Weapons of mass distraction

  • Robin Barnes Global Institute for Freedom and Awareness
Keywords: surveillance technology, propaganda, psychological manipulation, investigative journalism, political rights, main stream media


The Circle invites an ever closer look at the ethos of current and emerging surveillance technology. Dave Eggers’ novel foreshadowed the culminating moments in 2018, when high-powered social media platforms generated a maelstrom of controversy in the US and UK and then nothing changed. Concern over the integrity of electoral processes around the globe has risen to new heights, as privacy experts warn that unfettered growth of surveillance capitalism could change democracy forever. Far from a case of unintended consequences run amok, corporate tech executives admit that continual mining of personal data for unrestricted use by corporations and political operatives that specialise in psychological manipulation were part of the original design. The dark side of all this connectivity as highlighted by the ruckus over Cambridge Analytica places mainstream news producers squarely under the microscope. This article examines the wilderness between the goal of reporting in the public’s interest and the current role of  news organisations.