Data analytics is changing the world. It’s helping us understand who we are and what makes us tick, as well as how to better understand our communities and society at large. But it’s also giving rise to questions about privacy rights, cultural norms, and what it means to be human in this digital age.
For generations, we revered these tech gurus for ushering in a new world of ease based on revolutionary products that could improve our lives. Then the curtain was pulled back, and we began to understand many of the philosophies and social norms we have adopted were carefully cultivated behind closed doors based on Big Tech analytics we volunteered through online shopping, mobile applications, and “free” software services.
When Personalisation Hits Wokeness
The personalisation of content is a powerful force in the lives of people. It’s what makes Netflix so addictive and why Facebook can’t be stopped by any algorithm. Personalisation is the process of tailoring content to the individual user based on their past behaviour, current location, or other factors that may be relevant to them at that moment in time. Personalisation is also a growing trend for advertisers who want their ads to reach as many people as possible, but still ensure they get value out of each impression.
The problem with this perceived benefit is its hypocrisy.
While Big Tech companies like Google and Amazon lean into social awareness or being “woke”, they often don’t practice what they preach. “Being woke” is a slang term that refers to being (left-leaning) socially and politically aware and conscious. It means being aware of and (overly?) sensitive to issues of social justice, such as racism, sexism, LGBTQ+ rights, and other forms of discrimination.
The fact is, these Big Tech companies capture our user data in as many ways as possible. They hungrily digest everything from the Mother’s Day present we purchase, to the brand of toilet paper we need and then regurgitate this into a cultural norm that can be marketed.
We Are Built to Connect
Humankind’s inherent need to connect and share has turned into a collection of deep data points on people’s lives and preferences.
In the past, this information was primarily used to improve products and services for customers. Now, however, it’s being used in ways that were never anticipated by companies or consumers–and they’re not always good ones.
Data is being used as the next frontier in marketing, leveraging personalised ads and automated micro-targeting algorithms to bring unprecedented productivity and precision. This has led to an explosion of data-driven personalisation, which can be seen everywhere, from the way you shop online to how your favourite sports team broadcasts their games on TV.
While some personalisation is good, not all of it is. If you have ever looked up flights to Moscow this month on Expedia or Trivago and now see ads for Russian hotels every time you log into Facebook, then you have experienced the “dark side” of personalisation.
The problem with this sort of ad targeting is that it’s often based on stereotypes rather than actual behaviour or preferences. A study by the European Union (EU) found that women were shown ads for beauty products at least twice as often as men were. Men were also shown more job postings than women.
Big Tech is leaning into the stereotypes its programmers believe already exist. Whether or not that is true, the outcome is we are all dealing with culture wars with the volume turned all the way up. It is like every app, website, and technology available to us is pre-programmed with the idea that we need to be more accepting while still advertising to our most basic gender roles.
How Do Data Analytics Relate to Privacy?
Privacy is a big concern. Big tech companies are collecting data on you, your friends and family, as well as just about everyone else they can get their hands on. They’re doing this to sell ads and improve their services, but what if they misuse that information? What if someone else gets access to it? And how much should we trust these companies with our data in the first place?
In the past ten years, the definition of privacy has changed, especially with the rise of social media and apps. The personal information that people share online carries risks like hacking, identity theft, malware attacks, and fraud, as well as manipulation by marketers or political campaigns.
Privacy is not just about keeping your information secret. It’s also about controlling how it’s used by others. You want to feel confident that when you give out your email address or credit card number on a website or mobile app, only those parties authorized by law will have access to them.
This is another way Big Tech is controlling our efforts. There is this perception that the more users share their information online the less the danger because there will be so many. The problem with that logic is when you reach out to a school of fish for dinner, you’ll likely be able to grab a few delicious individuals to grill up.
We are lowering our threshold for personal privacy when it comes to digital products and, in return, getting a massive hand on the scale of social responsibility. All of which can result in a cancel culture.
How Big Tech Influences Social Wokeness
Many of the Big Tech companies we celebrate on the international level are dictating who and what we should purchase services from. If any of these businesses take a side on an issue, rather related to immigration, gender, privacy, or more, they run the risk of being cancelled by the Big Tech machine.
There is an organisation called the 1792 Exchange that put out a report about companies just like this. It showed that many of the companies we want to use rely on “woke capitalism,” which undermines free speech and enterprise. They show that many Big Tech companies will target competitors who appear to be conservative or unwilling to take a liberal stance on specific topics and then reduce their presence online or seek to break them down with overwhelming social wokeness.
For example, imagine of Academy Brand, beloved sports, and clothing line from Anthony Pitt, suddenly believing LGBTQ+ rights were not valued. If, hypothetically, they took the stance that they did not discuss such topics at their place of business or preferred to do marketing with only straight models, how would that impact their brand?
The number of non-profits and social organizations that would come out against them would be a tidal wave. Then, all the social media platforms would jump in and pile onto this by prioritising the attack, so they could capitalize on the activity through ads or competitor products – effectively destroying this business due to cancelling their relevance.
This is just an example of how Big Tech influences our belief of wokeness. Whether or not our hypothetical is morally correct has nothing to do with it. When the companies we rely upon for digital messaging or communication can heavily influence the way we think or feel about a topic for us, we have voluntarily crippled our ability to think for ourselves.
The Fear of Privacy Rights
You may think that the fear of privacy rights is misguided. After all, what difference does it make if a Big Tech company knows where you are or what you like? They’re not going to tell anyone else!
But this is where we need to be careful. It’s easy for us as individuals to forget that our data has value. In fact, many companies make their money by selling access to their customers’ information and using it themselves in order to improve their products and services (or so they say).
The more information they have on any given person or group of people, the better they can predict how those people will behave in the future. That power must come with oversight!
These insights have the potential to help us solve some of the biggest problems facing our world today. It also has the ability to render our god given right for free thinking practically useless.
There have been numerous studies demonstrating how our behavior is influenced by our environment. For example, we know that someone walking down a dingy hallway is likely to leave a piece of trash themselves because that is the environment they are present in.
The same is true for the digital environment we operate within. We have to find a way to separate ourselves from the virtual echo chambers we have allowed to be created by protecting our privacy online and off – especially with digital products.
Striking a Balance
So, how do we use data analytics to make our lives better and create a better world?
The answer is simple: We must find a balance between data-driven progress and privacy rights. Data analytics cultivated by Big Tech companies can help us make better decisions, but it also has the potential to be misused by corporations or governments–and that could lead to serious consequences for society as a whole. The key is finding ways of using the technology responsibly while still protecting our personal information from being exploited by others who might want it for their own gain.
The use of data analytics by Big Tech companies has raised concerns about privacy rights among far-right conservatives, and for a good reason.
The fear that the information being collected by these companies could be used to manipulate or control society is real. It could even be used to target individuals with ads or content that they find offensive.
To address these concerns, Big Tech companies have taken steps to protect user data and privacy. For example, they have implemented strict privacy policies and have given users control over their data. They have also invested in technology to secure user data and protect it from unauthorized access.
However, the reality is that data privacy is a complex issue, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Balancing the need for data analytics to shape society and culture with the need to protect privacy rights is a delicate process.
Why Protecting Our Data Thwarts the Culture Wars
The impact of Big Tech on society and culture is undeniable. It has the potential to shape society in positive ways, but it also raises concerns about privacy rights. It is important to find a balance between progress and privacy.
One potential solution is for governments to implement privacy laws and regulations that balance the need for progress with the need to protect privacy rights. For example, laws could be put in place that requires Big Tech companies to be transparent about the data they collect, how it is used, and who it is shared with.
Another solution is for society to take a more active role in shaping the way data analytics is used. Users can take steps to protect their privacy, such as using encryption, being cautious about the information they share online, and advocating for privacy rights.
We need to decide our futures based on the real topics that matter and not what Big Tech knows will sell more ads. We should be talking about education, immigration, resource allocation, and defence through the lens of research instead of overzealous-leaning companies trying to dictate our futures.
The best way to protect ourselves today is by hiding our private data so it cannot be used against us. At Freedom Technology and Services, we emphasize the importance of data protection. We walk away from these relentless culture war topics and Big Tech wokeness by focusing on practical solutions like faraday bags and deGoogled smartphones. Visit our store today to learn more.
Big Tech is not going away, and it’s not just a tool for marketers or advertisers. It has the potential to reshape society and culture in ways we haven’t even thought about yet. The rise of Big Tech has been met with some resistance from consumers concerned about their privacy rights being violated by these companies, but many positive outcomes come from having access to this information.
As long as there is an active conversation about how data analytics impacts our lives, then hopefully, there will be opportunities for individuals and organisations alike to protect their information while still benefitting from its use by others.