What's good in this deportation story


A reminder of something that ALWAYS matters.

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Ismail B. Ajjawi is a 17 year old Palestinian student who won a scholarship to study at Harvard. When he arrived in the US yesterday to do just that, he was “Deported After Visa Revoked”. At the moment, Harvard officials are working to resolve the matter before classes begin (SEE UPDATE BELOW!).

More details, including Ajjawi’s previous school achievements, are here and here. But there is a side of this story that, as far as I can see, nobody else has properly highlighted yet.

The worst and best part

The right of the US (or any other country, of course) to decide who cannot enter it and why is not under discussion here. As far as I am concerned, what really everybody, everywhere, should notice here has nothing to do with US, Palestine, or even immigration in general, really.

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Why, exactly, was Ajjawi deported? He told the Harvard Crimson that:

  1. an officer found “people posting on [social media] political points of view that oppose the US on his friend[s] list.”
  2. Ajjawi pointed out that he himself “had not made any political posts and that he should not be held responsible for others’ posts.”
  3. He has “no single post on his timeline discussing politics.”

Metadata matters. It always did

Metadata is “data about data”. In this case, it is Ajjawi’s list of contacts on social media.

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CAPTION: Metadata MATTERS! More than data

Bernard Stiegler said in 2010 that “metadata first appeared in Mesopotamia and the production of metadata has been the principal activity of those in power from the time of the proto-historical empires right up to today”.

Metadata matters. It alwasy did. And so does its protection.

If the “friends list” part of this story is exactly as reported so far, it has a very positive side (not for Ajjawi, of course): it shows, once more but in a very effective way:

  1. how TOTALLY STUPID the “I have nothing to hide” position is
  2. forget posts, selfies… the first thing EVERYONE should think about is their METADATA (friends list here, but could be everything), and how it could be abused

Metadata impact every aspect of your life. It is extremely myopic to think “Hey, I’m not migrating anywhere, so who cares?” Abuse of metadata about you can harm you in, just to make a few examples:

Metadata abuses must be prevented, with better regulations, personal clouds and, above all, much more awareness and education about them. Share this story to make your friends start thinking about it!

Update 2019/09/03:

I just read that Ajjawi “is now on campus for the school’s 2019 academic year”

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