I don't feel very threatened. Amazon and Facebook
want my money, and to get my money in a free market,
a company must give me what I want. That's a good
"When we talk about the free market," says
Snowden, "We presume… open competition… I don't
He may be right. Perhaps big internet companies
are now monopolies, so dominant that we can't leave
them if we don't like what they do. But the
"experts" also called IBM, AOL and Myspace
monopolies, "immune to competition." Whoops.
Still, today's social media companies are
powerful enough to do real damage.
"Facebook ran their own psychological studies on
the current population to see if they could make you
angry," says Snowden. They succeeded!
Snowden fears what else companies will do with
that power. "It is going to be for their advantage.
It is going to be to shape laws; it is going to be
to shape elections."
Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google say
they won't do that, although there's evidence they
already have; Facebook hid the New York Post's
reporting on Hunter Biden.
The companies also promise to protect our
privacy. They say they don't just give information
to the government. But they do. Our government
routinely forces them to turn it over.
"Why is it so much worse that our government has
it?" I ask Snowden.
"Google can sell you a different pair of shoes on
the basis of what it knows about you… but they can't
put you in jail," he replies. "They can't bomb you.
The government can."
It is creepy that former Google Chairman Eric
Schmidt said, "If you have something that you don't
want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it
in the first place."
Snowden points out that this suggests "that we
should have to constrain our intellectual curiosity…
because we could someday be judged on it…(But) who
decides what is normal, what's acceptable…?! In a
free society, we are allowed to be different."
Snowden advises people to encrypt their phones.
"Your phone tries to reach this other person,
wherever they are in the world. It has to go through
the Starbucks that you're sitting at, through an
internet service provider, through a data center. At
any one of these points, anybody sitting on that
line can snatch a copy of the conversation."
WhatsApp won customers by offering encryption
that prevents that. "An encrypted message cannot be
unlocked without a mathematical key," explains
Snowden. "That defeats mass surveillance."
But then Facebook bought WhatsApp, and later
Facebook announced it will share WhatsApp data.
"Fewer and fewer people use plain voice (and)
plain SMS," says Snowden. "Now they're using
encrypted messages like the Signal messenger."
That makes it harder for government, and
companies, to learn so much about us.
"Everywhere you go, everything you do, everyone
you interact with and everything you are interested
in is being collected and recorded and analyzed and
assessed. We don't know how that is being applied
yet, but we do know once they have this information,
we can't take it back from them."
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