Super Bowl Control: You’re Not Paranoid. Google is Watching You.
Google is undoubtedly one of the largest, most powerful businesses in the world. The company achieved this by focusing on more than one market — such as search and advertising — to make their product appear indispensable. In 2017 the company garnered 90% of the search market based on the user data they control.
Years of planning, researching and data mining went into the development of this company, now worth three-quarters of a trillion dollars, according to CBS News. Nothing was by accident.
The search engine was originally conceived of and built by two Stanford University students working in their college dorm. A Sun-Microsystems co-founder was the first angel investor, whose 1998 check helped the pair raise $1 million, including an investment from Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com.
In 22 short years the company went from having a general understanding of your needs to knowing and nearly predicting your next thought. In fact, as much as a decade ago, Eric Schmidt, Google CEO from 2001 to 2015, said in an interview at the Washington Ideas Forum:
“With your permission you give us more information about who some of your friends are. We can probably use some of that information again with your permission to improve the quality of your searches … So one of the things that eventually happens in that preceded lot of reasoning is that we don’t need you to type at all because we know where you are … we know where you’ve been … we can more or less guess what you’re thinking about.”
The technology behind Google’s ability that Schmidt talked about in 2010 has only continued to grow, aided by scientists at DeepMind. This artificial intelligence startup was acquired by Google in 2014 and has the knowledge and power to sort through data and detect patterns.
Patterns + Data = Persuasion, Conditioning and Manipulation
Each decision in this massive machine-learning company is made with the goal of growth, acquisition and power. Behavioral persuasion comes in many forms, but Google has perfected the art of understanding your focus and serving ideas that meet their needs. Under the guise of providing more accurate search results, they track multiple data points, including your search history.
Jeffrey Pfeffer from Stanford University’s graduate school of business talked about power and influence at a NextGen CMO Academy, saying that the idea that “ … you’re going to resolve everything just on the basis of data is a myth — everybody has different data and a different perspective about that data.” However, as Amy Bucher, Ph.D., writes, persuasion may not be required to change your behavior:
“It’s not about making someone share your rationales and motivators. It’s about understanding theirs and helping them to see the desired behavior as a mechanism to get there. So next time you want to work on changing someone’s behavior, start by asking them what they really care about, and then draw a connection for them.”
Google has become an expert at understanding what you care about and then drawing a connection through your search results that persuades you to make decisions in which they may have a financial interest.
Be Wary of Heartstring Tugs in Advertisements
Google leveraged its understanding of Americans’ preferences and proclivities by specific, targeted advertising during this year’s Super Bowl. Just like horses and puppies make for great Budweiser commercials but have nothing to do with beer, the stories and imagery embedded in Google Super Bowl commercials were designed to pull at your heartstrings as they sell you on their corporate brand.
Take Alzheimer’s disease, for instance. The problem is real. You may know someone whose family member struggles with this, or you may fear this gut-wrenching disease that steals your memories might strike you. Wouldn’t it be helpful to be reminded of your past and the things you hold inherently true — those things that make you, well, you?
One short and wildly expensive ad that played during the Super Bowl promises you that Google can do just that. Sports Illustrated reported that the cost of ads during the Super Bowl jumped from $1.2 million (adjusted for inflation) in 1985 to an astounding $5.6 million for 30 seconds in January 2020.
You can bet no company, no matter how deep their pockets, is spending $186,666 per second on an ad without a return on their investment. The return Google is counting on is your loyalty and their subsequent ability to use surveillance data to build responses to your searches and influence your opinion.
I wrote about Google’s behind-the-scenes control in, “Google — A Dictator Unlike Anything the World Has Ever Known.” The article includes an interview I did with Robert Epstein, a Harvard-educated psychologist, who exposed how the manipulation is being done, the techniques that haven’t been available before AI development and how those techniques don’t leave a paper trail.
Two Ads Designed to Entice You to Hand Over Your Private Data
Along another heartstring-tugging line, Facebook released its first-ever Super Bowl ad, a 60-second blitz that zeroed in on the “rock” hard strength and power of muscles, people and fun (think: comedian Chris Rock), all rolled up into the various ways you can utilize Facebook groups. On MSN, Business Insider speculated that Facebook spent more than $10 million on this ad, based on the fact that a 30-second commercial cost around $5.6 million.
And for what? In a feel-good last image, even “Rocky” actor Sylvester Stallone is there to “rock” you into wanting to join a Facebook group. So, what does Facebook — which charges you nothing to join — get back once you climb onboard and join lots of groups? The answer is: They get YOU — you and all the data on yourself, your work, your friends and your family that you willingly share when you join groups and post your photos and written comments, on their site.
Using that data, Facebook even has the ability to access your computer or smartphone’s microphone without your knowledge. And with all that information they can design ads targeted specifically at you, in real time. No wonder Facebook is willing to spend more than $10 million to lure you in!
Not to be undone, Amazon’s Super Bowl ad starring Ellen DeGeneres quickly became the bowl’s most-watched on YouTube. For a full minute-and-a-half, Amazon extolled its voice-activated Alexa, which you can use for everything from ordering products sold on Amazon to using it to run your “smart” home.
And what did Amazon get in return? As revealed by The Washington Post, “When Alexa runs your home, Amazon tracks you in more ways than you want.” As the Post found out, the spying includes more than just what movie you ordered last week: From snippets of “spaghetti-timer requests” to sensitive family conversations and more, Alexa keeps records on everything it hears. Put plainly, Alexa is a bugging device you invite to spy on you.
5G Isn’t a Hero to Your Health
Another short, $11.2 million Super Bowl ad also tapped into those things you hold dear, drawing a connection between 5G and the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect you and me.
Although the video portrays 5G as being helpful to first responders, it actually is a threat to public health, surpassing the level of low frequency microwave radiation that 4G emits. The “G” stands for generation of mobile network technology. 5G is the fifth generation, and LTE is part of the fourth generation. The mobile networks are promising that 5G offers greater speed than its predecessors.
The improved speed and reduced latency offered by 5G are quite alluring: CNN reports that while 4G made apps for Lyft and Uber possible, with 5G a rideshare may not require a human driver.
But, is this worth the health problems that come with it? Unfortunately, you may not get to choose. The current 4G network relies on large masts placed several miles apart, but 5G masts will be on streetlights and the sides of buildings very close to one another.
Persistent proximity to electromagnetic fields (EMF) like those found from your cell phones, Wi-Fi and 4G towers can trigger mitochondrial dysfunction and nuclear DNA damage. As I talk about in “A Film About the Impending 5G Apocalypse” the exposure has been linked to chronic disease, depression, Alzheimer’s and infertility.
In the article you’ll also find an explanation of how the damage happens at the cellular level. It’s not pretty. Unfortunately, you may not even know of the damage being done until it’s too late. And, since exposure is so ubiquitous it is difficult to link exposure to your health.
Is It Real or Is It Google?
Just after Trump became president the media began carrying stories of “fake news.” Google whistleblower Zach Vorhies began collecting documents that were so explosive he knew Google would remove them when word got out. In his private investigation into what was real and what was fake, he discovered other disturbing projects.
One of these was a program Google calls Machine Learning Fairness. Vorhies explained the program is a relatively new, small part of artificial intelligence (AI) designed to simulate the brain, which could be used to play a programmed game of chess. Vorhies found it can also classify content and then rank it.
AI decides, based on input from Google, if the content is “fair” or “not fair.” Fair content rises to the top of the search results, while not fair sinks out of sight. Ultimately, this results in a twisted view of your world.
As I recount in “Why the World Needs a Google Detox,” in mid-2019 Vorhies resigned from Google and was attacked through the legal system in an attempt to destroy him financially. In response, he went completely public with his documented information.
As you consider how Google manipulates data and helps you draw conclusions based on their knowledge of your beliefs, it’s much easier to see how their multimillion-dollar Super Bowl advertisement is subtly altering your perception of their intentions.
Google Instills Brand Loyalty Raising the Next Generation
Changing long-term behavior is much easier when you start with children; this is why Google’s influence over them has long been a concern. In mid-2014 a journalist from the International Business Times wrote an article titled, “How Google Took Over the American Classroom and Is Creating a Gmail Generation,” in which he wrote:
“Google apps, services and increasingly, Chromebooks, have become ubiquitous in the American classroom and it’s not hard to understand why: they require no expensive hardware, they never need to be updated, and they’re free, an important consideration for cash-strapped districts …
South Carolina’s Richland School District 2 boasts 22,000 Chromebooks, which covers a student populace nearing 27,000, who also use Google Apps. That makes for a sizeable student population that will become accustomed to utilizing Google services.”
In the past five years the number of students using Google Chromebooks has grown, as has the database of information Google has mined from them. For comparison, in 2012 Chromebooks accounted for less than 1% of shipments to the educational market but by 2017 this number had risen to 60%. In May of 2017 The New York Times succinctly described the long-term plan:
“Schools may be giving Google more than they are getting: generations of future customers. Google makes $30 per device by selling management services for the millions of Chromebooks that ship to schools. But by habituating students to its offerings at a young age, Google obtains something much more valuable.
Every year, several million American students graduate from high school. And not only does Google make it easy for those who have school Google accounts to upload their trove of school Gmail, Docs and other files to regular Google consumer accounts — but schools encourage them to do so.”
Take Steps to Protect Your Privacy
The bottom line is, you need to ask yourself what is it you want. Knowledge? Digital speed? Or privacy? Just remember, if you give up your privacy in the interest of convenience, Google, Facebook, Amazon and mobile networks will learn and then draw a line connecting what you want to what they have to offer.
They have spent decades learning how to discern your movements, track them and use the data for their own good. You’ll find what they are raking in, how they’re using it and simple steps you can use to protect your privacy in “Google — One of the Largest Monopolies in the World.”
Also, consider how you might protect your health from EMF exposure generated through your phones, Wi-Fi, clocks and microwave ovens. In “A Practical Guide to EMF Mitigation” I discuss what it is, how it harms your health and some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.