Oh yeah? Your face is Digital Citizenship!

I didn’t see this smack down coming

We tell kids (and often adult family and friends) about the importance of thinking critically when it comes to sharing our personal information. We ask them questions such as, “Do you want to share your location with strangers like that?”

And: “Are you sure that app really needs all of those permissions?”

And while we don’t know who we should give credit to for this gem, we remind them:

If you’re not paying for the product, you *are* the product

But no matter how savvy I think I am, I will always be surprised. The world’s most recent #DigCit Gotcha on me is the notion raised on The Indicator podcast from NPR’s Planet Money team that the new frontier of Digital Citizenship is your face. And my face. It’s all of our faces.

Show co-host Stephanie Vanek-Smith kicks off the episode with the teaser about your face: “It is worth money. It is the next big thing. And, if you’re like most of us, you’re giving it way.”

Immediately, light bulbs went off. That new Google Arts & Culture app that I downloaded and immediately used to take a selfie (only to learn that the intellectually elitist bully who called me a “Rembrandt” was technically — according to the company that knows pretty much everything about me — at least 65% correct). Then there’s the feature on the new iPhone’s to use your face as your password to unlock the device. While these slick tricks impress me to no end and have become top conversation starters in social circles, they also got information about me.

To be clear, the important point here for me isn’t that my likeness is now on their servers, it’s that I opted into giving them personal information without having even thought about it. I’d made a decision without realizing that I’d made a decision. Never mind that I hadn’t read the contract I’d essentially just signed, I didn’t even realize I’d signed a contract! Long term, this is a public policy issue and our elected leaders represent the best hope we have for a sustainable solution. In the meantime, I think the best thing we can do is to encourage awareness and critical thinking around informed consent.

There’s a whole new frontier of Digital Citizenship and Privacy concerns that just snuck up on a lot of us, and it’s moving very quickly. It’s on us to do our best to work with students and families to prepare them to make smart, informed decisions because it’s only a matter of time before we learn of people who have to face negative consequences.


Click below to listen to the full 5:23 podcast episode:

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As always, your own thoughts, ideas and pushback response posts are appreciated and valued. In addition to following Noah Geisel here on Medium, you can find him at SenorG on Twitter.