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Over the current decade the world has experienced a significant boom and foundation of numerous social platforms which have which have become a part of people’s social life. Nowadays, almost every person in the world is in one way or the other part of this global sensation and advancement in social technology. Facebook, twitter, Instagram, snapchat and Whatsapp are examples of commonly used social networks nowadays where the users share and upload content to their peers. Social network has made the world a global village whereby it just requires the use of easily available devices, such as phones, tablets, laptops and access to internet connectivity to connect with any person in a different part of the world. However the advancement of social technology hasn’t been as smooth as it sounds, this is because some have viewed it as an opportunity to observe and monitor people’s activities on social media and their real life day to day activities. This vice is commonly known as surveillance which is in most cases termed as being socially unethical since it infringes on an individual’s right to privacy and freedom of expression.
Taking Facebook and Google as examples I am going to delve into the implications of surveillance and commodification these social media giants have.
Facebook Inc had 2.19 billion active monthly users in the first quarter of 2018. That’s more than one fourth of the world’s population. Facebook has been able to achieve this while being off limits to more than a billion Chinese. The company is valued at over 435 billion dollars. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been facing congressional hearings in the US. Lanier who is a Silicon Valley innovator said, His pals were some of the first to create advertising-based models for programs like Google and Facebook. “As the technology improved, it evolved into a full-blown continuous surveillance and behaviour modification model, and that is something that really is not survivable”.
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden ripped Facebook in a tweet after the social media giant suspended Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm which worked for President Trump’s campaign. Facebook accused the firm for not deleting data it had improperly harvested from tens of millions of accounts. Snowden said, “Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as ‘surveillance companies,'” Snowden said. “Their rebranding as ‘social media’ is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense”.
Cambridge Analytica(CA) is a voter-profiling company that provided services for Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign. CA was looking for American Facebook users. It offered to pay users to download their personality quiz application on Facebook called thisisyourdigitallife. About 270,000 installed the app in return for about 2 dollars in return. The application scraped information from their facebook profiles as well as detailed information from their friends profiles. Facebook then provided this data to the makers of the application. Over 50 million users data was harvested.
Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie has said he feared that the data may have been turned over to Russians who aimed to interfere with the U.S. election. He has alleged the Facebook data was used to target voters by U.S. president Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
A business model based on vast data surveillance and charging clients to opaquely target users based on this kind of extensive profiling will inevitably be misused. The real problem is that billions of dollars are being made at the expense of the health of our public sphere and our politics, and crucial decisions are being made unilaterally, and without recourse or accountability.
Google was established in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Stanford University PhD graduates. For quite some time it has created the greatest seeking stage of the new media era. It has truly turned into an equivalent word of “search “. Presently we know Google as a search engine, as well as an innovative organization with numerous applications and dutiful organizations.
Among the most prominent applications is Google Maps which is the most widely used navigation software. Google Analytics – a site tracker, mode of emailing Gmail, Google Chrome – a search engine. As advertised google search and google apps are not free. As per Google (2017), its wage originates from promotions and the arrangement of DoubleClick. It implies sponsors pay just for a measure of clicks individuals made on their website. Google’s greatest advantage is the data collected from clients which allows them to modify advertisements based on preferences of the user.
Google utilizes watchwords for password security, targeted advertisements and preferences of the customer. Contrasting with another search engine, Google’s white interface is straightforward and not swarmed with pointless news or data. Google look is clear, free and it completes a considerable measure to gather information on its clients for the better outcomes.
As per Smythe’s (1981) In a commodification demonstration, a group of onlookers isn’t just watching promotions, however they give off an impression of being taking a shot at sponsors, by watching it. Obviously, the intention was built, when the Google and web didn’t exist, yet it isn’t altogether different from the new media era. These days, we have Google, which is the medium, that pitches the gathering of people’s information and sells it to the sponsors.
The commodification of a group of onlookers is impossible without surveillance. Google oversee data about us in three noteworthy ways: it gathers information on us, when we are utilizing the searcher, it spares and duplicates any great or hurtful data about us, and it catches pictures of open spaces far and wide.
I feel that social media is being used as a means of surveillance and commodification to raise it’s profits and standing in the market. Advertising products and services specific to users needs, requires information about the user, which is sold and that is how targeted advertising works. The implications of social media in our lives today has many unanswered questions regarding surveillance.
Google uses its audience and makes people its commodities. It collects information not only by the keywords and interests, it acquires the data about social networks and address contacts, as a result Google also commodifies social relations of people. Nevertheless, the amount of Google users grows, as grows its power and we can only imagine how far it would go in the future. The most powerful are those, who owns information and Google has a monopoly on such kind of invasion. It is our choice to be aware of Google’s imperialism or just passively consume everything we’ve been offered.
Google is enhancing day by day. It appropriates users’ data and therefore users themselves, and sells them to the government and advertisers. It makes benefit of people’s blind faith in Google and invasions in users’ personal life, without them even knowing about it. It collects, stores and saves all the information for years. Nothing can be deleted in the internet and every step you make is clearly identified and watched, especially when you use Google applications, and amount of this applications grows geometrically. You can even not know things mass media knows about you.
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