Before we get into privacy in 2021, I want to address how this is a survival topic. Sure, it’s not as cool as top-of-the-line survival gear or as sexy as a prepper pantry but know this –
The “influence” of big tech, and by influence I mean control, is probably one of the biggest survival topics we’ll face in our lifetimes.
I titled this piece Privacy in 2021 but we’re facing a monster that has the power to tear society to pieces over the next few years.
I don’t want to chase you away before you even begin reading but just know this is a HUGE survival topic. And you’re about to understand why in the next 14 minutes.
Oh well, let’s get into it.
Privacy In 2021 – How Bad Is It?
We’ve been hearing that internet privacy is a thing of the past for well over twenty years. And very recently we’ve seen the shockingly blatant truth to that statement.
First things first, it’s no longer internet privacy (He says screaming at the top of his lungs) – it is privacy. Period. Full stop.
Forget the internet. That was many years ago. It’s life and the real world now. Before that is was credit cards and loyalty accounts. Before that, it was green stamps and warranty cards.
Now we have trackers glued to us 24/7 and will be late for the most important of appointments if we leave the house without it. We won’t be caught without our phones.
We have cars that know more about where we’re going and why than we do. Forget smartwatches and connected health monitors, just getting gas and altering our course to work sends signals to a dozen people hiding in the cloud. Algorithms are altered and content shuffled before your turn signal cancels.
Remote learning and telecommuting, medical portals, and video conferencing. Apps and companies connected with each other and sharing YOUR information. From ordering food delivered to your door to applying for a job, your information is stored forever.
Think about this…
Would it be a stretch to say Google, Facebook, and Apple probably have enough information about you to accurately predict your next ten years?
How much money you’ll make, who you’ll vote for, whether your marriage will last, what your beliefs are? Your deepest, darkest secrets? Even when you’re most likely to die and from what?
Who could you trust with that information?
This is NOW. Not someday if you don’t hurry and get off Facebook soon. That ship has sailed my friend. This IS the world we live in. And it gets worse.
Think about it, social media giants have more information on just about everyone than all of the government alphabet agencies combined. And remember, information is power. Worried yet?
Let’s insert a cool little exercise in fiction here. It’ll be fun…
Once upon a time, in a land far, far above anyone else, a very popular political figure felt he was being forced from power and began losing his mind. He used his powerful influence on the most loyal of his followers to storm a government building filled with rival political people. Let’s call this place the Capital for the sake of simplicity.
Wait, that wasn’t the story, that was just the set-up. A little patience here, please.
Weeks later, the FBI, CIA, DHS, ABC, and XYZ agencies wanted to locate those people that participated in the “Capital” incident but they seem to live all over the country and resources are limited.
Suddenly, someone thinks to themself, “Self, I wonder if Google, Apple, and maybe even Facebook can help locate those people for us”. This mad genius decides to give it a try.
He set up a meeting in a poorly lit room behind a popular pub and diner just outside the beltway. Powerful men mixing with guys wearing badges and confusing titles. They wore masks though so everything was legit.
Guy, let’s call him “Guy“, lays it out on the table. “Look, you social media companies have the information we need to tap into. Our Country is at risk and you can help. If you help us, we’ll look the other way even more often as you spy on every citizen and alter their thinking.
Googleman goes first, “Alright Guy, let’s see if we have the type of information you need”. Give me a location, radius, and exact time of the incident.
Guy does. Googleman says, “Okay, now just pick one of the red dots on the screen“. Guy does.
Googleman explains, “That’s Chewy McStations at one million palm drive, Cedar Rapids, IA. He’s a carpenter married to Jill McStations, who’s a waitress at a local bar called DeSoto’s, just 1.3 miles from their ranch-style, three-bedroom, two-bath home. It takes her twenty-two minutes to get to work because she stops for a peppermint white chocolate mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks every morning at 11:15 am. They have two daughters, ages two and five. Their names are…”
“Okay, Okay“, Guy says. “So we can pick-up this Chewy McStations at One Million Palm Dr. in Cedar Rapids” as he writes this down.
Googleman says, “Not now, he’s working on a job site 8.23 miles outside of town. He’ll leave work by 4:20 pm and will go to a bar until around 8 pm“.
“DeSoto’s?“, Guy asks.
“No, Ernie’s Pub“, says Googleman. “He’s having an affair with a 23-year-old hostess named Wendy but not even his friends are aware of that. By the way, several of those buddies will be with him, all armed and we classify all of them as right-wing extremists. They voted for Trump and bragged about it on social media“.
“Wow, okay. So we’ll pick him up in the morning then“, says Guy.
“You could“, says Googleman, “but he’s dropping his pick-up truck off at the dealer for service tomorrow. He has a rideshare scheduled to pick him up and take him to work at the Jobsite from there. Should we have the car re-routed to a group of well-dressed and well-armed men wearing sunglasses?”
“No,” says Guy, “Have the rideshare see us before picking up this red dot, we’ll be driving that car.”
That was fun, right? Think it could never happen? Everything there is possible, other than the well-dressed part. That couldn’t be.
Is Our Privacy A Big Deal Anymore? Is It Really That Dangerous?
We’ve all heard the moron, I’m sorry, I mean the ignorant person say, “I have nothing to hide“. Without going super long, let’s dig into that for just a minute.
The biggest thing you have to hide is not a crime you may have committed or naughty thoughts you have when eating a greasy pizza, it’s the key to your thought process you must protect.
I know, that’s too deep and you’re superman. You make your own decisions and cannot be influenced.
Listen, until we can see and admit the truth, we’re at risk of losing it forever.Another almost famous quote by Brian D. Hawkins
Why do some people insist on watching only Fox News or CNN? Because their choice of content (none of it is news) is true? No, that’s total BS.
They stick with what feels right and what they relate to most. It’s human nature. The result is an even deeper bias against any information that goes against said content. Right or wrong, the danger is you’re being voluntarily influenced by those content creators.
I have good friends that are doing that exact same thing while insisting I’m crazy because I have a Ring doorbell. I have way more than that but we can get into that later. Yes, I am also a content provider. We all are now. But I digress.
Grade School Lessons Never Learned
Remember in the schoolyard when we were kids and groups of people seemed segregated. Voluntarily segregated? Groups of whites, groups of blacks, groups of Asians, etc. If you went to a diverse school in the city as I did. Sure, there were exceptions, and, thankfully, those exceptions seem to be even more popular but I’m just making the point that none of this is new.
I see it today, in 2021, where I work. Voluntary segregation. Not just ethnicity but in political views and even work ethic. Funny how much more important our political views have become to us in recent times but that’s another topic.
So, my point is we gravitate toward likes and views that are similar and strengthen our own likes and viewpoints. We avoid being influenced in any other direction, or at least we think that’s the case. It’s not. And when it is, you’re at risk of being banished from the kingdom in disgrace.
Now Enter Big Tech Armed With Your Data.
As an example, Facebook knows I like knives and my wife likes shoes. Sorry Honey Bunny but you know it’s true. If we followed the exact same people and groups, we’d still see entirely different news feeds.
That is because Facebook, Google, and all the others are in it for the money, right? They want ad revenue and a knife company will pay to put a strategically placed advertisement based on my personal actions and likes but they won’t for my wife.
As a voluntarist, I actually have no problem with any of that as long as it is all out in the open and I decide to partake in that give and take relationship, which I don’t. Not with Facebook. I haven’t been on there in over a year.
Here’s another one.
Most bloggers are familiar with Google’s Personalized Search. It’s something I was talking about ten years ago when I was running Hot Blog Tips.
Google’s Personalized Search was, and still is but now extends far beyond browser cookies, where the search results you see are based on your prior search history and the actions you took from them.
In other words, if both you and I search Google for “Brown kitty playing with a ball of string“, the search results Google serves us will look entirely different.
How We’re Losing The Free Will God Gave Us
You see, it’s about the inherent risk of information segregation and isolation that is dangerous. We’re only exposed to what we already know and believe. We’re strengthening our beliefs, whether right or wrong while limiting the information we get access to. We already do this naturally but now we are literally pushed in that direction by big tech.
As a result, not only are our beliefs unknowingly being guided in a particular direction, we are also becoming less tolerant of opposing opinions.
I’m not a phycologist but it seems pretty straightforward to me. I can’t believe more people don’t see this.
It’s WAY Beyond The Money Though
But wait, now we begin to realize that it’s not about just big business, don’t we? It’s about controlling the world – literally.
Wait, before you throw me out with a roll of tinfoil, allow me to influence you a little…
Where There’s A Desire For That Kind Of Wealth, There’s Desire For Control And Power
Now we see in recent events that big tech is deciding what is right and wrong and who can do what – in freakin’ America! Remember, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave? Have we given that away too?
Forget that Trump was kicked off social media. As wrong as that was I’ve been saying his handlers were idiots to allow him access to Twitter at all. Of course, that’s before I realized he had no handlers. Again, a topic for another day.
I’m referring to a group of social media giants deciding that a smaller social media site was just too unethical with their whole First Amendment stance and everything and collectively shut that business down. And got away with it.
Then, while they were at it, kicked hundreds of thousands of people off their sites. Again, nothing new here. YouTube and Facebook have been ruling the World Ethics Board for years.
Side Note: Do you think those thousands of people were discovered within hours of the Social Trump Wash? Did they have tens of thousands of employees reading tweets and posts to find violations of their commandments, [cough], I mean terms of service? Of course not, they obviously had people on lists that would need to be dealt with when the time was right.
No danger in keeping secret lists of law-abiding citizens that need to be punished, am I right?
Things have become more blatant and unapologetic now. We’ve become so reliant on the social media monsters that we’ll put up with it and try to believe there’s no harm being done and they know it.
They have the control and there’s little danger for them in admitting it. Especially if they’re allowed to control and kill any competition.
I Guess There’s Two Sides To Every Story
Just the other day I was reading an opinion piece in The New York Times where the writer celebrated that “The biggest companies finally took steps to clean up their platforms“.
She feels that social media is finally stepping up and doing the right thing. And you know what? I’m not going to criticize that person for having a different point of view.
She has every right to her own opinion. And the fact she’s been able to publish those opinions on a major news network? Good for her.
Now if she suddenly were given the magical wand of mass mind control and decided she was worthy of taking any action she liked, we’d have a problem.
Apple, Google, Facebook, and, Twitter… Houston, we have a problem. Too big to fail? Nope, too big to trust.
The Sad Truth
We should be ashamed!
We’ve been allowing this censorship while our peers are being rejected, publically prosecuted, and punished for simply expressing their views and practicing their First Amendment rights. God-given freedom of speech for those outside the United States.
I’m not talking about the idiots that stormed the Capital last week, I’m talking about law-abiding citizens of the World being persecuted for their views.
I’m talking about good people on YouTube being kicked off, or even shadow-banned, from the site because they review guns or sound too conservative. Websites are buried deep in the search results because they speak their minds. Twitter accounts are being removed because Twitter decided they were not good for the agenda they have outlined for us. Facebook personalities are hidden from the feeds of fans that actually wanted to follow their posts.
These tech giants know what’s best for us and will decide, for our own good, what we see.
First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out,
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out, Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me,~ Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (14 January 1892 – 6 March 1984)
and there was no one left to speak for me.
But by all means, let’s keep quiet before they come for us. [insert vomit emoji here]
When you hear, “Information is power“, it’s not just an obvious truth, it’s the beginning of powerful control and the loss of our freedom. You’re choices literally disappear before your eyes without you ever seeing it. It’s that serious. The tech devils decide what to show you and old media taught them that it was okay. It has never been more apparent that every news media channel has a political agenda.
Another Side Note – I’ve been repeating for years that everything is by design to divide and conquer. Keep us divided and fighting with one another and the powerful leadership stays in control – at our blessing. Just amazing. Anyway…
Without getting too political, I’d be interested to know exactly how many times the statements “Trump’s unfounded accusations” or “his baseless allegations” or “absent of any evidence” were said by the news media.
Whether true or not, the media decided to become the judge and jury and publically decide guilt and announce it to the world.
Have nothing to hide or worry about?
Hey, you lost your freedom here dude. You lost your right to truth, choice, and thought.
And you thought it was about left or right? Or it’ll be alright because you’re basically a good person?
What To Do.
Can We Get Our Privacy Back?
I recently discovered Rob Braxman of Rob Braxman Tech and have watched a bunch of his videos. I’ve switched browsers, search engines, email providers, and even social media sites based on the type of privacy concerns he covers. But here’s a serious question that’s tough to be honest with ourselves about:
Is it too late and are we wasting our time?
In one of Braxman’s more recent videos, he made the following statement regarding how our information is collected in big databases and what we’ve given them:
This is past tense folks. For the majority, your information has already been collected.Rob Braxman
That’s scary but probably one of the truest statements being made as far as big tech data mining.
I Understand That It’s Tough
Look, I’m a self-proclaimed Constitutionalist, Voluntarist, and an Anarchist. That’s a very dangerous admission in today’s environment. I’m a prepper and consider myself a responsible adult with a little common sense.
Even with all of that, I still fell into the personal data gifting game in exchange for convenience and simplicity.
I hate to admit it but I have a Ring doorbell, several inside and outside (solar) Ring cameras, Ring spotlights, Key by Amazon (In-garage delivery), smart entry and alarms, three smart TVs w/ both Google and Alexa, Six Amazon Echo Dots, Amazon Echo Studio, Amazon smart switches, bulbs, and outlets in almost every room. Two Galaxy S-21 Ultra smartphones. These phones weren’t even available until last Thursday and had to be pre-ordered. This is after cutting back on intrusive technology. ?
So how much privacy have I gained by switching to the Brave browser, Duck Duck Go, and ProtonMail? Well, I feel like it was a start, especially after walking away from Facebook. Kind of like throwing half a Twinkie in the trash the day you start a huge low-carb diet. Wow, now I want a Twinkie.
Can we get away from Google? I thought losing Facebook was easy until I learned they were on almost every website on the planet. Taking the app off my phone was a nice start but hardly effective.
Is It Too Late To Preserve Our Privacy In 2021?
So is there a point to reducing the amount of information to these databases? Is that even possible?
I’m not suggesting that it is time to give up and simply submit to big tech. Not at all. In fact, I’m not suggesting anything. You might have noticed, I have more questions than answers. Oh snap, you didn’t come here for answers, did you? Silly, silly child.
Truthfully, unless we’re willing to go entirely off-grid and squat on someone else’s land, our data is out there. Did you know, at least here in Michigan, the State sells our driver’s license information to anyone that wants it? Court, property, and tax records are normally up for grabs as well. They have been for years.
Steps I’d Need To Take For Better Privacy In 2021
To even make a dent in my own personal privacy protection, I’d need to (Just off the top of my head):
- Remove every one of the smart devices, especially the phones, literally thousands of dollars, from my home and property.
- Delete hundreds of online accounts and at least try to have the data deleted. Fat chance.
- Secure all of my online activities with VPN, encryption everything – including browser and email, secure Wi-Fi, improved password protection, and a ton of other high tech things I don’t understand.
- Basically leave social media forever because what seems to be “safe” today, no matter what they say, we don’t know how long that data will stay private, protected, or secure. Everything’s subject to being hacked, sued, or simply bought.
- Buy a de-goggled or Linux phone and remain app-free while still being careful.
- I’d have to avoid going almost anywhere or doing anything.
- I’d need to buy all new clothing in camo and always wear sunglasses.
Is It Pointless To Try To Limit Our Privacy Exposure?
I don’t think it is pointless at all. I do think, however, anything a single person does will ultimately have zero effect on the privacy extorters.
It would have an impact on a personal level and that may be all you’re concerned with. Nothing wrong with any of that.
If a million people disappeared from the shared social database tomorrow it would hardly be noticed.
Time To Play Dirty?
I think, if it’s not too late, a better option is to force the social media monsters back into their evil garages by hitting their pocketbooks – both literally and legally.
Think about it, but I’m not suggesting this at all, just thinking out loud here.
Rather than that million people leave the data firehose, what if ten million people upset the balance. What if, suddenly no one clicked a link on a Facebook or Google ad to place a purchase? What if they clicked the ads all day long, but never bought anything.
Imagine randomly liking and commenting on things you hate and ignoring the things you like. Then reverse things a week later. Back and forth, forever upsetting the system built to control us.
That sounds fun to me. More fun than watching friends and family hating on each other about every little difference.
What if, rather than blocking ads, we only used the Chrome browser to click ads like crazy, just for the fun of it. Again, not a suggestion, just an exercise in what-ifs.
Back To Me Now
Back to my favorite topic for a second, me. 😉 All of those privacy stealing devices in my home… Can they all be disabled whenever I want? All at once? Yes, with the exception of the phones, they all rely on my home network. My WIFI.
Funny Story Time.
You can name devices whatever you want when building up a smart home. You know, because you have nothing to hide and all. Anyway, my router is plugged into a smart outlet. My router identifies as “Gossip Queen“. (She/Her)
Whenever we want to have a private conversation, instead of trusting the disabled button (mic off button) on our Echo devices, we just say, “Alexa, turn off the Gossip Queen“. She says, “Alright” just as she loses connection.
The Gossip Queen has to be turned back on manually since Alexa no longer hears what’s being said. At least she can’t transmit or record anything.
On the other hand, the cameras aren’t recording, listening, and reporting so it’s important she’s turned back on when we leave the house.
Just to recap, privacy in 2021 is possible but not while living a modern life. Those days are behind us, never to return.
That does not mean that we, as a nation or society, can’t put a stop to the abuse and control we’re seeing from the tech giants and the state.
Controlling our personal data’s exposure is possible to a degree on an individual level but takes a tremendous amount of forethought and continuous evasive action.
Deciding to help by not participating is an honorable stance.
The idea that opting out of modern-day life will impact the privacy issue to any significant degree as a whole is an illusion. In my humble opinion.
Important: If you take just one thing from this article, I’d hope that it is your biggest risk from the exploitation of your privacy, and social media in general, is the intentional censorship of content and what you’re allowed to see in order to affect your thoughts and the choices you make.
Not the choice of shampoo you use or which ads you see, but the decisions you make that steer your life’s direction and affect others.
Your freedom is at risk. It’s that serious and that simple.
Next Steps To Take
- First, we need to fully understand what is at risk and why. It’s the freedom of knowledge, choice, and decision for you and your family. I hope I’ve explained this well enough.
- Next, we need to decide how much we’re willing to give for the conveniences we gain from our online activities, including social media. There’s no right or wrong here, just personal decisions.
- Then we need to take action. Follow Rob Braxman Tech to learn more than I could ever teach and do what makes sense for you.
- See our next article for Online Privacy Tools You Should Know About.
Here Are A Few Options To Get You Started
Decide if any of these steps make sense to you:
- Leave Facebook. Just stop. Delete your account and never look back.
- Avoid Google. Use DuckDuckGo. Add their search browser to your phones and make it the default search for everything.
- Kick PayPal to the curb.
- Avoid YouTube, which IS Google. Try watching videos on alternative sites like LBRY/Odysee.
- Stop using Chrome. Again, it’s Google. Use Brave or TOR. Here’s an article I found that might help.
- Start using VPN. Here’s a video to learn more.
- Dump Gmail (Yes, Google). No email is safe but I like ProtonMail. Sorry for all the videos but here you go.
- Switch to a Lynx or De-Googled cellphone. I know nothing about either of these. Another video to watch. Also, check out the e Project. Note: Be sure you understand the tradeoffs before jumping into a de-goggled phone.
- Watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix.
- Watch Congress hearing on social media’s use of persuasive technology.
I’ll stop there for now. I don’t want to overwhelm you with your router, online shopping, laptops. tablets, your home computer, anti-spyware, wifi, and on and on.
As usual, I have a ton more to say but I want to keep this short and under 4,500 words. ? So I’ll leave the rest to you.
Tell me your thoughts, what you do or plan to do to help preserve your privacy in 2021. Or if you even think it is necessary or possible. All voices are welcome.
Stay focused and take the next step.
Brian Hawkins, out.