So, almost everyone uses services, provided by IT corporations like Google or Facebook, on a daily basis. It is a part of the daily routine and we can’t imagine a day without using what these companies provide to us. Map navigation, communication, acquaintance with new people, scheduling, browsing, searching information, storing information, buying, working, playing, going on a holiday or a vacation, etc… All of this is quite likely to happen with the help of Google or another IT corporation through their apps, web services and operational systems… This help comes mostly for free, and offers great facilitation, that’s why everyone uses it.
But… there is one disturbing thought.
Can we be sure that all the information that we give about ourselves while using the various services provided to us by these corporations will never be used for any purposes we are not aware of?
Combining all of the traces that we leave in internet and while working with apps will make the owner of this versatile information to know us better than we know ourselves. Especially if a psychological science is applied. If somebody has an access to what we browse, what we are searching in internet, our activity in the social media, our purchases, our everyday routine and so on, this person(or persons) will know everything about us, even our deepest secrets, fears, hopes, problems, conflicts, values, way of thinking… just everything!
What a great source for examining the human behaviour, far beyond of that, what the governments have and have ever had! And the corporation owning this information virtually can not be controlled in terms how to operate with it. And the most important thing – this goes not only in one direction! The corporations not only collect information, they are giving us information in response! The internet content we see is shaped to a great extend by the corporations. The search results, the word auto complete function in search engines, all of the recommendations, that we see in sites like youtube, the personalized google ads we see in most of the sites are some of the examples how the big IT service providers influence our internet and overall experience. To know a person to the core and to be able to suggest to her/him an information, according to her/his psychological profile presents a great power for a psychological influence.
Imagine the following – Google wants to make you to eat, let’s say, medlars. Don’t ask why, just imagine it. Google, being in complete knowledge of your lifestyle, psychology profile, health status and therefore possible health problems, concentrates over one(or more) possible for you, but not necessarily existing. Let’s assume that you are a little bit overweighted. The next time you enter in youtube it is likely for you to see a scaring movie, recommended to you by youtube, which explains how even if a person is just a little bit overweight, this increases the risk for, let’s say, a stroke. And if you search for some ways for reducing weight, no matter where – either in Google search engine, Youtube or somewhere else, you could be presented with information how good are the medlars for losing weight and(or) reducing the risk for a stroke. This information could come to you via Google ads as well. And the whole this influence could be repeated over and over, constantly.
Sounds nuts? Sounds paranoid? Maybe. But this was a very crude and basic example. We can only presume how sophisticated these methods may be, developed by combining the personal information with a psychological science. There are different directions in psychology devoted to controlling the human, suggesting ideas, behaviours, emotions, desires, fears, attitudes, opinions, values and so on… Tinkering with sub consciousness, loading it with subliminal messages, making manipulative associations, making the person to come by himself to the desired decisions... the techniques are numerous. Neuro Linguistic Programming, for example, is all about that. Behaviourism is about different techniques for training people to a defined behaviour, just like animals. Suggestology also treats the same subjects, with its own approach. And sure there are morе sociological and psychological domains devoted to influencing the mass and the individual behaviour, which are constantly advancing in knowling the human soul and its inner processes and mechanisms.
Of course, there will never be enough personnel to cope with each person individually. But that’s why the programs are written. Did Google(or any other IT corporation) reveal its algorithms to the public or just to the government? Do we know how they are written and how do they work?
Even if the IT corporations would be obliged to reveal their algorithms in the future, could there be a mechanism, ensuring that exactly these “approved” algorithms will work anywhere and anytime without other programs to be secretly involved? Who knows for the future, but currently the answer is more likely no. So, why these IT corporations would like to influence and dictate the human behaviour so much? Of course, the obvious reason is to make more money. But this reduces to having more power. So, it is a completely possible for the IT corporations, having their leverage, to try to direct the social processes and development. To lead us to a world and society according their liking. Maybe a society in which people are so programmed, trained and controlled, without realizing it, that there would be almost no free will and free choice? No democracy. No persons, just bots… What a dark, dystopian picture, but still possible…
Hoping that the governments will control the corporations in doing this, is futile. At least for now. So, it is a responsibility of the society to develop some kind of a “brain firewall” , “psychological immune system” in order to be resilient to the eventual ongoing psychological diversion, coming from many sides. This resilience could be developed through communication and sharing, thus the appropriate culture, corresponding to the current reality, to be developed.
P.S. If you want to know what Google knows for you, please visit this link:
P.S. Below you may find the opinion of European Data Protection Supervisor(EDPS) about the ongoing online manipulation based on misuse of personal data. Let us hope that some legal measures will be taken.