Digital Slaves: how Big Tech tracks us for profit

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By Manal al-Sharif, of Michael West Media: Do you ever feel like your phone knows too much? That it’s reading your mind, listening to you? You have just passed by a museum, then soon after, ads for the museum’s new exhibition flash up on your phone. You didn’t search for the museum or talk about it to anyone, you just happened to be nearby.

You are not paranoid or delusional; you are simply witnessing the tip of the iceberg in targeted advertising, a lucrative business built on the use – or misuse – of our minds, time, and data without our consent.

Welcome to surveillance-based advertising.

The most worrying part, is that this business is training us to eagerly participate in this monitoring system, for the more we are online, the more we generate profit for others. How did we get to this point? And will we ever be able to “free our minds” and “unplug from the Matrix”?

Imagine yourself as a business owner. A Facebook executive invites you to a presentation that will blow your mind. This presentation will show you ways to micro-target and advertise to 6.4 million young Facebook users, some as young as 14 years old.

You attend the pitch only to find out they are offering you ways of exploiting the psychological vulnerabilities of these young people, reaching them when they feel “worthless”, “insecure”, “stressed”, “defeated”, “anxious”, and like a “failure.”

All of this is done through psychoanalysis, monitoring online activities, posts, photos, and interactions in real-time to track these emotional lows…

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Manal al-Sharif is an author, speaker, human rights activist and a regular contributor to international media. She has written for the Time, the NY Times and Washington Post. Her Amazon bestseller memoir, Daring to Drive: a Saudi Woman’s Awakening, is an intimate story of her life growing up in one of the most masculine societies in the world.

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