🎧 Triangulation 380 The Age of Surveillance Capitalism | TWiT.TV

Listened to Triangulation 380 The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Leo Laporte from TWiT.tv

Shoshana Zuboff is the author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. She talks with Leo Laporte about how social media is being used to influence people.

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Even for the people who are steeped in some of the ideas of surveillance capitalism, ad tech, and dark patterns, there’s a lot here to still be surprised about. If you’re on social media, this should be required listening/watching.

I can’t wait to get the copy of her book.

Folks in the IndieWeb movement have begun to fix portions of the problem, but Shoshana Zuboff indicates that there are several additional levels of humane understanding that will need to be bridged to make sure their efforts aren’t just in vain. We’ll likely need to do more than just own our own data, but we’ll need to go a step or two further as well.

The thing I was shocked to not hear in this interview (and which may not be in the book either) is something that I think has been generally left unmentioned with respect to Facebook and elections and election tampering (29:18). Zuboff and Laporte discuss Facebook’s experiments in influencing people to vote in several tests for which they published academic papers. Even with the rumors that Mark Zuckerberg was eyeing a potential presidential run in 2020 with his trip across America and meeting people of all walks of life, no one floated the general idea that as the CEO of Facebook, he might use what they learned in those social experiments to help get himself (or even someone else) elected by sending social signals to certain communities to prevent them from voting while sending other signals to other communities to encourage them to vote. The research indicates that in a very divided political climate that with the right sorts of voting data, it wouldn’t take a whole lot of work for Facebook to help effectuate a landslide victory for particular candidates or even entire political parties!! And of course because of the distributed nature of such an attack on democracy, Facebook’s black box algorithms, and the subtlety of the experiments, it would be incredibly hard to prove that such a thing was even done.

I like her broad concept (around 43:00) where she discusses the idea of how people tend to frame new situations using pre-existing experience and that this may not always be the most useful thing to do for what can be complex ideas that don’t or won’t necessarily play out the same way given the potential massive shifts in paradigms.

Also of great interest is the idea of instrumentarianism as opposed to the older ideas of totalitarianism. (43:49) Totalitarian leaders used to rule by fear and intimidation and now big data stores can potentially create these same types of dynamics, but without the need for the fear and intimidation by more subtly influencing particular groups of people. When combined with the ideas behind “swarming” phenomenon or Mark Granovetter’s ideas of threshold reactions in psychology, only a very small number of people may need to be influenced digitally to create drastic outcomes. I don’t recall the reference specifically, but I recall a paper about the mathematics with respect to creating ethnic neighborhoods that only about 17% of people needed to be racists and move out of a neighborhood to begin to create ethnic homogeneity and drastically less diversity within a community.

Also tangentially touched on here, but not discussed directly, I can’t help but think that all of this data with some useful complexity theory might actually go a long way toward better defining (and being able to actually control) Adam Smith’s economic “invisible hand.”

There’s just so much to consider here that it’s going to take several revisits to the ideas and some additional research to tease this all apart.

👓 Are You a Woman Traveling Alone? Marriott Might Be Watching You. | Reason

Read Are You a Woman Traveling Alone? Marriott Might Be Watching You. (Reason.com)
How hotel chains became the new frontier in the surveillance state.

The gist of the idea here is interesting, but the surveillance state it creates and the stupid amount of money it sucks up that could be better spent somewhere else. Where is the humanity in creating our society? Why create such fear in thousands of people for such little in return? There’s so much more to say about this, but I just don’t have the energy.

👓 Facebook's '10 Year Challenge' Is Just a Harmless Meme—Right? | Wired

Read Facebook's '10 Year Challenge' Is Just a Harmless Meme—Right? (WIRED)
Opinion: The 2009 vs. 2019 profile picture trend may or may not have been a data collection ruse to train its facial recognition algorithm. But we can't afford to blithely play along.

👓 I Gave a Bounty Hunter $300. Then He Located Our Phone | Motherboard

Read I Gave a Bounty Hunter $300. Then He Located Our Phone (Motherboard)
T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to their customers’ location data, and that data is ending up in the hands of bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it, letting them track most phones in the country.

📑 India’s Tighter E-Commerce Rules Frustrate Amazon and Walmart Plans | Wall Street Journal

Annotated India’s Tighter E-Commerce Rules Frustrate Amazon and Walmart Plans by Newley Purnell and Corinne Abrams (Wall Street Journal)
With Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and Facebook Inc. and its WhatsApp messaging service used by hundreds of millions of Indians, India is examining methods China has used to protect domestic startups and take control of citizens’ data.  

Governments owning citizens’ data directly?? Why not have the government empower citizens to own their own data?

👓 Friction-Free Racism by Chris Gilliard | Real Life

Read Friction-Free Racism by Chris Gilliard (Real Life)
Surveillance capitalism turns a profit by making people more comfortable with discrimination

Facebook’s use of “ethnic affinity” as a proxy for race is a prime example. The platform’s interface does not offer users a way to self-identify according to race, but advertisers can nonetheless target people based on Facebook’s ascription of an “affinity” along racial lines. In other words. race is deployed as an externally assigned category for purposes of commercial exploitation and social control, not part of self-generated identity for reasons of personal expression. The ability to define one’s self and tell one’s own stories is central to being human and how one relates to others; platforms’ ascribing identity through data undermines both.  

October 15, 2018 at 09:34PM

👓 Changing Our Approach to Anti-tracking | Future Releases | Mozilla

Read Changing Our Approach to Anti-tracking by Nick Nguyen (Future Releases | Mozilla)
Anyone who isn’t an expert on the internet would be hard-pressed to explain how tracking on the internet actually works. Some of the negative effects of unchecked tracking are easy to notice, namely eerily-specific targeted advertising and a loss of performance on the web. However, many of the harms of unchecked data collection are completely opaque to users and experts alike, only to be revealed piecemeal by major data breaches. In the near future, Firefox will — by default — protect users by blocking tracking while also offering a clear set of controls to give our users more choice over what information they share with sites.

👓 The Information on School Websites Is Not as Safe as You Think | New York Times

Read The Information on School Websites Is Not as Safe as You Think (nytimes.com)
Some tracking scripts may be harmless. But others are designed to recognize I.P. addresses and embed cookies that collect information prized by advertisers.

The idiotic places we end up seeing surveillance capitalism just kills me.

Administrators: But they were give us the technology for free…
Really? Why not try pooling small pieces of resources within states to make these things you want and protect your charges? I know you think your budget is small, but it shouldn’t be this expensive.

👓 Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags | Locus Magazine

Read Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags by Cory Doctorow (Locus Online)
For 20 years, privacy advocates have been sounding the alarm about commercial online surveillance, the way that companies gather deep dossiers on us to help marketers target us with ads. This pitch…

👓 Logs populi or, Thanks, Netflix! | Vicki Boykis

Read Logs populi, or thanks, Netflix! by Vicki Boykis (veekaybee.github.io)
Tech is already cynical about data collection, but the public is just starting to understand its implications.

👓 Google will permanently disable a control on its new $50 speaker after the gadget listened in on some users | Business Insider

Read Google will permanently disable a control on its new $50 speaker after the gadget listened in on some users (Business Insider)
Google Home Mini is losing the ability to use it by touching the button on the top, after a reviewer raised concerns that it was recording without his consent.

👓 Don’t Sell Your Soul or Students to an Edtech Brand | Rafranz Davis | Medium

Read Don’t Sell Your Soul or Students to an Edtech Brand by Rafranz Davis (Medium)
There are plenty of reasons why teachers join ambassador programs. For some, this is how they gain access to potentially great tools that…