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Online Discussion #3 – Globalization & Surveillance in Online Spaces

For your 3rd online discussion, you will analyze how our interactions in online spaces demonstrate how we live in an increasingly globalized world. Or, you can examine how surveillance operates in online spaces, using evidence from Chapter 3: “Welcome to the Machine” by Timothy Erik Ström.

Background Information

Ström (2020) focuses on the rise of Google, a tech-titan that has become “the world’s number one website” (p. 70). As Ström (2020) notes, Google is “a central institution of global communication and control” (p. 70). In Chapter 3, you learn about the internet’s military origins and the ties that Google has with the National Security Administration (NSA). Google is able to maintain dominance as a search engine by using sophisticated algorithms to create relationships between websites and rank their relative importance in an effective way. In the early days, Google received funding from investors tied to the Department of Defense and the CIA, and today, much of their financial success is built on their text advertisements and search engine results. We know that Google is tool of surveillance because of their ties to the National Security Administration (NSA) and the vast amount of data that they have on people all across the world. The data they collect allows Google to created targeted ads unique to each individual, extracting more and more profit from each of us.

Clearly, there is a dark side to this level of control in the vast landscape of the internet. As Ström (2020) notes, “one can argue that we “are not Google’s customers: we are its product. We–our fancies, fetiches, predilections, and preferences–are what Google sells to advertisers. When we use Google to find out things on the Web, Google uses of Web searches to find out things about us” (p. 80). So, Google has a lot of information about us, and they can use this information to manipulate us into buying products, services, and other resources. Data privacy should be a concern to all of us, because in a worst-case scenario, our data could be used against us in even more nefarious ways.

However, this is a condition that many of us accept, because the rewards of engaging with the internet are also great. We can use the internet to connect with other people that we might never otherwise know–people who live in vastly different geographic regions, cultures, and societies than us. We can also obtain an education online, become politicized, and perform many works duties remotely from anywhere in the world with relative ease. We are also able to receive news rapidly, which can enhance our lives in a variety of ways. Clearly, the internet has also revolutionized our ability to communicate quickly across various channels and find entertainment. But, what is the personal cost of our online engagement? Is our online engagement worth the privacy concerns that come with voluntarily putting out data out in the open? How have globalized online spaces have been detrimental to our democracy? Does the internet contribute to the political polarization in our world today? If so, how? Should we worry about surveillance online, and find better ways to protect our data privacy? Also, how does the internet become a toxic space through cyberbullying, trolling, doxxing, and other security concerns like identity theft and predatory behaviors? These are all questions worth exploring in today’s internet-saturated world.

Guiding Questions for Original Post (Part I)

Considering all the benefits and drawbacks of the internet, and the power of companies like Google, please reflect upon the questions below. In your original post for this discussion, please respond to at least 2 of the questions below, using evidence, examples, and citations from at least one class textbook to support your ideas:

  • In what ways are the National Security Administration (NSA) and Google interconnected? Should this relationship concern us? Why or why not? In your response, considering providing background about the 2013 NSA data leaks by Edward Snowden, and reveal how data privacy continues to be a concern today.
  • What risks do you think exist to data privacy in today’s world? Be specific and list some examples.
  • What practices do you employ to keep your own data safe? For example, do you use a VPN, private browsing, encrypted data, and anti-virus software?
  • How has the internet, and search engines like Google helped to facilitate globalization? Be specific and lists some examples.
  • According to Ström, how does Google operate as a tool of surveillance? Be specific and list some examples.
  • How does the internet represent a potential threat to our democracy? In what ways did the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the firm Civis Analytica influence previous elections?
  • How does the internet contribute to growing political polarization? Be specific and give examples.
  • What are the benefits and risks of online engagement?
  • Do you agree that Google and other tech-titans are changing human consciousness itself? Why or why not?

(Write an original post between 150-250 words in length. You may go over 250 words, but please try to stay as close to this range as possible)

Guiding Questions for Replies to Classmates (Part II)

Finally, please comment on the posts of at least 2 of your classmates. In your replies to other students, identify what you like about their response. Note if you have any common understandings of these concepts. Make parallels between the ideas of your classmates and your own. If you learned something new from a classmate, be sure to note this in your reply. Be sure to be detailed, specific, and remain on topic. Be sure to provide strong rationale for your replies, and to meet the length requirements.

(Write 2 replies to 2 separate classmates. Use at least 75 words in each reply. You may go over 75 words for each reply, but please try to stay as close to this range as possible)

Netiquette Guidelines

Be sure to follow SDCCD Netiquette Guidelines in your original post and your replies to other students. It is also expected that you go beyond stating opinions and use information from the textbook and other reliable academic research sources to back up your ideas. Of course, as stated previously, you must ensure that you cite any outside information that you use to guide your responses.

Citation Guidelines

Note: it is not required that you use outside sources, but I do ask that you incorporate information from at least one of our class textbooks in your post. When you do this, please use APA in-text citations and references.

If you do outside research for this discussion, it is expected that you use citations. When you summarize, paraphrase, or include quotes from the textbook, supplemental readings, internet sites, or other outside materials in your response, be sure to cite your sources with in-text citations & a references list in APA style. If you do not do this, you will lose points on your post.

If you are citing information from your Ström textbook, here is how you can do this in APA style:

  • In-text citations for direct quotes: (Ström, 2020, p. 80).
  • In-text citations if paraphrasing/summarizing: (Ström, 2020).
  • References (to list at the end of your entry): Ström, T. E. (2020). Globalization & surveillance. Rowman & Littlefield.

If you are citing information from your Steger textbook, here is how you can do this in APA style:

  • In-text citations for direct quotes: (Steger, 2020, p. 40).
  • In-text citations if paraphrasing/summarizing: (Steger, 2020).
  • References (to list at the end of your entry): Steger, M. B. (2020). Globalization: A very short introduction, 5th edition. Oxford University Press.

If you are using an electronic version of the textbook without page numbers, feel free to just cite the Chapter for Summary, and the Chapter + Paragraph # for direct quotes:

  • In-text citations for direct quotes: (Ström, 2020, Chapter 3, para. 10).
  • In-text citations if paraphrasing/summarizing: (Ström, 2020, Chapter 3).
  • References (to list at the end of your entry): Ström, T. E. (2020). Globalization & surveillance. Rowman & Littlefield.

Follow a similar model for citing any supplemental readings or outside sources. If you have questions about how to implement proper citations, you can revisit the APA Citations Module from Week 1. Note: you can also simply model your in-text citations and references after the ones I’ve included in the Instructor Summaries, located in the Modules.

Scoring Guidelines

This discussion is worth 20 points total. You can receive up to 15 points for writing a 150-250 word post by clicking “Reply” at the bottom of this screen and posting your original discussion entry. Then, you can receive up to 5 points for successful completion of Part II, and responding to at least 2 posts from your classmates. In order to receive full points, you must meet the length requirements and thoughtful and respectfully respond to the required amount of questions in the prompt. For more information, you can view the Discussion Rubric at the bottom of the page, or by clicking on the icon at the top of the page that looks like this:

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