Spark 430

Surveilling strangers. Social media data can set insurance rates. Girl Guides and Scouts can now earn STEM badges. Online habits of people in the developing world.
Spark: handing out cybersecurity badges since 2007. (Michelle Parise)

You see it all the time on social media. Someone sees another person doing something stupid or looking ridiculous. They take a discrete photo and post the stranger's image to their feed, usually to the amusement and occasional mockery of their followers. With the ubiquity of smartphone cameras, you can do this, but should you? Lauren Cagle argues "surveilling strangers" amounts to policing people's behaviour and limiting our own ability to explore our identity.

In some jurisdictions, insurance companies are being allowed to use social media data to set rates and investigate claims. But in doing this, they may be working around laws that prevent discrimination. We talk to Rutgers professor of law, Rick Swedloff about the effect this development could have.

Step aside baton-twirling badge! Girl Scouts (U.S.) and Girl Guides (Canada) now have loads of STEM-related badges and activities. Spark host Nora Young speaks with Girl Scouts Nation's Capital troop leader Hillary Tabor and her 11-year-old daughter Maya, who helped pilot a new cybersecurity patch program. Nora also speaks with Krysta Coyle a postdoctoral fellow in cancer biology at Simon Fraser University, and the Girl Guides of Canada's Guiding Ambassador to hear more about what the organization is doing to engage girls and young women in STEM.

Researcher Payal Arora studied how people actually use the internet in India, Brazil, the Middle East, and China. She found that contrary to pundits who talk about the use of the internet for finding jobs, and education, people in the developing world do exactly what we do: socialize, share silly videos, watch pornography. In her new book, The Next Billion Users, she digs into our suppositions around internet use, and explores how people with limited funds and spotty internet access navigate privacy, and social mores online.


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