Free speech allows people to openly exchange ideas in person, in print and in groups, and it produces nations where quality and excellence are valued and pursued through healthy competition, and where bad ideas, injustice, and oppression are shunned. Free speech is disappearing from Europe, and under threat in the United States.
Having joined Facebook and posted all their relationships to it, users now found themselves hostages to the platform. Sure, they could delete their account and they would not lose their friends, but they might lose contact with acquaintances they had met and shared experiences with in the past, due to life changes, and distance, and the passage of time . . .
It is rare to find a Facebook user that doesn’t have some valid criticism or problem with the platform. In addition to Facebook’s uselessness as a network for exchanging ideas, exercising one's citizenship, and conducting business, we can add the fact that most informed users don’t trust Facebook because it has repeatedly violated their privacy through numerous changes to how their personal information is presented and shared on the network; and more fundamentally, because Facebook is really in the business of collecting and marketing the communication of its users . . .
Facebook doesn’t help us communicate or make a living because we are Facebook’s products and so are our friends. Many people (artists, freelancers, and entrepreneurs in particular) who saw in Facebook an opportunity to spread the word about their work and to get more people to support it were no doubt disappointed when “likes” did not translate into sales . . .
As a positive feedback bubble, Facebook is a form of online boosterism that provides little practical benefit to its users. Boosterism on Facebook (as expressed through status updates, the “like” button, and supportive comments) is merely the desire for users to be liked, not in the Facebook sense, but in their need to fit in with the community . . .
If Facebook is useless for the development and exchange of ideas, it is also useless as a platform for citizens to conduct business. In daily life, through our face-to-face networks, we promote our political and economic interests, give each other referrals, and connect people who could benefit from knowing each other, so that we can all secure what we need to survive, prosper, and generally improve our quality of life and our communities. That is one of the main purposes of a social network . . .
After people take their pictures and film their videos, they post them on social networking sites, such as Facebook, for others to see. The problem with these photo galleries, personal films and other posts is that they are out of context, and often without relevance or purpose, other than status posturing, the sharing of mundane daily activities, and the forwarding of trivia and sensationalist news . . .
If Orwell revised Nineteen Eighty-Four to suit the times, he would have included the IT industry in the Inner and Outer Parties of power. Big Brother would still be the government, but it would be advised by the IT industry . . .
One of the benefits we receive from living in a nation-state is security. Indeed, from the empires of the past to the democracies of today, we pay tax in part to defend the nation, thereby ensuring our security from external threats. A problem arises, however, when the government uses and often exaggerates external threats as an excuse to monitor its citizens . . .
In addition to being tracked by our phones, photographed and video-recorded in private and public places, and having our communication monitored, with the advent of camera-equipped drones (unmanned aerial vehicles), if the location can’t be linked to us, we can now be tracked to the location. Drones are now actively used for surveillance by the FBI and many police departments in the United States . . .
In his prescient novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell describes a dystopian world where Big Brother (the totalitarian state) is watching everyone, where it is a crime to criticize the system, or to even think critically (thoughtcrimes), and where people speak a controlled language (Newspeak) invented by the government to limit freedom of thought. Imagine Orwell’s surprise (or lack thereof) if he were alive today to discover that the house he lived in until his death in 1950, in Islington, North London, is now surrounded by surveillance cameras . . .
The problem with a world in which everyone can film, photograph, or record you at any time with a handheld device, is that we begin to change our behavior, to censor ourselves, to watch what we say, like politicians. With the advent of facial recognition software, life becomes even more claustrophobic . . .
It seems everywhere you go these days you’re in someone’s picture or video. It used to be just celebrities that had to worry about their private or day-to-day moments being filmed or photographed. While sometimes being filmed or photographed is incidental, people also regularly film and photograph friends and even strangers without asking their permission. This is a violation of privacy, but because ethics usually trail technological advancement, both people behind the camera and those in front of it, ignore or are ignorant of this fact . . .
From website designers, to systems managers, to coders, what your IT professional is doing for you is seldom transparent and often more costly than initially estimated. Whether in-house or for-hire, he or she could be wasting your time and money . . .