Big brother is here, his name is Facebook

Big brother is here

In his book 1984, George Orwell detailed a dystopian world wherein a person or persona called “Big Brother” saw everything that people did and where the central government pushed its agenda through propaganda, spying, monitoring, and thought controls.

That book was published in 1949. It is now 2017, and while we do not exactly have a Big Brother persona governing us, the Orwellian scenario is pretty much familiar.

And it is not by means of some ultra-fascist government or political party.

Rather, our loss of privacy and Big Brother’s influence on us are brought about by none other than our penchant for sharing on social media.

What privacy?

In 2013 Vint Cerf, who is considered as the father of the internet, said that “privacy may actually be an anomaly.”

Throughout history, people preferred communal settings in just about anything — the concept of solitude and privacy was something limited to monasticism.

Greg Ferenstein outlined the history of 3,000 years of privacy through 46 images.

You might notice that history agrees with Cerf — and the artworks and imagery at least showed how people did things on a communal nature.

It was only during the industrial revolution that we started to have a preference for privacy.

And with the rise of social media, that cycle means we are now moving again toward loss of privacy.

Imagine how much people have been sharing online, with friends and even the public.

This includes photos, status updates, locations, all that while tagging friends who may not be aware they are being connected with photos, events, and places.

It’s not even limited to Facebook.

No matter how little you share, all the meta data involved in just about anything you do online can constitute your digital persona.

All of these digital crumbs, so to speak, paint a digital picture of us, which bots, machines, and even data scientists, can lead to our digital makeup.

Add to that the evolving technologies of facial recognition and machine learning — this means tech companies might know more about us than we do.

And this is extremely useful to anyone who needs to do any customer targeting.

Ask advertising agencies and marketers.

In fact, ask Facebook.

Did you know that the social network may have the capability to listen in even when we are not actively sharing information or using the mobile app?

Facebook may be listening

You heard that right.

Given the amount of permissions we give social networks when we install apps on our mobile devices, we might as well just hand them over privileged access to our personal lives.

With passive listening technologies, for instance, Facebook might be able to eavesdrop on conversations.

In 2016, a University of South Florida mass communications professor, Kelli Burns, shared her observations that the Facebook app delivered content based on things she mentioned in a conversation.

The idea that Facebook is passively spying has since been debunked, and Burns herself said her comments may have been taken out of context.

However, this does not preclude the fact that Facebook itself has admitted to using smartphones’ microphones whenever necessary.

“We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio,” it said in a statement.

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