March 19, 2019
Donald Trump Jr. is sounding the alarm, warning that if we do not stop Big Tech from shadow banning conservatives we’ll end up in the same boat as China and it’ll be our own damn fault. One problem: We’re already there.
The same day Trump published his warning – which despite the knee-jerk reactions brought on by his name actually mirrors the experience of most social media users who’ve ever expressed ideas counter to the mainstream – the Wall Street Journal suggested that insurers could be combing through customers’ social media profiles to determine their risk to the company.
Just kidding – insurers have been combing through social media profiles for so long that New York is already regulating the use of this information to supplement more traditional actuarial data. Next time your premiums go up after sharing photos of you skydiving while wrestling with a bear, you’ll know why.
“We’re going through a period now where most life insurers are exploring using all types of data, not just data they get directly from the customer proactively, but other external sources of data – social media being a big one,” McKinsey & Co. senior partner Ari Libarikian told the WSJ. Stripped of management-consultancy jargon – “proactively“? really? – he’s talking about insurers as miniature privatized surveillance states, hostile data miners hoping to use your behavioral patterns against you.
This is essentially what Trump is warning about, though he seems as afflicted as his fellow conservatives by a free-market myopia that lets corporations get away with murder until the wolves are at the door. It wouldn’t occur to him to take insurers to task for this behavior, even though he’s caught on to the evils of social media. And like his fellows on the political Right, Trump blames a monolithic “Left” for the censorship, lumping the aggressively…