Once upon a time way back during the nineties in another century, when Mark Zuckerberg was just a young buck, he characterized people who handed over all their personal information to his then brand new site ‘The Facebook’, as ‘dumb fucks’. Fast forward to 2018 when he demonstrated his ability to suss out what’s required once again during the two days when the mostly clueless US Senate and Congress tried its very best to get him to answer their questions re The Facebook, now a global billion dollar enterprise with billions of ‘dumb fucks’ as users’. He ‘didn’t know’, he had to ‘defer and ask his people’, or he mumbled something unintelligible. And finally, he lied. Especially telling during this unedifying spectacle was that so many of the Senators hadn’t a clue as to what Facebook actually is and does. They are old and haven’t bothered to adapt to the age of the Internet, Algorithms and digital online culture in general. The Zuck kept his cool while likely wondering how all these old dumb fucks ever got elected.
At one point, one of them asked Zuck if he thought his company should be ‘regulated’. Please see a previous blog about that one.
Clearly, we have a problem that is not only systemic but bigger and more frightening than it first appears. Facebook, just for starters, has singlehandedly redefined the concept of ‘private’. According to the Cambridge online dictionary, it means this:
1. only for one person or group and not for everyone: 2. Private activities involve personal matters or relationships and are not related to your work: 3. Private thoughts and opinions are secret and not discussed with other people:
Facebook has never accepted that definition, judging from it so-called ‘privacy settings’ enabling third and fourth parties to know everything about you without you realizing it. What they have done is turned your cyber persona into a virtual slave, one without rights but plenty of commercial uses. You are being bought and sold, just like those old-timey slaves in the US South. Facebook is expert at this, and apparently, their users trusted them so much that most didn’t even bother to look at, much less turn on their privacy settings. I would say the Zuck’s assessment of his clients was absolutely spot on. He’s not a billionaire for nothing.
But that’s not all. Many people don’t seem to mind being bought and sold on the Internet, judging by the fact that the site hasn’t been deserted by most of its users. They whine and ask plaintively, ‘how can I get over my addiction to Facebook?’ while doing very little to punish the company that made utter fools of them and sold them to the likes of Cambridge Analytica.
That company and its parent, SCL, have been described as ‘weaponizing information’, and indeed, they work for the British government and anyone else who can pay. They are a global powerhouse whose expertise in mining personal data has played a pivotal role in the Brexit disaster as well as the election of Trump and interfered with elections in Niger and other third world countries.
Apparently, we have already forgotten the warning of Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on the American National Security Agency that by law shouldn’t be spying on its own citizens but is, and has been doing so, for years. They keep all the data and they are able to intercept cell phones, emails, you name it. Privacy is a thing that exists only in the dictionary. They are happy to hire expertise from the likes of SCL and other players. So, get used to it: we are all living in a surveillance state. It’s only a question of when not if that extreme power will be used against us. Held in very few hands, in secret, such a bundling of vast information has never been possible before. Neither the East German spy system, the Stasi, nor Hitler nor Stalin ever had it so good.
Do you actually believe that the people who control this data aren’t going to use that power? That they will abide by our weak laws or even pass new ones to protect us from this hydra head of stolen information?
Dumb fucks R us if we believe that.