We Are Being Watched

Revised: 24/Oct/21 and 03/Feb/2024

I’ve always been a massive geek. I was on computers back in 1977, the Apple 2. All my work was computer related, I taught myself as they wouldn’t teach me computers at school as they said my maths wasn’t good enough. But I could not be stopped, computers were the salvation for my dyslexia and trouble writing. They still are. I also became a self-employed webdesigner because, again, I was so interested. Of course I made websites. Of course I joined every platform I could online, social media and more. I’m not a Luddite. I’m not a person who would say no before I had tried it.

Now I say no. Ok, it’s not the internet, it’s not social media specifically. What it is: big tech. Facebook (Instagram, Whatsapp), Twitter, Google (YouTube, Android), Microsoft, Apple. They cannot be trusted. Why are those platforms free? Simple, they are using your data. They are not using it for good. It is re-sold it 3rd parties, not to mention feeding the Google AI.

We really need to ask questions of those companies as to what they are using it for. The truth is quite scary and most will start saying the “conspiracy theory” cliche. Unfortunately it isn’t a theory, if only it was. I have left the platforms I mention. I used to love smartphones, now I detest them, but they have trapped us into having them.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t use those platforms. Personally I think, to promote your writing, business etc, why not? But I will not post my dinner pictures online, I will not let the internet know what I’m doing. The internet is building a profile of you, the AI can put all that together into a single profile. Why are they doing it?

Did you know that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter follow you around the internet even when you are not on their platforms? Did you know that Google maps follows all your movements? You need to manually opt-out of those tracking systems. Google stores your browsing history, even if you are not on Google. Google stores your pictures.

On my laptop I have Firefox and Brave as my browsers (not Chrome) with security plugins that break the tracking. My microphone and camera are disabled at system level, but they listen. My wife and I see things we talk about popping up on Youtube. Things we don’t put into searches. My phone mic is blocked also.

Have you got Cortana or Alexia? Do you like the idea that something is listening to you all the time? I don’t. It’s my worst nightmare. As I kid I was truly haunted when I found out about 1984. “The TV is watching you” I used to sit to one side so it couldn’t. It took me years to convince myself the TV could not watch me. But the internet can watch you. It might be benign at the moment, targeted adverts etc, but with hate crime bills being implemented around the world, how long for?

I have the references for all that I “claim”. I’m not making this stuff up. I wish I was, I’m NOT that creative! However I can pull out the references if I need to. It’s going to affect our futures. Who did they come for early during the Bolshevik Revolution? The writers, so I’ll be first.

I am going to put all of it in my science fiction novel but the chances of publishing it are like those of Animal Farm. I’ll have to hide it all in science fiction.

Oh, and Amazon are getting rather too big and too dominant. They  have the power to pull down books (Google are pulling down Youtubes they don’t like, Twitter make you delete tweets that they don’t like, Facebook also remove content that is not acceptable to them).

This is an issue for free speech and should concern writers, should concern everyone in truth.

I use Quant Search as I no longer trust: Google, DuckDuckGo etc. Startpage search is supposed to be ok.

Why don’t I trust Google and DuckDuckGo? Follow the money, who gives them money, who do they give money to, who do they advertise? Do they censor your results?

By the way, don’t trust Google Chrome or any Google product. I used them all and it was hard to stop using them, but I did. I had Blogger, now deleted, but it is impossible to get rid of the pictures stored on their systems. You try and get in touch with Google, and then explain they are holding on to your pictures, it’s impossible. Often the pictures, same with Facebook, are how they make a lot of revenue, selling the pictures to the highest bidder.

Oh, and your Android mobile… did you know, all DNS requests are routed through the Google servers? Not mine though, I use the DNS. They also have a app. Oh, and get a microphone and camera blocker, and take the sim out of your smartphone and stick it in a dumbphone.

My website follows the same philosophy. I don’t use Google Analytics, ie tracking by Google. What this site has is WP Statistics for analysis of visitors, this is a more ethical stats company. I also use hCaptcha and not Google reCAPTCHA for the comment forms. reCAPTCHA is all about teaching AI to be human. hCaptcha is an ethical version.

I have tried to remove a lot of my stuff from the internet, it is harder than you think, I wonder why?

Shoshana Zuboff on surveillance capitalism: https://youtu.be/hIXhnWUmMvw