Recently I’ve witnessed the increasing senseless sacrifice of innocent electrons as social media posts abound decrying the activities of Big Cyber (Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc., etc.) as they respond to popular outcries of “Fake News!”, Russian influence on elections and other dastardly doings in cyberspace.
Let’s set a few things straight.
First of all cyberspace is not real. It’s an invention of human beings that only exists on computers, cell phones and other electronic devices. It only lives when we turn on those devices and choose to partake of the content thus delivered.
Secondly, The Internet, and all that therein lies, is available to everyone, not just liberals, Progressives, intellectuals, environmentalists, anarchists, terrorists, academics and Tea Party-ists. Everyone. Rich people, businesses and business people, governments, NGOs, non-profits, smart people and dumb people.
It’s kinda like a box of chocolates…
When we choose to partake of the Internet and its contents, we choose to expose ourselves to all that it contains, some of it to our liking and some of it not.
Thirdly, The Internet is global, beyond national borders, beyond cultural and societal boundaries, beyond language, beyond space, beyond time. What one may consider right and proper in one’s own cultural milieu, may turn out to be improper, abhorrent or even illegal in someone else’s.
All of these realities impose a certain onus on the part of Internet travelers to exercise a modicum of self-responsibility when interacting in Cyberspace. One cannot expect The Internet to respond to one’s expectations, cultural norms and personal sense of morality.
It’s a Zen thing. I am. The Internet is. I am not the Internet. The Internet is not me.
I go to Facebook occasionally, mostly to keep track of my younger relatives who display much of their life on this social medium. I don’t put my personal information on Facebook, so there’s nothing there for Facebookers to sell to others. I’ve turned off all of the features beloved of many Facebook acolytes, blocked advertisements, turned off apps, eschewed connections, isolated Facebook following in my browser, and generally put Facebook in a sealed box that only I can add to or take from. Same same for Google and Apple.
I use Firefox and Thunderbird for browser and email client, open source programs with plentiful security features. I use ad blocker and anti-tracker extensions so my surfing and download history is unrecorded and stays in my own control.
I don’t look to Facebook for news nor to choose which web sites I see and interact with. Same same for Google and Apple. I don’t store data in The Cloud, nor do I depend on Cloud based apps. I back up locally and keep my files to myself.
In other words, I take responsibility for my own cyber security and anonymity. I’m not concerned that Facebook and Google have deleted some accounts that don’t meet their specifications. They are corporations after all, not government entities. And there are a myriad of opportunities to access the exact same content in other Cyber-venues.
I am far more concerned with increasing trends in local, state and federal government entities toward secrecy and lack of transparency, and the influence of growth and development interests in fomenting public policies. Privacy is the right of individuals, not governments. More on this later.
The actions of private corporations do not pose a threat to democracy and personal liberty. We all have the power to choose whether we interact with corporations or not. Human beings in corporations have the power to choose whether or not to accept employment in corporations, or to continue when corporate activities offend their sense of propriety. No one forces us to bend to corporate bidding.
Freedom consists of freedom of choice and the intelligence to choose wisely for one’s own benefit. When we give others the power to choose for us, we abrogate our responsibilities to self-determination, self government and freedom.