The Ad-Based Internet is a Threat Against Human Rights & Democracy

By Michael K. Spencer

Facebook demonstrates how sinister the world can be when democracy can be hacked. The Advertising model of the internet is to blame.

The companies that profited the most from the internet, funneling it into a digital advertising cash-cow are also the leaders that have failed us the most. Facebook, Google and Twitter have been massively responsible for their inability to regulate their algorithms. This is because their algorithms and platforms are made for Ad-revenue profit, and not for the good of the world.

They wanted to monetize the internet, which has augmented not only wealth inequality but corruption, chaos and a weaponized information and media system. This has led to disinformation, bots, a decline of trust, unauthorized data-harvesting, security breaches, privacy invasion, hate speech and the tech tools we now consider utilities as platforms to be hacked by foreign agents, governments and even the 1% of our own countries.

In Facebook and Google’s greed they haven’t put ethics first. The dark web of how YouTube’s algorithm works is a case in point. So is the falsification of video metrics Facebook is being accused of. The problem is when it hurts democracy and human rights, the profit motive has gone too far. Socialist Millennials already believe “Capitalism” as we once knew it has failed.

The only way for consumers to show their dislike of the corrupted internet of Ads and the Duopoly is to remove Facebook’s apps and not use Google’s services.

Unfortunately this means finding alternatives for Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook’s flagship app.
  • The Internet has been very bad for democracy; with social media turning into a weaponized platform for political camps and civil discord.
  • Facebook and Google have been unable to create a safe and regulated environment for their algorithms to have a positive impact on humanity.
  • The app attention economy has been warped with vanity metrics and data harvesting that is fundamentally against our human rights.

I believe it’s the entire concept of the Ad-based internet that has warped our experience of the Western internet beyond recognition.

Sadly, though, more and more of our public conversation is unfolding within a small number of sites controlled by a few, unregulated companies geared toward profit rather than the public interest.

With Google & Apple battling for a presence in the smart home, the privacy invasion is without regulation.

Remember how we once thought the internet would democratize civic engagement, and the public sphere would become more accessible, diverse and robust? Due to advertising, quite the opposite has actually occurred.

We must think of anti-trust regulation for Facebook and Google. The damage to humanity is not repairable. Our trust and social contract with these companies have been irreversibly broken.

We feel abused when we read how our online identity has been monetized without our knowledge or used to micro-target us with ads by groups seeking to polarize our politics. We feel invaded (some of us even feel violated) when we see all the things Facebook and Google have done to us without our transparent consent.

Advertising is to blame, the very thing Facebook and Google make their money on. If they don’t know how to regulate algorithms for the common good, can we trust them with more advanced kinds of AI?

It’s hard to come to terms with the staggering degree of control the major platforms exercise over political speech and what it means for democracy. American tech companies have hacked Democracy, not some bad actors. We are creating a system of digital dopamine imprisonment — and it could lead to more sinister “black mirror” events like Silicon Valley techno-manipulation.

An exaggerated free reign of techno-capitalism is bad for the average citizen. The entire Western internet may need to be re-thought, re-built, re-conceived — without legacy companies like Alphabet, Facebook, Microsoft or Apple monopolizing the entire thing.

Our physical and cyber selves feel threatened on a regular basis. Ads must die. The system they have perpetuated is a threat to our financial, moral and digital safety. They are also a gigantic fraud to brands, with a lack of transparency in the vanity metrics they acknowledge. The American internet is responsible for a new level of corruption in the world.

Trump and Brexit are events, but Facebook and Google are supposed to be leaders of technology. The Ad-based internet is holding us back, and has trapped us in a sinister dark web of a pay-to-win and data-harvesting-normalized digital infrastructure. We may have had many false earlier assumptions about the net. The lack of regulation in America on its internet and tech companies amounts to a crime against humanity.

Governments working with tech companies are creating a global police state for future citizens. Google trying to get back into China is a red flag. Facebook betraying our trust is just the beginning. The idea that digital networks would enable anyone to reach millions of people for virtually nothing essentially was a lie so that companies like Google and Facebook could come into being.

When you harness “a host of economies of scale” to build platforms that can endure for years and decades, you can shape the future of the internet, democracy, capitalism and the future of civic discourse, public opinion and the future of jobs themselves. Unfortunately for Facebook and Google, their legacy will not be a good one. The reason is that they chose the most demonic method of monetization, the most vulnerable, an ad-based internet for us all.

One corruption to rule them all — digital advertising.