While the President set off another shit-storm in his tweets about Google –for once he wasn’t alone–just the most visible critic.

In a previous post I looked at growing concerns around social media platforms

and this week find various Media entities are also wondering about Freedom on Speech online.

According to a New York Times article earlier this week,  a 100 Facebook employees lead by a senior engineer formed their own page called FB’ers for Political Diversity after raising concerns about  the company’s overly left-leaning bias. They want to create a space for “ideological diversity” to combat the “political monoculture” they feel Facebook has created.

Elsewhere at least three major magazines–The Week, The Economist and MIT Technology Review–came out this week with articles examining similar themes concerning the degree of control Google and the other social media platforms have.

The Week’s editorial wonders if Google is ditching it’s original mission statement by looking at a return to China–and following that State’s directives around censorship of online activities–the very thing that Google refused to do when they pulled out of China on 2010.

And while The Economist article largely focuses on the competition Google will now have from China’s own homegrown search engines–it does wonder how Google squares their new desire to go back there –with their former stance of not cooperating with the Chinese State requirements around the banning and blocking of specific sites (like The Economists’ )

It doesn’t look like it’ll be any different in light of what Apple had to do earlier this year–provide all it’s I-Cloud data for Chinese citizens to a central state data center so the government has the same info.

The MIT article, Who needs Democracy when you have data?,  makes it clear China’s developing a Minority Report-styled future for it’s citizens. From the way it’s developing thus far you think all they need to do is add the DNA profiles and they can start sorting out undesirables before they’re out of the womb.

Basically China and social media platforms like Facebook that work with them–because you have to play to stay–are creating a huge demerit based system to rate its citizens on their trustworthiness and reputation–what the hell that’s supposed to mean.

But the State knows it when it sees it. They’re already using a system to collect as much data as it can about each citizen. We’re talking about everything they can possibly find–from unpaid parking tickets to arguments with a store owner, participation in a demonstration, arrests for disorderly conduct, what church or mosque you attend…everything.

It’s a system of values and–like school–demerits. You get too many of the latter and you might not be able to board a train or leave the country–even be allowed to enter Beijing –as recent protestors from the outlying areas found out when they came to do a traditional protest in the capital.

The fact that a Blacklist composed of citizens who have a negative profile according to the state– is the first “product” of this new system–tells you everything about its intentions.

The MIT article is the most comprehensive discussion I’ve seen of the Chinese approach but I was surprised by the attitude of the writer. She opened her piece by denigrating the democratic electoral process we have in the west. She blamed…Brexit and Trump on it’s failings…before in my opinion doing her best to put a happy face on the Chinese efforts as being something all countries will be looking to in the future.

Whoa I thought. We’re talking about the Chinese State. We’re talking about one in five people on the planet being affected.

And we’re talking about companies that work with them–like Facebook. Last week a report came out discussing Facebook’s new strategy for evaluating how much weight to give individual’s voice online. For instance if you object to a site on Facebook–the company reserves the right  to look at thing like your network of contacts among other things in order to gauge your…trustworthiness…echoing what China’s doing.

Did Facebook come up with this all on their own? Or is it a by-product of their work in China–a bleed so to speak?

What happens when Facebook can assemble a better dossier than sanctioned spies and the agencies they work for?

When  their trove of data allows them to craft a more complete profile of you than your own government?

Does it then become another player in the worlds intelligence game…buying and selling secrets with the others in the darker recesses of the Simulation?

Maybe we don’t have take up arms but we sure might want to raise our voices when it comes to making sure our freedom of speech is used to enshrine not silence our rights to think as we want online.

In the end I’ll  take our process, as sloppy and …human as it is…over  technocratic enslavement any day.

Dean Balsamo


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