Paranoid about online privacy? That starship has sailed already
While we know Big Brother is always watching, the current surge in anxiety around online privacy is just silly
If the current online frenzy is anything to go by, we seem to have been plunged into an episode of Star Trek, the one where Mark Zucker-Borg tells the voyagers of the Starship We Wanna Use Free Stuff Without Wondering How It’s Paid For that they will be assimilated on February 8, or have their WhatsApps destroyed. Resistance to the Facebook Collective, it seems, is futile.
Of course, the truth is less dramatic. Facebook has confirmed that only business messaging on WhatsApp will have to agree to new conditions from the mother ship. But mention Facebook, online privacy and data-sharing in the same sentence, and most of us tend to blast off at warp speed into the realm of paranoid science fiction: on Wednesday, the makers of the Telegram messaging app announced that they had gained 25 million new users in the previous 72 hours as millions of people fled from their worst fears.
Inevitably, the surge in anxiety around online privacy has involved a certain amount of silliness. Using Facebook to denounce Facebook for collecting data about your behaviour as a consumer is somewhat naive, especially if you’ve spent a decade posting every purchase, restaurant meal, career milestone, road trip or international holiday onto Facebook. And let’s say nothing of all those “fun” Facebook polls and quizzes. I mean it. Say literally nothing, because those things are how they teach the bots what you want and, worse, how you think...