Google Marketplace silently and poorly implemented a ban on gun sales. Facebook ceded to political pressure to crack down on free speech, and overtly and suppresses right-wingnews sites. Twitter bans and shadowbans users for expressing the wrong views. YouTube imposed greater restrictions on gun videos, banning videos that promote or link to websites that sell guns and accessories, and videos that show how to assemble firearms. Reddit banned gun sales and transactions the day after.
Big Data doesn’t see you as a person. It sees you as a pawn, a cog in a machine, a source of revenue, a puppet to be controlled. Legacy social media platforms have fused into a Net-spanning leviathan, its arms in every crevice of the surface web, and are using their platforms to quietly empower centralized governments and influence the way you think.
If you don’t conform to their ideology, Big Data hates you.
All Hail Big Data
Social media has become increasingly intertwined with everyday life. Where people may be wary of sharing private information with governments, they will happily upload their lives on social media and the Internet — turning Big Data into the all-seeing eye. With Big Data involving itself in politics, and being intertwined with governments, everything Big Data sees, the government sees also.
The leviathan arose, not through force of arms or the power of the state, but through user consent. The government did not elevate these tech titans to power; users did, willingly, by feeding them their personal data–and in doing so, allowing them to use that data for their own ends. By deliberately manipulating the data it presents to users and assisting political parties and governments to undermine user freedoms with user-submitted information, Big Data has demonstrated that it is no longer interested in serving you. It aims to rule you.
I have repeatedly seen the argument that the owners can do whatever they want with their platform. When a company grows so large, powerful and influential that it can sway politics at a national and international scale, the old rules no longer apply. If a company dabbles in politics, it must be treated as a political entity, doubly so if its business directly influences the liberties of its customers.
The mainstream social media platforms have repeatedly demonstrated that they hate everybody to the right of Marx and Engels, act on that hatred by restricting and denying services, and support governments that crack down on political dissidents. By entwining themselves with state power, they have become shadow public agencies that seek to steer public opinion and policy without being elected or even appointed by the state. In this regard, the primary differences between Big Tech and lobbying agencies is that the latter is transparent about what they do, and the former has no need to enact legislation to affect the lives of everyday people.
Social media in of itself, is not inherently evil. I use social media frequently, but for only two purposes: to connect with my friends, and to read the news. When a social media platform bans my friends and censors my news, it is no longer fit for purpose. Likewise, when a platform uses my information to serve unwanted ads or hands it to an authoritarian government, that platform has lost my trust.
Starve the Leviathan
Technology is amoral. The user’s actions determine its true purpose. Blockchain technology can be used to build an uncensorable social media platform. It can also be used to create a permanent, unalterable record of your daily activities, preferences and politics. A video sharing site can make videos viewable all around the world, but unscrupulous owners can choose to use it for propaganda, to ban certain types of users, to sell information to governments.
Technology builds or breaks the leviathan.
Social media is becoming weaponized. The information you feed your apps can and will be used against you. It can be innocuous-looking things like unwanted travel advertisements on Facebook, to helping governments identify and shut down dissenting points of view, to empowering tyrants to locate and neutralize you.
The digital world stands at a crossroads. In one future, the future of legacy media, there is only room for one narrative, one view, one voice. Anyone who does not subscribe to a left-leaning progressive utopia is ostracised, arrested and handed to the courts. This is the world of Facebook, Twitter, Google and Reddit.
In another future, the future of Alt-Tech, there is room for everyone. Social media platforms refuse to share private data with anyone. Speech remains free and uncensored. Search engines deliver information, free of bias. Decentralised and blockchain-based platforms defy censors and tyrants, and grant users the freedom to choose whom they choose to associate with, and when and what to say. Political lobbying and intervention is nonexistent, or otherwise performed in favour of freedom of speech and assembly, in favour of the user. This is the world of DuckDuckGo, Gab, Idka, Bitchute, Steemit, D.tube, Proton Mail and other such platforms.
We, the users, decide what future we want. An account on a legacy platform is a vote for the Leviathan; an account on an Alt-Tech platform is a vote for freedom. Big Data may seem enormous, but it needs users to survive. To starve the Leviathan we need only do one thing.
Get off the ride.