On the internet, now they DO know you’re a dog

In the future, everybody will be anonymous for fifteen minutes. We can hope anyway. The rest of the time we be on-line and famous insofar as our ‘friends’ keep multiplying and advertisers relentlessly track and mine our every move and utterance for data for targeted ads. Targeted. Perfect word.

I never got as exercised about privacy issues as some people, because I tended to think about them in the shallow way. “If you’re not doing anything illegal than what are you worried about?” And “The police and government have better things to do than spy on me.” I know those were shallow because of slippery slopes and vigilance and the Fourth Amendment and all that. But privacy then was mostly a civic issue, about persons and papers. And speed cameras. And it was inevitably laced with the inescapable understanding that society should let a certain amount of lawbreaking slide. Just not all the way down the slope.

It’s all different now. Privacy is now assaulted from the “private” sector. Ironic, no? And we are co-conspirators, thinking that targeted ads will be a gateway to being better served by the ever increasingly commercialized internet. Good luck with that. No, we will be hounded day and night, as though by 1000 paparazzi. As they say in webspeak, we will be ‘pwned’.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog. See all of his cartoons here.

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