The ability of major corporations to monitor and manipulate our almost every move is becoming more and more real by the day. No, I am not some Luddite advocating an abandonment of the wonderful advancements of technology we enjoy (like the computer I am typing on right now). I am, however, very concerned about the rapid constriction of liberty in our country, due in part to the almost monopolistic control by the “Big Five” high-tech corporations (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft).
Even Hollywood sees a problem here, and recently produced “The Circle” (starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson), which addresses the very real march of Big Tech erasing our privacy and taking over our lives:
Here are four reasons why we all should be concerned about the awful power amassed by Big Tech:
1. They are spying on us.
Call me naive, but it was always an assumption as I was growing up that it was illegal for our government to spy on us. I do not ever remember thinking that a corporation would spy on us. And of course, it never occurred to us that Americans would willingly use machines that would enable corporations to collect more data on us than the federal government could ever have. But that is exactly what has been happening for the past fifteen years (or more) with the rapid expansion of our usage of the Internet.
If you use Gmail, or if you use Google as your search engine, every click of the keyboard, even if you “delete” it, is permanently recorded by Google. Everything you have ever looked up is stored forever on their search engines. And now we actually purchase spies and set them up in our homes! They are called “Alexa.”
One man was even able to listen, through Alexa, to over a thousand recordings of another person’s “private” conversations. A link was “accidentally” sent to him, and of course this was “human error” that would “never happen again.” Sure. And yet, people buy Alexa (which is nothing more than a data-mining tool) to record every single word and activity that it can possibly record … and send it back to “headquarters.” Feel good about that? (Here’s another story about the same kind of thing.)
So even if we don’t have something like an Alexa in our home, do our smartphones spy on us? We know they are tracking devices. Facebook tracks every picture or article you click on. It also uses facial recognition. Why would Facebook use facial recognition? If Mark Zuckerberg puts tape over the camera of his computer, maybe he knows something he is not admitting.
2. They are censoring us.
In August of 2018 Apple, Facebook, and YouTube removed Alex Jones and his Infowars. Personally, I think Alex Jones is a conspiracist wing-nut, but I certainly don’t believe in “exiling” him to the Internet nether world. How is this treatment of a man they don’t like NOT censorship?
In September of this year, the Big Tech companies were hit with a class-action lawsuit claiming that they violated anti-trust laws in their censorship of conservative voices.
Early this year, Project Veritas announced how Twitter regularly “shadowbans” conservatives. Project Veritas even caught Twitter employees on video, bragging about their ability to censor conservatives:
So, go ahead and post whatever you want, so long as it agrees with the politically correct gurus of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. They may not take it down … they just may “shadowban” you so that you still see it — but no one else does.
3. They are selling us.
When I first saw Facebook I thought, “Wow, what a wonderful free product! This is great!” Then slowly it dawned on me that no one was “giving” me a product. I was the product. All the information I foolishly gave up was collected and then sold. Just recently, ABC News reported that Facebook “gave” private information to Spotify, Netflix, and Amazon. “Gave” or sold? Yeah, I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg gave private information on Facebook users to Amazon out of the kindness of his heart.
In a related issue, Facebook is now being sued over the Cambridge Analytica scandal that was revealed earlier this year.
By the way, have you ever experienced the creepy moment when you say out loud that you would like a certain product or you were wondering about a certain movie or event in history … and then something popped up on your screen within 24 hours that specifically addressed that very thing you were just commenting on? Coincidence? Hardly.
4. They are time-wasters.
How much time do you spend scrolling through Facebook? How much time do you spend constantly clicking from one site to another? Isn’t so much of that a colossal waste of time?
Personally, I wasted the past nine years of my life posting and debating on Facebook. Not one person’s opinion was changed (and I thought I was pretty polite, too!). Yes, I caught up with some old high school friends I hadn’t talked to in years, but I was shocked at how some conversations and disagreements could turn mighty ugly — very quickly.
I finally walked away in September of this year. We posted a Christmas card the other day. That’s all I’ve done in the past three months. I feel liberated. I am happier, and I don’t waste time debating with people. Nor do I waste time endlessly scrolling through a stream of mostly silly postings. Even articles from such diverse sources like the Huffington Post and Business Insider say social media is an enormous. unproductive drain on our time and energy.
Instead of getting enslaved to yet ANOTHER endless stupid debate, why not talk to people you really care about? Why not go for a walk outside or help someone at a homeless shelter or go read some good books you’ve been wanting to read for ages? My New Year’s Resolution for 2019? Finish off Facebook in my life by completely deleting my account.
To wrap it up, I am grateful that I live in a world with mobile phones and rapid access to information. But when corporations have more cash on hand than the federal government and use it to have more data on me than all of our national intelligence agencies combined, and then sell “me” to other companies … well, then I need to strongly limit their access to my life.
And I probably need to have a serious conversation with my congressman about the need to restrain their access to my private life.