“We need a digital economy where our data and our attention is not for sale to the highest bidding authoritarian or demagogue.” -Zeynep Tufekci
What has the digital ad man wrought when the same algorithms companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information?
Zeynep Tufekci an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is going to explain it to us. If we intend to remain (or become) free people, I highly suggest we listen intently to her words of warnings.
I’ve taken the liberty of capturing some of her most poignant points in the talk:
In the digital world, persuasion architectures can be built at the scale of billions, and they can target, infer, understand and be deployed at individuals, one by one by figuring out your weaknesses.
Last year Donald Trump’s social media manager disclosed that they were using Facebook “dark posts” to demobilize people, not to persuade them, but to convince them not to vote at all. To do that, they targeted African-American men in key cities like Philadelphia.
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 weakness and vulnerabilities through private screens so we don’t even know what our fellow citizens and neighbors are seeing, that authoritarianism will envelop us like a spider’s web and we may not even know we’re in it.
Greed blinds and power blinds completely.
Are you ready to say no to dark posts on social? Are you ready to stop tracking your clients’ customers every digital move? Are you ready to stop what you’re doing and ask why?