Life in the Matrix

Facebook not only collects information about its clients legally and illegally but shamelessly uses and sells it

Photo: Picture: Ivailo Tsvetkov

We live in the Matrix and that has its upsides, as well as its downsides, of course. For a large number of people across the world, the Matrix is social media. But before I continue, let me confess an old sin, or rather one of the big idiocies of my life, from which I managed to extricate myself on time.

We live in the Matrix and that has its upsides, as well as its downsides, of course. For a large number of people across the world, the Matrix is social media. But before I continue, let me confess an old sin, or rather one of the big idiocies of my life, from which I managed to extricate myself on time. To make a long story short, in the dawn of Facebook I was among the first Bulgarians to create a profile there. I even uploaded a recent photo of me, a very nice image from Mytikas Peak, the highest point of Mount Olympus. Not long after that, I realised what a monster the social networks are and hurried up to delete my only unfortunate account. Now, if someone wants to know what I like and what I do not, they have to ask me personally. I have no problem sharing: I like the three best things about Bulgaria - women, children and nature. I dislike the lie that we call political correctness and, of course, social media.

As it turns out, Facebook not only collects information about its clients legally and illegally, but shamelessly uses and sells it. It is being said that the latest political campaigns were dominated by a new political technology relying on subtle and not so subtle ways to influence voters based on their preferences. And that is what people do in the incubator for intellectual mindlessness that is Facebook - constantly 'like' all kinds of things. A sample size of 50-60 likes is enough to make a psychological profile of a particular inhabitant of the Matrix. Details range from preferred detergent to what type of the 200 gender definitions the person identifies with. It is not difficult to figure out that whoever is in possession of this information has the power to lead the social media user to buy a certain dog food or elect a certain politician to office.

According to reputable analysts, this is how Brexit and Donald Trump's US Presidency happened. The manipulation that is believed to have resulted in Brexit and Trump in the White House was done through complex algorithms for in-depth processing of data illicitly harvested from social media accounts. The algorithms are owned by the company Cambridge Analytica and were developed by scientists with Russian-Jewish origins. With all due respect and no trace of irony, I would say that Russian Jews are very talented people and the schemes that are said to have manipulated the British and the Americans only scratch the surface of their abilities. Google is another example of these people's talent. So the best is yet to come, I imagine.

As a result of the scandal with illicitly harvested personal data, Facebook is estimated to have lost $60bn of its value. This shows at least two things. One, Facebook is a colossus with legs of clay because if it owned enough real assets (like land, plants for the production of actual goods, etc.), they would not have depreciated so sharply, not least because tangible assets are exactly that and not financial junk printed by anyone who cares to do so. Or, at least, anyone who has several aircraft-carriers and other means of persuading those, who dare think that such financial junk is not what the label says, to change their mind. Second, everything around us is a carefully constructed illusion that is served to us with fascinating pictures and a bit of sound. What does $1bn mean (the digit 1 with nine zeroes in tow)? What about a thousand trillions (1 with 15 zeroes)? It means absolutely nothing, although this technically is the amount of global debt.

To put a bow on the Facebook topic, it is my belief that personal data (including favourite drink and gender identity) is of no consequence. As it does not matter who is officially at the helm of the Matrix. The really important things are the things we do not know about, because this is one of the main goals of the Matrix. We will see how long this holds up, because what I would call Thanksgiving Day comes in the life of every creature, not just turkeys.

Russians have the word 'bespredel' ('no-limit-ness' - a state of impunity for those in power from their complete disregard for laws and rules - editor's note), I am not sure what the Americans use in that sense, but what is certain is that they always have their guns nearby. I remember them predicting no more than a year in office for Trump. It has already been more than a year. Now what? Nothing, because of the aforementioned easily accessible guns.

The truth is that all the Facebook information has been stolen. It is just that Mark Zuckerberg does not have the stomach to admit it outright. Perhaps he will do so in steps, perhaps not. So if you want to save yourself a headache, get out of social media, all its forms. And do not think that I am just being a scaremonger. Check, and you will see, how many famous people across the world have deleted their social media accounts. Or never had one - those are the smartest. I had a profile for just a short while - I guess I was the halfwit somewhere in the middle.

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