If you feel you are being watched, you change your behavior.

Big Data is supercharging this effect.

This could limit your desire to take risks or exercise free speech.

Over the long term these 'chilling effects' could 'cool down' society.

Your data is turned into thousands of different scores.

There are stars behind the cloud:

Databrokers compare your data to the data of people they know more about. By comparing the patterns they try to guess the likelihood of thousands of details that you may never have disclosed. These are actual examples:
Rape victim
Into dieting
Into gardening
Number of online friends
Number of real friends
Political views
Had abortion
Projected sexual orientation
Real sexual orientation
Potential inheritor
Reads magazines on travel
Reads books on travel
Planning to have a baby
Communication device preference
Has house plants
Date of Birth
Into Fashion
Parents divorced before the age of 21
Economic stability
Year house built
Smoker in the household
Has 'senior needs'
Has 'diabetic focus'
Easily addictable
Physical frailty
Gun owner
Adult 'empty nester'
Education level
Runs marathons

People are starting to realize that this 'digital reputation' could limit their opportunities.

And that these algorithms are often biased, and built on bad data.

People are changing their behavior to get better scores.

Social Cooling is a name for the long-term negative side effects of living in a reputation economy:


A culture of conformity

Have you ever hesitated to click on a link because you thought your visit might be logged, and it could look bad?

More and more people feel this pressure, and they are starting to apply self-censorship.



A culture of risk-aversion

When doctors in New York were given scores this had unexpected results.

Doctors that tried to help advanced cancer patients had a higher mortality rate, which translated into a lower score.

Doctors that didn't try to help were rewarded with high scores, even though their patients died prematurely.

Rating systems can create unwanted incentives, and increase pressure to conform to a bureaucratic average.


Increased social rigidity

Digital reputation systems are limiting our ability and our will to protest injustice.

In China each adult citizen is getting a government mandated "social credit score". This represents how well behaved they are, and is based on crime records, what they say on social media, what they buy, and even the scores of their friends.


If you have a low score you can't get a government job, visa, or cheap loan.

Social pressure is the most powerful and most subtle form of control.

Social Pressure

As our weaknesses are mapped, we are becoming too transparent.This is breeding a society where self-censorship and risk-aversion are the new normal.

We've had credit ratings before. But this is a whole new scale, with an incredible level of automation, integration and accessibility.

Can we still forgive and forget?

When algorithms judge everything we do, we need to protect the right to make mistakes.

When everything is remembered as big data, we need the right to have our mistakes forgotten.

In our data driven world. Privacy is the right to be human.

text sourced from https://www.socialcooling.com/ - under a CC-BY 4.0 License.