The majority of Internet users love and use Google and the Social Media networks. They’re becoming more and more popular every day. What we aren’t aware of is the mechanism behind these machines and of the fact that they’re violating our privacy. Your data is being stocked at this very moment just because you’re reading this article and they are going to use it against you, by showing you lots of ads regarding this subject, until you buy and even afterwards, to convince you to buy even more. So that they get paid by the advertisers who want to sell their products. That’s what surveillance capitalism is all about: violating people’s privacy in order to make profit. And people allow this to happen.
The progress of technology in the past decades and in our days has, of course, made the process of surveillance much easier, both for the countries (the public sector) and advertisers (the private sector). But the bad news is that this surveillance can change the way in which a person thinks, acts and violates their personal rights. Therefore, it must be both necessary and appropriate.
Privacy is “the right to be left alone”. To put it in a different way, it is a citizen’s right not to share any type of information with anyone, may it be regarding their relationship status, the type of products they like or where they are. The big corporations made sure that you will willingly share all of this information with the whole world, including them. Nowadays, it’s cool to have your privacy violated at your own will. Everybody shares anything on Facebook: whether they’re single or in a relationship, what type of images/ videos they enjoy watching, what makes them feel good or bad and, more important, what they buy.
How is this possible?
You are the one who’s in charge of your privacy. But by searching on Google, for example, shampoo for animals, you automatically become an animal lover. That’s when Google knows that you love animals and it will show you relevant ads regarding this subject, continuously. If you like on Facebook a post that is about cute animals and if you share a picture of your dog, this platform will assume that you are an animal owner. We don’t have the free will we used to have, anymore.
Even when you sign up on Google, Facebook, Instagram or any other platform, you agree that they use your data. This term is in their Terms and Conditions, which nobody ever bothers to read. Everyone just signs up then wonders how this could happen.
What’s the effect of all this?
We don’t live in an objective world anymore. Each of us has their own reality, where they are shown what we want to hear. Google, Facebook, Youtube are, all of them, under our skin. Even if two persons have the exact same friends on Facebook, their news feed will differ and so will the videos which are shown to them, based on what they searched for.
Being under surveillance, they cannot escape. Even if they don’t use the Social Media or search engines anymore or never have used them, they still interact with someone who does. That’s when shadow profiles are created and they still have a clue about you and what you’re doing.
One of the main disadvantages of mass surveillance is that people think they’re being watched, which can lead to inhibition, paranoia and self-censorship. In order not to draw attention to himself or herself, a person may start acting strangely, thinking, actually, that he or she acts in the right way. This type of behavior happens even if someone does not do anything bad or wrong.
In America, the majority of people don’t believe that their data will remain private. They are also not too confident in the advertisers, who are believed to sell the data of their potential and actual clients.
The benefits of surveillance
With the rising number of terrorist attacks, it would have been impossible for any state to predict and prevent lots of these attacks. And that’s just an example.
In 2020, when the pandemic began to take over the whole world, we thought that this would be the end of our race. However, the governments and the medical healthcare system mobilized and, with the help of many developers and companies, managed to keep somehow under control this unfortunate situation. By developing applications that tracked the number of COVID cases in one region, they managed to keep people more aware than ever of the risks of travelling to an infected area.
What is more, the vaccine was developed with the aid of Artificial Intelligence and now we’re all benefiting from this technology. While it is said that we don’t have the free will we had before, it can be beneficial to some extent, as this whole mechanism saves our lives every day.
To sum up, surveillance means in French “to watch over”. It is a powerful weapon and it can lead either to a better world or to a worse one, all of this depending on the mind behind the scene, the mind which controls it all. While it is clear that it violates the privacy of citizens, it saves the lives of thousands or maybe even of millions, preventing, to some degree, the spread of diseases and terrorist attacks. There’s one thing we are all sure of: Artificial Intelligence has made this all possible. If you want to know more about this subject, become a master of deep learning and train your own models, try now Auxilio!
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