Surveillance : The pathetic extent capitalism have gone


"....So, to put things straight, I have quite innocently given Facebook all the information and help they need for them to extend their evil plans. I speak that I have been used, and the 'I' here represents possibly billions of people that use the network..."

Apps we love. www.pexels.com


Many years ago when I created a Facebook account for the first time, not much of my friends were on Facebook. Months and years later when they finally joined the social network, they never had to enter their full details like their mobile number or email address because Facebook already knew them. They were pretty much happy to save their time until second thoughts have emerged.

Although not many concerns have been given for the period of time, it is quite evident especially after Zuckerberg's testimony to US Congress, the reason they never got to enter their phone or email is that the social media giant already keeps their profile even though they never joined Facebook. Zuckerberg has claimed the process of shadow profiling people who never been to their site is just for "security" purposes. Facebook has regularly pushed its users to give up their contacts and regularly tells them to send invitation link.

This looks too light of an issue for many people, but if I am not in Facebook and they have my name, contact number, email, and other information regarding me without my consent, I would feel a bit betrayed by my friend. This is the same thought process that my friends would have about me and it's not even just about me. Facebook is not even a government property, it's a private enterprise.

My privacy is not only being violated, but I am also being responsible for the privacy violation of my friends. There are apps which if I want to use, I will have to give up my friend's list. These apps not only find out who else is on Facebook but their entire public details. Their name, age, gender, contact information, and even probably their physical address and pin number. These are the kind of details only governments or government regulated institutions have access to.

So, to put things straight, I have quite innocently given Facebook all the information and help they need for them to extend their evil plans. I speak that I have been used, and the 'I' here represents possibly billions of people that use the network.

Facebook is not alone in this arena of surveillance capitalism, almost all internet giants including the prominent one -Google have a Ph.D. in privacy breach and surveillance capitalism. When giant corporations offer their products for free, you are just looking at their wrong product. Try looking at yourself.

Browser cookies would be a good point to start with Google's ultra privacy breach capitalism. Google has admitted placing more than one cookie on user's browser and it collects information regarding the user when they visit unrelated websites. So if I start searching or reading contents related to new chocolate cakes, I start receiving chocolate ads whichever site that have their Adsense program running. The cookies are set to expire only 2 years later but renew every time you log in to Google effectively making it stay there forever. Google's privacy policy as of 2016, does not promise anything about whether or when its records about your web browsing or searching are deleted from its records. [Google FAQ]

Both these companies have multiple times reaffirmed as that our privacy is important to them. I at this point is quite convinced that it really is, otherwise, how will they make money?

3 weeks ago, I have been trying to buy a new laptop over Amazon. I kept searching up new models to see the one that fits my needs. Thanks to the dilemma, I have searched for a week to come before I end up buying one. The ads I received throughout that period in Google, Facebook and Instagram were almost the same -More and more laptop models. Although I have only searched them on Amazon, somehow Google and Facebook (who also owns Instagram), knew what I wanted to buy. I never searched them through the Google search or FB web search, so that genuinely means that these giants are really into each other.

Either Google and Facebook have their tracking scripts inserted into Amazon for the larger benefits of all of them, or they were using other means, like cookies to track me. All of which are against my wish, but are probably legal because I agreed to their terms and conditions. (or not?)

This makes something very clear that Google and Facebook are not exactly what can be classified as "advertising companies" or are in any way into the so-called "advertising business", they are more in to "surveillance business". Their income is from surveillance and not the advertisement. The advertisement is only a cover to hide the real business behind, which is surveillance.

In Facebook, you are the biggest contributor to the content. Since the content flow of Facebook is decentralized, it always gives Facebook an edge when fighting legal issues. Which is pretty much not the case for Google, however, because Google is highly centralized. They study you and they show you the content that they think you will like. You cannot write an article or upload something to Youtube and expect the world to see it unless Google decides to. In Facebook, your friends will see whatever you post and its control is given to them. If they react to your post, it gets even further distributed. For pretty much the same reason, Google tries to be little more moral but Facebook gives no incentive to control it's growing damage on the society whatsoever.

Only just recently, Facebook has been fined an amount equivalent to $645,000 in the United Kingdom for its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. That roughly makes it to Facebook's 10 mins of profit-making business minutes. Quite unfortunately though that was the maximum amount that can be fined under the law (really?) after exposing data of more than 87 million users worldwide including 1 million users from the UK itself.

Forget about fines, laws will always have to remain constitutional, so large amounts of fines in a scale that would put these giant corporates to obey is just not possible. They will easily find these fine amounts under their couch. What we really need is tough regulation laws for these companies and the EU have rightfully started doing so, which I hope will pave the way for rest of regulatory authorities across the globe to take similar actions.

Google's motto reads “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, but what they didn't tell you is that it is sorted off a little more useful to them and the said information could also contain information regarding your private lives.

I am aware of Google keeping on track of my location for a while now. Whichever hotel I have stayed, only a few hours later after the checkout, Google would send me their map's review requests. This has happened even when I am on airplane mode and have never turned on my location either.

Not so long ago, I have watched this video where I believe is a fox news agent test out the same to get to the bottom of this. He found that Google sends kilobytes of data regarding your location no matter what you do. The phone in the airplane mode have actually sent more data and data includes location information. This is a different level of privacy breach, the Google is tracking your movement figuring out where you are going and which store you are next to.

Google claims the said information being used for better map experiences but there are exceptional cases happened with Google before. There is nothing stopping Google from using the information to run targeted ads, which it already do. They would track the stores we visit and send out ads relating to the products which we are likely searching for. There are similar cases that happened after all.

On Facebook though, we do all the work. Facebook's main intentions to gather location information are pretty much similar to Google's. They both need them to send us location-based advertisements. But on Facebook, we simply enter everything from our nationality to pin number, so things are a rather little easy for them. But really? We never gave them to Facebook and expected ads as surprise gifts though.

Some people have questioned me for being overly critical of Google, Facebook, and other technology giants. For those people, I would like to add that I do not think these giant corporates have come into existence thanks to some sort of deep state activity. I am quite convinced that these companies weren't originally created to emulate evil. They came and have been put into this situation by time. Their change to evilness was with their growing revenue. This is very similar to the change of governments who have ended up being dictatorships by giving people the wrong promises. Dominance is a human characteristic and any institution that is run by humans would likely try to achieve the same.

I respect these companies for their selfless service, whether it's the Google search or the Facebook network, both have been really useful to me. Even now if I want this article to reach somebody else, I would probably need Google search engine ranking and a bit of sharing on Facebook. But the day they stop respecting my personal integrity is the day I would like to stop respecting back. Take my money but not my sovereignty and integrity.

To keep the view balanced and original, these companies are not only to blame. Google is the first known pioneer of surveillance capitalism and has been later followed by Facebook. There are other companies whom are much smaller and probably negligible but still involved in the same crime. I would argue that a part of the blame should be given to us and the governments that represent us. Not everything is Google's and Facebook's fault.

No one can argue that we didn't like Google suggesting as the best restaurants around us when we were out on a Friday night. No one would blame YouTube for giving as the most preferable content on the homepage and that we would love to watch. The post we see on Facebook is not just a product of our friend's reactions but also that of ours. Facebook have changed their algorithms much to reflect what you would love to see. When this happened, everyone has enjoyed these services and none of us cared big about privacy until such a movement have been set on the internet.

These services come at a cost if you want to see the best restaurants then you will have to compromise your location data. You made your choice to watch different videos that you like on YouTube and posts that you love on Facebook. So they bombard you back with similar posts. Once you consume the content, later you will become its supplier. Since these social media are created with knowledge of reward centers in the brain, you have become addicted to it.

Let's accept that we have been away from our responsibilities as well. Internet gave us a cover and weight of our actions on the internet is not lively felt. No information regarding us on the internet is there without we giving some sort of permission. Although, this would seem a bit unfair, ask yourself whether you would give a stranger your phone number. You probably won't in real life, but you probably will on the internet. This attitude of ours also plays a large part in the making of surveillance capitalism and the soul blame cannot be put on one party.

Capitalism by default is where the rich become richer leaving a narrow developmental path for lower and middle part of the society. The way the capitalism works and governments that hail it should also be held responsible for mismanagement. If you are letting the giant corporates rule the world, make sure that your management is doing its duty. Governments should have known better about what was coming to its citizens when they first turned a blind eye to what was happening. Democratic processes are now being easily hijacked thanks to the influence of social media. The 2016 presidential election is just one example. If you look at what is happening in Myanmar (The Rohingya crisis), you will get a picture of the extent of ascendancy that a social network can have on an entire nation.



If you are interested in the topic, here are some links that I found useful.

You are the product
Mark Zuckerberg thinks we are idiots
Facebook as the ultimate surveillance machine