Imara Jones wants black and Latino people to pay close attention to reports about the government’s surveillance activities as of late. Writing at Colorlines, Jones describes a program called Prism that targets social media, which is used disproportionately by people of color.
But particularly troubling for people of color is the program called Prism. With Prism, the NSA works with leading Internet companies to transfer sweeping amounts of user information to the government whenever it wants. Of particular interest are social media sites and sites with social media features. Data on who viewed videos uploaded to Youtube, phone calls made through Skype, IM messages sent through AOL, data saved on Apple’s iCloud, e-mails sent through Microsoft’s Hotmail as well as Google searches must be given up by these companies when the NSA asks for it. The only major Internet company to resist participation is Twitter, according to The New York Times.
We know that social media sites are used more on a proportional basis by people of color than anyone else. According to research by the Pew Charitable Trusts, blacks and Latinos in particular use social media more frequently than any other group. That’s not just driven by culture, but economics. The cost advantage, speed and reliability of social media sites — combined with their constant access and ease of use on mobile devices — have helped to close the modern digital divide. Whites are still far more likely to have telephone landlines and broadband Internet access than blacks and Latinos. People of color have closed this gap by using smartphones aggressively to access the Web. Black Americans are 20 percent more likely to have a smartphone than whites and Latinos are 10 percent more likely. And we’re eagerly engaging the growing communications economy that spawns from those devices.
Read Imara Jones’ entire piece at Colorlines.
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