“Big Brother” has already arrived

Martin Cid

As you may already know, Orwell’s novel 1984 was penned in 1948. The name itself is a clever play on numbers, with the story predicting a dystopian future centered around communism, complete with a “Big Brother” overseeing and knowing everything.

Moving beyond the state systems, which seem to be becoming somewhat obsolete regardless of their remaining power, it appears the real threat now comes from AI and its ability to analyze the vast amounts of Big Data collected from users through numerous systems. This data is shared amongst various systems thanks to conglomerates of tech companies we’re all familiar with (though for obvious reasons, I’m hesitant to name them).

These corporations track and collect user data, claiming its use for advertising purposes and sometimes more (I can assure you). Some search engines have supposedly changed their policies for the benefit of users, making their lives easier. Meanwhile, they accrue information from news media and specialist magazines and process them according to their liking. Ultimately, they end up controlling and managing—thanks to their policies—how these media outlets present information.

In simpler terms, these tech companies have gained so much power that they’ve become filters between the user and the media. If they don’t provide the information, the user doesn’t get informed because nowadays many users only access information through these technological filters.

This means that if you don’t play by their rules, they won’t distribute your information, allowing it to get lost in the vastness of the internet, unread. You might think this only affects small media outlets, but it’s far from true. I conduct daily studies on the changes major media outlets make to comply with the standards of these tech giants because without them, the information simply doesn’t reach the audience.

I’m not going to mention any names (so I’m aware I won’t appear anywhere), but I’m referring to the most prominent international newspapers that hold immense global influence. Yes, they too abide by the rules set by these tech companies.

Words like monopoly and abuse flutter across everyone’s minds, with lawsuits found at every turn and a simple, unarguable response: they force no one to be there nor impose anything. They set their criteria and if they’re not met, they’re simply left out.

Thanks to this mix of observing user trends and setting media rules, these tech corporations transform into powerful giants that select what goes into the user’s mind and what doesn’t.

I’ll save the real horror story for last: this system is further bolstered by AI, working to select and arrange this information according to preselected criteria.

Directly for the user, they claim.

Meanwhile, they simultaneously earn commissions for acting as intermediaries.

Aided by a vast surveillance system that controls what information we should have access to and what we should not.

The long-lasting battle of the media has always been freedom: of thought and dissemination, of speech and opinion. If this freedom is filtered through technology, if this freedom is skewed by this complicated filter of interests, then the freedom of the press and thought is severely compromised.

Martin Cid, founder of this tiny media outlet attempting to survive, doesn’t know for how much longer.

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Writer, pipe smoker and founder of MCM
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