IRL: Because Online Life Is Real Life
Host Veronica Belmont shares real stories of life online and real talk about the future of the Web.
IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla.
From campaign bots to conspiracy videos, it’s harder than ever to discover the truth online. In conversation with The New York Times’ Sheera Frenkel, Data For Democracy Policy Lead and Mozilla Fellow Renee DiResta, and DisInfoMedia founder Jestin Coler, we navigate the age of disinformation. It’s the season finale of IRL, recorded live in San Francisco on March 18th, 2018.
Social Bubble Bath
We’ve long heard that the ways the web is tailored for each user—how we search, what we’re shown, who we read and follow— reinforces walls between us. Veronica Belmont investigates how social media can create, and can break, our filter bubbles. Megan Phelps-Roper discusses the Westboro Baptist Church, and the bubbles that form both on and offline. B.J. May talks about the bubbles he encountered every day, in his Twitter feed, and tells us how he broke free. Rasmus Nielsen suggests social media isn’t the filter culprit we think it is. And, within the context of a divided America, DeRay McKesson argues that sometimes bubbles are what hold us together.
From Google search to Facebook news, algorithms shape our online experience. But like us, algorithms are flawed. Whether intentional or not, we write biases into code. Now, more than ever, it’s up to us to push for accountability. Because when bad code spreads disinformation, it’s never something that “the algorithm did.” It’s something people did. Veronica Belmont investigates algorithmic accountability, in conversation with Luke Dormehl, Staci Burns, James Bridle, Nick Seaver, and Safiya Noble.
Cloak of Invisibility
On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog, as the old joke goes. But does anonymity truly exist on the web anymore? And when it’s taken from us, what else do we lose? So Sad Today talks about the value of anonymity for women and self-care. Jonathan Hirshon shares his personal battle to keep his face off Facebook. New Yorker cartoonists Peter Steiner and Kaamran Hafeez discuss the evolution of memes and digital anonymity, in dog years. And Alison Macrina and Morgan Taylor reveal what’s underneath the surface of the searchable web.
From Snapchat filters to Apple’s Face ID, biometric technology plays a growing role in our everyday lives. What do we actually give up when we upload our face to these apps? Steven Talley shares his experience as a victim of mistaken identity. Joseph Atick, a forefather of facial recognition technology, reckons with its future. We head to to China, where biometric data is part of buying toilet paper. And artist Adam Harvey investigates how racial bias seeps into big data sets.
What does it mean to grow up online? We investigate how the www is changing our bodies and our brains. A college student shares his experience at rehab for Internet addiction. Bestselling author Nir Eyal breaks down what apps borrow from gambling technology. Writer Heather Schwedel talks about taking a cue from Kanye and breaking up with Twitter. And blogger Joshua Cousins talks about the Internet as a lifeline, in the wake of recent natural disasters.
Bot Or Not
From politics to poetry, bots are playing an increasingly visible role in culture. Veronica Belmont investigates the rise of social media bots with Lauren Kunze and Jenn Schiffer. Butter.ai’s Jack Hirsch talks about what happens when your profile is stolen by a political bot. Lisa-Maria Neudert measures how bots influence politics. Ben Nimmo teaches us how to spot and take down bot armies. And Tim Hwang explores how bots can connect us in surprising, and meaningful, new ways.
Bonus Episode 2
Net Neutrality Emergency
The battle for the open Internet isn’t over. In the days leading up to the FCC’s net neutrality vote, we investigate what’s next in the fight. We Rate Dogs’ Matt Nelson talks about trolling Ajit Pai with a pay-per-pupper plan. Verizon protesters share their experience on the ground. And the FCC’s Mignon Clyburn weighs in on net neutrality’s road ahead.
Bonus Episode 1
We check in on some of Season One’s stories and see how they’ve evolved. Activist Amanda Werner talks about their turn as the Monopoly Man at the Equifax hearings. Investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler follows the case of hacker Marcus Hutchins, and tries to make sense of why he was arrested. And, drumroll, we finally hear back from a troll we sent cake to last season.
Free Speech, Limited?
Recent events like the Charlottesville, VA rally have revealed the Internet’s role in helping spread IRL threats and violence. Leaders in the tech world have represented varying positions on both protecting free speech and also reducing hate speech online. Should tech companies regulate who says what on the Internet?
All Access Pass
What is life like without fast Internet, and how does life change once a person has it? Should Internet access be a right, rather than a luxury? Veronica Belmont explores these questions as she talks to people about joining the digital economy. Inspiring stories of access are surfaced by members of a small Minnesota community and by a Syrian refugee who found hope in Amsterdam.
I Spy With My Digital Eye
We react against the idea of surveillance, but it turns out that we’ve invited it into our homes through devices like digital assistants, connected toys and baby monitors. Are you comfortable with the idea that someone might be watching you or listening to you right now?
The Care and Feeding of Your Troll
Trolls. You’ll find them in every corner of the Internet. During this episode, explore the landscape of trolling online, its impact on individuals, and its impact on the Web. Some people are fighting back in new and interesting ways. Baked goods included.
Have you been hacked, or been the victim of malware or ransomware? Humans make the internet vibrant, but we’re also the weakest link — we’re predictable and often easily fooled. This episode of IRL focuses on our internet insecurity. Meet the unsung heroes fighting to keep us safe.
The Neutral Zone: The Future of Net Neutrality
The Internet (at least in the US) is at a crossroads as the FCC is considering rolling back net neutrality regulations. If net neutrality is abolished, the Internet could shift from an essential service that all consumers can access to a product that can be packaged and sold to the highest bidders.
All Your Data Are Belong to Us
You’ve heard the expression, “When something is free, you’re the product.” And, while you may think it’s no big deal to give away your personal data in exchange for free online services, how can you know that what you get for what you give is a fair trade?
Introducing IRL: Because Online Life is Real Life
Our online life is real life. We walk, talk, work, and even love on the Internet – but we don’t always treat it like real life. Host Veronica Belmont sets out to explore this disconnect with stories from the wilds of the Web.