Surveillance Capitalism is not the same as algorithms or sensors, machine intelligence or platforms, though it depends on all of these to express its will. If technology is bone and muscle, surveillance capitalism is the soft tissue that binds the elements and directs them into action.
The words Surveillance Capitalism were first used in “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” by Shoshana Zuboff. Surveillance Capitalism describes a market-driven process in which online companies collect the data from our online behavior and create a forecast of what our behaviors are.
Big corporations are constantly collecting our data and using what they collect to predict our behavior and purchase and shape their next moves off of this. Leading corporations in surveillance capitalism are Google and Facebook, not only through the items we ourselves post but any other actions we have. This can mean “liking” someone else’s post, looking for a particular store or product, or clicking on another link. Ever notice how your advertisements online are exactly what you were just thinking about? This is because we are being recorded constantly. An example of this would be searching on Google for a copper pan and getting advertisements for the next week about Kitchenware’s copper bottom pans. Third-party brokers sell our data, data we give them for free- which online companies use to personalize our online experience. These third-party brokers make money on every concept that can be pushed onto us by an advertisement, and even if only half of the people seeing the advertisements actually purchase the items, this is millions of more sales than they would have bought items without these personalized ad experiences.