“Your Data Mirror” describes itself as a “call for transparency by revealing the mechanisms of data-driven surveillance and manipulation in the online sphere.” It is an incredibly unique site with a set, honorable goal. It’s also unique because it is a website that strives to expose the dangers of data manipulation.
Navigation on the homepage is relatively straightforward. At the top of the home page is a playable video that discusses many of the site’s main topics and themes. On the left corner of the home page, the user can click on a button to switch the display language between English and German. On the right corner, the user can click a button that displays a menu for the site. As you scroll down the home page, the site has four buttons leading the user to different “chapters”. Next, you will find a shortened version of the Actions Page in the form of a link and three informational “cards” explaining ways you can protect yourself online. After this, a link to another page is presented. Once the user opens the page, they are taken on a virtual journey. This part of the website is the most intriguing yet most ironic. The page asks for permission for your data to be temporarily accessed so you can see your “data twin”. For a site that’s primary mission is to make people aware of the dangers of sharing data, it’s interesting that they need your data to prove their point. Further scrolling leads the user to links to pages describing the many awards the site has won, including a Webby Award and quotes from experts about the website. They also leave links to their social media pages and more information about the site’s sponsors. Despite this, the page presents its point in a striking and attention-grabbing way. Personalizing this experience makes the site more approachable and relatable to any user. Overall, the homepage is visually intriguing, and navigation is very manageable.
Chapter 1: Your data and you
This first “chapter” discusses the site’s main topics of data mining. It explains what data is, what companies strive to use and earn money from your data, and how social media uses data to target you. It also discusses how companies design apps to be attention-grabbing and addictive. It repeats the presentation of tips as “cards”. It suggests turning off ads and not tagging people in social media posts. At the end of the page, the site goes more in-depth. It describes cookies and geo-tracking, and how both methods monitor your internet usage. It even offers documentary recommendations. It suggests The one striking problem with this chapter, and seemingly the rest of the chapters going forward, is that the video displayed to the user is not playable. The video seems as if it will play but doesn’t do anything when pressed on.
Chapter 2: Your Data and politics
Chapter 3: Fake news and the impact of social media
In this chapter the site talks about the dangers of false information on the internet. The most important point made on this page is that no one is without bias. People tend to believe disinformation, or “fake news”, if it matches our beliefs. The page presents us with a case study from Brazil. During Brazil’s 2019 election, the messaging app WhatsApp was used to spread misinformation about one of the candidates. The page presents a link to an article by Ed Brancho-Polaro for The Conversation as evidence. The site states that the idea of spreading false information to gain power has been present since the era of Julius Cesar. The site quickly explains that misinformation is false information spread unknowingly, while disinformation is spread deliberately. The site says the best way to combat disinformation is with critical thinking. It recommends looking for the source of the information we receive. This is an extremely important topic that needs to be discussed more with younger people.
chapter 4: A shared blueprint for a better digital future
After discussing the many dangers that social media and the internet pose, this page discusses how social media can be used positively. The site discusses how social media can give people suffering from oppression and abuse a platform to share their stories and make their voices heard. They use the #MeToo movement as an example. People suffering from the abuse of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein used the hashtag to share their stories and join together in solidarity. The site then discusses Amnesty International’s extensive work in exposing human rights violations and discrimination. They leave many links to their works. Finally, they discuss the legal progress that has been made to help prevent data manipulation.
The “Actions” page is essentially a culmination of every tip card seen on each “Chapter”. It provides helpful tips for data protection, such as using different browsers and downloading different browser extensions. It even provides an expected reading time for each series of cards.
In terms of accessibility, this website is somewhat behind. Many images on the site contain little to no alternative text, and some portions of the sight have low contrast. There are still some portions of the site that are up-to-date and accessible to all users.
“Your Data Mirror” is an extensive look into the rampant manipulation of data, whether for profit or for political gain. Despite its accessibility issues, it is a site that needs to be visited for those looking to stay safe on the internet.