Privacy, how do you convince other people?

It seems to me that, when i talk to people, co-workers, family, others, about privcay, most of them don’t know or don’t care. (telling me they have nothing to hide, they don’t care, etc…)
What arguments do you use when trying to convince people that privacy matters? (if you haven’t given up on humanity already that is. :grin:)

1 Like

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”


I have made a pretty hard stance regarding nonfree software.

Result: Most f my family and friends now contact me via SMS or PhoneCall, since I don’t have facebook, twitter, instagram etc.


I was able to gently nudge about 60% of my family and friends onto Signal Private Messenger (one at a time, and it took a long time).

A good trick: when you’re eating out for lunch with them, and they are happily eating food they like (note, they are in a good mood), towards the end of the meal, broach the topic, and if they seem receptive (and don’t force it), guide them through every step, including the initial Signal messages passing between you. Yes, you will need to be properly entered into their Contacts App, and then Signal must be refreshed (tug the screen downward, on the screen after having clicked the pencil in a circle in the lower right, this pencil icon being seen on the main screen within Signal) to notice that the Contact book entry for you is indeed a known Signal user.

Then I use Signal Desktop client (but the rest of my family and friends usually use the smartphone app only). The Signal Desktop Client can now do live voice and video chat, BTW! Which is awesome sauce.

1 Like

PS: for some reason it was always impossible to nudge any of my (quite numerous) Asian friends into using Signal. They always couldn’t be pried away from WhatsApp! Maybe they had a very strong sense of clan-belonging, using WhatsApp like the rest of their family and friends.

Or perhaps I just don’t eat lunch enough with my Asian friends, in their defense. :slight_smile:

I guess I gave up. Apart from my wife and some exceptions, my family included, everybody is using WhatsApp and I do not use it. I am basically out of any social group or communication because nobody cares so why should I. Most of them have to contact me via SMS or phone call but that is out of fashion and therefor happens rarely. They do not want or use something like Signal, not even Telegram.

@Eltuxo said it. They do not care. I explained them why I do not use WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger but they live in those bubbles and cannot leave it because the whole world is there. If you are not on Facebook or WhatsApp you do not exist for them. Some people thought I do not own a phone.

Now that turned to a rant rather than how I tried to convince them.


I don’t really argue about it but I do keep emphasising that it matters to me and showing with my actions that that’s the case. I think a lot of folk take the path of least resistance, not just in computing, and I guess if that’s how they want to live their lives, they do leave themselves somewhat open to exploitation, sadly, in my opinion.

1 Like

Hack them; point out that if you can do it and you’re a noob (well, I am at least) then anyone can. Including the companies they’re “trusting” with their data that have open access to their devices anyway.

I guess hacking people’s stuff even if it’s your family isn’t legal… but hmmm :thinking:


I generally don’t. I think offering guidance is one thing, but trying to convince someone of something because it meets my standards is simply not easily justified. In almost any case I’d be trying to convince someone that sacrificing multiple facets of convenience and function is somehow a better option in a world where privacy by an activist’s standards is not a shared ideal. It’s not my job to make them think the way I do, nor is it anyone else’s. It’s just about being available for those who want it, rather than trying to make them want it.


Fantastic points. To that, I would add, you’ve heard of the fable of the frog in the slowly-heating frying-pan, right?

Yep, i’ve heard about it, but didn’t use it yet. That goes into the arsenal now. Thank you for the tip.

You can get devices/services you own that are similar to what they’re using and illustrate the hack for them which should be shortly followed by simple calls to action for preventing it.

Privacy is sacred whether it’s legal or not to break it, lead through example.


Convincing someone of privacy is a bit like trying to get smokers to quit smoking for their health. People are often complacent over themselves especially when there’s a social benefit. It’s why a wize man once said… “Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.”

One suggestion, show them an example company:

"A Predictim scan starts at $24.99 and requires a babysitter’s name and email address and her consent to share broad access to her social media accounts. The babysitter can decline, but a parent is notified of her refusal, and in an email the babysitter is told “the interested parent will not be able to hire you until you complete this request.” - WSJ

This service thankfully requires consent though that’s a luxury in the data mining industry. Over time services like these will become cheaper and omni-present though for now mass media seems to be keeping some at bay, presently is up for sale post onslaught.

But here’s the important part… even if they don’t care about themselves, they’re encouraging all their friends to use these platforms often to the point of social exclusion if they don’t.

Everyone, even the most privacy focused mess up privacy constantly. It’s important they know this. But it’s the constant pushing as a herd that gets us to a better place over time. This isn’t an overnight transition, just a call to start moving in a better direction.

1 Like

I have heard of that. It’s also been disproved, and it turns out frogs typically make an escape attempt because they are sensitive to temperature. Actually, they’re probably one of the most adept creatures in that regard.

I’m not so sure it makes sense, even if applied to humans. Sure, there’s the possibility that the gradual changes in how we invite technology into our lives can lead us to the point of not questioning things that would otherwise be questionable, but there’s also the flipside where it’s not really an issue, and that convincing them it is would be just as crazy as them convincing you it isn’t.

It’s the assumption that something one person values, like privacy, is somehow fully extensible to everyone if it’s aligned with your priorities. It’s just not.

List of possibilities not exactly all related and in no particular order.

  • Have a ready made solution that sounds cool and is as simple as grabbing an app from an “app store”. Many people are on WhatsApp simply because it typically handles large group conversations better, is easier to organize than most SMS apps, and can actually leave conversations if they want to. I imagine a large percentage never cared that it claimed to have E2EE and also didn’t think anything about it when Facebook bought them.

  • (Depending on your audience) Ask them more directed questions to make them actually think about their claim of nothing to hide. I had a friend that was still using a phone old enough it had stopped getting any updates, OS or otherwise. I asked if she had… certain pictures… on that phone, which she admitted to having. I brought up widespread news of different iCloud and similar hacks and told her that out of date software typically makes those jobs much easier. At the very least she finally upgraded her phone.

  • Remind them that it’s not always about hiding something. From the information the typical person has on their electronics, someone else can very easily become them. I think some people even have their Social Security number stored on a device somewhere meaning someone would have absolutely everything. Recovering from identity theft is much harder than some possibly embarrassing picture getting uploaded without your permission. Also worse than a company listening to everything in order to target ads better.

  • Implore them to read 1984 and help them realize the corollaries of said government (and it’s practices) to the modern tech and social companies. Prod them further if they’re sure they want to live in that future.

Just some ideas. YYMV

1 Like

Have them listen to just a single episode of Jack Rhysider’s Darknet Diaries podcast.

Ask them to consider a simple compromise situation and have them consider what they would do. Explain to them what a table-top exercise is and why businesses go through them.

The threat is real.


That was a highly insightful thing to say, and now I feel as though we’re arriving at the crux.

Paul Simon famously said “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor

To this I would add what hereby I call “Esbeeb’s Corollary”: “One man’s privacy is another man’s nakedness”.


Yes, I acknowledged that it was a fable, not fact. So I’m on your side here.

The fable of the frog, when used as a metaphor, still stands. Our privacy is being eroded one step at a time. But in such small steps that it’s hardly noticeable.
Unlike the frog, who senses that it’s getting too warm and flees, many people i know, don’t see the dangers. They warm up to whatever new flavor the day brings. They don’t ask questions. They just do whatever their phone/watch/whatever tells them to do.


Disagree. I believe if the heat gets turned up too much under these frogs, they will jump as well. I’m not sure there is a pot which can contain billions of frogs jumping in unison.

While personal responsibility can’t be understated, ultimately I believe it’s in the hands of developers and company leaders to protect people.

Your mechanic doesn’t expect you to know your supposed to fill your new oil filter prior to installing it, you dentist doesn’t expect you to know the acidity curve right after eating means you should wait to brush, your tax accountant doesn’t expect you to know you can’t write off your living room as a work expense unless the only thing that occurs in that room is work.

It’s madness to set the bar at expecting everyone be specialized in everything enough to know better in every facet of their life. Sure their data is a big deal but so is an immeasurable list of other things. So often that personal responsibility trick is used to abdicate the responsibility of those who know better and yet chose to betray that trust like a bad mechanic, a bad dentist, a bad tax accountant who’s cost is only revealed after-the-fact.

I think it’s worth informing people but far more important is forming a culture among developers to do the right thing and live a life that when they’re alone in a server room and asked to do something unethical that no one else will know about with the threat of being fired. They’ll still say no.