Mark Zuckerberg may have bought some community cred with his $100 million check to the New Jersey school district and may have quelled some die-hard enemies with his recent overture to the FCC, but the t-shirt, jeans-clad billionaire is secretly smiling because he knows the real truth: Americans have willingly surrendered their privacy for the convenience, timeliness and free nature of the Internet.
George Orwell is spinning in his grave, Zuckerberg is laughing all the way to the bank and we’re wondering how is it that we pay bills with our cell phone, invite strangers into our home after just an online website connection and fall in love digitally without ever meeting anyone. Now comes Carrier IQ scandal which some wonderful soul, Trevor Eckhart unearthed and showed us all that our smartphones have brains which work even when their off and are used to track our every move.
Our machines are tracking us, stealing our privacy bit by digital bit.
We lost the war on privacy and most of us didn’t even know we were in the battle.
Lets start with the war generals and let’s indict them with their own words:
Google’s informal motto may be “Don’t be evil” but as Steve Jobs loved to say, “That’s Bullsh**t.” And we have seen a company that started as an information company transform into an advertising company and then a commercial monster gobbling up its competition and allowing its clients to stalk our Internet searches like some digitized serial killer.
Google’s once CEO Eric Schmidt’s said it best about his data collecting freakazoid nation culled from a piece in the Huffington Post:
With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches […] We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.
“I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions […] They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next,” Schmidt said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in August 2010.
“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” Eric Schmidt told CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo in a December 2009 interview.
244,000 German citizens objected in October 2010 to having their homes shown on Google Street View, which will launch in Germany in November 2010. The following day, reports All Things Digital, Eric Schmidt appeared on CNN’s Parker Spitzer and allegedly said that people who take issue with their homes appearing online “can just move” after Google cars photograph their homes or businesses.
“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” [Schmidt] says. He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites.
But as much as Steve Jobs is irked by Google he’s no privacy saint either with his iPhone that tracks every move you make. But the biggest privacy offender of all is of course Zuckerberg:
We’ve all heard about his now infamous IM chat at Harvard about the poor slobs who took to using his newly minted The Facebook creation…
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don’t know why.
Zuck: They “trust me”
Zuck: Dumb f**ks.
But it seems that age hasn’t weened the young lad from his privacy-hating ways. Oh, he sounds remorseful now but we all know that just as you can’t legislate away hate, you can’t legislate away what I call the “disease of openness.”
Our desire to have a free and open society has been corrupted by that green thing that corrupts so completely and thoroughly that the people who fought against the machine, destroyed it and created an even more ferocious machine. And though we can blame the young cat Zuckerberg and his minions it’s really ourselves at fault.
Our need for self-exposure, to feel validated not by our own intrinsic value but by the value others place upon us, our need to be seen and heard, viewed and revered, to stand up and shout, “Me, Me, Me!,” and have someone give a damn, why yes finger you keep pointing!
Yeah, that self-aggrandizing need led us to not only kneel at the foot of the devil but say “Thank you,” for the privilege. We saunter down the pathway of openness dragging our photos, timelines, status updates and viral videos behind us and wondered why someone ended up with nude photos of us next to our LinkedIn profile, or why we got fired for drinking too much at that birthday party where everyone whipped out their phones with the Facebook App to document the moment for their timeline of prosperity.
Facebook’s mission is to empower us to connect and share more but in doing so we are revealing less. We are showing what the world wants to see because we know now that everything we post is not private or secret or anything that can’t be found or researched.
There is no assumption of privacy on the web, the Internet oligarchs shout and we nod our heads in unison and churn out another Facebook post about our very private upcoming suicide which people ignore because they can’t see it as really you.
We’ve Googled our way into a false society where the most banal becomes the most popular and the most urgent seems lost. We have more content than we can possible handle but less real information. There’s more gossip than genius and more tripe than truth.
I’m no Luddite, Internet hater or someone who wants to turn back the clock I just want full disclosure so I know what I’m getting into. And as Steve Jobs says:
Privacy means people know what they are signing up for in plain English. Some people want to share more data. Ask them. Ask them every time. Let them know precisely what you are going to do with their data.
– Steve Jobs, at D8 conference (according to Jason Calacanis)
If you haven’t completely given up on this war with the technocrats on privacy I suggest you read the privacy rights holy book The Filter Bubble. Written by Eli Pariser, the book will terrify you with all you didn’t know that Google, Facebook and others were doing.
Take heed and be sure to follow their Ten Commandments – 10 ways to “opt-out” of this “opt-in” online space.