Surveillance has reversed the net's capacity for social change

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An anonymous opinion is more likely to be true. There is a reason that we vote using secret ballots.


Surveillance is not fundamentally different from information wanting to be free. The superficial difference is whether or not masses are willing to embrace and democratize it. If they aren’t, it remains the province of an “elite” who can use it on the masses for their supposed protection. A networked society does seem to naturally move towards having fewer and fewer secrets. What we are seeing is symptomatic of panic amongst those in hierarchies who have relied upon secrets for power over others, and they in turn both use surveillance as well as spreading fear of surveillance. Ultimately, the changes in society occur not with a camera in every house and alleyway, but with cameras in the police station, town hall, and boardrooms.

As for everybody else, people need to grow up and have some strength to their personal convictions. Not everybody needs to like or agree with how you live - they simply need to be aware that there are consequences to meddling in your life.

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From the paper

This study provided an important first look at how perceptions of surveillance may
contribute to an online spiral of silence. The absence of a significant direct relationship
between perceived surveillance and speaking out in general implies the effect
is more nuanced than a blanket silencing that some (e.g., Brown, 2014; Hampton
Downloaded from by guest on March 29, 2016
12 Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly
et al., 2014) have suggested.”


Comment redacted.


It’s true, all this fear has caused me to significantly decrease my trolling.

Just kidding.

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Ah, sociology. The McDonald’s soft-serve of science.

What about people who are still growing up, i.e. children and teenagers? Are they supposed to have fully developed opinions and a rock solid robot-like conviction in their beliefs along with a total understanding of the recourse available to them when they are threatened for their beliefs? Or, would it maybe be healthy for their development to be able to experiment with points of view they aren’t necessarily fully certain of by testing them in safe environments such as anonymous online discussions?

Human beings learn about things they aren’t sure of through exploration. There is nothing wrong with uncertainty. Also:

There are still parts of the world where claiming too loudly that, say, it’s ok to be gay or that women can do anything men can do will get you murdered outright, and the killers will be lauded for doing their public duty. Anonymity is important. I appreciate that you like to see things in clear-cut logical terms, but logical and clear-cut just isn’t the nature of this reality.


I am not sure what you are getting at here. I would go so far as to say that life is exploration, and that there is not any real certainty to anything. Anonymity is fine, but kind of a diversion, as personal identity seems to be largely a McGuffin in the first place. The same “individual” can profess to dozens of even contrary views, which they may earnestly reconcile somehow, or only claim as a rhetorical device - I never have any way to conclusively know. Nor does anybody else. The “real” views of a person are also likely to change over time.

That’s not the point I was making. It is that since connectivity exists, and isn’t going anywhere, people either control it - or it is used to control them. When surveillance is controlled by an alienated elite who lack transparency, they can use it to further entrench their advantage of perceived power over others. But when everybody has equal access, they can’t.

That would all be fine if everybody was like you, willing to allow others to explore uncertain and conflicting opinions. But they aren’t, and in some cases they can be quite aggressive about it.

I think I can see where this is going. You’re arguing that just about everyone in the entire world should be different to what they are now, I’m arguing that they’re not and won’t be. Seems to me we’re both right.

I’d also agree that increased exposure is an inevitability and so “surveillance” should be made into a public service. But I’d also say that there always will be and always should be some channels available for anonymity.


Oh, and also:

That’s not the only problem with surveillance. Ordinary, everyday people will take it upon themselves to pry into the lives of others and control their modes of thought and being, through means up to and including violent assault and murder. I think it’s better for the progression of society if we all have the freedom of expression without needing to tie our expression back to ourselves. Personal identity may be largely a McGuffin, but the physical person is not.


Strange that the US government wasn’t publicizing its surveillance all along, as numerous oppressive regimes have made good use of this effect for decades.

Isn’t this also why children are told that am angry god is listening to their thoughts and watching their actions?

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Going dark is all we can do. The internet is closed until further notice.

Perhaps closing the internet isn’t ideal, but “going dark” (in the FBI’s sense of the term) isn’t such a bad idea to me. Better yet, do it with third-party, open-source products that don’t have anyone that they can attempt to compel to cooperate. (The issue, though, is when they try to ban such things, but you know as well as I do that fight is coming sooner or later.)

You better watch out
You better not cry…

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good


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