Tl;dr: Yes, we did sell it - and it's essential to remember and counteract!
The Problem Is Serious
| The internet, in its inception, was meant to be a pure form - a network connecting networks. | Quickly, it became apparent that its advantage was also its curse.
With the creation of content and open standards, the volume of content grew at an alarming pace.
And there came a business opportunity. Two guys (at least, that's how it seems), came up with a simple search engine algorithm. Without delving into the "elegance" of algorithms, Google's algorithm is straightforward in its simplicity: "it counts links," meaning the relationships between all the pages on the internet, resulting in a precise mathematical map of the internet.
The map is dynamic and has many clever features, giving the impression that Google can "do it all."
However, like any business, it's profit-oriented.
This profit, despite the core being free, needs to be extracted from various other things.
I don't want to pass judgment or demonize it - that's the nature of interests - if you don't like it, don't use it.
What About Privacy?
That's the question. It turns out that our mathematical (and arguably somewhat behavioral - although I know it's a bold implication) profile is quite an interesting matter. From it, one can deduce:
- What advertisements to sell to us.
- What results are expected from us and what aren't.
In essence, we are constantly collecting our digital DNA, which is used by informational viruses to attack us.
You must know that it's not necessarily something directly malevolent - at least, not at this moment. So far, companies don't evaluate our informational DNA in terms of merit or ideology; it simply exists.
However, it may become dangerous in the future. All it takes is the right legislation that some dogmatic society imposes on businesses - and we may be in danger; our data can be used against us.
Furthermore, we are not the owners of this data - businesses hold it.
Algorithms Are Always at Work
| Remember - data-collecting algorithms are constantly around us. While there used to be limited technical capabilities for tracking, deducing, and gathering information in the past, | Currently, they exist.
Starting from mass surveillance by government agencies and ending with website owners aiming to maximize their profits by profiling their activity towards specific users and internet user profiles.
| The moment when algorithms start governing our lives hasn't arrived yet. | But it will.
Already, we are living in bubbles - algorithms and applied solutions confine us to limited informational resources, some consciously (like our Facebook friends' circle), some unconsciously (like search engine results tailored to our characteristics).
Is There Any Defense?
Yes, but it's challenging. I don't want to provide specific solutions because you can read about them on the pages of many intelligent individuals. However, without awareness that such algorithmic censorship and Big Brother exist, one can fall into the traps of their own ignorance...