As social media replaces actual social interactions, our thoughts and opinions are increasingly coming under the purview of the cybersecurity industry and national security interests that want to regulate what and who can see, talk to and hear in the U.S. cognitive space.
WEST POINT, NEW YORK — If you’ve ever wondered how that cookware ad happened across your internet browser window after you’d spent ten minutes searching for a turkey baster last Thanksgiving, the answer is that you – or more precisely, the devices you use to surf the net – have been microtargeted.
People’s search habits, social media post history, and even retail transaction details are among the many kinds of data up for sale in our cybernetic Elysian Fields, to which advertisers, hackers and political operatives can all gain access in order to sell us a coffee maker, extort money from us, or ostensibly change our vote in an election.
The solution, according to cyber-defense researchers, is the development of regulatory frameworks that can parse through the content and designate its appropriateness for mass consumption. A “Ministry of Truth,” so to speak, that can mitigate any disruptions to the status quo that might seep through in the Wild West of social media platforms.
The treasure trove of data currently being gathered through social media networks and other electronic means is a completely unregulated space, with microtargeting, in particular, spurring intense discussion in the wake of widely publicized allegations of Russian “interference” in the 2016 U.S. elections and the liberal use of data analytics, by Brexit promoters in the UK and the Trump campaign itself, to sway voters.
Hovering in the background of the simmering debate is the growing power of Facebook, Apple and other platform owners, whose monopolistic business practices are facing increasing push back around the world. Nevertheless, our content landlords still hold the key to the big-data realm by virtue of their dominant position, and whoever wants access to the new oil must kiss the ring of the Big Tech overlords.