Data has become weaponized in the battle for the hearts and minds of citizen consumers.
There has always been a fundamental asymmetry between individual members of the public and the organized, centralized corporation. Big tech's monopoly of both data and social medial platforms creates an almost unlimited potential for its exploitation.
The very pioneers of the dot com revolution describe today's unholy convergence of economic and institutional interests as an existential threat to free society.
"The public square is no longer in the hands of the people."
“Social media is you and me acting individually. Algorithms target us collectively but with individual precision. That’s never been possible before. To keep people passive and obedient, limit spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow lively debate within that spectrum.” — Tristan Harris
Artificial intelligence algorithms under exclusive control of corporate-government changes the rules of the exchange economy.
Classical free market theory no longer applies.
Curated social media becomes a closed circuit, a voluntary but endemic confirmation bias mouldin everything we experience online.
With an entire universe at our fingertips, instinct-informed algorithm deselects it all, propagating only A/B tested content, sanctioned advertising and authorized political messaging.
"The worst evil is - and that's the product of censorship - is the self-censorship, because that twists spines, that destroys my character because I have to think something else and say something else, I have to always control myself." — Milos Forman
Independent voices no longer reach the wider community without official permission or major advertising campaign funding.
New sources of information are parsed out of the conversation by default.
Hundreds of organic posts won’t “trend“ unless amplified by algorithms and gatekeepers; which never happens if a subject runs contrary to official agenda.
Corporate influencers and tech-savvy hypernormalization professionals (under political direction) manufacture most of the “trending“ content into the public narrative.
86.4% of all English-language viral campaigns originate this way.
"There are three dominant tendencies in a neoliberal society: financialized, privatized, militarized. In that order." — Cornel West
But the old methods of public expression - civil disobedience included - won't shift the needle.
We face a disempowered, disenfranchised future, trapped in parochial affirmation bubbles, living out a new paradigm: benign herd-exploitation.
This stately confluence of economic incentives, monolithic technocracy and authoritarian self-interest is inevitable without some kind of intelligent resistance.
"There is little or no ability for an internet user to know when they are being covertly propagandized by their government, which is precisely what makes it so appealing to intelligence agencies, so powerful, and so dangerous." — Glenn Greenwald