Surveillance capital is one of the biggest changes that we have gone through over the last two decades. With the evolution of technology has come the evolution of how companies will use our information to make money off of our presence online. We live in a society today where most people leave a considerable footprint online, and they are all being captured to help companies take in a ton of data from many different people and build their presence around that. What is so ironic, is we are now at a place where we are willing to participate due to the new found dependence that we seem to have on our phones and our technology. It is almost like we are signing away our information whenever we post to instagram or facebook. This is one of the things I find most interesting about this idea of surveillance capital. None of us particularly like the idea, but we do not really have a problem with adhering to it because of our desire to be connected on the internet.
Shoshana Zuboff does a very nice job of explaining all of this. In the sitdown interview, she mentions how Facebook is arguing in court that if you accept their terms, you are essentially forfeiting your right to privacy willingly. It is interesting because where are we doing that? Is that a part of their terms and conditions? Where it goes a step further is that they can pool information together and give it to some sort of company or entity that is looking for it in an exchange. Our information is live on a marketplace where they buyers seem to know everything about us, but we know almost nothing about them. Zuboff goes on to explain how Gmail scanned emails to get information in order to target advertising towards people. This is, by any definition, a major breach on the privacy of people who use the service. It simply is not right when you consider the private nature of an email, which in some instances is used to exchange sensitive information between parties.
It is up to us as citizens of the internet and the world to be mindful of all of these things going on in the background and also understanding that we must accept these things if we choose to participate in these larger discussions. We also may be able to come together and find ways that we can fight back or, at the very least, resist what is happening to us with algorithms and surveillance capitalism. Next time you get an ad for something on instagram or before you watch a clip from the Sopranos on youtube, be mindful of what it is and how this might be and ad that was tailor made for you to see it.