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Technology · 40 episodes

IRL - Online Life Is Real Life

Firefox, backed by Mozilla

Our online life is real life. We walk, talk, work, LOL and even love on the Internet – but we don’t always treat it like real life. Host Manoush Zomorodi explores this disconnect with stories from the wilds of the Web, and gets to the bottom of online issues that affect us all. Whether it’s privacy breaches, closed platforms, hacking, fake news, or cyber bullying, we the people have the power to change the course of the Internet, keeping it ethical, safe, weird, and wonderful for everyone. IRL is an original podcast from Firefox, the tech company backed by Mozilla that believes privacy isn’t a policy. It’s a right.

Introducing IRL: Because Online Life is Real Life

4 months ago 00:02:10
Our online life is real life. We walk, talk, work, LOL and even love on the Internet – but we don’t always treat it like real life. Host Veronica Belmont explores this disconnect with stories from the wilds of the Web – and gets to the bottom of online issues that affect us all. Whether it’s privacy breaches, closed platforms, hacking, fake news, or cyber bullying, we the people have the power to change the course of the Internet, keeping it healthy, weird, and wonderful for everyone.

All Your Data Are Belong To Us

3 months ago 00:26:54
You’ve heard the expression, “When something is free, you’re the product.” And, while you may think it’s no big deal to give away your personal data in exchange for free online services, how can you know that what you get for what you give is a fair trade? Meet some of the people determined to shape the reality (or lack thereof) of privacy online.

The Neutral Zone: The Future of Net Neutrality

3 months ago 00:25:22
The Internet (at least in the US) is at a crossroads as the FCC is considering rolling back the net neutrality regulations it adopted in 2015. If net neutrality is abolished, the Internet could shift from an essential service that all consumers can access to a product that can be packaged and sold to the highest bidders. Get to know the potential winners and losers on both sides of the issue.

Hack Jobs

2 months ago 00:26:09
Have you been hacked, or been the victim of malware or ransomware? Humans make the internet vibrant, but we're also the weakest link — we're predictable and often easily fooled. This episode of IRL focuses on our internet insecurity. Meet the unsung heroes fighting to keep us safe.

The Care and Feeding of Your Troll

2 months ago 00:26:12
Trolls. You'll find them in every corner of the Internet. During this episode, explore the landscape of trolling online, its impact on individuals, and its impact on the Web. Some people are fighting back in new and tasty ways. Baked goods included.

I Spy With My Digital Eye

111 weeks ago 00:26:13
We react against the idea of surveillance, but it turns out that we’ve invited it into our homes through devices like digital assistants, connected toys, and baby monitors. Are you comfortable with the idea that someone might be watching you or listening to you right now?

All Access Pass

109 weeks ago 00:26:48
What is life like without fast Internet, and how does life change once a person has it? Should Internet access be a right, rather than a luxury? Veronica Belmont explores these questions as she talks to people about joining the digital economy. Inspiring stories of access are surfaced by members of a small Minnesota community and by a Syrian refugee who found hope in Amsterdam.

Free Speech, Limited?

107 weeks ago 00:36:59
In our final episode of season 1, we break from our usual format to host a big conversation. Recent events like the Charlottesville, VA rally have revealed the Internet’s role in helping spread IRL threats and violence. Leaders in the tech world have represented varying positions on both protecting free speech and also reducing hate speech online. Should tech companies regulate who says what on the Internet? Brandi Collins of Color of Change, Anil Dash of Fog Creek Software and Jillian York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation address this question and more with Veronica Belmont.

Status Update

Last year 00:26:16
In this bonus episode, we check in on some of Season One’s stories and see how they’ve evolved. Activist Amanda Werner talks about their turn as the Monopoly Man at the Equifax hearings, and how to create visibility for victims of identity theft. Investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler follows the case of hacker Marcus Hutchins, and tries to make sense of why he was arrested. Troy Hunt argues that IoT devices need warning labels. And, drumroll, we hear back from a troll we sent a cake to last season.

Net Neutrality Emergency

Last year 00:16:50
The battle for the open Internet isn’t over. In the days leading up to the FCC’s net neutrality vote, we investigate what’s next in the fight. We Rate Dogs’ Matt Nelson talks about trolling Ajit Pai with a pay-per-pupper plan. Verizon protesters share their experience on the ground. The FCC’s Mignon Clyburn weighs in on net neutrality’s road ahead, while Gizmodo’s Dell Cameron outlines how taking the fight to court could play out.

Bot or Not

Last year 00:28:10
Most website visitors aren’t human. They’re bots. And these automated accounts are having serious, real-world impact; from the 2016 election to the FCC’s recent, controversial net neutrality vote. Veronica Belmont investigates the rise of social media bots with Lauren Kunze and Jenn Schiffer. Lisa-Maria Neudert measures how bots influence politics. Butter.ai’s Jack Hirsch talks about what happens when your profile is stolen by a political bot. Ben Nimmo teaches us how to spot and take down bot armies. And Tim Hwang explores how bots can connect us in surprising, and meaningful, new ways.

Digital Overload

Last year 00:27:12
What does it mean to grow up online? Veronica Belmont investigates how the www is changing us: our personalities, our bodies, and our brains. A college student shares his experience at rehab for Internet addiction. Bestselling author Nir Eyal breaks down what apps borrow from gambling technology. Writer Heather Schwedel talks about taking a cue from Kanye and breaking up with Twitter. Blogger Joshua Cousins talks about the Internet as a lifeline, in the wake of recent natural disasters. And we challenge a group of brave volunteers with a no-smartphone challenge. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org.

Face Value

Last year 00:28:32
From Snapchat filters to Google’s art selfies, biometric technology plays a growing role in our everyday lives. What do we actually give up when we upload our face to these apps? Steven Talley shares his experience as the victim of mistaken identity. Artist Adam Harvey investigates how racial bias seeps into big data sets. Emily Kennedy and Glynnis MacNicol talk about the power and risks of recognition for marginalized communities. Joseph Atick, a forefather of facial recognition technology, reckons with its future. And we head to China, where you’ll need your face to use the bathroom.

Cloak of Invisibility

Last year 00:26:17
On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog, as the old joke goes. But does anonymity truly exist on the web anymore? And when it’s taken from us, what else do we lose? So Sad Today talks about the value of anonymity for women and self-care. Jonathan Hirshon shares his personal battle to keep his face off the Internet. New Yorker cartoonists Peter Steiner and Kaamran Hafeez discuss the evolution of memes and digital anonymity, in dog years. And Alison Macrina and Morgan Taylor reveal what’s underneath the surface of the searchable web.

Algorisky

Last year 00:29:33
From Google search to Facebook news, algorithms shape our online experience. But like us, algorithms are flawed. Programmers write cultural biases into code, whether they realize it or not. Author Luke Dormehl explores the impact of algorithms, on and offline. Staci Burns and James Bridle investigate the human cost when YouTube recommendations are abused. Anthropologist Nick Seaver talks about the danger of automating the status quo. Safiya Noble looks at preventing racial bias from seeping into code. And Allegheny County’s Department of Children and Family Services shows us how a well-built algorithm can help save lives.

Social Bubble Bath

Last year 00:27:30
We’ve long heard that the ways the web is tailored for each user—how we search, what we’re shown, who we read and follow— reinforces walls between us. Veronica Belmont investigates how social media can create and can break our filter bubbles. Megan Phelps-Roper discusses the Westboro Baptist Church, and the bubbles that form both on and offline. B.J. May talks about the bubbles he encountered every day, in his Twitter feed, and tells us how he broke free. Rasmus Nielsen suggests social media isn’t the filter culprit we think it is. And, within the context of a divided America, DeRay McKesson argues that sometimes bubbles are what hold us together.

Ctrl+Alt+Facts

Last year 00:36:59
From campaign bots to conspiracy videos, it’s harder than ever to discover the truth online. In conversation with The New York Times’ Sheera Frenkel, Data For Democracy Policy Lead and Mozilla Fellow Renee DiResta, and DisInfoMedia founder Jestin Coler, we navigate the age of disinformation. It’s the season finale of IRL, recorded live in San Francisco on March 18th, 2018.

Introducing Season 3 of IRL: Because Online Life is Real Life

Last year 00:01:59
In Season 3 of IRL, we're exploring the bargains we make online every day, and how we might approach striking better deals with the powers that be. You'll find out what happened when the U.S. Army got into the video game business, what it's like to be a professional flirter on Tinder (for real), and how a super cute pig transformed a person's life one Instagram post at a time. Episode 1 launches July 2nd. Subscribe via Apple podcasts or Spotify, or wherever you get your ear candy.

The Grand Bargain

Last year 00:29:30
We’re told from a young age to “accept the things we cannot change.” But should this be the case online as well? We click “Accept” every day, but often don’t know what we’re giving away. Is it a fair trade, and should we demand a better bargain? Veronica Belmont and special guest Dave Pell explore if what we get for what we give online is a good deal. We hear how one man’s HIV status was exposed without permission, how a massive data-mining company is using our information to predict how we'll behave, and why on earth our email inboxes are filling up with privacy policies.

Press Play

Last year 00:32:45
One of the most successful recruitment tools the U.S. Army ever made was…a video game? Sometimes without even knowing it, gaming elements in technology — often designed for addiction — are incentivizing you to think certain ways and do certain things. Join [Veronica Belmont](https://twitter.com/Veronica) and co-pilot [Ashley Carman](https://twitter.com/ashleyrcarman) as they explore the rise of gamification in our everyday lives, its positives and negatives, and its future.

Paid Attention

Last year 00:23:55
There’s a new currency in town (and no, we’re not talking about Bitcoin). We’re talking about attention. In this episode of IRL, Veronica Belmont and special guest Jane Lytvynenko explore all the ways your attention has become worth money on social media. Meet Hamlet the Piggy, an Instagram star who is helping her owner cope with epilepsy and also build a business; Lisette Calveiro, whose quest for fame online left her spending beyond her means; and media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, who discusses what’s behind the emerging attention economy. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org.

Virtual Connections

Last year 00:28:51
:'-) Ever wonder why emoticons exist? They popped up in the 1980s to make online connections feel a little less digital and a little more personal :D. In this episode of IRL, host Veronica Belmont and special guest Peter Rojas explore how the Internet is both building and also confusing our relationships every day. Chloe Stuart-Ulin gives a first-hand account of her life as a “closer” for an online-dating service; we hear a dramatic, real-life story about a woman who finds her biological parent online; and Emma Brockes talks about how we can all maintain humanity while interacting with others on the internet. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

Bullying and Bonding Online

Last year 00:32:50
It’s a problem when tribalism divides us, online or in real life. Join Veronica Belmont and Franchesca Ramsey as they meet the people working to make the web — and world — friendlier places. Jhamel Robinson discusses how he used social media to organize a massive BBQ in Oakland after a racial altercation went viral; Dr. Meredith Clark sheds light on the need for social media platforms to hire members of vulnerable communities; Jon Ronson talks about snap judgements; Professor Kip Williams speaks to the effects of ostracism online and off; and recent high school graduate Natalie Hampton shares her story of surviving extreme bullying and what she's doing now to help others. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

Kids These Days

Last year 00:37:16
Today’s teens are the first humans who have spent their entire lives online. Join Veronica Belmont and Manoush Zomorodi as they explore what kids are facing on the interwebs, how they’re using social media for good, how they’re handling cyberbullying, and how parents can keep up. Parkland, Florida’s Cameron Kasky discusses how he uses social media as a platform for activism; tech journalist Alexandra Samuel talks about Lil Tay and the role parents can play as they help their children navigate the internet; and Common Sense Media's Sierra Filucci gives us an exclusive look at data from a new study about technology's impact on our youth. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

What to Expect When You're Electing

Last year 00:47:36
The 2016 U.S. presidential election blew up our ideas about influence campaigns in the age of screens. Two years later, Veronica Belmont and Baratunde Thurston examine how the internet is changing our minds, our votes, and our democracies – all over the world. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Scott Shane details the United States' long history with election meddling. Paris correspondent for the Washington Post, James McAuley, shines a light on how other countries are managing the changing dynamics of online political campaigns. And speculative fiction authors Malka Older and Genevieve Valentine describe what elections may look like in the future, with advances in technology. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

Introducing Season 4 of IRL - Online Life is Real Life

11 months ago 00:02:21
Can ‘ethical tech’ be a thing? We think so. Season 4 of Mozilla’s IRL podcast will explore all the ways tech can have a more positive influence on people, communities, and societies at large. And, we’re delighted to welcome our new host Manoush Zomorodi, who will keep the season nerdy, human, and — importantly — fun, for all of us as we listen in. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

Checking Out Online Shopping

10 months ago 00:29:35
When you shop, your data may be the most valuable thing for sale. This isn’t just true online — your data follows you into brick and mortar stores now as well. Manoush Zomorodi explores the hidden costs of shopping, online and off. Meet Meta Brown, a data scientist who unveils the information Amazon captures about you when you make an online purchase; Joseph Turow, who discusses how retailers are stripping us of our privacy; and Alana Semuels, who talks about becoming a hoarder with the advent of online shopping. Plus, learn about a college coffee shop where you can actually buy a drink with your data. (Is it worth it?) IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

Your Password is the Worst

10 months ago 00:27:13
Look, we agree with you: passwords are the worst. But you know what else is the worst? Someone hacking your account, or big security breaches that expose your email, your credit card information, your government-issued identification number, and more. We should hold companies accountable for better security, but we also need to hold ourselves accountable for having good password hygiene. So let's tackle this once and for all. Hear from Buzzfeed's Mat Honan, who endured a brutal hack a few years ago when hackers exploited password-recovery tools; Mark Wilson from Fast Company, who wants to ban passwords altogether (though admits it's not the best idea); Masha Sedova of Elevate Security who says that, yes, security companies have failed us – but we have to use passwords anyway; and Matt Davey of 1Password, who offers a solution that Mozilla can get behind: use a password manager. A simple, game-changing tool that will help you take back control of your accounts, and secure yourself as best as you can. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

TL;DR

9 months ago 00:24:25
TL;DR: We have access to more things to read than ever before. Too much, in fact. Our reading habits have shifted. We skim a lot. We look for full stories baked into headlines. Our eyes bounce around from one article to the next, and we try and fail to manage how many things we read at once. Some of us can no longer concentrate on a book—no matter how good it might be. Reading has changed. And we’re changing alongside it. With host Manoush Zomorodi, Derek Thompson at the Atlantic talks headlines; Ernie Smith from Tedium rails against our bad browser tab habits; librarian rock star Nancy Pearl makes the case for analog books; Beth Rogowsky discusses if audiobooks can replace reading; and Nate Weiner from Mozilla’s Pocket shows us one way we can manage our reading overload. Happy New Year — let’s get working on that “I will read more this year” resolution. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

The Human Costs of Content Moderation

8 months ago 00:28:03
What, if anything, should be banned from online media? And who should review violent and explicit content, in order to decide if it’s okay for the public? Thousands of people around the world are working long, difficult hours as content moderators in support of sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. They are guided by complex and shifting guidelines, and their work can sometimes lead to psychological trauma. But the practice of content moderation also raises questions about censorship and free expression online.

The Surveillance Economy

8 months ago 00:27:39
In her new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Harvard Business School’s Shoshana Zuboff argues that tech companies — like Google and Facebook — collect so much personal data for profit, that they’re changing the fundamentals of our economy and way of life. And now these companies are learning to shape our behavior to better serve their business goals. Shoshana joins Manoush Zomorodi to explain what this all means for us. We then explore whether or not it’s time to end our relationship with corporate spies. OG advice columnist Dear Abby gives us some tips to start with. We chat with philosopher S. Matthew Liao. He asks if we have a moral duty to quit Facebook. Alice Marwick explains why most people won’t leave the social network. And journalist Nithin Coca tells us what it was like for him to quit both Facebook and Google. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t easy, but he has no regrets. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla, maker of Firefox and always fighting for you. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org.

Decentralize It

7 months ago 00:25:09
Some people believe that decentralization is the inevitable future of the web. They believe that internet users will start to demand more privacy and authenticity of information online and that they’ll look to decentralized platforms to get those things. But would decentralization be as utopian as advocates say it could be? Host Manoush Zomorodi speaks to Eugen Rochko of Mastodon, an ad-free alternative to Twitter; Justin Hunter of Graphite docs, a decentralized alternative to GoogleDocs; Maria Bustillos who hopes to help eliminate fake news online through the Blockchain; David Irvine, the co-founder of MaidSafe who plans to make the centralized internet as we know it redundant; and Tom Simonite of WIRED, who comments on both the promise and also the pitfalls of decentralization. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla, maker of Firefox and always fighting for you. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

What if Women Built the Internet?

7 months ago 00:24:58
All the things we love on the internet — from websites that give us information to services that connect us — are made stronger when their creators come with different points of view. With this in mind, we asked ourselves and our guests: "What would the internet look like if it was built by mostly women?" Witchsy founders Kate Dwyer and Penelope Gazin start us off with a story about the stunt they had to pull to get their site launched — and counter the sexist attitudes they fought against along the way. Brenda Darden Wilkerson recalls her life in tech in the 80s and 90s and shares her experience leading AnitaB.org, an organization striving to get more women hired in tech. Coraline Ada Ehmke created the Contributor Covenant, a voluntary code of conduct being increasingly adopted by the open source community. She explains why she felt it necessary, and how it's been received; and Mighty Networks CEO Gina Bianchini rolls her eyes at being called a "lady CEO," and tells us why diversifying the boardroom is great for business and innovation.

The "Privacy Policy" Policy

3 months ago 00:26:47
Privacy policies: most apps and websites have them, buried away somewhere. These legal documents explain how the company collects, uses, and shares your personal data. But let's be honest, few of us actually read these things, right? And that passive acceptance says a lot about our complicated relationship with online privacy. In the Season 5 premiere of IRL, host Manoush Zomorodi speaks with Charlie Warzel, writer-at-large with the New York Times, about our complicated relationship with data and privacy — and the role privacy policies play in keeping things, well, confusing. You'll also hear from Parker and Lila, two young girls who realize how gaming and personal data intersect. Rowenna Fielding, a data protection expert, walks us through the most efficient ways to understand a privacy policy. Professor Lorrie Cranor explains how these policies have warped our understanding of consent. And privacy lawyer Jenny Afia explains why "privacy" is a base element of being human.

Democracy and the Internet

3 months ago 00:25:02
Part of celebrating democracy is questioning what influences it. In this episode of IRL, we look at how the internet influences us, our votes, and our systems of government. Is democracy in trouble? Are democratic elections and the internet incompatible? Politico's Mark Scott takes us into Facebook's European Union election war room. Karina Gould, Canada's Minister for Democratic Institutions, explains why they passed a law governing online political ads. The ACLU's Ben Wizner says our online electoral integrity problem goes well beyond a few bad ads. The team at Stop Fake describes a massive problem that Ukraine faces in telling political news fact from fiction, as well as how they're tackling it. And NYU professor Eric Klinenberg explains how a little bit of offline conversation goes a long way to inoculate an electorate against election interference. IRL is an original podcast from Firefox. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

The Internet's Carbon Footprint

2 months ago 00:28:12
Manoush Zomorodi explores the surprising environmental impact of the internet in this episode of IRL. Because while it’s easy to think of the internet as living only on your screen, energy demand for the internet is indeed powered by massive server farms, running around the clock, all over the world. What exactly is the internet’s carbon footprint? And, what can we do about it? Music professor Kyle Devine considers the environmental costs of streaming music. Geophysicist and pop scientist Miles Traer takes his best shot at calculating the carbon footprint of the IRL podcast. Climate journalist Tatiana Schlossberg explores the environmental influence we don’t know we have and what the web’s got to do with it. Greenpeace’s Gary Cook explains which tech companies are committed to renewable energy — and which are not. Kris De Decker tries powering his website with a homebrew solar power system. And, Ecosia's Chief Tree Planting Officer Pieter Van Midwoud discusses how his company uses online search to plant trees. IRL is an original podcast from Firefox. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

The Tech Worker Resistance

2 months ago 00:22:37
There's a movement building within tech. Workers are demanding higher standards from their companies — and because of their unique skills and talent, they have the leverage to get attention. Walkouts and sit-ins. Picket protests and petitions. Shareholder resolutions, and open letters. These are the new tools of tech workers, increasingly emboldened to speak out. And, as they do that, they expose the underbellies of their companies' ethics and values or perceived lack of them. In this episode of IRL, host Manoush Zomorodi meets with Rebecca Stack-Martinez, an Uber driver fed up with being treated like an extension of the app; Jack Poulson, who left Google over ethical concerns with a secret search engine being built for China; and Rebecca Sheppard, who works at Amazon and pushes for innovation on climate change from within. EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn explains why this movement is happening now, and why it matters for all of us. IRL is an original podcast from Firefox. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.org

The 5G Privilege

2 months ago 00:23:43
‘5G’ is a new buzzword floating around every corner of the internet. But what exactly is this hyped-up cellular network, often referred to as the next technological evolution in mobile internet communications? Will it really be 100 times faster than what we have now? What will it make possible that has never been possible before? Who will reap the benefits? And, who will get left behind? Mike Thelander at Signals Research Group imagines the wild ways 5G might change our lives in the near future. Rhiannon Williams hits the street and takes a new 5G network out for a test drive. Amy France lives in a very rural part of Kansas — she dreams of the day that true, fast internet could come to her farm (but isn’t holding her breath). Larry Irving explains why technology has never been provided equally to everyone, and why he fears 5G will leave too many people out. Shireen Santosham, though, is doing what she can to leverage 5G deployment in order to bridge the digital divide in her city of San Jose.

Making Privacy Law

6 weeks ago 00:32:05
The word “regulation" gets tossed around a lot. And it’s often aimed at the internet’s Big Tech companies. Some worry that the size of these companies and the influence they wield is too much. On the other side, there’s the argument that any regulation is overreach — leave it to the market, and everything will sort itself out. But over the last year, in the midst of this regulation debate, a funny thing happened. Tech companies got regulated. And our right to privacy got a little easier to exercise. Gabriela Zanfir-Fortuna gives us the highlights of Europe’s sweeping GDPR privacy law, and explains how the law netted a huge fine against Spain’s National Football League. Twitter’s Data Protection Officer, Damien Kieran explains how regulation has shaped his new job and is changing how Twitter works with our personal data. Julie Brill at Microsoft says the company wants legislators to go further, and bring a federal privacy law to the U.S. And Manoush chats with Alastair MacTaggart, the California resident whose work led to the passing of the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Privacy or Profit - Why Not Both?

Last Month 00:26:31
Every day, our data hits the market when we sign online. It’s for sale, and we’re left to wonder if tech companies will ever choose to protect our privacy rather than reap large profits with our information. But, is the choice — profit or privacy — a false dilemma? Meet the people who have built profitable tech businesses while also respecting your privacy. Fact check if Facebook and Google have really found religion in privacy. And, imagine a world where you could actually get paid to share your data. In this episode, Oli Frost recalls what happened when he auctioned his personal data on eBay. Jeremy Tillman from Ghostery reveals the scope of how much ad-tracking is really taking place online. Patrick Jackson at Disconnect.me breaks down Big Tech’s privacy pivot. DuckDuckGo’s Gabriel Weinberg explains why his private search engine has been profitable. And Dana Budzyn walks us through how her company, UBDI, hopes to give consumers the ability to sell their data for cash.