1. The honey trap of quickness and visibility
2. Are we all just overreacting?
What is most interesting about the whole FaceApp situation, however, goes beyond the shock stemming from the sudden realisation that users’ data may be forever kept on an unknown server for unknown purposes, but instead the opposing reaction is evident. Alongside the startled ones, are the blasé. I’ve encountered several posts mocking those worried about their privacy. For instance, one taunted: “Be careful to those filters aging us, they save our data and send them to the FBI without us knowing. Our safety is important. Zuckerbergggg, kittens and coffee”.
So the question comes naturally: is it really an issue we should worry about? Well, yes, actually.
3. Black mirrors
Chuapadados, a project aimed at showing the truth behind big data, puts it quite clearly: it is all about the hidden faces of our beloved technologies. The scandal of period tracking apps selling data to employers was just one of these many hidden faces.
In addition to deceitful apps, users should be aware of what Eli Pariser names the “filter bubble”, defined as the intellectual isolation originating from personalised searches, resulting in a website algorithm that selectively guesses what information a user would like to see. The aftermath is dangerous. Users become separated from information that is far from their view and, putting it in Pariser’s words, they eventually isolate themselves in their own cultural or ideological bubble. Moreover, these bubbles make it difficult for people to change their minds, as social media are not a place for confrontation any longer, but a black mirror of their own selves, a validation of what users already know, or think they know.
4. It is not about being a conspiracist
Ultimately, it is not about conspiracy theories, but simply about acknowledging that technologies are evolving and that they come with a price, mostly hidden. This is the actual strength of companies creating apps such as FaceApp: the fact that most people still do not understand what big data can be used, or exploited, for. Likewise, users need to stop underestimating the issues originating from the use of their personal data. It is not simply about having your photos on a server somewhere on the planet (well, it should be), but realising that our freedom to know the world as it is, without having a distorted version of it springing from our past click-behaviour and search history, is currently at stake. In the future, the focal point of technological advancement should move from the ethics of artificial intelligence to the ethics of algorithms. At this moment, the world of data resembles a casino: colorful, fun and cool. Attracting people inside with flashing lights; it’s only once you leave that you notice the damage done.
By Ambra Pacitti