Surveillance Capitalism – Today Show

Today Show: They will have you ever searched for a product online or mentioned it to a friend. And then suddenly you see ads for it everywhere.

..All the time! Now this phenomena is called surveillance capitalism, and it is changing the way that we spend our money. But is this a good thing? Or is it a bad thing? We’re joined by security expert, Daniel Lewkovitz. And financial coach, Rebecca Pritchard. Good to have you both on Dan’s here. Do you first buddy because this whole concept, okay, in part of me goes, our modern technology is amazing. Pamela is like, wait, they’re listening to me.

Daniel Lewkovitz: Well, the funny thing is, everyone just watched a segment on tigers, and you’re gonna start seeing ads for Tiger related holidays on the internet. So best case, that’s just the Baader Meinhof phenomenon. And it’s a total coincidence. But worst case, the internet knows what you’ve bought, it knows who you are, where you live, what your income is, and it starts throwing ads and trying to sell you things based on those preferences. And it’s actually quite scary from a privacy standpoint.

Today Show: Well, Rebecca, what are your thoughts on this? I mean, have you seen it actually affecting how people spend their money?

Rebecca Pritchard: Yeah, have and it’s quite similar to a credit fueled economy in that it really enhances the dark side of human nature, which is fueling unintentional and impulsive buys, and just clicking through a bit on autopilot, which means that, unfortunately, we tend to waste a lot of money without even realizing it.

Today Show: Well, Daniel, I mean, what do we do here? I mean, if you’re worried about this, I know a lot of people are like, I was talking about shoes. And next thing, you know, my Facebook is all about shoes. Do we just shut down on social media? Do we worry about microphones on our computers? What are we doing here?

Daniel Lewkovitz: Well, the scope that’s available to commerce and to businesses it’s unbelievable if you think that Facebook has got about 2.3 billion users, and that’s about the same.

Today Show: What about privacy, they’ve got that scope, where is the individual’s privacy? 

Daniel Lewkovitz: Well, that’s about the same as the whole of Christianity. Yeah, we’re talking about everyone. And yet, just staying off social media may not even protect you. I’ve never really been on Facebook because of privacy concerns. And a few months ago, I set something up just as part of a corporate account. And the first thing he did is overnight, it sent me emails about every person I’ve ever met, saying you might know this person, so they call them shadow profiles, even though you’re not a member of the social network, it still knows a whole lot about you. And it’s very, very much unregulated, because the internet is effectively the Wild West.

Today Show: We focus. We seem to focus on Facebook all the time. But I mean, they’re not the only culprit here. Are they Google? Amazon, apple? Are they what you would say they’re the main four?

Daniel Lewkovitz: Well, not only are they the ones that we know about, but there’s all the other things lurking below the surface that we don’t know about. And I suppose look, privacy is a bit like virginity, there’s a lot of temptations to give it away. But once it’s gone, you never get it back. So if people so if people are handing out information that’s gone forever. So it’s very important to be able to know what you’re giving way. But also be very careful about when ads are pushed to you start thinking to yourself, Well, you know, does this know a bit more about me than I might know even about myself, 

Today Show: Rebecca, let’s bring you back in on this because, okay, here’s three paranoid people go, they’re listening, they’re listening. But this new data economy, it changes the way we shop. Maybe there’s a positive side to this.

Rebecca Pritchard: Look, and there is and particularly for millennials, the convenience behind this, even if it does enhance some of our less beneficial behaviors, the convenience is really positive. And I would really challenge people when push comes to shove when they trade off that privacy versus convenience went now also used to this. And like I know I speak into my phone sometimes hoping it’s listening to me going please in a few days. Can you throw up an ad around this as much as we like to complain about these side of things? It does also come in really handy. 

Today Show: All right, thank you both for coming on the show this morning. Great to have your company.