Janice Taylor, Mazu, Safe Social Media

From Our Founder

“The tech industry over the last 10 years has experienced a progressive increase in pervasive data collection tactics. Early on in my entrepreneurial career, I was struck by Facebook’s claim of a “free” online platform, knowing all too well nothing is ever free and that Facebook was not giving this tool out of the goodness of their hearts. In early 2009 I was still living in Saskatchewan and began to notice the rapid uptake of Facebook and similar platforms. Society was increasingly using these platforms for “socialization” and “connection.”  Immediately my thoughts went to my kids, women and vulnerable groups of people. Unlike many of my peers, I was not swept away by the promise of Facebook connecting the world. Disillusioned, I wanted to know how this “free” service would make money and what this system would really look like once we all woke up.

Children now do not remember a time before technology took over. Children as young as 2 years old are handed their first devices, be it an iPhone or iPad without much thought from many of us parents. Most parents are guilty of placating their children with this immediate distraction, particularly in restaurants, airplanes, and long car rides where once conversation and community would take place.

As a parent of two girls, I am also very guilty of using this handheld vehicle for entertainment. Parents are regularly succumbing to our own distraction devices, spending a great deal of time in our own social spaces such as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter. For many, we are now witnessing the real world fall out from all of this “connection”.

When I began my tech career I knew that eventually this system would break and we would have to seek out other viable solutions. Admittedly, I did not know how far and wide this problem would go or that it would polarize our communities so dramatically. My background in psychology allowed me to see fundamentally how systems like Facebook would have detrimental impacts on our mental health. I hoped the future I saw would not come to fruition. I never dreamed that our data, privacy and our rights to our information would be so severely compromised and violated. As adults, many of us know the consequences of these privacy breaches and still make the choice to participate in these platforms.  Unlike adults, our kids do not have the emotional and mental capacity to fully understand the long term consequences of being a part of these ecosystems, therefore, we as knowing adults must come together to protect our children’s future before it is too late!

In Canada, our legislation around online child safety, privacy, and data collection are very weak. This needs to change. It is one thing to use the data of a comprehending adult, it is another to use the data of a child. To effect position-momentum, I, together with my team, has issued a petition to motivate change in the House of Commons.  Please consider signing our petition here and inspire change in Canadian legislation.”

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