Not Such a Private Topic Anymore

Not Such a Private Topic Anymore

Insights from India's largest independent campaign on individual privacy and online safety

Why We Supported a Campaign for Individual Privacy

Campaigns can move mountains. #BlackLivesMatter captured the global public consciousness in 2020 and made diversity, equity, and inclusion an urgent, important, and universal agenda. In 2020, it generated over 1.2 million actions including donations, outreach to people's representatives, and petitions. Back In 2006, an Inconvenient Truth did the same for climate change, and had effects on people's attitudes and immediate behaviours, and arguably on the course of business and policy.

An Inconvenient Truth

However, the will to take action fades even a month from watching An Inconvenient Truth- just like a new year's resolution in February. Societal and behavioural change takes persistence and patience. As a movement (and organization) founded in 2013, even #BlackLivesMatter needed sustained efforts to see a change in society. And the issue of climate change needed reframing to an issue of this generation, from one affecting future generations. If people see an issue as important but not urgent, procrastination sets in. This is a challenge that privacy and online risks face today.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica expose, people have been getting "˜woke' about the internet and social media. We are realising that privacy is important and that social media platforms are built on collecting personal data. Experts have likened this personal data to CO2 - the exhaust from our digital lives that harms us individually and as a society.

This sentiment swelled in 2020 when the Social Dilemma became the first documentary ever to be the most popular movie on Netflix. Privacy policies changes in popular social media apps made headlines and sparked an exodus of users. Bollywood stars were commenting on surveillance and the conversation picked up steam like never before. But even though conversations around privacy are more mainstream than ever before, there is no guarantee that they will be fact-based and nuanced, or that people will make informed choices. Many people still aren't clear what difference privacy makes, what the standard should be, and how to be safe online.

And besides, informed choices may not be enough for all Indians to be empowered and safe online. Like climate change mitigation and societal wellbeing, it will require systems, policies, and businesses to change, not just people's habits.

To keep internet users informed and active about the risks of our digital lives, and drive conversations and positive collective action, 21N78E, a digital marketing agency, conceptualised the #ReclaimYourPrivacy campaign and ran it in partnership with Aapti Institute, a think tank. It was supported by Omidyar Network India.

Reclaim Your Privacy was a digital-first campaign that was primarily focused on netizens with an aim of making them informed and active internet users. It reached out to them through an Instagram page as well as their own website.

Here's an illustration of the early thinking around the initiative and what it aimed to achieve:

How Far Has #ReclaimYourPrivacy Come?

#ReclaimYourPrivacy has 65M+ views so far, and has run a number of initiatives across digital mediums:

  1. A website with over 50 remedies for online safety and data privacy
  2. Three short films with over 7.2Mviews across social media and other digital platforms
  3. The world of unconsented data brokerage
  4. A day in the life of a social media troll
  5. Overcollection of data and surveillance
  6. Voices like Saloni Gaur, Dolly Singh and Vishnu Kaushal featured in over 25 influencer collaborations, sharing their stories and thoughts on data privacy, and garnering 3.2M+ cumulative views across Instagram and Facebook.
  7. A multi-episode series called “The Private Chat”, an IGTV series to uncover data privacy issues and provide solutions to safeguard data featuring influencers and experts working in this field.

What are #ReclaimYourPrivacy’s Top Insights?

21N78E captured the journey and insights from these experiments and approaches in the first-of-its-kind playbook for campaign managers, in partnership with Aapti Institute. If you are working on edutainment, communications, and behaviour change for social impact, it has five plays that you can plug into your work right away.

Read on and please do share your thoughts with us!

#ReclaimYourPrivacy Playbook View

The #ReclaimYourPrivacy campaign is now run by Mythos Labs, a social enterprise that uses media and technology to promote positive narratives and online safety.