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Private Bits: Privacy, Intimacy, & Consent

Welcome to the Private Bits Workshop!

In this workshop we will:

  • Meet algorithmic matchmakers, digital lovers, and virtual friends - as well as bots, ghosts, catfish, and butchers
  • Explore how consent applies to our digital (data) bodies
  • Discuss the impact of technology - positive and negative - on relationships, sex, and wellbeing

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Image courtesy of Unsplash

  This workshop is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Hartman-Caverly, S., & Chisholm, A. (2023). Private bits workshop.  ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox.

Warm-up Reflections

Answer the prompts:

  • What are the characteristics of a healthy relationship?
  • What are the characteristics of an unhealthy relationship?
  • How do you meet / seek out potential romantic partners?
  • What does consent mean to you?

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Could you fall in love with a bot?

Explore artificial intimacy by visiting AI or Human, 36 Questions, and This Person Does Not Exist.

Share your reflections on the Padlet!:

  • How can dating apps and sites, or malicious users, use techniques like bots, deepfakes, and AI-generated conversations to increase engagement?
  • How do these techniques impact intimacy and privacy?
  • ...Could you fall in love with a bot?

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Mapping our Digital Bodies

Select an app or device from the *Privacy Not Included links below and use the guided worksheet to evaluate how personal data is collected, shared, & interpreted.

Mozilla *Privacy Not Included Product Reviews:

Have FRIES with that: Consentful tech

"Consentful technologies are digital applications and spaces that are built with consent at their core, and that support the self-determination of people who use and are affected by these technologies." (

Tech is consentful when consent is:

  • Freely given - Does the tech mislead people into doing something they normally wouldn’t do?
  • Reversible - Do people have the right to limit access or entirely remove their data at any time?
  • Informed - Does the tech use clear, accessible language to inform people about risks and the data they are storing?
  • Enthusiastic - Are people giving up their data in order to access necessary services, not because they want to?
  • Specific - Does the tech only use data the person has directly given, not data acquired through other means, and use it only in ways someone has consented to?

Select one case study from the list below and use the FRIES framework to create a consentful tech analysis.

  • How does this tech respect consent?
  • What consent issues can you identify?
  • How consentful is this tech?

Algorithmic Matchmakers: Dating Apps and Social Media

Digital Bodies: Porn, Chatbots, and Sexual Data

Digital Lovers: Teledildonics and Smart Sextech

Virtual Friends: Aromantic and Asexual Intimacy

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Workshop Reflection