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The world has become a place of such conflict and controversy throughout politics and technology recently, producing a fear of what will come of it all in the future. Could it be painstakingly detrimental to our kind? What makes us human—our free will, individual traits, personality characteristics, behaviors, and how we communicate or interact with one another—all of these things are being collected as data by social media giant Facebook. The data is then used to offer ad space to companies for marketing purposes for a fee.
What’s worse is that all of these aspects of what make us human are also being influenced constantly by Facebook through algorithms and artificial intelligence whose intent is to “keep us happy” when engaging with others online. To put it simply, anyone with an account on Facebook is being digitally human trafficked by the use of their data for profit via advertisement sales. Just as a drug provides satisfaction to an addict, Facebook strives to give users more of the content they seem to like based upon analysis of their data. This keeps people coming back to the site and spending more time on it. In doing so, users are consequently increasing the value of their data and making Facebook more money.
The powers of persuasion working through technology and the growth of social media has directly affected American democracy, education, and free press. As a result, it has brought to question many violations of people’s rights due to irresponsible business models like those of Facebook. People like Facebook because it provides a platform for them to speak their mind, express themselves, and connect with others, but at what cost? Consider the power that the radio has, for instance. Hearing a new song for the first time, you may not like it. However, as the radio plays it more and more, it will start to grow on you. Pretty soon, the lyrics will be stuck in your head and you will even go as far as finding the song on YouTube or downloading it so that you can hear it whenever you want. The end result is a complete turnaround from the first time you heard it and didn’t like it, right? Now, imagine that same concept of over exposure having an influence throughout social media. Facebook has the ability to persuade and change the minds of any of its users, at any given time, just by what it allows on that person’s news feed and then perpetuating certain ideas over and over through its algorithms to keep people satisfied. Whether it be posts from friends, events from groups, or even sales ads, you only see what Facebook’s artificial intelligence decides you should see.
To add, Facebook has been strengthening its measures to remove inappropriate content from its site. Have you been seeing more and more “This post has been removed” messages? That is because they are now monitoring, filtering, and flagging more and more content as the days go by in 2019. In other words, they are now exercising their massive control over content even more. This directly intrudes upon people’s freedom of speech. Who is to decide what is appropriate, what isn’t, what is misinformation, what is factual, what is a joke, or what is offensive? As long as no laws are being broken, people should not be muted or put into what everyone refers to as “Facebook Jail” where you got locked out of your account for a certain amount of time for having an opinion that Facebook execs don’t agree with or for posting a joke that isn’t funny to them. Censorship does not strengthen friendship, Zuckerberg. Mental manipulation will not bring together the masses and it hinders free thought, free will and free speech. Profiting from personal information of other people is a violation of privacy. Finding loopholes around FTC regulations and admitting guilt with an apology full of excuses to Congress does not get you off the hook.
I will continue to follow this story and provide updates as they become available. Stay tuned!