News Flash! If you’re online, you’re being fooled, deceived, manipulated from seen and unseen forces. One of them is you. That’s right, forces you don’t know about and probably can’t identify are working 24/7 to alter your thinking, to change what you know to what those forces want you to think you know.
Who is doing such dastardly deeds to humanity? Oh, let’s start with Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the usual cast of nefarious digital creatures. But you already know about them, right? And you say, 1) you don’t care; it’s OK?, and 2) it’s not all that bad?
Really? Not that bad?
Here’s a mini-expose on psychological tricks that Facebook uses to target teens? Why? To alter or manipulate their thinking. Ryan Mac wrote about a company Facebook bought that created technology to manipulate online users.
Nothing new, right? After all, isn’t all advertising designed to persuade you to think a certain way? Yes. So, why isn’t all advertising bad?
When you watch a commercial on television you know it’s a commercial. It’s in your face. You know they want you to buy or try or use their product or service.
Online advertising and marketing promotions are far different in nature. Sure, the display ad in the upper right corner of NoodleMac is there to, 1) grab your attention, 2) highlight a product and advertiser that we Villagers like, and 3) help pay the bills.
That all seems innocuous and somewhat traditional, right?
Most of us who use iPhones each days, or traverse the interwebs with our favorite browser, think we know what we think. The reality is less obvious but still a reality. We have convictions. Some of them are baseless convictions based solely upon manipulating advertising, targeted promotions, subtle marketing tricks, fake news, and the like.
Apple does it. Look at the packaging in almost any Apple product. It smacks of quality, right? That’s so you’ll feel good about paying more for Apple products. That’s manipulation.
When one cable TV network cries out mainstream media bias or the president says fake news, you’re being manipulated because neither one compares their own bias or real news so you can see the differences.
Alright, allow me to make an adjustment. It isn’t smartphones themselves that play psychological tricks on its users. It’s the apps that play such tricks, and we’re in charge of which apps we use. Apple curates the App Store. CNN’s app is as easy to find as BBC and Fox and others. Just as easy to find is InfoWars. I have difficulty understanding why Apple would pull Alex Jones from podcasts and iTunes but not the App Store. Perhaps it’s because one is content, while the other is merely a tool to access content.
Regardless, Apple provides tools which we can use to improve our lives; Maps, Mail and Messages, Safari, Calendar and Contacts, Camera. Yet, Apple provides access to tools which are more pervasive in nature, which subtly or directly are used to manipulate and subvert a measure of their users.
Apple curates the App Store for usage more than content. Facebook and YouTube have begun to curate, too– but for content, not usage. This is where Apple is behind the curve.
Humans manipulate humans. There isn’t anything new there, but we have more ways to do it than ever before, and many of them are psychological tools which do not benefit humankind. Apple is a monitor; iTunes, podcasts, applications. But who monitors the monitors?