A Blacker Mirror

On Friday the 28th of January 2011, I was in Brisbane, listening to the ABC‘s Mark Pesce talk about Facebook and the death of privacy.

Pesce later copped significant flak about his presentation because some of the images in it breached conference guidelines. Intentionally or not, this controversy quite successfully suppressed the talk’s actual message, which was simply:

Facebook will soon be your whole life.

That was nine years ago. Soon has come and gone.

In October 2016, an episode of the dystopian science fiction anthology Black Mirror – Nosedive – gave us a world where social-network-derived popularity scores are the dominant measure of human worth.

A month later, the United States elected their 45th president – Donald Trump – and ushered in what has since been called the post-truth era.

In October 2017, another science fiction series, The Orville, in Majority Rule gave us a world where the entire population vote one another up and down based entirely on a social network called ‘the master feed’. In this world, the minimally informed kneejerk reactions of the masses have replaced government, the entire justice system, and even truth itself.

However, both of these worlds ignored the burning issue of editorial control: The network itself is the arbiter of truth, of all human value and freedom.

Today, in 2020, Your online activity is now effectively a social ‘credit score’ – “now we’re looking at groups of historically marginalized people being denied involvement in mainstream economic, political, cultural and social activities — at scale.”

I am posting this here, on my more-or-less-abandoned blog, precisely because there is no editorial control here. Later, I intend to post most of this text on Facebook, where I have no doubt that its audience will be tightly controlled.

I have no rallying cry, no call to action. I honestly cannot see any way out. This post is simply intended to acknowledge what we have become.