At the time I had been thinking of interning (with the ultimate goal of landing a job) at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); but then discovered the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). It was clear where I belonged: EFF. EFF had the right mix of technology savvy, free speech and privacy knowledge.
After a time, I wanted to spend more time working on consumer privacy issues, and so started up a non-profit, Privacyactivism, where I spent several years as executive director.
Privacyactivsm led me to start spending time on social networks and to see them as rich areas for social activism. In 2005, the year I chaired the Computers, Freedom and Privacy (CFP) conference in Seattle, WA, I began looking for ways to involve more diverse groups of people in the conference. My thought was that there are a lot of politically minded people on social networks, and if I tapped into the right networks I’d be able to diversify the attendance, and hopefully jump start activism on privacy and First Amendment issues. My CFP campaign has led to other advocacy campaigns, including battles against the 2257 regulations and against the Real ID Act. Social networks are great for spending time with friends, but they are also a great tool for promoting many different kinds of speech and for political activism.
My hope for this book is that rather than focusing on the frequent portrayals of social networks as threats (to our families, to the children), people will see them the way I do: tools to aid participation in society and giving people a voice they may not have had before.