President Obama, Internet control, PRISM, Big Brother and Cut Limbo…
Social Media and government spying via the United States National Security Agency’s PRISM is BIG news this weekend and apparently Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk are all allegedly involved in a big brother type spying program.
Don’t believe it? Not sure how they could do it? Let’s look at what’s going on, shall we?
Back in February 2011 I wrote a blog post about Big Brother and Social Media, I was not only concerned about how easily we all communicate with each other nowadays via social media, but also concerned about how much information we give away freely and innocently on a daily basis.
I love the freedom social media has provided us all, but for many of us, our whole lives are out there now, look at how much information we blindly add to Facebook, Google and Yahoo every day. We top this up with our political and social views on Twitter, we add photographs of us with friends to Flickr and we add videos of ourselves on location or in our homes on YouTube.
We are told to be careful of what we put on social media sites because potential employers can easily access everything we post and make life changing decisions based on what they see. But what about our governments and the so called ‘powers that be‘? (Bilderberg?)
By the choices we make, we define who we are and then we publicize it via social media. What have you added to your social media profile today? Does that thought worry you? Or don’t you care?
We advertise the books we read and share our opinions on them with reviews on Goodreads, we show the music we share and listen to on YouTube and we proudly declare the products we buy and sell on the likes of Amazon and eBay. Pretty much every social media click on every social media or shopping site tells someone something about our lifestyle and the way we live. We don’t keep much to ourselves nowadays, do we?
Before the proliferation of the World Wide Web, a common phrase was, ‘I can read you like a book’, nowadays, it should be, ‘I can read you like a blog’. Things have changed!
If they decide to look, (and it seems that they may have done already) governments can see what we do, when we do it, how we do it, where we do it and who we do it with or to. That combined with the rest of the information they have gathered about us throughout our lives makes their job of character assessment pretty easy, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out exactly what kind of person we are and what motivates us to do the things we do. Not any more.
Once governments can easily determine who they like and who they don’t like, selection will be an easy process and eventually, knowing human nature and big business as we do, total control may be just a bit too easy to resist.
This is BIG BROTHER! Forget George Orwell and 1984, George was well ahead of his time, but he hadn’t considered the disarming effects of social media or the post millennium narcissistic yearning for celebrity.
Watch this video…
Only today, the guy who invented the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has warned of forces trying to take control of the Internet. In James Hurley’s article in the Telegraph, Sir Tim talks of ’Unwarranted government surveillance being an intrusion on basic human rights and threatening the very foundations of a democratic society.’
Should we be scared? Of course we should!
But Big Brother is not just about us being scrutinized as individuals and potentially judged and categorized, we are also looking at what information is available to us regarding what is happening in our lives and around the world. Information is power. The more we use and depend on social media and the world wide web, the easier we are to control.
Twitter may have become a tool for freedom fighters across the world and we may not have had the ‘Arab Spring‘ uprisings without the help of social media, but it can also be used against us in a big way. Social media and the world wide web are very much a doubled edged sword and can cut both ways.
Social media can help some people embrace democracy, but it can also create an illusion of democracy, while we’re all Tweeting away and adding photos to Flickr and likes to Facebook, we might well be leaving ourselves open to scrutiny, but that’s just part of the issue with the World Wide Web and the blogosphere.
When we look at recent scandals in the media, whether they are sexual, political or whatever and when we listen to plans to control all so-called ‘adult content’ relating to these scandals, we are put into a very difficult position. As a parent I don’t want my children having access to the bad stuff on the Internet, but as a British citizen I demand and I expect freedom of speech.
So where does that leave us exactly? Who judges adult content? Governments? What is the bad stuff on the Internet? Who judges political content? What is good political content and what is bad political content? What is acceptable sexual content? And while we’re on the subject, who are the judges and who controls them?
Can we trust governments to control the Internet or should we leave it to big business?
Social media golden boy Mark Zuckerberg recently said, ‘We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.’ But can we be sure about this? I’m not pointing the finger at young Mr Zuckerberg, but when we read about major business getting away with major tax avoidance, do we not feel concerned that a few favors may be owed here and there?
President Barak Obama summed it up nicely, he said. ‘We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.’
We certainly are President Obama. So, once again, where does that leave us?
Choices have to be made, but good and bad is very subjective. We all know the basics; whoever we are, wherever we are and whatever we believe in, but the big issue is fine tuning the Internet and maintaining the freedom of speech.
Some people might be offended by certain aspects of my satirical, crime thriller Cut Limbo. It’s an outrageous, salacious and violent caper that romps through the red light district of Amsterdam and ends up in the back street girlie bars of the Philippines. To many people it’s just a hilarious joy ride, others may fine it offensive, but some may see it as a indictment on Western society, a look at the West’s spiritual and moral decline and it’s pursuit of happiness via stimulants and material goods as opposed to the traditional family values and religious faiths of a South East Asian society.
It’s all very subjective stuff, isn’t it? Just like the Internet. So, what is good and what is bad?
Frankly, like I said, it’s impossible to tell, not only that, but it’s far too political to solve with a blog post, however, if you want a good laugh and you’re not easily offended, you really should read Cut Limbo.
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