Google’s 20th Birthday Shows an American Dystopia

By Michael K. Spencer

Google. Something went wrong on the internet.

What happens to the internet when you can’t tell what’s real or fake, safe or untrustworthy or who is a good or bad actor in the online drama? Google’s 20th birthday could have been a positive thing, but somewhere along the line both Google and Facebook went a bit black mirror.

We live in a world where Facebook rates users without their permission, can be hacked and even censors users sharing about the hack. Quite horribly, some users are reporting that they are unable to post today’s big story especially one story from The Guardian and one from the Associated Press, both reputable press outlets, according to TechCrunch.

Google was incorporated on September 4, 1998, but the company has celebrated its birthday on September 27th for over a decade. Sadly, Google is a divided nation in 2018, with conservatives pitted against liberals and pro-censorship against anti-censorship camps concerning Project Dragonfly, Google’s attempt to get back into China.

Perhaps it’s tech companies themselves that have been hacked, and not just the search & social algorithm architecture they have created that has been weaponized. Obviously the internet wasn’t supposed to turn out like this, but safeguards weren’t built into it to protect users’ privacy, data or to help us avoid authoritarian centralization and monopolies quite like Facebook and Google. It’s no secret there’s an exodus of engineering and executive talent from both Facebook and Google, due to poor leadership and degraded ethics.

The lack of transparency and disclosure at Alphabet is almost as bad as censorship at Facebook. It’s one thing to rate and block users from doing things, it’s quite another to hide your business model’s alignment from your own employees! But let’s make no mistake about it, both of these things are just wrong.

Facebook can call spam on articles that it feels are harshly critical of its own hack. Fifty million impacted accounts is a lot though. Facebook and Google banning Crypto Ads and ICO Ads is itself a form of censorship that is far too authoritarian and makes it little different from the Chinese Government. Censorship and deception are occurring at the highest levels of Silicon Valley for profit.

Facebook, faced with the fear of losing users on its flagship app, have resorted to even more devious ways to invade our privacy. Yet when the users are the product can you afford to sabotage their trust in your platform and your community?

Google tracking us, with or without our permission, via Android phones or Facebook violating us with data harvesting practices so widespread our data is no longer even remotely in our control, it’s as if the entire internet went black mirror in 2018 and nobody seems to be able to clean up the mess.

If all the brains and talent at companies such as Google and Facebook and the result is what amounts to criminal exploitation of data and users, can we just admit that the American internet failed? Can we admit that Ad-centric models of data exploitation are wrong? Can the employees at these companies admit that what they have been working on is being abused and makes the world a worse place and not a better one?

Happy 20th birthday Google, you have created for us a dystopia with Facebook. We are now trapped in a weaponized data dystopia and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.