Death by advertising

If you are still not convinced that the dominant internet business model—advertising—is dragging us down the rabbit hole, then I recommend you to watch this talk by Zeynep Tufekci.

We no longer know if we’re seeing the same information or what anybody else is seeing, and without a common basis of information, little by little, public debate is becoming impossible, and we’re just at the beginning stages of this.

And here’s the tragedy: we’re building this infrastructure of surveillance authoritarianism merely to get people to click on ads.

If the people in power are using these algorithms to quietly watch us, to judge us and to nudge us, to predict and identify the troublemakers and the rebels, to deploy persuasion architectures at scale and to manipulate individuals one by one using their personal, individual weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and if they’re doing it at scale through our private screens so that we don’t even know what our fellow citizens and neighbours are seeing, that authoritarianism will envelop us like a spider’s web and we may not even know we’re in it.

Yes, it is sad. This is not even Orwell’s 1984. It is simply unintended death by advertising. We have a big task in front of us.

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