October 25, 2018

Google wants to teach kids how to protect themselves against ‘bad actors’ online… wait, what?

Google looks to teach children how to be safe online with its new “digital-citizenship” education program, but not everyone thinks the tech giant is the right role model for the kids.

Y’all ready to be “internet awesome”? Google is, and it hopes your kids are down to clown, too.

The New York Times reports that “Be Internet Awesome” is Google’s new “digital-citizenship” education program developed to instruct kids in school on how to be “safe” on the internet. 

Whether Google is the appropriate role model for such a task is… well, debatable.

Yeah, Google is definitely an expert on the topic

The Google-branded program aims to teach youths how to safeguard themselves against “schemers, hackers, and other bad actors.”

It plans to reach 5m schoolchildren with the program this year and has teamed up with the National Parent Teacher Association to offer similar workshops to parents.

But does it offer workshops to teach parents how to protect their children from Google?

With great power, comes great contradiction

Google may have the PTA’s support, but there are many critics who feel the recent hot water Google has gotten into should disqualify the company from marketing itself as an arbiter of digital conduct to young people.

Maybe the PTA forgot Google was caught red-handed tracking users who explicitly turned off their location history (yeah, we get it, there’s fine print)?

Or that Google is developing a censored version of its search engine for the Chinese market? Doesn’t take the ethics police to deem that crime scene problematic. 

Even Tim Cook is raising the red flag

In Brussels yesterday, Cook railed against what he calls a “data industrial complex,” criticizing tech and government leaders who downplay tech’s negative impact on society while warning of the dangers of mass data collection.

Bottom line, if Google is going to tell kids what they should look out for online, they should probably at least address how companies like itself use their info to track their online activity.

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