“Big Tech” has been purging social media of “unapproved voices” for years now, generally using vague TOS and Community Standards rules as justification. They also employ whats known as “shadow banning”, where algorithms are designed to down rank content that is seen as conspiratorial, fringe, or anti-establishment. This behavior ramped up especially after Trump took office and started the “fake news” meme. Mainstream culture’s response was to deem only mainstream corporate media voices as “legitimate” and ban or shadow ban anyone who did not qualify.
A week before Trumps presidency was coming to an end, a protest in D.C. turned into a mob that vandalized the Capitol building. This event led to a major purge of “right wing” voices from major social media networks (many left and libertarian voices were also purged.) This didn’t just include pundits and influencers but many average citizens found their twitter and facebook accounts gone or severely limited. Amazon even went so far as to take down a popular “free speech” social media network called “Parler”
Whatever you might think about Trump, Maga, QAnon or other right wing movements, we can all agree that when government and big tech corporations collude to silence people for their political speech we are in dangerous Orwellian territory.
This is especially important as we move into an age where corporate censorship is on the rise and institutions like the International Monetary Fund are calling for credit scores to be tied to an individual’s web browsing history and consumer purchasing history. The implications of this are literally biblical in that people with “unapproved” social, political or even spiritual views might be subject to deplatforming and then denied access to travel or financial services as is already the case in China (read more about that here).
So with all that in context I decided to take a closer look at my device usage.
I’ll be honest, I love my iPhone. Im not tech savvy enough to get into jailbreaking and installing Linux on an iPhone or android device or using a “No Agenda Phone” to have complete privacy (if that even exists). So if you are like me, not ready to give up the beauty and convenience of a smartphone (Who doesn’t love the beautiful photos and videos iPhones give the average person access to?) here is a list of steps I took to increase my iPhone security.
First step? DISABLE SIRI. I know, it’s so convenient to tell Siri to map to your next destination while you are driving, or to ask her the weather while you are getting dressed, but the privacy you are giving up is not worth it. For Siri to function, she must be constantly listening for when you call her name. Not only does this drain your battery, but it also allows your device to be constantly recording your conversations. This video will show you how to stop that.
By the way… lots of your other devices are also listening check out this article for more info.
I probably should mention what I would hope would be obvious: shut off biometric features like thumbprint and facial recognition. Not only can these features provide your biometric information to the surveillance state, they can also be used against you in legal settings. Read about that here.
I found these two videos very helpful for turning off some creepy settings.
(If you are an andriod user check out this video.)
The next thing I did was install a Virtual Private Network (VPN.) I have used Proton Mail for a few years. Now Proton Industries offers a free VPN iphone and android app. I found this video helpful in terms of analysis. Based on my research it seems like Proton is not “the BEST” VPN, however in terms of it being free (with upgradeable options) and its ease of use Proton VPN seems like a good measure to protect yourself from government and corporate surveillance.
This video is helpful in explaining some of the concepts and features of having a VPN.
It was easy to install and set up. By no means does this mean you are anonymous when using your phone, this is one small step to protecting your IP address which reveals your locations and devices that are tied to your social media profiles.
Next I deleted Facebook Messenger and Whats App from my phone. I moved most of my conversations to Telegram or Signal which offer encrypted communications. Again this is not a fail safe, DO NOT assume that these chats are 100% private either, but they SHOULD be safer than using FedBooks surveillance messenger apps. Im trying to bring myself to delete Facebook all together… I haven’t gotten there yet. Pray for me.
Lastly… I like to use Google Apps like Drive, Photos and Sheets. However Google is infamous for its collusion with the Deep Surveillance State. As a matter of fact Google helped build China’s social surveillance state that led to social credit scores we discussed earlier. So I deleted Google’s apps after deleting my files and started using CryptPad instead. While you are at it… delete Google Chrome Browser, heres why.
CryptPad encrypts and decrypts in your browser on your computer which means that nothing is readable outside of your computer, even by CryptPad employees.
The last thing I did was go through and delete any apps that I don’t really use that might be collecting my data. Unused social media networks like SnapChat… or anything else that might want access to my location, microphone or camera.
I also ordered covers for my cameras. Rumors and some vague Instagram terms of service updates leave many fearing that Instagram is using our front facing cameras to monitor our facial expressions to gauge reactions to the posts we are looking at. There is some controversy over whether this is actually true or not. I would assume if they aren’t already doing it, they will as soon as they cover themselves legally. If you still want to use Instagram… cover your camera just in case. You can buy stickers or slide covers to keep the visual surveillance to a minimum.
I have known about these issues for years, I have seen the big tech whistle blowers come out and expose the horrific behavior of big tech over the years. I watched “The Social Dilemma” but honestly while I kept it in the back of my mind I didn’t really change my habits. After last week’s purge, I decided to take all of this more seriously. If you doubt anything I’ve talked about in this article I’ve provided links to articles with plenty of backup documentation. I’ll also include a list below. If after delving down this rabbit hole you still think I should be wearing a tinfoil hat… well… I’m happy to oblige.