By Belle Carter
Social psychologist and Harvard University professor Shoshana Zuboff wrote in her book titled “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” that Big Tech companies Google and Facebook take control of their users’ lives by hijacking personal data.
In a review of the book, renowned alternative medicine proponent Dr. Joseph Mercola said the information – also called “behavioral surplus data streams” – is gathered without the knowledge of netizens. The technocrats are using them to surveil users’ buying behaviors and preferences that would give them opportunities to generate profits for themselves.
“We have become the product. We are the real revenue stream in this digital economy,” Mercola pointed out.
In a video documentary, Zuboff said: “The term ‘surveillance capitalism‘ is not an arbitrary term. Why surveillance? Because it must be operations that are engineered as undetectable, indecipherable, cloaked in rhetoric that aims to misdirect, obfuscate and downright bamboozle all of us, all the time.”
In the video, the author explained how surveillance capitalism came about. According to her, after the 2000 dot.com crisis that burst the internet bubble, a startup company named Google struggled to survive. The search engine founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin accidentally discovered that “residual data” left behind by users during their internet searches could be traded and sold. By compiling this residual data, they could predict the behavior of any given internet user and thus guarantee advertisers a more targeted audience.
Zuboff also explained how the information the people volunteer is the least important of the personal information actually being gathered.
Tech companies have disclaimers that the data collected is being used to improve services. However, it is also being used to model human behavior and to predict a whole host of individual attributes about people, such as personality quirks, sexual orientation and political orientation.
TikTok faces charges on consumer data access and sexual content
Recent government actions have validated Zuboff’s claims.
Indiana Attorney General (AG) Todd Rokita’s office recently sued the popular Chinese-owned app TikTok for deceiving users about China’s access to their data and exposing children to inappropriate explicit content.
The short-video sharing app owned by ByteDance has violated the state’s consumer protection laws by not disclosing the Chinese government’s potential to access sensitive consumer information, Rokita said. (Related: Indiana sues Tiktok over consumer data access and sexual content.)
Also, the app deceived young users and their parents with its age rating of 12-plus in Apple’s App Store and Google Play. The app makes sexual and substance-related posts easily accessed with its algorithm that promotes content “depicting alcohol, tobacco and drugs; sexual content, nudity and suggestive themes; and intense profanity.
“TikTok is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” the court documents stated. “As long as TikTok is permitted to deceive and mislead Indiana consumers about the risks to their data, those consumers and their privacy are easy prey.”
In response, the app’s spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said via an email to the Washington Post that “youth well-being” was part of the company’s policy, including age-limited features and tools for parents to control what the children can view.
According to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Chris Wray, TikTok poses a national security concern. The Biden administration has reportedly been coordinating with TikTok officials to protect the data of its hundreds of millions of American users.
Earlier in the year, BuzzFeed reported the leaked audio files from 80 internal small-group TikTok meetings that showed U.S. user data has been repeatedly accessed from the communist country between September 2021 and January 2022, at the very least.
Visit BigTech.news for more news related to Big Tech’s surveillance operations.
Watch the video below that talks about how tech giants deal with users’ data.
This video is from the AYA – Awaken Your Awareness channel on Brighteon.com.