Come on people. How many times do you need to be told to get off Google’s suite of products and Facebook? This includes Android phones. Especially when voices from the LEFT are telling you how dangerous these companies are to your basic freedoms through their surveillance-based business model? It is getting more ominous with every disclosure, yet you sit there and happily give these technocrats your most personal data and allow them to use it to censor you, manage what you see and make a profit. And the content creators you love let you.
This article is going to be full of links that are ignored by the mainstream media and suppressed by algorithms on various other platforms. I find them easily by using good old-fashioned Boolean search on Duck Duck Go. This search engine matches my request to content I am actually interested in. It requires more detailed search terms than Chrome’s autofill, but it is also not manipulating my results.
Getting the Facts
Let’s start with Dr. Robert Epstein. An open member of the Democrat coalition, he has been ringing alarm bells about the dangers of Google and Facebook to our core democratic institutions. He came to national prominence on this topic during hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has since given multiple interviews that talk about the extent of both manipulation and surveillance done by Google. This extends down to the company putting microphones in their Nest Secure system. They called their failure to disclose this an “error”. Funny how these “errors” are only discovered by third parties that are data privacy activists.
Dr. Epstein also backed up the assertions made by Google whistleblowers Zachary Vorhies and Greg Coppola using his own expertise in programming and search technology. He confirmed the existence of blacklists and specific technology that can re-rank search results without manipulating the algorithm. Publications such as The Daily Beast tried to position Vorhies as a “conspiracy theorist” to discount his disclosures. However, Dr. Epstein backs up the assertions Vorhies has made through the documentation he provided without regard to the whistleblower’s political views.
A Brave New World and the Surveillance Business Model
Then take a listen to this interview with technology expert and “futurist” Jeff Brown. It is fascinating on two fronts. First, he articulates some revolutionary changes that society will see in the next decade. Second, there is a fair amount of discussion regarding the ethical conundrums we will face. Brown is also very clear about good and nefarious digital citizens in the current environment.
According to Brown, your basic operating principle now and in the future should be to stay away from companies whose business model is collecting and selling your data. He juxtaposes Apple and Amazon, historically good custodians of user data because they don’t sell it, to Facebook and Google. His informed assertion is that 99% of the revenue for Facebook and Google comes from collecting an immense amount of very personal data about you and selling it to anyone willing to pay for it.
In clear terms Brown states he would never put a Google Nest or Facebook TV in his home. He also cautions viewers not to be lured by convenience to use products from bad actors who have the data collection business model. The explosion in technology he forecasts in the next twelve months should make anyone nervous about who exactly is holding their data. Brown also exposes a loophole on the HIPAA law that has allowed Google to partner with Ascension Healthcare and get access to personalized healthcare data.
Canaries in the Coal Mine
An even more expansive look at the abusive nature of the business model used by Facebook and Google was released in a report by Amnesty International. They actually call it the surveillance business model. Another group full of right wing nutjobs, right? According to the report:
This expansionist approach to data extraction takes several forms. Firstly, the companies collect and store extensive data about people. For instance, as a default Google stores search history across all of an individual’s devices, information on every app and extension they use, and all of their YouTube history, while Facebook collects data about people even if they don’t have a Facebook account.
The report calls on the two companies to completely upend their business model and eliminate the surveillance on individuals. They also note that freedom of expression is under significant threat using hidden manipulation at scale. This is a similar warning to those voiced by Dr. Epstein and the whistleblowers that are going public. Obviously, they are worried about dissident views on a global scale that align mostly with the political left. But the scale and depth of the information these companies collect and the mechanisms they can employ to manipulate information should be terrifying to the political right in the western democracies.
If you need further convincing, listen to a self-described recovered Marxist describe the problem. Dr. Michael Rectenwald has become a dissident former professor, much like the more famous Brett Weinstein. His awakening to the ties between the social justice movement and big tech spawned the book Google Archipelago. For those unfamiliar with the play on words, he is essentially describing a digital gulag.
Don’t Buy the Hype
All of this should also make you highly suspicious of the recently advertised Contract for the Web. The media push for this was launched right before the recent holiday. It is my guess this was partially in response to Amnesty International’s report since two of the most high-profile sponsors are Google and Facebook. Twitter also added its name. The primary revenue stream Twitter has is selling your data. They do this selling access to their application programming interface or API.
In the Contract, there is no requirement for those using surveillance technologies to change their business model. There is some language around privacy and disclosures. So instead of challenging the industry, it will be up to you the consumer to read through confusing privacy policies and determine if you would like to give consent. There is no call for you to be compensated for the disclosure of your data and no call for these supposedly ingenious tech giants to innovate a new profit model.
The clearest calls in the campaign are to expand access to the internet, keep it available to everyone with a little bit of SJW built in. In case it escaped you, more users equal more unique user data. As Amnesty pointed out in their report, Facebook is already looking to capture more data with their product Free Basics. They partner with mobile companies in 65 countries to bring more people online. It’s not free by any stretch of the meaning as we all know and like to ignore. When mainstream conservative views are considered “hate speech” by the vocal radical left who dominate the technology sector in the west, it’s time to stand up and look for alternatives.
This is where my frustration with right leaning media and influencers comes in. They have been pounding the drum about market alternatives in response to calls for government regulation of these companies. However, they don’t seek them out or advocate for those companies trying to change the digital landscape. So, companies building out new business models that allow them to be highly ethical custodians of your data suffer.
Instead of encouraging users to move to new platforms along with their favorite influencers, there is some kind of “stay and fight” mentality that keeps their subscribers and fans exposed to massive data collection and violations of their privacy. I know this from personal experience trying to advocate for some of these innovative companies and getting absolutely no response from some of the most vocal critics of Google, Facebook and YouTube.
The companies I will mention have been in development, went through a full beta process and have a valid strategic direction that differentiates them from some of the hasty alternatives we have seen in the past. We need more than a “red Twitter”. Their polices are clear, deliberate in their approach and consistent with the data privacy and free expression principles conservatives have been demanding. Most important, their business model is not built on collecting or selling your data.
All of them will offer alternative revenue streams that aren’t disrupted by a change in policy like the one effective at YouTube on December 10th. They either have their own native video streaming or will accept links from alternatives like BitChute. If you need further proof that the time is short and it may be too late for 2020:
A Personal Commitment
I understand the trepidation of walking away from the large networks that many of us have all built on our current accounts. I also know the number of people I am truly close to on any of these platforms are a mere fraction of the friends or followers I have. However, I will be deleting the Facebook page where I post my writing on January 1st. I will encourage my small group of fans to follow me on Minds and CloutHub.
Once I have an alternative where I can keep my friends and family private and interact publicly with a larger user base, I will be deleting my Facebook account. Again, I will encourage those I truly care about to follow me to an online community that takes data privacy and freedom of expression seriously. I hope to be in this position on CloutHub by early 2020.
My Twitter timeline will be deleted on 1/1/2020 and the only new tweets I will author will be entertaining content that has little if anything to do with politics. I will look forward to the day that independent journalists and news outlets transition to platforms that actually care about their viewers and readers enough to put them in the hands of platforms and communities that respect their privacy and voice. Right now both Minds and CloutHub have a public timeline that meets my needs.
I have de-Chromed myself except for the sites I write for. Necessary WordPress plug-ins are the only things I have run across that work better in Chrome than on Brave which is my primary browser. And Duck Duck Go is my search engine across devices. I also do not log in to YouTube to search for and watch content. And for now my home will stay blissfully stupid and I will keep watching my very dumb TV.
A Drop in the Bucket
I am small potatoes. But I am not going to keep serving content that even a few people want to read on platforms that employ a level of surveillance and suppression we would not tolerate from our government. There is no reason to accept it from a private company with no compensation for your participation. I would encourage the weary, suppressed and silenced influencers to help make the push. I can think of Project Veritas, PragerU, Andy Ngo, The Epoch Times and anyone who thinks filing a lawsuit is going to solve the fundamental flaw in these business models.
Take their users. Influencers have that power and need to use it in a sustained and methodical marketing campaign. Remember MySpace and AOL? The current platforms are not too big to fail.
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