IRL - Online Life Is Real Life

A Technology, Tech News and Society podcast featuring
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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 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.IRL is an original podcast from Firefox. For more on the series, go to about Patrick Jackson and Geoffrey Fowler's privacy experiment.Learn more about DuckDuckGo, an alternative to Google search, at, we're pleased to add a little more about Firefox's business here as well — one that puts user privacy first and is also profitable. Mozilla was founded as a community open source project in 1998, and currently consists of two organizations: the 501(c)3 Mozilla Foundation, which backs emerging leaders and mobilizes citizens to create a global movement for the health of the internet; and its wholly owned subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation, which creates Firefox products, advances public policy in support of internet user rights and explores new technologies that give people more control and privacy in their lives online. Firefox products have never — and never will never — buy or sell user data. Because of its unique structure, Mozilla stands apart from its peers in the technology field as one of the most impactful and successful social enterprises in the world. Learn more about Mozilla and Firefox at
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.IRL is an original podcast from Firefox. For more on the series go to irlpodcast.orgLearn more about consumer rights under the GDPR, and for a top-level look at what the GDPR does for you, check out our GDPR summary.Here’s more about the California Consumer Privacy Act and Alastair MacTaggart.And, get commentary and analysis on data privacy from Julie Brill, Gabriela Zanfir-Fortuna, and Damien Kieran.Firefox has a department dedicated to open policy and advocacy. We believe that privacy is a right, not a privilege. Follow our blog for more.
‘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. IRL is an original podcast from Firefox. For more on the series go to Read more about Rhiannon Williams' 5G tests throughout London. And, find out more about San Jose's smart city vision that hopes to bridge the digital divide.
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 Rebecca Stack-Martinez is a committee member for Gig Workers Rising. Here is Jack Poulson's resignation letter to Google. For more, read Google employees' open letter against Project Dragonfly. Check out Amazon employees' open letter to Jeff Bezos and Board of Directors asking for a better plan to address climate change. Cindy Cohn is the Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF is a nonprofit that defends civil liberties in the digital world. They champion user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development.
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 Love the internet, but also love the environment? Here are some ways you can reduce your energy consumption — or offset it — while online. Learn more about Kyle Devine’s research on the environmental costs of music streaming. For more from Tatiana Schlossberg, check out her book, Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have. Have a read through Greenpeace’s Click Clean Report that Gary Cook discusses in this IRL episode. You can find solar-powered Low Tech Magazine here and, if the weather is bad, you can view the archive here. As Pieter Van Midwoud notes, Ecosia uses the money it makes from your online searches to plant trees where they are needed most. Learn more about Ecosia, an alternative to Google Search. Here’s more about Miles Traer, the geophysicist who calculated the carbon footprint of the IRL podcast. And, if you’re interested in offsetting your personal carbon emissions overall, can help with that. The sound of a data center in this episode is courtesy of artist Matt Parker. Download his music here.
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 Early on in this episode, we comment about how more privacy online means more democracy offline. Here's more on that concept from Michaela Smiley at Firefox. Have a read through Mark Scott's Politico reporting on Facebook's European election war room. For more from Eric Klinenberg, check out his book, Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life. And, find out more about Stop Fake, its history, and its mission here.
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. IRL is an original podcast from Firefox. For more on the series go to Charlie Warzel is an Opinion writer at large for the New York Times. You can get more insights from him about privacy online when you sign up for the Times’ Privacy Project Newsletter. If you’d like to learn more about privacy policies and their impact on our youth, check out Jenny Afia’s article on tech’s exploitative relationship with our children. This IRL podcast episode referenced several privacy policies, and we encourage you to read them. To start, here’s Firefox’s privacy policy. You’ll see that Firefox’s business model is not dependent on packaging your personal info. And, we hope you’ll find that our policy is easy-to-read, fully transparent, and specific. The other privacy policies referenced in this episode include: Google’s privacy policies Uber’s privacy policy Microsoft’s privacy policy Twitter’s privacy policy Facebook’s privacy policy
Season 4 of ZigZag is about examining the current culture of business and work, figuring out what needs to change, and experimenting with new ways to do it. Sign up for their newsletter and subscribe to the podcast for free wherever you get your podcasts.
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, 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. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla, maker of Firefox and always fighting for you. For more on the series go to Help us dream up the next season of IRL. What topics should we cover? Who should we talk to? Let us know by filling out this survey. Coraline Ada Ehmke has been an open source programmer for over 20 years and created the Contributor Covenant. You can also learn about Mozilla's own community participation guidelines. Meritocracy as an open source practice is briefly mentioned in this episode. Mozilla has taken steps to discontinue using the word “Meritocracy” as a way to describe our governance and leadership structures. Here's why. Mozilla is dedicated to fostering both an inclusive web and also inclusive working places. Learn more. Firefox is open source and driven by a community of volunteers and contributors. However, in the past decade, representation of women in open source has inched up merely 1.5 percentage points to a shockingly low 3%. Read about the importance of — and efforts to realize — open source gender inclusion. Like society, the Internet grows stronger with every new voice. What's healthy and unhealthy on the web when it comes to inclusion? Mozilla Foundation's Internet Health Report has some of the answers. And, check out this article from Common Sense Media, on kids and technology use.
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 Help us dream up the next season of IRL. What topics should we cover? Who should we talk to? Let us know by filling out this survey. Try out the decentralized endeavors covered in this episode of IRL: Mastodon Graphite Docs MaidSafe Popula Decentralization efforts are proof that the age of internet innovation is far from over. In fact, Mozilla staff work tirelessly on decentralized web standards, which have been — and continue to be — widely adopted. Mozilla co-chaired the W3C Social Web Working Group 2014 through 2018, which produced several key decentralized social web standards. Some have dozens of implementations like Webmention (a standard for federating conversations across the decentralized web); and MicroPub (a standard API for client applications to post to decentralized web services). Check out for more on key decentralized web standards, and ‘become a citizen’ of the Indie Web. As a part of Mozilla’s dedication to decentralized innovation, Mozilla participated in the 2018 Decentralized Web Summit. See our Founder and Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker’s talk on revitalizing the web. Hear Tantek Çelik, Web Standards Lead, speak on taking back your content with practical decentralization steps; and watch Chris Riley, Head of Policy, lead a web panel on decentralization. So, are you inspired? Want to work on the decentralized web? Join Mozilla at one of these events: Feb 23-24, 2019: IndieWebCamp Austin; Mar 30-31, 2019: IndieWebCamp New Haven; May 4-5, 2019: IndieWebCamp Berlin; June 29-30, 2019: IndieWeb Summit in Portland. Questions about participating? Ask here. For more, we've teamed up with 826 Valencia to bring you articles written by students on IRL topics this season. Accompanying this IRL episode, Huy An N. from De Marillac Academy wrote about centralized social media platforms and privacy. And, see this article from Common Sense Media, on why we need more research on kids and tech (centralized and not).
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 Shoshana Zuboff is the author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. Read Professor S. Matthew Liao's Op-Ed Do You Have a Moral Duty to Leave Facebook? in the New York Times. Here is Nithin Coca’s story on fully quitting Google. Mozilla is on your side. Firefox has never — and will never — sell your data. And, we make things that give you more control over your life online. If you love Facebook but hate their data collection practices, reduce what they can track about you. Try Firefox’s Facebook Container extension, which makes it harder for Facebook to track you on the web outside of Facebook. Want more? Mozilla has teamed up with 826 Valencia to bring you perspectives written by students on IRL topics this season. Gisele C. from De Marillac Academy wrote this piece on the importance of diversity in tech. And, check out this article from Common Sense Media, on the science behind kids’ tech obsessions. Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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. In this IRL episode, host Manoush Zomorodi talks with a forensic investigator who compares the work she does solving disturbing crimes with the work done by content moderators. We hear the stories of content moderators working in the Philippines, as told by the directors of a new documentary called The Cleaners. Ellen Silver from Facebook joins us to outline Facebook's content moderation policies. Kalev Leetaru flags the risks that come from relying on artificial intelligence to clean the web. And Kat Lo explains why this work is impossible to get exactly right. Some of the content in this episode is sensitive and may be difficult to hear for some listeners. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla, maker of Firefox and always fighting for you. For more on the series go to Read the New York Times article on Facebook's content moderation policies and also Facebook’s response. Want more? Mozilla has teamed up with 826 Valencia to bring you perspectives written by students on IRL topics this season. Nicole M. from De Marillac Academy wrote this piece on inappropriate content online. And, check out this article from Common Sense Media, on disturbing YouTube videos that are supposed to be for kids. And finally, this IRL episode’s content underscores the importance of supporting companies committed to ethical tech and humane practices. Thank you for supporting Mozilla by choosing Firefox. Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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 With so many possible articles to read every day online, it can be hard to sort through what to read and what to skip. Help yourself — give Pocket a try, the app and web service featured in today’s episode. Pocket brings you human curated articles that are selected to inspire, inform, and motivate you. Learn more. Ernie Smith's manifesto to those of us make reading promises we cannot possibly keep is here. Like his style? Sign up for his Tedium newsletter. We mention a bunch of books in this IRL episode — here they are: Solitude by Michael Harris, The End of Absence by Michael Harris, Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi,Hit Makers by Derek Thompson, Book Lust books by Nancy Pearl. Want more? Mozilla has teamed up with 826 Valencia to bring you perspectives written by students on IRL topics this season. Cymreiy P. from De Marillac Academy wrote this piece on clickbait and homework. And, check out this article from Common Sense Media, on how to teach your children about clickbait. Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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 Your passwords protect more than your accounts. They protect every bit of personal information that resides in them. And hackers rely on bad habits, like using the same password everywhere or using common phrases (p@ssw0rd, anyone?), so that if they hack one account, they can hack many. Password managers like 1Password, LastPass, Dashlane, and Bitwarden generate strong, unique passwords. They also store passwords securely and fill them into websites for you. IRL listeners can sign up to 1Password and get their first three months for free. Just visit and give it a try. And, if you use Firefox on your iPhone, try out Firefox Lockbox. It securely gives you access to all the logins you've saved to Firefox, in a secure app on your phone. As we mention in this episode of IRL, Gabriela Ivens cataloged hundreds of secret recipes that were leaked during data breaches. Firefox teamed up with her to show the personal impact a security breach can have on someone. As a bonus, we let you in on those precious recipes to drive the point home. Go have a look — and be sure to try the “Exposed BBQ Spice Rub” — at Want more? Mozilla has teamed up with 826 Valencia to bring you perspectives written by students on IRL topics this season. Zues C. from De Marillac Academy wrote this piece on managing your passwords, and managing your life. And, check out this article from Common Sense Media, on real-world reasons parents should care about kids and online privacy. Three cheers for good passwords (and password managers). Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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 Throughout this season, IRL will feature essays from students who are sharing their thoughts on how the web impacts them — for good or bad. This week's post explores what a Facebook hack taught a teen about privacy. IRL is also partnering with Common Sense Media for tips on how families can stay safe and strong online. This week's post explains what families can do to safeguard their data. Meta Brown is the author of Data Mining for Dummies. Joseph Turow is the author of The Aisles Have Eyes. Read Alana Semuels essay, We Are All Accumulating Mountains of Things. And, if you decide to shop online this holiday season, Firefox has you covered with Pricewise, which tracks prices for you across five top US retailers: Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Home Depot and Best Buy. Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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 Here's more about IRL Season 4, Manoush, and the Mozillians who make the IRL podcast.
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 Baratunde Thurston has worked for The Onion and produced for The Daily Show. He’s the host of the iHeartMedia podcast Spit, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. Scott Shane is a reporter in the Washington bureau of The New York Times. Have a look at his recent reporting, The Plot to Subvert an Election. Malka Older is a writer and humanitarian aid worker. Her latest fiction book State Tectonics is about how the future of democracy can be purchased. Go here to check out Candidate Y, her speculative fiction that premiered on this episode of IRL. Genevieve Valentine is a novelist. Her most recent book is a near-future political thriller called ICON. Go here to read her short story “Hello, I’m Your Election” featured in this IRL podcast episode. For more on telling fact from falsehood leading up to election cycles, watch Mozilla’s original short film, Misinfo Nation: Misinformation, Democracy, and the Internet. This article discusses how fair elections require responsible tech. Mozilla Foundation Advocacy Lead Ashley Boyd suggests that for democracy to thrive in the internet era, we need technology that respects privacy. And, really: it shouldn't be hard to participate in politics. Mozilla is out to make it a little easier. Go to to get Firefox features to help you counter misinformation as you browse the Web and lessen the ability for those behind political ads to microtarget you on Facebook. Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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 and the 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 Manoush Zomorodi is the co-host of ZigZag, a podcast about changing the course of capitalism, journalism, and women’s lives. She's also the author of Bored an Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self. Cameron Kasky is a co-founder of March For Our Lives. Use your vote. If you live in the U.S., here are are some resources to help you register. Jeff Kasky is the President of Families vs. Assault Rifles, a political action committee founded by parents of Parkland, Florida Douglas High students working to restrict access to assault rifles. For a detailed summary of Common Sense Media’s findings on technology and teens, check out this summary of their Social Media, Social Life study. Also, check out this commentary from Common Sense about supporting research on tech's impact on the health and well-being of kids. There are a number of Firefox extensions that can help parents guide their children's internet experiences, such as Parental Control: Family Friendly Filter, which blocks certain websites deemed inappropriate for kids. You can find this extension and more in our Parental Controls collection. Finally, here’s a short film by Darren Pasemko and Mozilla’s Brett Gaylor demonstrating just how much technology has come into family life. Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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 Here is material on digital inclusion from Mozilla. We also recommend reading this article from Mozilla's head of Diversity & Inclusion, Larissa Shapiro, on inclusive and exclusive culture. Find Franchesca Ramsey's new book Well That Escalated Quickly on her personal site, and check her out on MTV's Decoded. Jon Ronson's book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, is available here. Follow Jon as he tries his hardest to be an expressive (but respectful) online citizen on Twitter. And, learn more about Natalie Hampton's Sit With Us app here. Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
:'-) 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 Read more about Chloe Rose's experience as a "closer" for hire on online dating apps here. Emma Brockes writes a column for the Guardian called How to be Human Online. She's just written a book too called, An Excellent Choice: Panic and Joy on My Solo Path to Motherhood. To read Ingrid Burrington's essay mentioned in the podcast about CorrLinks, the email service providing connection for inmates at U.S. prisons, go here. Check out this article about how the internet has changed dating forever. Online dating coach Laurie Davis Edward shares her thoughts on the good, bad and ugly that comes with finding love on the web. And, for more about human connection, and what our innate desire for it means for us as we — more and more — love, do business, and find our tribes online, read this piece by cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell. Finally, for some bonus audio on how technology interfered with a marriage proposal — and commentary on new relationship norms — head over to Mozilla's blog. Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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 When does attention online turn into addiction online? Here’s a perspective from Mozilla’s Heather West. Imagine a world where social networks weren’t necessarily designed to capture your attention, but instead were built to benefit you and your community. Here are some thoughts by Katharina Nocun on what this would look like. And, here’s a piece by Nick Briz about how attention merchants online use your digital fingerprints to target you with content. Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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 and co-pilot Ashley Carman as they explore the rise of gamification in our everyday lives, its positives and negatives, and its future. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to Ashley Carman is the co-host of the tech podcast, "Why’d You Push That Button?" Natasha Dow Schüll has written several books including Keeping Track and Addiction by Design. She uses the Freedom App to lock herself offline. Long before the Internet, games were a source of entertainment, comradery, and learning. The rise of technology-enabled games to take on video form, and gaming as we know it became popular. Big Tech now gamifies most elements of our online life. The more you know about the evolution of games and why we are all so connected to them, the more you can see how they’re used to sometimes make online experiences better and sometimes more addictive. Here's more on the games we play online, from Mozilla. Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to Tom Hayes works for an organization called Beyond Positive. Learn more. Nora Young discusses the GDPR in this episode. Here are 13 more things you need to know about the GDPR. Beyond GDPR, check out what else is changing your online rights. The rest of Jaron Lanier's talk can be heard on TED Talks Daily. Find Dave Pell's NextDraft newsletter here. And, click here for Mozilla's take on privacy and the trade-offs we make online. Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to For behind-the-scenes video of IRL Trailer production, and a bit more about why we're making this podcast, check out our blog.
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. A recent Gallup survey found that most Americans feel that it’s harder today to be well-informed than ever before. But each of us can play a part in stopping the spread of misinformation. Learn more. IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Firefox, backed by Mozilla
Podcast Status
Jun 12th, 2017
Latest Episode
Sep 9th, 2019
Release Period
2 per month
Avg. Episode Length
27 minutes

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