It isn’t surveillance capitalism

I hear people complain about surveillance capitalism, corporations buying and selling personal and private information about people en masse, but I think this is a misunderstanding that will stop us from solving the problem.

A story about someone looking through the privacy settings on his wife’s phone prompted me to think about this. The wife had been spooked by an ad from a store she had been near that day, the ad obviously exploiting this knowledge. Except, she hadn’t been in the store and hadn’t made any mention of it anywhere.

In the story it was, of course, Facebook that had tracked her and sold that information to display an ad. Remember, delete Facebook.

If you think about this as surveillance capitalism you’ll be focusing on Facebook, regulation and rights.

But it’s simply the second half of my third law,

if there is some way to make money someone will do it

If you regulate Facebook you’ll be playing whac-a-mole and you may sometimes win. But there’s a better solution which, by the way, is the same way we get rid of spam, advance-fee scams (“Nigerian Prince”) and tech-support phone fraud: Don’t pay.

Don’t buy from a company that obviously has bought your personal information. Don’t buy from a company that acts creepily.

Facebook will never change; surveillance is their DNA.

But like any parasite, they can be starved.




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