When we look for a new jacket on ASOS and then find it again minutes later on our Facebook feed, everyone realises that we are being watched. People have noticed by now that if they visited a place like a restaurant or a shop, this would later appear as sponsored content on their feed. This is usually considered as “creepy”, but of course they don’t stop using Facebook for this reason. We live in a world where the love for the Internet goes beyond the concern for our privacy. The fact that our society accepts the process of “monitoring and being monitored” reflects the selfishness of this generation; as long as they are receiving something, everything is allowed.
This do ut des helps the journalist understand what the public wants, given that a huge chunk of the younger generation gets the news from Facebook, the clicks reflect what they want to read, therefore what can make more money. If you see the comments under some of the posts about the Kardashians, you will notice people complaining about how overexposed they are and that no one cares about them. It is obvious that the media noticed how much they can make out of them (clickbait included) and those kind of numbers have made every outlet convert to covering stories about them. The downsides of this Surveillance Society from a journalistic point of view are echoed in investigative journalisms, protecting the sources has never been harder.
From the News of the World phone hacking scandal to something that might be more subjective like Edward Snowden, the line between a normal investigation like what might have been the ones of The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team and the modern ones has been crossed. Some outlets have no problems in writing about celebrities whose phones have been hacked, so this also comes down to an ethical problem.
This is the era of being aware that we are constantly watched, but not being able to escape from it. It feels as if this is only a plausible consequence for having all these possibilities online, but it shouldn’t be acceptable.