The news this week made me think of an old friend, though not in a sentimental way.
He was the type of person who would expose himself to only the most surface level of an issue, then turn this exposure, without examination or extrapolation, into his unalterable position.
I thought specifically about one instance in which he was holding court on a sticky afternoon, vocally proselytizing his latest truth.
“The government is going to put computer chips into people!”
As he used one hand to swipe through his phone, he used the other to physically accentuate the list of horrible things these chips would be able to do.
“They will be able to track your location at all times, to listen to your conversations. All banking will be done through them.” On and on he went.
He seemed unaware that the device he held voluntarily in his hand could do, and was doing, each of the terrors he described.
This week, there was mass-promotion of the claim that, as CNN so eloquently put it, “Google will no longer read your emails.”
An actual reduction in the surveillance state? That sounds pretty good …
Except, as usual, the reality behind the headlines is something quite different.
True, Google is intending to no longer surveil the content of personal emails in order to generate tailored ads.
They will, however, still surveil other things people are doing, such as search results and YouTube views for this purpose.
They will also still surveil personal emails, though for purposes other than tailored ads.
The presentation of the story in mainstream media, through headlines and suggestion, that “Google will no longer read your emails,” is patently false and deliberately manipulative. But why?
Why intentional misrepresentation? What is the reason for this disintegration of journalistic integrity?
Google explains their campaign as motivated by the desire to sell more premium email accounts to businesses. Unlike regular Gmail, the premium service is not surveilled for the purposes of tailored ads. The failure of potential customers to make this distinction was, according to Google, hurting sales of the product.
In other words, the reason for intentional misrepresentation is that mainstream media is acting as an infomercial to push product for Google.
I would perhaps suggest keeping this in mind when the mainstream media is beating the drums of war. View the pseudo-patriotic warmongering as an infomercial for the military-industrial complex on behalf of military contractors.
Similarly, when mainstream media plays up only the most inflammatory of comments in the health care debate – “This is blood money. They’re paying for tax cuts with American lives.” – view it, in its flamboyant obfuscation, as an infomercial for the comfort of corporate healthcare (Obamacare, or otherwise) on behalf of the pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
Wolf Blitzer, I’d like you to meet my friend Vince. He’s got a Sham-Wow and a Slap-Chop he’d like to show you.