FAANG an invisible manipulator of your mind!

Skanda Shastry
14 min readAug 28, 2020

Until the Year 2000,

Gold is used to measure the wealth of the Nation 💰

Oil is precious things in the World ⛽

The USA is the richest & most advance countries in Earth 🔮

Nuclear power nations manage the world Economy 🕹️

Arm & Ammunition will rule the many poor Countries 💣

Walmart,JP Morgan,Coke,GE,Shell are the largest market cap companies in Stock exchange 📈

But after the DOTCOM bubble busted, there will be a rapid technological evolution happening around the world. Computer,Mobile & Internet has changed our lives immeasurably. These new innovations starts generating enormous amount of data. It created a euphoric attitude toward Business!


Data is turning into the new Oil. 💾

Bitcoin slowly occupies Gold ✨

Countries are built & prepare for the Biological/Trade warfare instead of nuclear weapons🧬

Tech companies & data control the large part of the population instead of Arms & Ammunition.🖥️

Source : This is just tip of the Internet Iceberg.

“There were 5 Exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every 2 days.” — former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt

But now, It’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the seeming limitlessness of the Internet.

By 2025,

  • If you stored 175ZB (zettabyte) on DVDs, the stack of DVDs would be long enough to circle the Earth 222 times.
  • If you attempted to download 175ZB at the average current internet connection speed, it would take you 1.8 billion years to download!

Data in the 21st Century is like Oil in the 18th Century an immensely, untapped valuable asset. Like oil, for those who see Data’s fundamental value and learn to extract and use it there will be huge rewards.

Due to the overwhelming vastness of the internet, many people have embraced personalization.

  • If there is no gigantic search engine like Google to search, retrieve the relevant information from this vast internet??
  • Imagine if Netflix, Amazon or Spotify offered no personalization features. You’d have to scroll through hundreds of thousands of titles, categorized alphabetically or by genre alone, making it the type of daunting task that you’d be loath to undertake at all!

Gone in 90 seconds??

Broadly, we know that if you don’t capture a member’s attention within 90 seconds, that member will likely lose interest and move onto another activity. Such failed sessions could at times be because we did not show the right content or because we did show the right content but did not provide sufficient evidence as to why our member should watch it. How can we make it easy for our members to evaluate if a piece of content is of interest to them quickly?

Same series for different countries
Source :Customize art work for the different Personality

How Netflix choose which artwork is best to grab your attention?

Due to the overwhelming vastness of the internet, tech giant such as Google, Facebook, Netflix & Amazon — started offering personalized filters that uniquely match results with a person’s individual tastes and preferences. scrolling through the data becomes less overwhelming and finding and identifying relevant information is a whole lot simpler and faster & makes the internet a more navigable place.

Striving to produce increasingly relevant results, internet companies collect more and more personal data.

Many sites offer personalized content selections, based on our browsing history, age, gender, location, and other data. The result is a flood of articles and posts that support our current opinions and perspectives to ensure that we enjoy what we see. Even when a site is not offering specifically targeted content, we all tend to follow people whose views align with ours. When those people share a piece of content, we can be sure it will be something we are also interested in.

Google Search: An example in which one user searched Google for “BP” and got investment news about British Petroleum while another searcher got information about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and that the two search results pages were “strikingly different”

Source : Google Search for BP by two different people

Google store search history across all your devices on a separate database, so even if you delete your search history and phone history, Google STILL stores everything until you go in and delete everything, and you have to do this on all devices.

Source : https://twitter.com/iamdylancurran/status/977559925680467968
Source: DylanCurran

Maps: This is every place I have been since you use the Gmail/Google, going in so far as the time of day I was in the location and how long it took me to get to that location from my previous one.

Ads : ads profile Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight (need to lose 10lbs in one day?) and income.
Youtube watch history: Google stores ALL of your YouTube histories so they know whether you’re going to be a parent soon, if you’re a conservative, if you’re a progressive, if you’re Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, Hindu if you’re feeling depressed or suicidal if you’re anorexic.

Apps & extension details: Google stores information on every app and extension you use, how often you use them, where you use them, and who you use them to interact with & many more day to day activities like your calendar, to-do-list, bookmarks,files in drive, your Google hangout sessions, your location history, the music you listen to, the Google books you’ve purchased, the Google groups you’re in, the websites you’ve created, the phones you’ve owned, the pages you’ve shared, how many steps you walk in a day, steps heart bits sleep time.

What google knows about you is more than you know about yourself. Google takeout contains complete details of your Digital footprint.

User data points collected by the google


On the other side, Facebook also continues to collect vast amounts of personal and detailed information, such as who you date, where you go to eat, where you work and the things you “like.” All the information that is freely deposited on news feeds is ultimately added to Facebook’s growing treasure trove of data.

Android App permissions

Three key parts of Facebook’s model come into play:

☑️ Gathering data from people in order to profile them, both en masse and individually,

☑️ Designing systems that allow data to be used to target people for advertising and content.

☑️ Then allowing third parties (generally advertisers) to use the data and those targeting systems for their own purposes.

Facebook ads with the target audience
Source: Create Psychological profile based on Digital footprint

Both Google and Facebook are leading the way in collecting our personal data. It’s believed that for approximately 96 percent of all US households, Google has an average of 1,500 pieces of information. With this new info in hand, Search/Recommendation algorithms became more refined and it provided more personalized and tailored results.

This over-optimized Personalization leads to the “Filter Bubble”

A filter bubble is a situation in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information collected from the user.(such as location, past click-behavior and search history) As a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with or opposite viewpoints,ideology & their culture.

Source: Filter bubble

We find ourselves in a filter bubble any time we’re only surrounded by views and opinions we agree with while being sheltered from opposing perspectives. Filter bubbles distort our understanding of the world and hamper our ability to make balanced decisions.

The internet democratized the information, but it’s also mechanizing and personalizing what we read.

The invention of the private personal pipeline

For much of the 20th century and into the 21st, we had a very small handful of channels through which to consume things like the news. This media pipeline gives us a unidirectional information flow.

When the internet came along, it was heralded as a new way to democratize this traditional monopoly on The Facts. People generally thought this was a great thing & a way to expose us to a diverse new range of opinions.

Source : Traditional vs Social media news consumption

But, In our day to day life, We wake up in the morning, we have breakfast and we open our smartphones to receive daily news about the world surrounding us. It would appear as innocent as it sounds, although the only problem is that probably most of us are not aware of the fact that information we learned from social media or search engines were filtered and delivered to us in a perfectly tailored form; each matching every individual’s preferences.

About a decade ago, a few new startups like Facebook & twitter began giving us reasons to consume media by being online all the time. The most significant thing they built was your personal pipeline — the News Feed.

Source : This news feed is a bubble

Most of the events that you read about will come through this feed. Most of your opinions will be shaped by it. This is a stream of information that is curated and limited by the things that will not make you uncomfortable — and certainly will not provide equal airtime to opposing viewpoints.

The power of these systems is often underestimated, but Facebook/Google themselves know it and have tested it in a number of ways.

EU Brexit referendum 🗳️

Brexit voting % vs Age group

In case of the Brexit vote, a large percentage of those who voted to leave the European Union were older people who are less active online, meaning that their views are less visible. Those who voted to remain tended to be younger and more active online, meaning that they were in an echo chamber of similar attitudes.

Brexit is one of the classic example where tech companies use the vast amount of user data & create a psychological profile for each voter to create behaviorally micro-targeted messages to different segments in the electorate.

These are the few customized advert specially designed & targeted for specific demographic peoples.

Source : advert for the old age who need medical benefit more
These are targeted for the animal lovers
Immigration was another common theme, with one ad appearing to suggest the entire Turkish population was headed for the UK

If they clicked on the relevant advert, they would then receive a horde of continuous adverts around the same topic, reinforcing this point of view.These are the few sample ads potentially as many as 4.2 million times — were all posted in the final three days of the EU referendum campaign & targeted over 7 million people.

This kind of systematic manipulation called Gaslighting in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes, including low self-esteem.

US Election 2016 📬

In 2016, the US presidential election, a fairly unknown company called Cambridge Analytica’s company that uses “Big data and advanced psychographics” to influence people.

CA specializes in what’s called “psychographic” profiling.It built data science models that consume somewhere close to 4 or 5 thousand data points & translate the data they harvest into personality profiles for every American adult.

Instead of tailoring ads according to demographics, they use psychometrics. It’s a simple idea, rather than assuming that all women or African Americans or working-class whites will respond to the same message, they target individual voters with emotionally charged content — in other words, ads designed to tug on emotional biases & personality of an individual consumer.

Source : Map the user data into a Personality trait

Cambridge Analytica has combined this social psychology with data analytics. They collect data from Facebook ,Twitter (which is perfectly legal) and have purchased an array of other data — The data set included voter registration records, gun ownership records, credit card purchase histories, internet viewing history, car purchases and information, about television preferences, airline travel, shopping habits, church attendance, club memberships, what books you buy, what magazines you subscribe to — from third-party organizations and so-called data brokers. & create a Psychological Profiling of each individual.

Source : Facebook News feed of the Liberal & Conservative on various topic

If Facebook gets to decide, over the span of many years, which news you will see (real or fake), whose political status updates you’ll see, and who will see yours, then Facebook is in effect in control of your political beliefs and your worldview!
This is not quite news, as Facebook has been known to run since at least 2013 a series of experiments in which they were able to successfully control the moods and decisions of unwitting users by tuning their newsfeed contents as well as prediction user’s future decisions, by the four main factors 👇🏼

Source : News feed Algorithm

A loop (logistic regression) in which you observe the current state of your targets and keep tuning what information you feed them, until you start observing the opinions and behaviors you wanted to see!

This is made all the easier by the fact that the human mind is highly vulnerable to simple patterns of social manipulation. While thinking about these issues, I have compiled a short list of psychological attack patterns that would be devastatingly effective.

The human mind is a static, vulnerable system that will come increasingly under attack from ever-smarter AI algorithms that will simultaneously have a complete view of everything we do and believe, and complete control of the information we consume.

This revolutionary approach to psychographic profiling, data modeling, & audience behavioral micro targeting makes invisible manipulation of human mind.

The actual impact of the Filter bubble is exhibited in various forms, above two stories is the great example of how technology mainly Big-data & Data-science control & shape the opinion on the various issues. Which eventually weaken the democratic system & gives more power to the Autocratic leadership.

Importantly, mass population control — in particular, political narration by the AI algorithms. Which previously control by the Religion (church), Inc or Capitalist.

How to burst the Bubble??

Fish don’t know they are in the water and we don’t know we are in a filter bubble.Thankfully, it is not difficult to pop the filter bubble if we make an effort to do so.

These are the some easy techniques to burst the filter bubble.

🔴 Using ad-blocking browser extensions.

🔴 Reading news sites and blogs which aim to provide a wide range of perspectives.

🔴 Switching our focus from entertainment to education.

🔴 Using Incognito browsing, deleting our search histories, and doing what we need to do online without logging into our accounts.

🔴 Deleting or blocking browser cookies & concussions about browsing activity.

🔴 Choose open source browsers like DuckDuckGo.

🔴 Don’t share unnecessary data via cookies & accepting the privacy policy.

🔴 Examine the source of news for bias and factual inaccuracy before you share it.

You shape the internet, but the internet also shapes you!

As technology advances, personalization will be employed more and more. In the attention economy, the filter bubble plays a huge role in extending the time we spent online, thus maximizing the corporation’s revenue, constantly feeding us with products ready to purchase. Furthermore, social media has become a vast marketing platform and a gatekeeper that aggressively encourages people to buy more than they actually need. It is a serious psychological brainwash, for people who are not given the variety of choices of what can pop-up in their NewsFeed

  • This is a psychological phenomenon wherein groups of people experience a temporary loss of the ability to think in a rational, moral and realistic manner.
  • When the members of a group are all exposed to the same confirmatory information, that results can be extreme! With this building/Organizing the group with a like mind which have enormous power to influence the world even it can change the world order, create an Political moments, always influence half cooked information,Wide spread of fake news etc..

Confirmation Bias : It’s a real thing, and you can see people fall into it all the time. It is the natural human tendency to interpret new information as confirming our existing beliefs or theories. When we have a choice to read news that confirms our worldview or challenges it — we almost always choose the former, regardless of the evidence.

Due to the filter bubble, we’ve become overconfident in our beliefs and are learning less. This bubble also affects our curiosity, which is vital to how we grow and learn.

On the dark side :

Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated. what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay (or not). It’s not hard to picture, because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Tiktok or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit.

But now imagine a system that create a digital profile of each people where all these behaviors are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government.

In China, is taking the whole concept a few steps further. The Chinese government is building an omnipotent “Social Credit” system that is meant to rate each citizen’s trustworthiness. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. Plus, your rating would be publicly ranked against that of the entire population and used to determine your eligibility for a mortgage or a job, where your children can go to school — or even just your chances of getting a date. People with low ratings will have slower internet speeds; restricted access to restaurants and the removal of the right to travel & A high score allows fast-tracked visas to Europe.

Source : Credit Scoring and loyalty program system based on Digital profile

The real questions about the future of trust are not technological or economic; they are ethical or not ? This is one of the many ethical & Social dilemma we must face in our future !!

Enjoyed this article? Click 👏 to help other people find it.



Skanda Shastry

Left & Right brain thinker!!! "WHAT is written is more important than WHO writes it"