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.
Surveillance Capitalism allows us to research and include other very important topics for our project. Epistemic inequality, the idea of we as civilians having no say nor knowledge regarding the corporations’ information about us, is only one of many trends under the umbrella that is Surveillance Capitalism. This umbrella also touches base on Sensory Journalism. This is the idea of devices will change everything we know about user interactions and the privacy we allow for corporations to have. This goes more onto the idea that refers to the use of sensors to generate or collect data, then analyzing, visualizing, or using the data to support corporation inquiry. This then could lead us to claim that we civilians are kicked off by digital technology and networking. And although it’s now gradually dawning on us that this really is a big deal and that epochal social and economic changes are underway, we’re as clueless about where we’re heading.
As stated, epistemic inequality is very unethical it is that we have no say- or even any knowledge of what these corporations know about us. Epistemic inequality has always existed, but as the world shifts more and more online, it has gotten stronger. Online corporations track and record all they can of us, whether this is our location, our communication with each other, our purchases or interests in products, our searches, or our biometric information.
Google created the first extremely profitable markets known as online targeted advertising, based on their calculations of how online users interact on the search engine and its websites. As a New York Times article states: “Between 2000, when the new economic logic was just emerging, and 2004, when the company went public, revenues increased by 3,590 percent.” This number represents something called the “surveillance dividend.” What it should really be named is the “privacy dividend” since the revenues from this share come from something that could almost be described as hacking into consumers’ brains.