Algorithmic control III: Privacy, Surveillance, and the Price of Content

For the final week of content for BCM112 we discussed surveillance and privacy, specifically within the media.

Most of us gravitate to our phones when we are trying to relax. The serotonin enhancing images and sounds that are portrayed on social media are a welcome distraction from the real world. Although being on our phones may be a break from what’s going on in our lives, it’s the place where we are surveyed the most.

How many times have you been discussing a product with a friend, only to open your social media apps and see an ad for that very product? This suggests that our devices are actually listening to us, to cater to what they think we want to see.

This applies to when we are online as well. Tiktok has a feature called the For You page, a page that is catered to your interests. How do they do that? Well, they probably track what you search, like, comment on and the people you follow. This collection of data creates a profile for you so that videos that fit that profile can be filtered onto your For You page.

I noticed that when I was single, there were a lot of tiktoks on my For You page about being single. This is my for you page now, one year into a relationship:

As you can see, all of those videos whether I was interested in them or not, were based around the fact that I am in a relationship. Tiktok used a fact about me to filter through videos that are centred around that topic. They do the same thing with facts such as your age, sexuality and hobbies.

So, maybe you’re not too concerned about all of this yet. It seems pretty harmless, the internet just used your information to cater to your needs. However, the internet doesn’t just collect information about things you like, it knows what trips you’re going on, where you live, where you work etc. It has access to EVERYTHING that you post online. And the scary part is, this information is constantly being auctioned off to different companies so that they can create ads that will cater to you, specifically.

So what can you do to prevent the internet from having your information? Well to be honest, its probably too late. The second you step into the social world, you are being tracked. Even as you read this blog post, you’re being tracked.

However, there are a few things you can use/do to protect yourself:

  • VPN
  • Antivirus software
  • Avoiding public wifi
  • Reading terms and conditions

It is important to remember that you are 1 of 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide so the chances of you being singled out are rare. And at least the internet is filled with memes to make us all feel better.

Further Sources:

References

Fox, LL 2021, ‘Avoiding Internet surveillance: How you can protect your privacy’, NordVPN, viewed 29 May <https://nordvpn.com/blog/avoid-internet-surveillance/>

Mitew, T 2021, ‘Algorithmic control III: Privacy, Surveillance, and the Price of Content, online lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, viewed 22 May 2021, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFhGWLq3Rmo&feature=emb_title&ab_channel=TeodorMitew>

PrivacyTools, viewed 29 May, https://www.privacytools.io/

6 thoughts on “Algorithmic control III: Privacy, Surveillance, and the Price of Content

  1. Hi Sophie, I really loved your blog post for this week. I think everyone can relate to their phones listening to their conversations when they get sponsored or recommenced posts on instagram, facebook and definitely the FYP page on tik tok! it’s scary how much surveillance there is and how easy it is for companies to gather information on us. I loved how you’ve included ways in which to protect yourself online. I actually watched one of the videos you have linked for references earlier this week and found it very insightful into this weeks topic 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Sophie, I liked your blog I think it was well written, and you’ve structured the remediations around the blog really well. In terms of contsructive crtiticism I don’t really think I have any! I think you’ve done a really good Job.

    Liked by 1 person

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