SAN JOSE,CALIF – In 2013, a single man shook the world. The then computer intelligence consultant for the National Security Agency, Edward Snowden released a series of documents about global surveillance programs, run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Alliance(Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Following the release, controversy was raised on the topic of individual privacy and global security.
Snowden revealed that these programs had continued from President George W. Bush’s presidency into President Obama’s, despite promises from the latter that he would end mass surveillance. However, shortly after Snowden’s release, President Obama carried through with his promises, and on March 25, 2014, the NSA’s collection of individual data was terminated.
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In the years since Snowden, similar cases have popped up about how much major technology companies such as Facebook and Google value their users’ privacy. Both companies claim that they value privacy and self-security over anything else, but do they really?
In early October 2021, Frances Haugen, a Facebook employee released classified Facebook documents, revealing that Facebook supports notorious markets. What’s more, the company propagates disheartening images and posts to teenagers, putting individuals’ self-esteem into question leading many of them to depression.
Facebook has been the target of many more accusations. Large gatherings such as the Capitol riot and the Unite the Right rally were propagated on social media apps. Furthermore, Facebook targeted citizens with political ads that showed extremely left or right ideologies, polarizing the 2020 Presidential election. This ultimately led to an unstable nation prior to the 2021 presidential transition. European countries have also accused Facebook along the same lines.
A Silver Creek student who has requested to stay anonymous stated, “If social media has been created to allow faster communication between users, why has it changed into a market for the worst businesses?” They went on further to ask, “Why do social media companies, like Instagram, indirectly cause teenagers to feel depressed?”
A Silver Creek student, who identifies themself as a Republican said, “Prior to 2020, I would’ve said that my family and I were moderate Republicans. In the past year, listening to so many conspiracy theories and ads on social media has further distanced us from the left.”
With Senate hearings on privacy ongoing, we need to be careful with whom we trust. Sometimes the very platforms that we rush to text on are hiding something from us.