When we think about our daily lives, it doesn’t seem possible to live without technology. The internet is one of the biggest examples of how far humanity has come in terms of technological freedom and yet it is the very thing that defines the shackles that hold us down. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have so much dominance over us and we have allowed it to the point of becoming numb.
Influenced Election Results
Take the example of the previous presidential elections. As Trump ran for president, millions of Facebook profiles allegedly emerged online to help influence the results of the election. This alone goes to show just how much control the apps we use every day have on our lives.
The Snowden Case
Another example of the slow-emerging technological dominance over the human race would be the Snowden case. Whenever we log into Facebook or type anything online on Google, or even buy something online on Amazon, we let technology know us a little more. The information we give away in the form of a mere status update or by tagging a friend into a relatable post on Facebook gives a little piece of important information about us to the handful of people who control the information gathered from the internet. Thereby allowing them to use it to manipulate us with the help of targeted advertisement.
Information and Leverage
Let us help you understand just how powerful this information can be when used against you. A recent study deduced that the things we like, share or comment on Facebook can help predict not only our age but also our gender, sexuality, religion, skin color, relationship status as well as our political preferences. Private traits such as these can be predicted with the help of digital records collected online based on human behavior. Do you want to know the scariest part of it? Your mobile providers can predict with absolute certainty where you will be in the next 24 hours or so. Think of how much damage they could do to you if they set their minds to it.
The Facebook Data Scandal
In the recent Facebook data scandal, information that was gathered was used to manipulate people and their voter behavior with the help of targeted articles on issues people cared about the most. While most people and even companies will argue that this isn’t illegal in any way, it is still considered unethical influencing. This isn’t the first time that Cambridge Analytica used private information of Facebook users without their knowledge.
Cambridge Analytica used information improperly obtained through Facebook and brought it into circulation. For those of you who are unaware, Cambridge Analytica is a political consultancy. Recent numbers show that the data of up to 87 million people was shared with the consultancy improperly. 1.1 million of these people were UK based according to the BBC. Cambridge Analytica has since denied using data obtained from these 87 million people, claiming it was only licensed to obtain data from 30 million individuals from GSR.
CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is said to be scheduled to testify in front of the US House Commerce Committee before April 11th. Since this particular scandal, the shares of the popular social media website have plummeted and continue to fall. Could it face the same fate as Snapchat did when it attacked a domestic violence singer we all know and love so much?
The Fate of Zuckerberg
There have even been rumors about shareholders ousting Zuckerberg from Facebook. While there hasn’t been much development on this, it doesn’t seem like this would hold up much longer given that Mark Zuckerberg is the controlling shareholder in the company.
Who Controls Us?
Regardless of what happens in the case, one thing is for sure, we know that Facebook and essentially every social media website out there uses the information it gets to influence our choices whether personally or politically. We should get to make our decisions of our own free will, not through the help of some social media websites. Are our decisions even our own anymore?