This episode by Reply All is well worth your time: #166 Country of Liars. It tries to unravel the secret of Q’s identity. As I’m seeing more and more thinned versions of Q’s ideas pop up in Dutch culture, I’m trying to understand this phenomenon a bit better. After listening to this episode, I’m even more appalled how these ideas find fertile soil in Europe as well.
A very interesting thing happened in NL this week. Several people with a lot of followers, mostly in the younger adult age group, started posting stuff under a Dutch hashtag which roughly translates to ‘I’m out’. They expressed their discontent with government rules to keep covid-19 at bay. They seemed to want to say, I don’t believe it anymore. I’m done with keeping my distance. Sure, the number of infections are rising, but numbers in hospitals are still low. I’m young. Covid-19 is not life threatening for me. I’m done with all the rules.
The story goes that these people were first brought together in a chat group (using whatsapp) by someone who is the founder of a small but vocal group of anti-government rules. He gathered people in his chat group that have a serious amount of followers and started to convince them of his arguments against government covid-19 rules. These influencers clearly were influenced and in an orchestrated manner started influencing their followers by posting messages of doubt.
After publishing a storm of critique followed. From average Jane to the Minister, people warned them of their influence on their audience. Right at a time when the number of infectious people is rising rapidly and hospitalizations doubling every week, these messages of doubt are not helpful to prevent further restrictions in the (very) near future. Several of the influencers doubled down and retracted their message from whatever social platform they’re active on. Ironically, they started to downplay their role as influencers. I hope their clients heard this message. They’re worth less than advertisers think.
Samantha North shares her insights in how to spot groups that share certain messages. Well worth a read, especially during election times.
I’d been thinking about buying an Apple Watch for a while, but the price of such a device is high and the benefits not entirely clear. But then I noticed in the past few months that I’m moving about less and less. When going out is not necessary, and the weather is uninvitingly wet, working from home starts taking its toll. My niece got a fitbit for her tenth birthday and the idea of an activity tracker became more and more attractive to me too. Especially with the wet, cold weather that comes with autumn and winter ahead of me. A device that nudges me to move my body seemed to be less and less of a luxury and more and more a health necessity.
I did my research on these devices, comparing Fitbits with Apple Watches and Samsung watches. Samsung is really for Android users. Fitbit requires an account for their services and thus all data collected is stored on Fitbit servers. Since Google bought Fitbit (though EU is still investigating this acquisition), and I don’t believe Google’s promise not to use Fitbit data for targeted advertising (if not for the data, what is Google buying Fitbit for?), I decided the Apple Watch is the best option. The data is stored on iCloud, but not accessible by Apple or third parties, unless you give explicit consent to use the data. For instance when installing apps that you allow to read the data.
And then The Man, Daughter and my parents gifted me an Apple Watch for my birthday. I now own an Apple Watch 3, which comes a lot cheaper than model 5. In The Netherlands there is still no phone provider that is willing to accept eSims for Apple Watch yet. The cellular version is not for sale here. I have the simple GPS only version instead.
Initial set-up was easy enough. The only issue I had was to connect my Airpods to the watch. I needed to clear the Airpods in the Bluetooth menu on my phone and create a new connection again. Then it worked.
I’ve been wearing it for four days now. So far I’m using Apple’s monitoring apps for activity and nothing else. I did install some practical apps: headspace, weather and Philips Hue (to turn on and off lamps in my home). Though bulky on my wrist it is less annoying than I expected. I hardly feel the weight on my wrist.
I really appreciate the gentle nudges by lightly vibrating to remind me to stand up every hour. This is one of the biggest issues when writing a lot: it’s all done sitting down.
I also appreciate the activity monitoring. It gives a much better insight in whether I move enough or not. Of course I’ve been enthusiastically walking and cycling outdoors the past few days to reach my daily goals.
I love the fact that I can style the phone as well. I can choose clock-faces in a lot of different colours and vary the shortcuts to different apps. That way you can style to phone to match your outfit. In addition to the standard white wristband I ordered more. I found a website where they offered five for the price of three for €35. A good deal. Changing the band is really easy.
The one thing that I wish it had was cellular connection. The iPhone Xr is so big, that there are many moments during the week I wish I could do without taking it with me. I don’t mind being out of phone’s reach, but on a warm day, while wearing a pocketless skirt and heading into the park with Daughter, it would be nice to at least be able to text The Man when we’re running late, or invite a friend to come as well. I dislike the need to carry a purse just for my iPhone all the time.
In the end I hope wearing the watch will keep me physically active. I will check in a few months’ time how my activity levels change over time.
Two automated mails were sent using mailpoet, two automated mails were delivered. It works.
I discovered a disturbing thing yesterday when exporting my Mailchimp e-mail contacts for IFF. Mailchimp has more personal data than I asked for. When signing up for my weekly digest, all I want to know is an e-mail address. It’s the only thing I need to know for sending an e-mail to a person. I deliberately do not ask for names or other details. The less I know, the better considering the chances of data breaches and GDPR legislation. After exporting my contact list from Mailchimp I found out the service has more data on record than I asked for. For instance for one person who registered for my e-mail subscription list I have a first name, a last name and birthday on record. I’ve never had input fields for that information in my subscription form, so how do those personal details end up in my contact list on Mailchimp?
The only explanation I can think of is that Mailchimp keeps unique ID’s based on an e-mail address. The data that person discloses to a Mailchimp mailing list then ends up in all other mailing lists that person subscribes to using the same mail address. A hint for that explanation are the ID numbers that I also received in my data export from Mailchimp. All users are assigned two ID numbers, a LEID and an EUID. This is Mailchimp’s explanation about these ID’s:
LEID is the unique identifier for a contact, specific to an audience. EUID is the unique identifier for a contact on the account level, across all audiences.
Whatever the reason and mechanics behind Mailchimp’s user ID’s, I’m really shocked to find out I own personal data I never asked for. Even worse, the person subscribing to my mailing list never agreed for me to have that data. A serious breach of trust (and the law).
There is more data in the export file. IP address is logged at opt in and again when confirming ones subscription. Latitude and longitude. And based on that information country and province are logged. I was under the assumption I only asked for an e-mail address and that would be the only thing on record. I was wrong.
My conclusion is that I should never have used Mailchimp in the first place for sending my automated blog digest. I exposed my readers to a data collector. I deeply apologize for that.
I am now switching to a WordPress plugin called Mailpoet. The sign-up data is stored in the database belonging to this blog. The only data I transferred from Mailchimp to my blog are e-mail addresses, as subscribers agreed to when signing up. The only extra information that is logged are IP addresses when signing up and confirming. With that data I can prove consent for signing up to anyone asking (or a subscriber to prove an e-mail address was misused for signing up). I will delete my account for IFF with Mailchimp and remove the export files on my computer.
This case clearly shows how easy it is to collect excess data. Lesson learned.