As a web developer with a few years under the belt I can say that "it sure seems to be rigged" Before you dismiss me as a conspiracy theorist or simply jaded from spending far too much time online, let me state my case for this article.
So is the internet rigged and why should you care. Today a literal handful of giant corporations control with an absolute monopoly and vice-like grip the flow of internet traffic, the access to it and the dissemination of information on it, and now also the permissible activity and behavior of people whilst on the internet. It is for this very reason that China, Russia, India and a few other countries are developing their own internets - which of course are just as rigged and controlled as our version, but are not dependent on the western governing model and primarily Google's dictates.
Another confirmation that the internet has been annexed, why is it that the European Union and other bureaucratic bodies are so keen to tax the giant online platforms and corporations, the obvious answer being they now control the flow of the worlds commerce on it. There have also been sporadic feeble calls to break up these internet giants for their anti-trust ⁄ monopoly activities, why no follow through with these threats then? Instead they levy the odd fine that only benefits the lawyers and the agencies cronies, the victims of monoply that they are pretending to protect get zero redress, essentially a farce.
I am not accusing the internet controlling corporations of foul play, at least in that I cannot prove it just yet, eventhough I do strongly suspect it, a topic for another time. By and large they gained their positions of hegemony legitimately through vision, investment, brainpower, manhours and millions of dollars in ad spend. They thoroughly deserve the fruits of their labors. The only reason they now look down on us from lofty heights is because of the mass consumer behavior of the general public, we have all enabled this situation by our browsing and spending habits.
However, as we all very well know how power corrupts and once these corporations get in bed with the law makers then we the people have a very real problem. The internet is no longer a level playing field as it was intended to be, but just another managed utility like electricity or gas that is licensed and divvied up for a select few players who can then make the rules and fix the prices as they see fit. It's no longer a case of supply and demand determining the price as in an open marketplace, it's now rigged to their advantage.
The huge problem is that one search engine controls the flow of 90+% of all internet traffic. I believe that even Google will admit that this is an unhealthy situation, they are not going to dismantle themselves though. We obviously need fantastic services like those provided by Google and others, however when there is essentially only one gate keeper it is a massive disadvantage to competitors and all those with little or no marketing budget, which is the vast majority of the public.
SEO is supposed to guarantee fair access to internet traffic by competing for page rank, in reality only companies with deep pockets to spend on constant SEO tweaking and paid ad campaigns dominate the first pages of search results. The same goes for Facebook and other social platforms, for real results you need to pay for targeted ads.
Internet traffic and not Bitcoin is the real digital gold, no wonder Google et al guard their stakes as they do. Internet traffic is online oil and Google is the only member of OPEC. Is it not a curious thing that we have come to accept and allow a few corporations to weild such sway on the internet.
The insidious trend is not just the cost of access and dispersion of information (getting quality internet traffic via SEO and paid search advertising), but it is now the filtering and censorship of the information itself that threatens our fundamental freedoms. Exactly who should decide what you think and how you express yourself? There are already laws for anti-social behavior, we don't need an elite few making up our minds for us. Especially when these power hungry types are often caught in hypocrisy and scandals themselves, this activity is not just dominating the social narrative, it is also invading our personal space and is psychological abuse.
The list goes on, where are all the alternatives and counter movements to balance out the trends above? They are few and far between and are hard to find by intention, they have been muscled out by the giants. Many have just given up the fight for market share and attention, or have given in (been acquired), if you are perceived as being counter the mainstream social narrative in even the smallest way then it becomes simply too difficult and too expensive to generate any real internet traffic to your web properties.
We're referring here to people and organisations who would have been described as perfectly normal and socially adjusted just a decade ago, but have now been cancelled and sentenced to wallow in PC purgatory until they can redeem themselves by either confessing self-loathing or performing staged public virtue signaling acts which we see performed in the media everyday.
Most often these PC cancelled people are not criminals or dangerous, they simply have different views and thoughts on socio-political issues. And they are not demanding any particular behavior or attitude from anybody else, but are simply looking for community with others who still think for themselves.
The world wide web was intended to be a tool to free the masses in respect to self-expression, social interaction, access to information and to the marketplace of ideas. The internet is no longer that, there are now gate keepers with set rules. They decide what information you are privy to, in what way you can express yourself and how effectively you can reach others. You have to "pay to play" and you pay in more ways than one if you want real results.
"Hello Alexa..., Siri... et al" The end game of the internet giants is total ownership of you, your habits, your intentions, your thoughts, your emotions and eventually even your dreams. You are the product ⁄ data point they trade in and therefor you need to be managed as such. Soon we will think that we are still acting autonomously and are free agents when in reality we are being micro-managed and led around by the nose by algorithms, artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Do some cursory research into the aims of our internet overlords and you will see that they openly publicize their aspirations for us, and it is all for our convenience and ultimate good of course.
Let's be reminded that these fairly recent online social engineering trends are perpetrated by a very small minority of the population. Yes, they have reach and influence out of all proportion to their numbers, they definitely do not represent the majority of us though. It's time for the silent majority to be heard again, the so called moral majority need to start making wiser choices on how they spend their money and time online. Again, the only reason we have this situation is because we have allowed it to progress by our lazy and apathetic viewing and spending habits. They see it as a battle for our minds and we see it as a passing fad, it's time to wake up.
Below are a few things we can do to counter our locked-down and locked-in cyber bubble lives.
Why should you care? Most people don't have the time and energy to care about these trends and that is the reason why we have them. With more and more business and communication taking place online, maybe its worth paying closer attention to how you are being packaged and traded as a cash cow by evermore intrusive and sophisticated technologies. In the minds of our technocrat overlords, a passive public doesn't deserve the right to autonomy and actually even prefer being loyal subjects and treated as such.
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View the Social Engineering Today article that covers similar trends.
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