Possibly the most explosive TED talk I’ve seen: TED2019: Carole Cadwalladr: Facebook’s role in Brexit – and the threat to democracy

Ms Cadwalladr and her investigations may be the most important of a generation. Her work has exposed the workings of the machine that seeks to manipulate democracy, the tower at centre of the panopticon we all live in. A panopticon is a circular prison with cells that have glass walls. Prisoners can be watched from a central tower. Compliance is teased from its tenants because they never know when they’re being watched. Michel Foucault used it as a metaphor to highlight the way power, since the destruction of absolute monarchies, has sought to hide itself from view. If there is no focus for our anger, it’s impossible to remove the cause of our pain. If we are all tenants in the panopticon, Facebook have made themselves the watchers, stressing us into compliance. My question is, who pays the watcher? Because who pays the watcher calls the shots. The biggest obstacle to finding that, is what we see when we look inwards; a looming black tower, and our own reflection in the glass. We need to find ways to get a light into that tower. Ms Cadwalladr has gone some way to doing that. With the help of whistleblower Christopher Wylie, she was able to expose a small part of the towers mechanism, how the various platforms, stairs, landings, and corridors link. There are still questions to be answered. Where do the corridors lead, and who is behind the various doors of the labyrinthine maze? I have theories. I’m sure Ms Cadwalladr does. I just hope she keeps looking. We all need her answers. When she does, we as tenants of the panopticon, have to decide what we do with her revelations. Keeping in mind that the structure is designed to keep us staring like Narcissus at our own reflection. Do we have the will to see past our own image, through the structure of the tower, to what is hidden within? It will take great effort to see the tower. It will take even more to see what is within. Do we have the will to see it all? I think we have to.

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