Exploitation by the numbers

Yes, the BBC had the right idea when they gave us: ‘Bianca Devins: The teenager whose murder was exploited for clicks‘ three hours ago (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49002486). The story is about a girl named Bianca Devins. So when we get: “she wrote on a gaming platform about how excited she was to be travelling the 250 miles from upstate New York to a concert in Queens. But before she could return home on Sunday morning, Bianca was dead” we see a story dipped in sadness. We see the quote: “But in the hours after his arrest, it emerged he had shared graphic photographs of the murder online. In the days since, her story has spread across the world – as have the violent images of her death. Her murder, which played out so publicly, is the latest case to place scrutiny on how social media companies police extreme content” we have seen this before, we wonder how and we wonder if it matters. We sometimes here the term ‘lives matter’ but is that really the case? Even as we accept that this was the lone act of a lone man when we get: “the suspect shared an even more graphic photograph of Bianca’s body on Discord – a popular messaging platform for gamers. This image showed the extent of injuries to Bianca’s throat and made clear her wounds had been fatal“, exploitation for clicks is not new, we have seen it for almost 200 days whilst we got exposed to this level of exploitation through the cadaver of Jamal Khashoggi, even the UN got in on it. All whilst there is no actual evidence, speculation, postulation and exploitation. I will give exemption to the Washington Post and his family, they are the two exemptions. To see just that impact we need to look at the numbers.

Yet the numbers are no longer clear, it seems that Google is actively hiding certain events actions and numbers. When I did a thorough search on December 18th, I got a result that added up to a lot “we merely get 57,000,000 search results, most of them misinformation, repeated unsubstantiated rumours and debatable facts that are anything but confirmed facts” (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/12/18/how-americans-lose-wars/), now that number is a mere 13,600,000. And that is seeking all. The exploiters have removed the pages, so not to impair their click manifesto, not to remain visible with all the click options out there, but they are there and as Google is extremely dependent on these clicks, they will facilitate to the largest degree possible, it merely means that we are not given the actual goods, not even close and the exploitation goes on. It’s nice that Kelly-Leigh Cooper chose a subject no one knows, yet this method of visibility has been used for a much longer time than you think.

The party-lines are all about ‘filtering’, or ‘this is what our customers want’, or my favourite ‘have you checked ALL your settings?’ The issue gets diluted; it gets smeared over issues and optional things that are being worked on. Exploitation for clicks became a reality the moment people were offered to earn money through their webpages, and everyone wanted more and everyone wanted the maximum of what was possible, yet now that need for greed is transformed into need to be illuminated, maximum visibility through minimum effort, and for too long social media pushed for this to maximise their return on investment. Now that the fence is gone, we see that the facilitators no longer have a hold on anything and even as everyone points at 4Chan, social media players like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all using it to maximise exposure of self. LinkedIn gets a partial pardon as it is limiting itself to business parts for the most and whatever exploitation we see is small and tends to be focussed from merely a few and those are often stopped by LinkedIn to the larger extent, the 2 billion on Facebook are mostly not. There it is often about extreme materials filtered and censored, or largely filtered to whatever censor has its hat primed (a personal observation).

Yet it is not the censoring, it is the focus and exploitation that is a case for worry. For Kelly-Leigh Cooper the focus is what happened to Bianca Devins and it seems an extreme case, yet it is not a new issue. Collective Hub gave rise in 2015 (at https://collectivehub.com/2015/08/21st-century-shaming/) to ‘21ST Century Shaming‘, and there we see: “Cyber-bullying and online shaming seem more commonplace than ever before and Monica highlighted some recent occurrences, like the leaked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence; the Sony hacking scandal; and the death of Tyler Clemente, who committed suicide after his college roommate secretly filmed him with another man“, it seems that the linked “where the online humiliation of individuals results in more clicks, which means more money for the media outlet” is casually overlooked by everyone. We see how politicians are trying to bash Facebook, yet the headline from the Daily Telegraph: ‘Brit Ayia Napa rape victim tells how she ‘fainted’ after 12 Israelis ‘attacked her one-by-one for an hour’‘ gets 41,900 results in Google, they all need clicks, they all want maximised exposure and the people involved do not care how they get it, it all impacts advertisement and circulation.

When you start to look deeper, exploitation by the numbers seem to have less acceptable methods than we see used by drug dealers on a school yard, we merely have become too complacent to care. It is not until we are hit to a much larger degree that we see actions.

In 2010 Cnet gave us the 5 dangers of Facebook:

  1. Your information is being shared with third parties
  2. Privacy settings revert to a less safe default mode after each redesign
  3. Facebook ads may contain malware
  4. Your real friends unknowingly make you vulnerable
  5. Scammers are creating fake profiles

In all this we have seen the impacts, yet we have ignored a lot of it and it gets to be worse when we see a Telegraph article (at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/05/ex-google-facebook-staff-warn-social-media-dangers/) where we see the following quotes:

“The thoughts of two billion people every day are steered by 50 people in Mountain View,” said Tristan Harris, referring to the Californian headquarters of Google.

“But these companies are also caught in a zero-sum race for our finite attention, which they need to make money.

“Constantly forced to outperform their competitors, they must use increasingly persuasive techniques to keep us glued.

The Truth about Tech campaign was about tackling the “manipulation and exploitation” of some social media companies.

These quotes are often intertwined, attention brings funds, so does manipulation and exploitation, they are linked and shown as issues that are unstoppable, yet the effort to do something about it is lacking, there is circumstantial evidence that goes back to 2010 and so far almost nothing was done, again we see evidence now in the form of the death of a journalist no one cares about (Jamal Khashoggi) and the media themselves all want to ignore it because he was a journalist, yet the speculation (not evidence) that they propagated shows that he was not their concern, propagation and clicks were. The moment you realise that part of the equation is the moment you realise that the system is flawed and broken, and whilst the media is all about showing the flaws, the defects are not tended to, making matters worse for a long time to come.

By the numbers, we are not in a good frame of mind, as I stated before, there were 57,000,000 search results (in less than 60 days) proving me right.

 

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