As Lady Gaga Said, Social Media Is the Toilet of the Internet!

Over the few days that followed Wing Commander Abhinandan’s capture by the Pakistani army, I was added to a WhatsApp group by a friend who promised me that I would enjoy the kind of political discussions taking place on that platform. It turned out to be an echo chamber of ring-wing propaganda, where conspiracy theories and pseudo nationalist agendas found a home. Apparently, the Congress was responsible for the Pulwama attack and Rahul Gandhi had himself drafted the plan to kill those 40 chaps. Oh, and there was someone on the group who thought that the name ‘India’ was ‘sickular.’ The fact that the terms India and Hindu both have a common genesis and share etymology was lost on this erudite crowd. Continue reading

Why We Need to Talk About Cambridge Analytica

One of the things that I do as a part of my three-pronged preparation for interviews is to look up and gather insights about my interviewers from publicly available data on social and professional media. I’ve only given a handful of interviews in my life and hence it is difficult to ascertain whether this works, but it does give me a sense of control over a situation that otherwise – and generally – is uncertain and unknown. Looking up key stakeholders and interviewers on social and professional media becomes a great conversation enabler at times. But I digress… The whole point of this diatribe was to highlight the fact that a cornucopia of information and personal data exists and is readily available for individuals to mine. Now imagine a company that does this – collects and mines social media data – on a mass scale and uses that data to disperse targeted content in connivance with a social media giant, quite possibly influencing the outcome of an election. Scary? You bet! Continue reading