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[liberationtech] was: Forbes recommends tools for journalist; is now: depressing realities

Griffin Boyce griffinboyce at
Thu Dec 20 14:36:02 PST 2012

On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 7:57 PM, Jillian C. York <jilliancyork at> wrote:
> I admittedly haven't read the entirety of Jake's original email yet, but from what I have, plenty resonates.  I'll try to come up with a thoughtful response later, but I do have one earnest question (for Jake, and for everyone) that I honestly don't have the answer to.

> If we believe (as I suspect many of us do) that some of the tools we use should become popularized and used by "ordinary" folks as well as those with serious security needs, what is the best way to go about ensuring that happens?

  Security people reaching out to journalists, but also more
journalists reaching out to security researchers and other people in
the space who have a clue.  If I had one wish for journalism, it would
be to always have multiple sources. Be Less Credulous.  This is
especially needed in tech journalism, which is frequently more about
the product hype* and less about the people making it or its actual
utility for its target market.  Press releases are pretty much printed
in bullshit, so the increasing reliance on them and company statements
is irritating.

  I'm going to disagree with Jake with respect to articles about
products vs. articles about people, which I believe have always been
two fairly distinct categories.

  As of this writing, the 'story' of WhatsApp being free is one of the
top stories on r/iphone.  The comments are uniformly positive and
don't mention any of the well-documented security problems. "Over here
in the Middle East, WhatsApp is insanely popular. To the point where I
don't remember the last time I texted someone."

> I ask because, while I agree that the article is junk for most threat models, I don't believe that it's a bad idea to push everyone to encrypt, whether they think they need it or not.  And if we were to try to distill the author's motivation for writing the piece (aside from money and pageviews), I suspect that's a big part of it.

> So how do we go about that?

  I'm not sure that there's a true solution, but reaching out to
mainstream usergroups is a start.  I frequently feel that we're
preaching to the converted.  Activists usually know that they need
more security, but don't always know how to go about getting it.  Most
mainstream users don't even know what their risks really are (and
different groups have different concerns).

  People from all walks of life get their security news from places
like Forbes.  The fact is that most people don't have a friend who is
knowledgeable about security issues.  I don't find that any sadder
than someone reading about stocks in the Wall Street Journal.

  So maybe the answer is to 'divide and conquer' -- forging
connections with mainstream media while talking to non-obvious groups
of users.

Griffin Boyce

*or company hype if you're reading TechCrunch

"What do you think Indians are supposed to look like?
What's the real difference between an eagle feather fan
and a pink necktie? Not much."
~Sherman Alexie

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