In this paper, we will demonstrate the many reasons why we need to focus on regulating the impacts of large entities on mass media. The government and corporations use mass media to manipulate and coerce the taxpayers in a direction that is predictable. From these predictions, they can forecast budgets and trends in the political spectrum. We will demonstrate the links between the recent pandemic on social media and the ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor. The benefactor of this crisis remains the same ultra-rich. Some would call this crisis a transfer of wealth. The global frustration and division are caused by an economic race to the summit between China and the US and the removal of basic rights. The media have been at the forefront of this cold war. What is the responsibility of the media? From channel to channel, post to post the narrative has been the same. More deaths, more infections. Nothing about recovery or healthy habits. Isolate, get the jab or lose everything you worked for. The information available to the civilians is stained with capitalism. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen all countries of the world shift towards a totalitarian regime to contain a “deadly” virus. Is the transition of world economic leadership already set? Many organizations have a long arm in our devices, entertainment, and communications. They offer you content that affects how you think and how you process information and your relationship with others. The catastrophic crisis that the people of the earth are going through is nothing like we have ever seen before. Is this the apogee of an already sick and crumbling empire or are the world leaders setting up the table for the next storm? Climate Change.
- a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.
“a basic algorithm for division” (Definitions from Oxford Languages)
“Although algorithms were created with the aim of optimizing everything, there is a growing concern that these nifty mathematical formulas, which undoubtedly make things easier, can also put too much control in the hands of third parties, more specifically governments and corporations.” (Mudita, 2021)
In late 2000 we witness the birth of Facebook. A social media platform that revolutionized the way we communicate, share and process information. Groundbreaking platform. It quickly became problematic because of its content and what people shared with each other. It needed regulation and part of its success worldwide is due to the phenomenal ability of the developers to give access to content we want to see. It started by hiding bad images or videos and now it is capable to clear a personalized path on your social media experience. It’s censorship without being censorship.
“Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service owned by Meta Platforms. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, its name comes from the face book directories often given to American university students. Membership was initially limited to Harvard students, gradually expanding to other North American universities and, since 2006, anyone over 13 years old. As of 2020, Facebook claimed 2.8 billion monthly active users and ranked seventh in global internet usage. It was the most downloaded mobile app of the 2010s.” (Wikidepia, 2021)
During this period, we also had the chance to get information from a Whistleblower from the CIA about a global surveillance program orchestrated and managed by the CIA and the NSA. Its name is Edward Snowden. What are the links between the algorithms and this global surveillance program? China has also dived deep into the social credit system and surveillance of foreigners, students, and citizens through face recognition and internet-based surveillance. The same companies that offer the government the software to use in this program are the ones who also built extremely popular video games like Fortnite and Epic Games. Are we letting foreign corporations and governments stockpile profiles of everybody on every continent? What is next? We are transitioning more and more towards this digital interface and we are at the crossroads where digital currencies and virtual reality will offer us another world to live in.
“Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.” — Sophocles (The Social Dilemma, 2020)
We experience extreme division in the past two years. CBC has removed the possibility to comment on its Facebook platform. They say it’s an effort to control hate speech and disinformation. I can understand the idea but is CBC a reference of objectivity or a government propaganda network?
“I believe strongly that as journalists, we are in service to you, the public. But the sand is shifting. You get so much information now. Some of it is wrong. Some of it is right. Some of it is meant to make you angry. Some of it is out of context. Some weaponize you. And some of you try to attack us personally, physically, even when we are doing our job. Not many, but some.” (Carole MacNeil, 2021)
CBC is a publicly funded network. They are interfering with the public’s will to communicate with each other. I understand we need to bring the hammer down on hate speech, violent language, and behavior. But aggressivity and passion are also a way for some to express themselves when they are not happy with a particular issue. When the ability to respond to a post from a publicly funded organization is removed, I believed we breached the understanding that the people on the network. If we give a higher power the ability to censor what the citizen wants to express, where do we draw the line? How do we know who we are dealing with? I think we should keep hateful in the open light and not hidden behind a tie and a smiley face. Before, no one had a voice. Now, the internet is there for everyone to manifest their opinions. A scary sight half of the time. But I believe the people deserve that jungle where they can communicate freely with people around the country or even around the world.
We saw a lot of political movements spread across the globe since the arrival of social networks. It grew larger than life and it affects elections and division between people. In China, they use the vast media network to control their citizens. We witnessed the invasion of the Capitol and the Trump camp using Twitter to put fuel on the fire that burns Americans since 2016. Trump will run for the 2024 elections, and we are not done with this incredible division that pushed the American people to the brink of civil war. When it comes to social networks, the algorithms are designed and paid for by people interested in a result. The user becomes the product and anyone interested to reach the product has access to the tools to do so through the same platform.
“We’ve created a world in which online connection has become primary. Especially for younger generations. And yet, in that world, anytime two people connect, the only way it’s financed is through a sneaky third person who’s paying to manipulate those two people. So we’ve created an entire global generation of people who were raised within a context with the very meaning of communication, the very meaning of culture, is manipulation.” (Lainer, 2020)
Some of the companies that have benefited the most from the pandemic are Apple, Amazon, Tencent, Google, Comcast, Facebook, and Tesla. (Novicio, 2021) All these companies are media-oriented and affect our daily lives. They are part of us and our demands. They influence our decisions and purchases. Our economy has been hijacked since the beginning of the pandemic and funneled into the actual social climate. We can find it interesting that the top ten lobbies in the US are the ones that benefit from this new reality. People are staying at home, using the internet to do purchases, and have social lives. Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and pharmaceuticals are all in the top ten lobbies of the US. Lobbies put pressure on the government to adhere to new regulations and facilitate the marketing and distribution of a lot of products. In this case our phones, online presence/media consumption, and vaccination status. From what we learned of “The Social Dilemma” and whistleblowers is that the companies are tailormade to influence our decision and control our choices in what we consume from the personal data they track online. They build profiles to secure consumerism through sneaky ads. On top of it, the governments are watching our every move and stockpiling our profiles. In some countries, surveillance is not even hidden at all. In the past, we were faced with similarities.
During the Industrial Revolution, big business was largely unregulated and took advantage of the system in place to pollute, pay low wages and compel people to work long hours and use its monopoly control to squeeze suppliers and extort customers. Corporations and lobbies are not our friends. They represent the ultra-rich, a group or club of people who live and thrive beyond what we can understand. They are completely disconnected from our reality, and they will continue abusing the system to fulfill their forecasts and margins. Those are the same lobbies the government makes deals with and borrows or invests with for projects. Regulation is critical.
“But labor organizations, social movements, the media, and government came together to create regulations that changed the way companies operate. And guess what? Capitalism wasn’t destroyed. In fact, companies thrived, and a balance was struck between business and society. That balance has been undone in recent years, but it does provide a lesson for how society might similarly control Internet companies.” (Eric Nee, 2019)
One of the organizations that have been fighting for the digital rights of individuals and society for nearly 30 years is the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Much of its efforts have focused on limiting government control and preserving individual freedom on the Internet, issues that continue to be important. But other organizations are beginning to take on business as well.
The government and big corporations own our data and profiles. They use them to create algorithms and politics to influence your decision. In this climate of political division, we can only see how it benefits them to keep us divided and categorized. So many things have changed in the new millennia, and it is going so fast that we might never be able to get our privacy again. The media platforms that we use are plagued with algorithms and surveillance programs. As much as we think we are alone in the comfort of our home. We are not. The people need to stand up to a large conglomerate and keep them away from the discussion. I would rather have an unregulated public platform than one that accumulates my data and sells it to 3rd parties. There is always a high school bully in the yard and this is what makes us stronger, not necessarily the authority figure that will make things worst most likely. We are living a social revolution and Tech giants, as well as the government, are using our data to divide us and keep their hands in our pockets. Just like in the industrial revolution someone will need to stand up and regulate them before it is too late.
(Carole MacNeil, 2021) : https://www.cbc.ca/news/editorsblog/facebook-comments-ed-blog-1.6230921
(Mudita, 2021) : https://mudita.com/community/blog/the-algorithm-effect-how-algorithms-influence-our-decisions/
(Eric Nee, 2019): https://www.statista.com/statistics/257344/top-lobbying-spenders-in-the-us/
(Novicio, 2021): https://finance.yahoo.com/news/15-companies-benefited-most-pandemic-101257486.html
(Lainer, 2020): https://usustatesman.com/six-chilling-quotes-from-the-social-dilemma/
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