The Dark Side of the Information Age!
With advancement escalating at an exponential rate ever since mankind first learnt how to build tools to the digital age we thrive in today, we have long entered the so called Information age where every field imaginable is one way or the other linked with Information and Communication Technology. Just a few decades ago, today's modern achievements would be presumed as fiction but here we are, living it as a reality. Every kind of information at our fingertips, any kind of books to read, movies to watch, people to interact with, bookings to be made, conferences to attend not to mention purchase of almost everything imaginable and many more. All this, while sitting at home, cozying on a couch, swiping left and right on our smart phones, fictions turned into reality indeed!
Perhaps the most intriguing wonder of all is how inexpensive the whole idea of browsing to satisfy the needs of curiosity really is. Websites do not charge a cent for users to scroll through their pages, their lists, their offers and products etc. Managing viewer traffic certainly requires resources, manpower and most importantly funds. Then there's the regular maintenance, updating website contents not to forget marketing for the website to attract a large enough traffic. Surely, all these would actually cost the companies money but how often does window shopping on some online store ever requires our credit card information? Why are the internet contents free of cost? After all, we only pay our ISP for the internet that we use which is loosely based on the volume of data we browse through regardless of the contents more or less. How do these companies make money? Unquestionably, not all the websites we visit are morally providing free service and collecting scraps of funding for having someone just visit and scroll through their pages. Then what is the mystery behind the immensely successful free websites such as Google, Facebook, YouTube and many more?
This is where the sinister truth of the dark side of the Information Age lurks. The real money comes from the data that we browse. Not only that, every second we spend on the online world, these websites meticulously collect information on our personality based on the items, services and interests we look at when browsing the supposedly "free" website and with that "information" they create a likelihood profile about us and use it to target advertisements that we would almost certainly be interested in because of our browsing history. This way, advertising agencies are more likely to succeed in getting hold of a potential buyer for their products or services and in turn they pay money to Google, Facebook and so on for successfully posting ads and excelling in their overall sales. For some, it may not seem so severe because in one way, these free websites do show us ads that we would actually be interested in and well what might be so disastrous about it? It's how our privacy is constantly being invaded to tally us just as potential clients for the service industry and when we think we are being serviced, we are actually the bait being deceived to lure in huge advertisements for these websites. We are trapped in the information age where we cannot go by a day without once being online. But there's constantly a huge number of eyes watching, tracking, evaluating our every move. Based on our browsing history, free websites create and display our profiles to the advertisement companies and in regards to these information, we are the ones being profited off as the products. In fact, a recent study shows how Facebook, one of the largest social media network in the world today with over billions of users signed up to its networks values each user at a demeaning price of just $12 on average. Only twelve dollars for all our sensitive information; being sold to increment the revenue and all this happens under our noses. The actual dark side to the information age is not all of these reality but the fact that even if or when people know of this, most of them wouldn't think twice about it and the rest would feel concerned for a while and then completely move on because once hooked on the Internet, it's a labyrinth and there's no escape!
The term "Data is a gold mine" wasn't coined without consent, companies make millions even billions selling critical information about our personal likes and dislikes. The Information era has engulfed to such deep depths that getting out it seems virtually impossible. No one will visit stores after stores deciding what to buy, read tens of pamphlets to decide what hotel to book, flip through hundreds of pages to get the information that they require, we will always browse the internet first because there is no comparison as to which method would be more conventional. There will always be masterminds who will dig up this cyber gold mine as much as they can, regardless of violating personal space and rights and churn out millions off of it. There is no concrete cyber law against data tracking because it's their own cache servers that we use for a quick browse and technically, these are data we choose to share over the platform they create for us whether it's in our browser history, our conversations, the contents we like and subscribe to and of course the pages we sign up for "free". How we can deal with all this is the true fiction that we need to soon turn into reality.
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