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The late capitalist panopticon August 31, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A great thought here in a piece by Arwa Mahdawi when writing about Google’s lamentable tracking approach…

Who cares about privacy these days, after all? It seems big tech has realised it can afford constant data-based scandals, because not enough people care that the minutiae of their daily existence is being relentlessly mined and monetised without their informed consent. This apathy is, in part, attributable to the fact we are told we shouldn’t care about privacy if we have nothing to hide. Google has helped propagate this notion. The company’s former chief executive, Eric Schmidt, once said: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place .”


Is there anything more illustrative of late capitalism than the idea that being opposed to selling our souls is a sign of deviant behaviour? Wandering and wondering is an intimate part of who we are. It doesn’t matter if you have nothing to hide. You should object to moments you thought were yours alone being captured, analysed and monetised. You should resist being commodified.

Or to put it a different way, if a corporation says using its apps it is possible to have personal privacy then that should be the situation. And if that is not the case then the individual should be aware that that is the case and alternative arrangements must be made.

I’ve always disliked arguments that run along the lines of ‘if you’ve nothing to hide you’ve nothing to fear’. When the choice isn’t clear…

By the way, this is funny and kind of troubling:

There was a time when Google operated under the motto “Don’t be evil”. It has watered down this message as it has grown. Earlier this year, it removed the phrase from its code of conduct. The news that Google is recording everything you do, even if you have signalled that you don’t want it to, is yet another indicator that the tech company, like many of its peers, doesn’t seem to care much for ethics.

Or they’re remessaging… Don’t be too evil… or Make me not evil Lord, but not quite yet… or…


1. CL - August 31, 2018

‘The UN… has concluded that Facebook had “a determining role” in ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.’

‘This book argues in ten ways that what has become suddenly normal – pervasive surveillance and constant, subtle manipulation – is unethical, cruel, dangerous, and inhumane.”-Jaron Lanier.

‘ Jack Dorsey from Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, all those Google nerds: They’re monumentally screwed, because they have no idea how to tame the monsters they have created.’-Cathy O’Neil.


WorldbyStorm - August 31, 2018

Not just them screwed. We all are screwed now I figure.


2. Miguel62 - August 31, 2018

There’s a bit of cognitive dissonance in how we view the responsibility of social media platforms and indeed internet service providers. On the one hand there are demands to censor “hate speech”, to control “interference” in elections, to protect children online. Noble goals all, but there has to be a BUT. And the big BUT is that in order to do all these things and more, the service platforms need, at a minimum, to have robust identity verification and activity tracking. Which leads inevitably to the creation of a huge database of individuals online activity. Which is open to huge abuse by both governments and commercial interests. Is it even possible to police these abuses. Who would do it? Who could do it? Who should do it?
The answers to these questions are I’m afraid way beyond my expertise but I do know that I personally am very uneasy about activity monitoring, and by extension, any attempts to “control” online activity. I am equally uneasy about social media and have abandoned facebook, twitter etc as a waste of space anyway. Not to mention gratuitous abandonment of privacy and oversharing. Maybe I’m just a digital dinosaur, but I really don’t like the way this is going. It won’t end well.


WorldbyStorm - August 31, 2018

I tend to agree. It’s one reason I’ve always hated the line it’s somehow wrong not to use your own name online. There’s lots of reasons why people for perfectly good reasons might not want to. But I imagine what we’ll see are more and more ‘walled gardens’ within which one has to use their own ‘true’ identity and outside of it a sort of Wild West.


3. Miguel62 - August 31, 2018

I preferred the internet when it was a sort of Wild West!


WorldbyStorm - August 31, 2018

Ah the mid to late 90s. Even the early to mid 2000s.


4. sean - September 1, 2018

Facebook,Twitter,Google are good progressive companies who fire employees that do not hold a left wing outlook. You wish all companies could do the same.


WorldbyStorm - September 1, 2018

Actually I don’t. But it’s not exactly a pressing workplace problem whereas I’ve worked in the private sector on and off my whole working life. In both in the US, UK and Europe we know that blacklists of actual left-wing employees were business as usual for companies large and small across the twentieth century and into this one. Such lists and approaches still exist. And I was effectively fired for entirely legal union activity in a company. Didn’t notice the internet warriors racing to my defence fifteen years ago. Odd that isn’t it? Though in the real world of work as distinct from internet fluff the company was taken through the labour legislative process and had to pay some restitution and not just to me but two others who were similarly ‘constructively’ dismissed.


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