Be a better internetter – how to make your tech work better for you

Be a better internetter — how to make your tech work better for you

Do you know what data is collected about you? Or how prices can vary when you shop online? Or the way that the news you see can be affected by who you’re connected to online?

If you don’t, you’re not alone. Doteveryone’s research into Britain’s digital understanding found five digital blindspots around the ways that the internet works. That’s not the public’s fault — people can only have digital understanding if technology is understandable, and at the moment it’s not.

So today we’re launching Be a Better Internetter — a digital public health campaign which is a small step towards trying to fix this.

We want to help people to understand how technology works and how it shapes the world around them. We’ve launched adverts which encourage people to:

  • Browse in private and avoid potential price discrimination
  • Turn off filters on social media to get a wider range of news and information
  • Check privacy settings so you know who you’re sharing information with

They don’t cover everything but it’s a good place to start to be better at the internet. We’ve also included our top 20 tips at the bottom of this page. Share one of them or one of your own under #betterinternetter.

We’re also building a list of useful resources to help people build their understanding. It’s open to edit so please keep adding any more good examples you know of!

Being better internetters together

When we first started researching public attitudes and understanding of technology we didn’t realise we were also creating a self-help group. But when we spent three weeks last year bringing a group of people together to talk about their views of the internet, something remarkable happened.

I didn’t realise you can clear your history,” said one person at the end of the discussions.

I didn’t know just how much of your personal information is stored,” said another.

I learned that I’m not alone in not being comfortable seeing threatening behaviour online and that individuals feel powerless to change what happens” said someone else.

This made us realise that we often feel alone online. We don’t have ways to share our worries about tech with one another — or to pass on the actions which can help make tech work better.

We think our #betterinternetter campaign can be a place to do that.

Helping build responsible technology from the bottom up

As I’ve written previously, we don’t want this campaign to be all about making people solve technology’s problems — we’re calling on business and government’s to do their bit on that front.

But we do think that the public — as consumers and citizens — should have a voice in shaping what kind of technology we want.

We hope #betterinternetter will help articulate that voice and that ultimately campaigns like this will create a recognition of the demand for responsible technology.

If you’d like to join in — just share your #betterinternetter tips and let us know by tagging us in @doteveryoneuk (Twitter) @betterinternetter (Instagram).

We are able to run this campaign thanks to funding from Omidyar Network, and generous support from BETC for creative development and from the Guardian for dissemination.

Doteveryone’s 20 Top Tips to Be a Better Internetter:

  1. Turn on two factor authentication (2FA) where you can for your online accounts.
  2. Use a password manager (a digital vault for your passwords) to keep your online accounts secure and make it easier to use hard to guess passwords and have a different password for every account.
  3. Install a tracking blocker or an adblocker if you don’t want to see adverts.
  4. Switch to using a privacy preserving browser like @brave or search engine like @DuckDuckGo to reduce gathering of your personal information online.
  5. Use a virtual private network (VPN) to help keep your personal information safe and prevent some types of price discrimination.
  6. Turn on chronological timelines in social media where possible.
  7. Turn off notifications on your social media platforms about news you don’t need to see urgently.
  8. Set your phone to grayscale to remove the positive reinforcements we get from colourful icons.
  9. Regularly update your devices and apps and remove or turn off apps you don’t use.
  10. Try keeping the home screen of your phone to tools only (the apps you use for quick in-and-out tasks like Maps, Camera, Calendar, Notes). Move the rest, especially mindless choices, off the first page and into folders.
  11. Regularly clear your cache so private information isn’t stored and used to help target personalised advertising and pricing and so it’s not accessible by future users/vulnerable to hacking.
  12. Check prices on a different device or browser before making a big purchase online.
  13. Charge your device outside the bedroom. Get a separate alarm clock in your bedroom, and charge your phone in another room (or on the other side of the room).
  14. Use tools like Terms of Service, Didn’t Read (@ToSDR). They help explain T&C’s. Try to avoid ones you find unacceptable.
  15. Only install applications from authorised app stores.
  16. Don’t look at private information on public wifi. Public wifi networks are less secure and more susceptible to hacking than private networks.
  17. Set up an alternate social media account, follow people from the ‘opposite’ side of the debate or try out other sources of news and information to avoid filter bubbles.
  18. Use fact checkers like @FullFact and @snopes to build up your ability to identify online misinformation.
  19. If you do not like receiving targeted advertising or having your personal information collected, consider paying for services that support other business models.
  20. Use your rights under GDPR and complain where your rights are breached.

Be a better internetter – how to make your tech work better for you was originally published in Doteveryone on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.