While sitting at a local bar, I notice a couple uniformed police approaching patrons. Soon they are at my table, explaining that they are doing a “study” on drunk driving. I oblige, if only because I believe that social studies are interesting—and important—in terms of understanding our societies. Yet, I cannot help but wonder what will the data be used for?

Preventing drunk driving is, of course, a good use of data. Yet so many studies are done daily—and without our knowledge—in which data is continually mined. Facebook is just the tip of the iceberg in this regard; indeed Facebook and Google have collected unimaginable amounts of data on millions of people worldwide. Given that this questionable form of surveillance has affected people all over the world—regardless of their race, gender, class, sexual orientation, or whatever other intersectional identity that the Social Justice Warriors might invent—one could say that we all are equal in the face of corporate surveillance.

And that is just why this form of surveillance should be resisted. There was uproar when Edward Snowden announced that the U.S. government’s National Security Agency was surveilling innocent citizens. There were even nationwide marches against gun control when the citizens felt that their lives were endangered. Yet there has been no major response to the illegal corporate surveillance of innocent individuals. Perhaps, this is because we have come to believe that what is “convenient” in the modern world is good; we are unable to recognize that it is—in actuality—a thinly-veiled form of social control. And it is a form of social control which unites us all, regardless of our “identities”.

The use of social media for advertising is nothing new, and it has become a major discussion among footballers who are looking to capitalize on new avenues for profit. While scrolling through my Instagram account I found two ads come up: both asked me (rhetorically) “summer vacation in Algeciras?”. The red flag, for me, was this sales pitch; after all, anyone who has ever heard of Algeciras will know that it is a gritty port town. The only reason for visiting Algeciras would be to get out of the city as soon as possible, en route to the North African coast. I had a hard time believing that this would be the only advertisement offered to Americans hoping to visit Spain. After all, weren’t Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Granada or Sevilla more enticing tourist destinations? Of course they are…but this advertisement was tailored to me. I had been to Algeciras. Through social media—perhaps by crunching my data, sent via text or email—the system knew the places I visited and, indeed, those I would like to return to again.




This is, of course, creepy. It is very creepy and it should make people uncomfortable that companies—not states, who are (at least ostensibly) beholden to the people—are watching individuals with the main goal of making money. Sadly, it seems that people are more content to go along with the status quo—like sheep—than they are willing to march against this postmodern form of surveillance. If this sounds absurd, it is because it is absurd.

For all the talk of “freedom” and “tolerance” that Silicon Valley (which has shown itself to be intolerant of American conservatives) spouts, shouldn’t they resist, rather than encourage, social control? Why should our travel—whether it be to Algeciras or anywhere else—be monitored? While we might regard internal passports as a remnant of the distant past (they were common in the soviet Union), we should be aware that this new electronic surveillance amounts to the same kind of social control. Our movements—domestic and international—are constantly being tracked. Perhaps the biggest threat to human freedom in the future is not state control, but corporate control. And this is one form of control which all of us, as humans, should be united in resisting.