Rise of Surveillance Capitalism: Facebook Data Breach

We think that products are the news and the market is the audience for advertisers. But this is a wrong analysis. What Facebook has done recently reveals the other side of the story, that is, you are the product of advertisers. The market is a large corporation of advertisers, Facebook and Google sell you to the advertisers.

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Rise-of-Surveillance-Capitalism-Facebook-Data-Breach
Rise-of-Surveillance-Capitalism-Facebook-Data-Breach By The Policy Times

According to Schmidt, the online world is not truly bound by terrestrial laws….it is the world’s largest ungoverned space.  It is not confined to any national borders. We know that by now Facebook is scrambling to contain the fallout over a data breach. On March 16, New York Times and The Guardian reported that Cambridge Analytica, which is a data mining firm, had worked on Donald Trump election campaign, had illegally obtained access to more than 50 million user profiles. Many experts believe that Cambridge Analytica could have used the data to gain an unjust benefit in targeting voters. To understand the personality of the people, Facebook started obtaining the likes and then more effectively target political advertisement on the users. Cambridge Analytica obtained this information in total violation of Facebook rules and did not tell anybody that their data will be used for political advertising targeting.

What government is controlling is nothing compared to what internet is controlling.  Surveillance capitalism is a new “parasitic” form of capitalism that works by creating surplus value from the data extracted from the people in the digital environment. The data is considered to be without ownership and seen as a panacea.

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Humans are one of the largest and most valuable natural resources. The human data is more important than any data in this world. What surveillance capitalism is doing is commodifying the human data by selling them to the advertisers and political parties. In other words, they are breaching the privacy of an individual.

Surveillance capitalism is one of the business models of the internet. It works in two distinct ways.

  1. Know everything about you.
  2. Sell your privacy to the highest bidder.

A report published by techcrunch.com in 2016 argued that the data of each individual living in North America worth about $12.43 to the Facebook in income. That little like button on Facebook sends that like back to Facebook. The Facebook knows that you like that page. So, they send that like data to the developers or the advertisers. That’s why for every product you search on Amazon shows up in a Facebook advertisement. The method used for surveillance in these websites are Explicit and Quantified Doing. And these are not possible without data brokers. They help advertisers to target people on social networking sites. For instance, Facebook has given advertisers the opportunity of targeting their advertisements based on data collated by several companies. These companies include Acxiom Corp, PLC, and others.

How much data these big companies have?

According to IBM, more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated per day on the internet and 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Google has more than 2 billion users on Android. And according to techcrunch.com Facebook has 2 billion monthly active users. Snapchat is estimated to have 255 million active users. These are really very big data. Statista.com states that Facebook has generated $39.94 billion revenue from advertisement and 98% of the global Facebook revenue is generated from advertisement. Since Facebook is accused of breaching 50 million user profiles, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may fine up to $40000 per violation per day.