P410n3 - blog: "I have nothing to hide"

When people are talking about digital privacy in the current day and age, the main fact that is discussed seems to be about the fact that a lot of entities, ranging from small websites to the (in)famous three letter agencies are collecting a lot of data about anyone. Typing “why care about privacy” in your search engine of choice, shows you articles like this or that one. And they mostly use the same argument, which is based about feeling uncomfortable about “someone” knowing your secrets. The same feeling as if someone would read your diary, if you had one. You can tell from lines like these:

  • Do you want people to know you watch Real Housewives of Sorento, Illinois?
  • You don"t search for things because the NSA might see it.

However, there is a big group of people that say: “They can have my data I dont't care. Because I have nothing to hide”

You might then try to use arguments regarding security issues such as leaked databases and the likes, which may or may or may not work. But I have yet another argument that one could use to change the mind of people like this.

You are not just being watched.

First off, here is a definition of the word “profiling”:

Psychological profiling is described as a method of suspect identification which seeks to identify a person"s mental, emotional, and personality characteristics […]

Source: WikipediaGoogle, Facebook and lots of other companies don’t just collect data about you for surveillance alone. Law Enforcement may “only” surveil people. But the reason for companies to collect data is vastly different. Tracking you is just a tool. They are out to show you ads, give you “relevant” search results, keep you invested on their platforms, glued to the screen and such. That goes beyond data collection. That is straight up manipulation. Messing with your brain.

Quoting an article about advertisement

When advertising comes into the picture, it kind of is the opposite of self-control. It encourages you to just go out and buy it, just do it.

Ben Hayden, neuroscientist studying decision-making

The effect of ads seem to vary from person to person, but I think there is no doubt that especially kids are very vulnerable to that. Modern [A[Advertisement, on- and offline has been getting on such a sophisticated level that describing it as “brainwashing” may not be too far off.

And that are just advertisements. Of course ads are like that right?

An ad-blocker alone won’t cut it.

One could reply to that by saying something along the lines of “Then just install an ad-blocker. No ads no problem!” but the problem doesn’t end here. Actually I think that is where it starts. A simple example for that is Google. Pretty much everyone uses Google.

But Google does not just show you some ads, they also have full control over what results you get for each and every search query you send. And they try to give relevant results to those queries. Now, the idea itself isn’t too bad. And it does improve it’s results over other search engine like duckduckgo, can’t lie about that. But that has a big problem. It’s biased. The results you get are getting filtered based on data that was collected about you.

The thing is, people already have a cognitive bias to only search, interact with, and interpret information in such a way that it confirms opinions and beliefs that were already present before. It’s called the confirmation bias.

And the whole thing is no joke neither:

Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary evidence. Poor decisions due to these biases have been found in political and organizational contexts.

Now when Google, uses the data they have on you to intentionally create such “Filter Bubbles”, they are making it worse than it already is.

The mix of those two things might just be the reason why groups like flat earthers and anti-vaxxers exist. And anti-vaxxers especially pose a very real threat to the health of others that can, and has, cost some lives too.

And that kind of “personalization”, which is really just controlling the flow of information, is not at all exclusive to Google. YouTube, Amazon, Spotify and pretty much every bigger platform does this. The social medias are especially affected by that because not only do they also “personalize” the things you see, but also just by how these platform make people interact with each other. A lot of times users find themselves inside of so called echo chambers, which just adds to the problem even more.


Basically, the mere collection of data is not the only argument for improving ones privacy. It’s also worth talking about how this data is then used to push you into buying things you might not have bought, and how it affects your thoughts and even your health. Next time someone says that they “have nothing to hide”, you may reply with “but you have something to protect”. That something is your cash and your brain. Two things that should be worth protecting.

I know all of this might sound dystopian, or even like a conspiracy. Is this blog post overly dramatic? I don’t know. Maybe it is. Maybe it is not.

Thanks for reading!

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