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Digital Death Clean: How To Wipe Your Ex Out Of Your Life

I have a bit of a slash-and-burn preference when it comes to managing recent exes; as in, I try to push them far away from my eyes, ears, screens, and general orbit. Breakup etiquette varies by the individual, of course, but I’m a big believer in ceasing Facebook friendship (or, at the very least, unfollowing). It’s weird to feel nostalgic for the time when that was enough to banish an ex from your pixelated portals—now, the measure is only one facet in a series of controlled burn tactics.

Even after unfriending, then unfollowing on Instagram and Twitter, there’s still work to be done to scrub all those timelines of your ex. Enter: the Digital Death Clean. It sounds metal because it is—and it works. Let’s look at how to rid your internet and phone of crummy former flings once and for all.

Yes, in theory, simply ending a Facebook friendship should mean you never have to see said unfriended person on your feed ever again. And yet! It’s not exhaustive; namely, your search history never forgets. Until you tell it to. Clear your Facebook search history by clicking into the search bar. From there, hit edit, and clear searches. Gone! This is a good option if you don’t want to be so extreme as to full-on block them from ever viewing your profile (and you theirs).

Again, blocking is always an option, but the mute button is a little less visceral. Fam, this function has been around since 2014. Head to their account (which you perhaps have already unfollowed), click the three dots next to the follow button, and select mute. From there, you shouldn’t see any interactions they have had with your mutuals. Tight.

You got options here: As with Twitter, you can mute their account (toggle to their account, hit the three dots in the top right corner, mash mute). Or, as with Facebook, you can reset your search history back to a clean slate—which, TBH, doesn’t seem like a bad idea every now and then regardless of recent heartbreak. To do the latter: Go to your profile, hit the gear icon on an iPhone or the three dots on an Android (both in the top right corner, aka “settings”), tap search history, and then clear.

In case you have a momentary lapse and want to “check in” on their account, know that this will intro their handle back into your search history. Throw some proverbial Clorox on any possibility of that by permanently hiding their handle. Visit the search page, hit the search bar, tap top or people, tap and hold the account(s) you want to avoid, and then mash “hide.”

And, assuming you want to avoid any future orbiting instances, block them from viewing your Insta stories like so: Pull up any of your existing stories, hit the “more” option in the bottom right corner, select story settings from the pop-up menu, then “hide story from” and select their account. That golden content is a privilege, not a right. (Note: If they don’t follow you, this option won’t work. Perhaps consider going private for a spell or something? Remember that public profiles—including stories—are public to, uh, the public.)

Knock that baby outta your friends list first, then—you might not like this one—change your story setting to friends-only. Unfortunately, if you keep that and your contact settings open to everyone, that means even non-friends can pay you a virtual visit—including someone who possibly did you pretty dirty in the past (I mean your ex[es]).

It should be illegal that unfriending someone on Facebook doesn’t automatically abolish them from your Venmo as well. Alas. Visit their profile, hit the three dots in the top right corner (noticing a trend now, eh?), select block. You have absolutely no need to keep up with their paying a roommate for electricity each month—let alone any current or future transactions with A Hot Person. Life is hard enough; don’t add in the extra energy suck of paranoia regarding who “Katie N.” is and what the hell all those random emojis mean.

Is your old bae jamming hot, new, very clear sex bangers now? Ones you don’t recall them ever enjoying before? You’ll feel crummy. Is old bae jamming old songs that y’all used to call “ours”? You’ll feel crummy then, too. There is no winning. Unfortunately, Spotify does not offer blocking functionality, so you will just have to unfollow (go to their profile, hit the button that says “following” till it confirms by reading “follow”) until the app remedies that oversight—which, hopefully, Spotify will be pressured to do soon. In some troubling stalking scenarios, some users have reported people monitoring their song listening to further harass them. At least Spotify ended its inbox feature?

iPhone contact
Something sorta fun is that Apple has made it a headache to swiftly and fully delete a contact from its memory. I have anecdotal evidence that just because you delete a contact does not mean it is actually gone; as such, sometimes as little as three letters (combined with three margs) can resurrect a phone number from the dead. No, thank you! Also, heaven forbid you date two Chrises in a row (but really). Click through recent calls or text messages till you land on their number. Tap their number and scroll through options like call, FaceTime, etc., until you land on “remove from recents.” SMASH IT. (Bonus: From here, you can also permanently remove their birthday from your calendars.)

Android user? No worries—look for info on how to do the same on your device here.

iMessage predictive text
Talk about new beginnings. Kinda sucks how radical your only option is here—but not as much as every time you start to type “whatever,” and the word quickly rearranges to form a loathsome ex’s last name. You need to reset your keyboard dictionary, bb. To do this: Go into your iPhone settings, hit general, then reset, and—finally—”reset keyboard dictionary.” Most phones prompt your passcode before allowing such a nuclear blast. Yes, you will have to manually re-enter the “shrug” to “¯\_(ツ)_/¯” but, on the bright side, you are now free to “whatever” your brains out without reliving the time dude left skid marks on your sheets yet refused to accept blame.

And that, friend, is true freedom.



Government to create digital death-reporting service

Government to create digital death-reporting service

Doctors across England and Wales are required to inform their local medical examiners’ office of all deaths they record. These examiners, who then scrutinise and confirm the recorded cause of death, were introduced as part of reforms that came in light of the Harold Shipman case, which were designed to provide more safeguards and greater transparency in the death-reporting system.

Currently, doctors must inform examiners of newly recorded deaths via phone, email, or in person. The examiner than has five days to complete a process that is based on paper and the Microsoft Access database tool.

The Department of Health and Social Care wants to develop a digital system that allows notifications to be sent and received by doctors and examiners. The platform must also be able “to capture an interaction as a coded transaction with a unique reference and, also, to store and transfer information” – including to other government departments, with whose systems the death-reporting platform must be interoperable.

The DHSC has issued a contract notice via the Digital Marketplace seeking a supplier to complete the alpha and beta stages of the project over a timeframe of up to seven months. Bids are open until 9 August, with work due to start on 19 September.

Up to five suppliers will be evaluated, and the winning bidder will be expected to provide a full “multi-disciplinary team”. This team – and the project as a whole – will be managed by “a full-time member of the DHSC Medical Examiner Programme team”.

The project will be based in Leeds, and pilot sites are being run in Sheffield and Gloucestershire. Work will also take place remotely.

“The discovery phase revealed that to meet the needs of NHS-based service users, the introduction of medical examiners and all accompanying processes must be fit for purpose digitally,” the contract notice said. “The processes of a medical examiner’s office, notably, the scrutiny of reasons given as the cause of death, require completion within a strict timeframe, avoiding delays to the registration of a death.”

It added: “This service will be used within the NHS by trained staff and will not have any public facing functions, however, a medical examiner system needs to be able to record any concerns that may be raised by the bereaved.”

Digital death

Digital death

THERE’S no shortage of colourful characters in Karachi. One such character — a wandering beggar clearly not in command of his mental faculties — was a regular fixture in the Boat Basin area.

While begging and wiping cars with a stained rag, he would also harangue his targets: He was next in line to be COAS, he said, except he lost out due to Zia who — along with America, India and Israel — was determined to kill ZAB. With the arrival of Benazir, his ire shifted to ZAB’s daughter who, he claimed, ignored his efforts to save her father.

Later, his target was Musharraf who — like Zia — had also denied him his due. The song remained the same, even if the lyrics did change somewhat. Most ignored him as he tried to penetrate their air-conditioned metal cocoons with his conspiracy theories. Some gave him money to send him on his way and some others actually listened — perhaps as a way to pass the time before the light turned green. What no one did was to get on their phones and call everyone they know while shouting ‘GUESS WHAT I JUST HEARD?’

And yet, while we do ignore the rantings of madmen on the street, if the said rant were to be typed and WhatsApped, even the seemingly well-educated and savvy have no qualms forwarding nonsense to everyone from their parents to their plumbers.

Most of it is harmless: No, eating fruit on an empty stomach will not give you cancer. But then it gets ugly: conspiracy and allegations are passed around as fact. Doctored photos, quotes and videos circulate, inflaming passions and even leading to murder.

Even the ‘savvy’ have no qualms forwarding nonsense.

Since May last year, at least 30 people have been lynched in various Indian states due to rumours spread via WhatsApp: news is circulated alleging that child abduction gangs are looking for victims whom they then press into slavery or harvest for organs. The posts are complete with pictures of ‘arrested’ culprits and victims which, while genuine, are not related to current cases but are lifted from older, unrelated cases.

The messages are also written in the native language of the states being targeted, indicating an organised and planned effort to fan mistrust. Efforts to counter the misinformation have proven less than successful and one person who was sent to inform villagers about the facts by the government was himself lynched. Why is this happening?

One reason is the combination of digital penetration and information illiteracy; India has some 530 million smartphone users, and WhatsApp users have risen to 200m, a nearly 300 per cent increase in three years. In this atmosphere, while the information-savvy may mark a message as dubious or spam if it is received from multiple sources, to others the frequency of the message is confirmation.

To paraphrase Goebbels, a lie, if forwarded enough times, becomes the truth. But of course, a simple rumour isn’t enough to make people go out and kill, unless there are existing tensions that can be exploited and amplified. So where there are tribal tensions, the messages refer to ‘outsiders’ and where there are Hindu-Muslim tensions, the purveyors of falsehood exploit those.

Case in point: the recent rape of a minor Hindu girl in Mandsaur saw protests by both local Hindu and Muslim communities against the perpetrator, but what went viral was a Photoshopped image showing that the Muslim protest was in fact in support of the killer. Countless examples abound. Again, in an atmosphere where ‘cow vigilantes’ wantonly lynch Muslims on mere suspicion, one can see why such messages find an eager audience.

Helping this along are sections of Indian mainstream media, which routinely have sensationalised — and often completely fake — stories that exploit communal tensions for the sake of ratings, and if the stunning exposé by Cobrapost is to be believed, for tons of cash.

By contrast, journalists critical of Narendra Modi or Hindutva extremism are subjected to protracted and sustained hate campaigns on social media, seemingly with the blessing and supervision of the BJP’s IT cell; even Sushma Swaraj was not spared the wrath of this foul-mouthed cyber army. Citing serial purveyors of fake news like Opindia and Postcard News (the founder of which is followed by Modi on Twitter), these troll armies use the same tactics as those spreading the child abduction rumours.

Given that fake news and propaganda are essential parts of the Modi machine, one wonders how serious the government is in tackling this menace. Is the death of 30 people simply collateral damage in the propaganda war? WhatsApp has been late off the mark, much like Facebook and fake news, and is only now saying that it is planning to fund research into combating this menace news.

Again, here there is a conflict between principle and profit. Filling the void are independent fact-checking sites like AltNews, SmHoaxSlayer and Boomlive, who wage a valiant battle against this phenomenon, only to have the targets of their fact-checking in turn call the fact-checkers ‘fake’.

The writer is a journalist.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2018

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