Do Algorithms Get Scared?

The e-lit piece from last semester, called ScareMail Generator, is a prime example of how to cover your tracks on the Internet. Since I did not choose to talk about it back then, I assume it’s fair to do it for this particular post. ScareMail Generator is basically a program that adds “a narrative containing a collection of probable NSA search terms” at the end of an e-mail “in order to disrupt [their] surveillance”. In our last class, we were asked to come up with a way to fight back the algorithmic systems that collect personal information. Figuring out a way to confuse the algorithm is the best approach for the time being. Although this particular program, ScareMail Generator, is somewhat limited and specific, the concept of it is worth noting. Perhaps, another type of program with the same concept could be created for a wider online platform (twitter, maybe?).

I’m still not sure about the structure (or expectation) of our final project for this class, which is supposed to be a collaborative field guide of some sort. So, I do not know how effective something like the program above would be for it. Though, I believe it’s still relevant in terms of concept. As far as the optimism rating goes, I’d probably give it a 7.5 out of 10. The uncertainty of its impact drops the score little bit. If you wish to give it a try, here’s the link for it:


One thought on “Do Algorithms Get Scared?

  1. It’s more than fair to review the ScareMail Generator, it seems in line with other practices Ad Nauseum which, rather than trying to protect by putting up barriers (think Ad Blockers and Antivirus) it obfuscates your information by adding noise. It’s a worth one to have in the mix.

    The idea of sharing these notes is to be broadly Scouting now for interesting topics, but also putting them into a pool that others are generating. The network effect of all the notes will make this happen

    so they may help inform or inspire others. For now, just keep scouting out things like this.

    Liked by 1 person

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