Your Long Digital Shadow Cast by Facebook
I keep writing that people seem to believe we’re living in a world closer to 1970 than 2014. That is based on their scoffing about ‘conspiracy theories’ that claim technology is working to enslave the masses through sweeping, unbelievable information gathering that is only made possible by the combination of supercomputers, sprawling data centers twinkling in remote areas of Utah, and the basis that every American will not only carry with them a smartphone, but will soon have a house loaded with ‘smart’ devices.
“That’s a little paranoid, isn’t it?” you might say. “I like my smartphone. I also think smart devices, such as refrigerators, washing machines, and, in the future, even toothbrushes, will assist humanity in living more efficient, cleaner lives. And I don’t believe the corporations that are intertwined with the US government would ever use that information in a harmful manner.”
If that’s your position, then you’re not alone. Britney Spears undoubtedly believes the same. Trust your president. Trust your government. Everything is under control, America. Go back to sleep. Or watch more TV. Or go shopping. Everything’s good.
What people don’t understand is that they are being moved to a system of control through what seems like luxury. Our data is what is being exchanged for cool, sometimes pricey technological gadgets. There is no freedom anymore. Even after the Edward Snowden leaks, did Americans stop using their computers or smartphones? Not even in the slightest. That told our established transnational corporations and our war and invasion and snooping obsessed government to keep playing ball, and don’t hold back.
Can we even begin to assess the damage that has been done to our freedom of speech and our right to individual privacy a decade into Facebook, social media sites, and ubiquitous Internet connection?
Here is one indication about where we’re at in civilization, and it really should be heavily debated again and again, but we won’t see those debates because we like our constant connection and online chattering. We want to wear the Internet on our faces.
A marketing stunt for a game by Ubisoft is showing us just how compromised we’ve become with our data, our interactions, and the most personal details of our lives. As it’s been reported:
Digital Shadow first shows users the photos they’ve tagged as public, then it moves on to examine their friends. It shows users which of their Facebook friends they interact with most, which interact with them the most, which they don’t interact with at all, and (gulp) which friends they’ve been stalking that haven’t been stalking them back. (Those who’ve been keeping tabs on their exes should avoid this section at all costs.)
And, it gets worse:
Digital Shadow doesn’t stop there. It breaks down when users are most active on Facebook and where in the world they’re most likely to be found. It also provides a potential salary based on educational level and job title, as well as a breakdown of possible passwords that could be used to hack their accounts.
This is just a PR stunt. Imagine the technology behind the walls of the Pentagon. Famed theoretical physicist Michio Kaku has said in numerous radio interviews on venues such as Coast to Coast AM that the US government is at least 25, and maybe even 100 years advanced in technology that we the people do not see or use. We could not imagine what today’s advancements would look like with a 25 year leap.
It’s certainly possible, then, that if Ubisoft can create a program that can depict where you’ll be at a certain time, and how much money you earn, and even detail some of your private dreams, that the Pentagon, or the NSA would have supercomputers with the processing power to have a comprehensive profile on hand for every American. A profile that updates constantly and instantly as each person uses his or her computer and smart phone each day.
The profile would document in real time search terms and trends of interests and hobbies, areas of expertise, constant GPS tracking, interactions between you and everybody with which you ever text, call, Skype, or chat. All that information for every person streaming into a giant database that is as easy to run for an NSA top level official as Facebook is for you to spy on a friend of a friend.
Well, some people will never care. They love being tapped into the system and even feel like they are an integral part of it. Others will say, “If it makes us safer, we’ll take the surveillance.” And finally others will shrug their shoulders and say they ain’t doing anything wrong, so why should they worry? “You can spy on me all day long? I don’t care.”
These are foolish rebuttals from a zombie public that would rather not face the facts and think for a few minutes about the consequences of an entire nation, the greatest nation as many will claim, being completely ensnared in the sticky web of government and corporate surveillance.
That means there truly is no privacy. That means anybody can be blackmailed at any time, as everybody (except for Mother Theresa and my own mother, too) most likely have done something online that they regret, or is not flattering, or would not look good when made public.
The private spaces in our lives are our most important spaces. Privacy is where our ideas can thrive. Private conversations are integral in learning and understanding and communicating, without fear of judgment from a third party.
“I can still think in private,” someone might interject at this point. But that isn’t worth much when to be gainfully employed and to be taken seriously as a member of society, you have to be plugged into the system, and it is through all your other interactions, from what you “like” on Facebook, to what you buy from online retailers, to what you type into a search engine, to the various locations where your smartphone has logged you, that you’ve already handed over your identity and have become, in a computer model, a very predictable creature.
And that predictable creature can be run through a simulator that will predict how you act in any number of situations, from crisis to natural disaster. From that individual analysis, the public reaction can also be gauged. How will they react if we ban firearms in Los Angeles? What will the public do if they find out there was a drone strike on a family that hasn’t paid taxes in years and is so heavily armed that local deputies won’t go on the land? What would happen if all Internet connection is shut down in an area of a major city where a wide protest is going on? Will major city structures be able to handle the riots and fallout if twenty percent of Americans are unemployed?
Your data is priceless. For mass public control. For making more money. For manipulating individuals who dare stand up to the system.
I don’t think this is just paranoia speaking. If anything, people are a little naive as they rush around, bent over like monkeys to better view the screens on their devices, so they can keep tabs on the Kardashians, on racist billionaire NBA owners, and the endless stream of sports statistics.