Save The Data

Members of Anonymous, the decentralized hacktivist collective, might have another option for digital consumers disenchanted by Facebook and Google+. It comes in the shape of a new social network named Minds. Minds provides the same social networking capabilities as Facebook and Google+,anonymous doesn’t sell your data, is open source, and even has a way of monetizing website membership.

Facebook and Google+ are free. They let you store gigatons of your data on the internet. They let people interact with mega-gigatons of their friends’ information. They present the outward facing appearance of a utopian community for online interaction. They keep people up-to-date with the news. They let people share important news in their lives and their communities with the world. And Facebook provides the security state with enough raw data to put a batallion of their spies out of a job.

Whether the technology behemoths are gathering and organizing your data or controlling your access to information based on their interests, their interests are not yours. They want to know how to sell to their user, not how to make them a better person. They want to know how to manipulate the user, not how to activate their full potential. Unfortunately, the allure of ‘free’ services for the financially-strapped millennial generation is an offer that a lot of them have no ability to question. They don’t know what it means to trade their personal information to get connected with the world and even if they disagreed that it was worth it, they couldn’t find another service as widely used as the behemoths and they couldn’t muster the resources to pay for a service anyway.

Digital networking online is ubiquitous and valuable in today’s social, commercial, and business markets. LinkedIn and freelancing sites help you find work and display your talents; OKCupid, Tinder, and Plenty of Fish help you find love and/or get laid; Facebook and Google+ can do all of those things for you; and Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat confuse people. But all of these services are offered free with the unanswered question of why, beyond the shrinking pie of advertising money, they have value to the people paying for the server space. Conspiracy theories abound accusing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg of being a CIA plant, and Snapchat nudes being saved in a database but we don’t know.

Minds and all of the open source, people-(instead of profit)-driven projects that will come about could open the digital sandbox and its inhabitants to an entirely new market where users can choose to sell their information to marketers and commodify or brand their open source worlds in entirely new ways. A new market where knowledge and experience really can give individuals an advantage over the mass of capital that corporations like to throw at any problem. This new market is also exemplified by MaidSafe, a piece of software that pays users in a digital currency for allowing it to use space on their computers to store encrypted data from around the world. These sites could morph the proletariat of tomorrow’s labor into owning hardware and having access to wi-fi. It could also cause the major corporations to (continue to) freak out and consolidate their control over the internet as a marketplace. There is a war over who controls personal data and although big money is primed for the fight the public might have their own wild cards in hand in the form of decentralized hacktivism.

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