The beginning of the end of the ‘first’ internet

The internet revolution changed the world. But is it almost over? The world may be about to get ‘cold feet’ for two main and still evolving concerns: safety, and privacy.

When it comes to safety, the internet is not as ‘innocent’ as it used to be. The first major example is terrorism. Many overseas terrorists or terrorist organizations have used the internet for recruiting. Propaganda magazines are easily distributed through links on various social media websites.

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Issue of ‘Inspire’ Magazine

The terrorism propaganda has reached audiences that would have never otherwise been in a position to obtain such magazines and information. And most of it spreads so quickly that service providers have faced issues taking the illegal activity down. When one account is taken down, the user usually just creates another the same hour.

Another simple example is child pornography. The internet has spawned the crime that used to be relatively hard to commit. Before the common computer, the videos had to be physically copied onto a tape. Now, the information is contained as a file on a computer that may be disseminated instantly. One used to have to “know somebody” and meet to obtain the video tape in person. Today, the illegal images can be obtained on fire-sharing websites where you really don’t need to know anyone.

Even aside from how the internet has helped fester illegal activity, it has also started to brush up against our fundamental norms of privacy. Our search queries are being recorded and cross-referenced with your open ‘logged-in’ social media accounts. Stores are recording your cell phone’s wifi pings as you walk by in the mall. Your email address is being distributed, and every post you have made is being recorded on websites that have already amassed a profile of you. A database bank. It contains posts that you may have already deleted. And some display it to the public. Though some of the websites will allow you to “opt out” of having your profile displayed, it may have already been noticed and recorded by an advertising company. It is a freebie for other companies that sell your preferences to ad companies, which are hired by companies that display ads to you.

What does all this mean?

Increasing tracking on individual preferences has not only been slightly annoying, it arguably makes researching not as accurate as it used to be. The recording of preferences has now filtered your search results. A simple google search may display certain websites who actually pay to be displayed. It’s literally causing our searches for basic things to display bias results–perhaps from websites that lean politically one way or the other. It is literally causing distrust throughout the entire internet. Individuals are being tricked into providing an email address to get 10% off at a website, but in reality, that website may be selling that ‘preference’ of you preferring to shop at that store. And it may be selling it for a lot more than the 10% off coupon you were able to secure.

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Screen shot from Tor’s homepage

It is not the increase in criminal activity that will prompt individuals to simple stop using the internet. It is the breach of trust and exploiting of private information that will cause individuals to stop using the ‘real internet.’ Instead, maybe individuals will use the library to obtain information, but maybe there will be a second wave of internet.

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Screen shot from Duck Duck Go’s homepage

You can call it “the dark web” or you can call it internet browsers that hide your computer’s IP address so companies cannot track you, such as Tor, or the search engine Duck Duck Go.

Either way, whether you are really hiding from “big brother” or the insane heaps of ads that decorate nearly every internet page today, the ‘first’ internet will be gone. Soon.






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