The hidden cost of Facebook, Google and other “free” services

In yesterday’s post about the Equifax hack, I referenced a video by Computing Forever that describes the technocratic dystopia where the information users voluntarily put in to “free” online services like Facebook is nefariously being used against the users.

Facebook and Google own a large market share of the Internet user base because they don’t ask for money from its users. Users like the $0 price tag, even though in dollar terms the amount of work to create and maintain these services is valued much more than $0.

Users are paying a much steeper hidden cost. Most are already aware that their information and browsing habits are already being sold to advertisers to allow for targeted ads. However, that is a red herring to the much more sinister product being sold to corrupt governments and institutions of higher power: influence and big brother monitoring.

The ability to shape public opinion and police it is invaluable. Television and newsprint thrived on manipulating the masses and is ultimately what kept them in business despite being a “free” or low-cost service. Media companies are the cornerstone of crony capitalism.

Now that the Internet has superseded television and print media, companies like Facebook and Google are now heavily sought out by governments and institutions of higher power. It is no coincidence that there are concerted efforts to censor opinions and mine the personal data and browsing habits of its users to detect and destroy “wrongthink”. These companies have become heavily politicized within the span of a few years, particularly during the Brexit vote and the 2016 United States presidential election.

Unfortunately these companies are completely on board with the politicization. The upper ranks of management have been infiltrated and influenced by Marxists, postmodernists and students of Saul Alinsky, and it shows in the recent actions of Facebook and YouTube. Under the guise of “fighting hate”, users are deceived into accepting the dangerous hidden cost: their right to think and speak freely. The same problem with one-way television and print media propaganda has permeated the Internet.

Those aware of this phenomenon have been seeing more independent YouTube channels demonetised and disappearing from trend lists, and they are being replaced by “mainstream” high-production-cost shows that have migrated from television such as CNN, Late Night with Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and John Oliver.  Comment sections allowing for two-way discussion and debate over contentious topics are being disabled or filtered to allow only “mainstream” opinions. Netflix and other online video media are more heavily pushing story lines that adhere to “mainstream” thought.

I put “mainstream” in quotation marks because a “mainstream” opinion isn’t what the public majority comes up with on their own, it is what the public majority come to accept as the norm because of the constant persuasion pushed through these one-way channels of communication. Controlling public opinion allows the existing power structure to keep its position of power. For current real-world examples, look no further than other communist regimes like China that has tight control over what the public sees. Germany and other parts of the European Union are rapidly approaching a similar state with their policing on Facebook and Twitter. You can no longer question “mainstream” thought and government decisions lest you want the guns of the state pointed at you.

Nothing in life is “free”. The cost of using $0 services like Google or Facebook is more than selling your soul to advertisers, it is selling your freedoms and individuality. I was extremely weary about downloading Windows 10 for $0 and still am. Cortana, a service that operates like a virus and runs in the background constantly on Windows 10 (even if you disable it), is a perfect gateway to mine your computing habits and personal data. I assume that is part of the real cost of this supposedly “free” product.

With the partnership between big tech and big government, we’ve hitched a ride on the slippery slope. A technocracy where you will be arrested for thought crimes based on your Internet activity is not as far-fetched as it seems.

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