We don’t like to be watched, we don’t like it if someone stands outside one of our windows staring at what we do, especially not the bedroom, that would be absolutly nuts. Yet this is basically what our lives are like since we do so much online.
Our phone apps and OS tracks our movements, our phone provider analyses our calls, our message app leaks messages before it encrypts them, all our purchases are tracked. Soon, as our bank account transactions will be shared (in the EU) if you buy something in a bricks and mortar store you will be reminded of other things you may buy online and in phone apps.
This is all allowed and hidden under a cloak of legalise. You don’t realize you agree to it. Recently a hacker discovered that there’s an invisible extra browser window that is being used to track your behaviour and send it to Google..Amazon workers turn out to share things people say to the voice command service Alexa..
Now imagine all this was done by a man, and the victim was a woman. Then it would be considered stalking. What business has that man knowing where she is! What business has that man to know what she bought! Yet the tracking is all about taking money from a person who was not planning on spending it! A stalker is persistent and often turns into a murderer. Google and the others just profile your every move.
Recently Google talked about how it was possible to sway extreme opinions by offering people Youtube results that gave a more nuanced view. The experimented with youtube users to show them video results that would counter their hardline views. The subjects where not informed.
What would you say if someone obstructed your friends from seeing you (in ways they don’t notice, for instance by temporarily deleting the appointment from their agenda), while also directing someone else to you. Social engineering is a real thing.
Lets call this datastalking, because cyberstalking sounds too futuristic and to much like sexual stalking. It has become so big that for many even their DNA is known and their medical history. Algorithms are used to target products, but because Google knows so much it could not only show a product, but also teach you why you should like the product. It can even tweak your search results to reflect which way they want you to look.
Outside the realtively understandable motivations of Google we have other entities datastalking you for reasons much more worrisome. Cambridge Analytica used large user datasets (from Facebook, that keeps track of 27.000 datapoints for each user) to find niche opinions, which if someone would express them, would resonate so strongly that they would vote for whoever resonated them.
Donald Trump mentioned all kinds of beliefs in his campaign, beliefs he never even heard of and certainly didn’t care about, because datastalking showed them to be ways to make fringe voters identify with him. This is as if someone takes your diary, finds out where you went to school and then claims to be from the same school in order to get into your life.
We are now used and many are addicted to online social interaction. We are required to be social and compliant, which means we will immitate behaviour if it is demonstrated by the right souce (and we are capable), we like to conform. You can expect anyone who is non-conformist to be eroded by algorithms to become conformist. Datastalking is a given and a new generation grows up thinking nothing of it.
The fundamental question is whethere we humans should be discriminating minds, ones that make choices that have social impact, for instance we make laws to keep water clean by voting for someone who will protect our drinking water. Or maybe we should just be recepticles of whatever companies come up with. Bodywarmers, bell bottoms, water bottles, thinking the Earth is flat. Clearly we have evolved to be independent and reslilient minds, and companies that produce things in large quantities want us to be as identical in our taste for their products as possible.
The fundamental question is whether you are able to choose between living in a real world or one that slowely learns about you, adapts and tries to influence you. Leeching your money, as you become a Christmass tree full of nonsense products and your mind starts singing the tune of the most idiotic ideologies. It all starts with privacy, and without ending datastalking you will never ever have it again.