headset view. It was pretty cool. And pretty awkward. I heard him speak at an edtech conference around 2010 when he had published his "manifesto" You Are Not A Gadget. Lanier's wonder-filled dreams for what these new technologies as we turned into the 21st century could provide for humanity had become nightmares.  His 2018 book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now indicates that the dreams are still nightmares.  In a recent Forbes article, Lanier says, "If you run [the metaverse] on a business model that’s similar to the one that Facebook runs on, it’ll destroy humanity. I’m not saying that rhetorically. That is a literal and specific prediction that humanity could not survive that."

While some people may be creating a virtual research center ecosystem using Microsoft Teams, others are suggesting that we need to forget the tech and focus on human beings, while some feel we need to use digital simulations to prepare students for future careers.

My own metaverse predictions are that it is farther away than the current buzz seems to indicate, and that augmented reality (AR) will play a greater role than virtual reality (VR) - unless they can get rid of that clunky VR headgear. I see that Meta, which owns Oculus (known initially for making hose clunky goggles) has dropped the Oculus branding. Maybe they will also drop the headgear.