WRITTEN BY: SYDNEY JUDD
COVER PHOTO COURTESY: WIX
Have your phone on you? Time to play a game. Think of a product you never mentioned before and talk about it vocally, but not in text. See how long it takes for a relevant advertisement to pop up. Besides being fun, this game serves a vital purpose: reminding you that everything has ears.
Think back to summer 2013, a period gripped by shakes of the Harlem and governmental distrust variety. Edward Snowden passed on 1.5 million files to journalists and fled to Russia while the sensitive information leaked. Most of the documents concern overseas spying, but they still raise relevant questions. Questions like “Why are we refusing to talk about this when buying pressure cookers online can get you arrested?” and “What else can companies get away with?”
You should know people do anything in pursuit of the almighty dollar. They have no qualms indiscriminately tracking your search history, behavioral habits, social circle, and conversations. I even received targeted ads trying to sell me targeted ads on school computers. Guess they thought the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, better known as “I heard about this thing and now I see it everywhere,” would cover it up like Facebook uses your friends. The experience numbs and conditions you, suppressing outrage and earning clicks from gullible parties.
I admit, it can be difficult (if not impossible) to fully stop it, but you can take a few steps. For starters, clear your cookies and install an AdBlock program or two, perhaps a tracker blocker for good measure. The rest requires more legwork. Dig deep for worthwhile VPNs (for constant home use, not just getting around school wifi blocks), accustom yourself to using anonymous search engines like DuckDuckGo, do your research like your grade depends on it. Legislation moves slowly, but information moves fast. So should you. Stop being lazy and take your security into your own hands. War is not peace. Freedom is not slavery. Ignorance is not strength. Big Brother’s gaze can be averted.