Cyber World and its Perils

Aug 21st, 2012 | By | Category: Latest, Media Watch, Social, World

Cyber world has become a perpetual world where we all live in and yet we don’t. This is the next big frontier which the western masters have innovated and trying to conquer. Cyber space might be the perfect place for mind warfare. Victory here means conquest of whole mind kind. This idea must sound absurd and ridiculous. I agree this is as much an alien thought as I can imagine in my wildest imagination. I am neither a technologist nor a tech freak. Coming from finance and accounting background, let me ask a few questions which mark arrows towards the point I have raised.

Let us first try to unwrap this argument. How secure is our information on services like Gmail, Hotmail or on Yahoo mail? How secure are our videos and pictures on Facebook or Orkut? What do they do with my tweets? I used to believe that since I have control of my privacy settings, so it’s all very safe, people only get to know what I am willing to tell.

Friends just have a second thought about it. Your mails, information, pictures & documents may be safe from those who you don’t want to share with, but are they really safe? They are always available, just a click away, those guys who are storing it for me, am I sure that they aren’t using it? Am I sure that they are not sniffing through my information? They claim that they don’t use it but they also say that we might use it anonymously to help improve our ‘product’. This should be enough to ring alarm bells.

If still not, then let me give you view from another side. To run any business successfully, you need to have inputs, then you do some value add to these inputs to convert them into a sell-able product. This conversion costs you money. Once the product is ready, you need to find buyers to whom you can sell the product. And as a thumb rule, the price at which you are selling the product has to be higher than the cost you are incurring to produce it. Your selling price minus your cost is your profit. All commercial organizations exist only to make profits. And mind you all these organization are highly profitable.

For these services which I mentioned, let’s try to find the input, the value add and then the sell-able product. For convenience let me take the example of twitter. To support millions & millions of users, they need to have big server farms, which cost tens of millions of dollars, to run these farms they need to pay bills and salaries to staff. To develop & maintain the service that they are offering, again they need to run offices, pay bills and salaries to staff. Their end product is an application which people are able to use, express their thoughts and viewpoints. Bingo it’s all free. We don’t pay a single penny to twitter.

Isn’t that enough to raise some suspicion? If not then let me give you another hint. You must have seen suggestions while using twitter, which suggests you, people whom you might be interested to follow or people who are similar to ones you are following. Another value add and that too free of cost.

Ever thought how a service provider which is offering free services to all across the globe is able to make millions of dollars in profits?

This should be enough to mark arrows that someone is doing user profiling at a mega level. Our click on suggested people only confirms the profiling they have done.

Now the question is with all this profiling who is the buyer of this information or product. I will leave this question open to readers for them to think and make their own analysis.

Last but not the least, what I worry most is that my generation was born in an era when TV was a novelty. We got easily influenced by what we saw on it. Comparing us to people of Radio generation & generation even before that, we very easily bought new idea & thought appearing on TV. With these free services which intrude into the privacy of individuals, doing their profiling, what will happen to our new generation? The Cyber warfare is on and we are all part of it. I shall also leave this question open for everyone to think.

 

Ahmed Bilal

About the author

Ahmed Bilal is an account by profession & a Pakistani by heart. He belongs to Lahore, has studied & worked in America before coming back. He has keen interest in religion, politics, finance & new trends affecting human civilization.

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3 comments
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  1. salam,
    mr bilal you have raised a real issue, this modern media and its masters are using this toll to capture our minds and thoughts, its more dangerous than colonial powers in past, which only occupied our land.

  2. Fayaz, it’s a little bullshit as everyone is completely free to raise issues on the net, unfortunately it’s also full of crap like inspire.com, it’s full of pornography, but it also contains Christian marriage advice or psychological healing centers, news of all sorts etc.

    To the author: I agree with Twitter. As much as FB does millions of dollars on selling advert and campaign space and it is rather enough to pay off, also give stock revenues, Twitter is highly suspicious from economic point of view. But didn’t it help in Egypt?

    People in all eras were easily grasping new things and ideas, in middle ages conspiracy theories, ghost adoration or even preachings which used the same technique as ever: do what a crowd does. Crowd mentality was always present.

    But I agree then that contemporary world is full of danger of spiritual emptiness and just being nowhere with one’s life, and these empty suffering individuals impose their sickness on others. Cause if someone is truly happy, what else worse can there be?

  3. Friends, first of all thanks for taking time out, reading the blog & taking the pain of giving feedback. This is much appreciated.

    like I have said that this is a new frontier. a lot of things can be controlled once someone masters this area. probably not so much for generation in late 20s or 30s or older, but most certainly they younger generation.

    the other area that you highlighted about facebook, their source of revenue is a closely guarded secret. remember recently they went public with their IPO & they stock prices plummeted, raising strong questions over the revenue streams.

    a study which I read I am sharing with you, it says that total penetration of facebook ads is less than 17%. Keeping in view this statistics I wonder how many corporations will be willing to invest all of their ad budget on facebook. remember this is online ad is only an alternate channel, business have fixed money as their ad budget which they distribute among different ad channels (print, electronic, online etc). with only 17% outreach how many business would be willing to spend good money on facebook ads?

    another aspect to be noted is that majority of users of facebook are outside western hemisphere, where online ad & shopping is still a novelty. why would a ‘for profit’ organization provide services in those parts of the world from where they hardly earn any revenue?

    yes we can debate on this for long, but the whole point is to mark arrows towards a certain direction. There are few questions which I am more than tempted to get a reply.

    why wouldn’t certain agencies/service be interested in getting hold of this very personal data stored in online websites? won’t they be willing to pay hefty amount if they can get this kind of data at their doorstep with no risks involved?

    this is a good food for thought. something we must think over & decide.

    its interesting to have a high level view of face book financials http://ycharts.com/financials/FB/income_statement/quarterly . just see the revenue figure & cost of revenues, producing huge gross margins (revenue-cost=profits). doesn’t that make you ask yourself, they must be doing something which is a novelty to get this kind of revenues & gross margins at such low cost? does online Ad give you this kind of revenue and gross margins? If yes then why other corporations aren’t making hefty sums from online Ad?

    **think think**

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