Psychology and social media: Watch out for these apps!

Here’s the video of my presentation at the Psychological Society of Ireland’s Annual Conference in Limerick, Ireland, on November 11th, 2017. The full title of the talk is ’10 years of psychology and social media: Watch out for these apps, for they come to take your jobs’.

The abstract is below, and a fully referenced paper will follow. Overall, the presentation is about the complex relationship between the study of psychology and social media.

As I have said before, the relationship between human psychology and our self-technologies, like social media, is a complex one, which deserves careful study. I feel that it is of great importance that research on psychological topics – which necessarily means social media – should be carried out with a strong focus on participant dignity and respect. Comments/queries welcome!

 

 

Abstract:

At the 2010 PSI Conference, I presented on what was an increasingly popular but then largely trivial pastime: Facebook. Today, I return with a more sobering message. In these uncertain times, social media is bound up with multiple crises of a psychological nature, be it cyberbullying, fake news, or radicalisation. Reviewing a decade of social media studies, and interpreting them in the light of Foucault, Danziger, Rose and other philosophers of the human sciences, I have three findings. Firstly, social media has profoundly changed the way we relate to ourselves and to each other: norms are shifting in developmental, interpersonal, clinical and many other psychological contexts. Secondly, social media studies are rapidly evolving and new methodologies threaten to render several areas of psychological research obsolete. Big data analysis of social media usage is moving into sensitive topics – including personality analysis and prediction of suicidal ideation. Finally, while we may struggle to keep pace with complex technological changes, I propose a number of clear strategies for navigating these volatile times. In a word, ethics.

In defence of the human factor – Keynote at Digital & Cyber Security 2016

I’m really excited to be speaking tomorrow at Digital & Cyber Security 2016 in Scandic Park, Helsinki.

The abstract of my keynote is here and the slides are below:

Since Kevin Mitnick first coined the phrase in 2002, the cybersecurity industry has been awash with the phrase ‘the human factor is the weakest link’. From vendors to researchers, engineers, hackers, and journalists, we are all fond of blaming the ‘dumb users’ at every available opportunity. Not only when something goes wrong, but even before any discussion begins, ‘the stupid human’ is taken as read in any cybersecurity forum.
In this chapter I critically interrogate this trope in the discourse around information security and cybersecurity: where it came from, what it assumes, what it produces, and how to get away from it. Each of these I demonstrate with examples from recent events, white papers and research reports, not only from the cybersecurity industry, but also from human factors and related fields.
Fundamentally, I argue that when we say that the ‘human being is the weakest link in cybersecurity’, not only are we telling a lie, we are inevitably setting ourselves up for a fall. More to the point, when we devalue our end users, our co-workers and colleagues, we cannot expect them to stand by us when our systems inevitably suffer attacks, crash and are breached.