Every American should be aware of the power and influence of the digital world. Gun owners need to be particularly careful, especially given the recent revelations of the bias displayed by various big-tech organizations.
Big Tech — from Google to Amazon to Facebook — is becoming more and more sophisticated every day. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing exponentially, which makes collection of data from you (and about you) faster, easier and more invasive.
‘GIG Brother’ Is Watching
You’ve probably noticed that every time you do a search for anything, you will soon see ads for similar or related products suddenly appear in pop-up ads. If you give your email address to a commercial site, you will also find that you receive periodic “Sale!” emails based on your searches within its site.
Big Tech is sharing everything you do across multiple platforms. Sometimes it’s for the purpose of marketing to you — but not always. Whistle-blowers from the search and social media worlds have testified to clear bias. More importantly, your political leanings are being analyzed by sophisticated, algorithm-driven AI programs.
But it goes further. The enormous computing power that now exists in the hands of only a few gigantic organizations can use AI to compare searches with posts on social media, including tweets and emails. Note how often in high-profile criminal and civil cases embarrassing posts wind up in the press … or worse, in court.
It doesn’t take a genius to see how such information could be used to tag you for investigation under some Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) or “red flag” law. Pay attention to what your home state may be doing to allow such transfer of private communications to local law enforcement or federal officials.
More on a personal level, you and I may want to give some serious thought to exercising good judgment when we are about to post anything online. What sounds like a joke to our friends may not be viewed the same way by law enforcement authorities.
Your Audience Is Bigger Than You Think
Make no mistake, I’m not suggesting that you cower in fear and abandon your free speech right to express your opinion. On the contrary, now more than ever, those of us who value our ability to protect ourselves need to speak up.
I’m just saying that it pays to remember that you are not just having a conversation with your BFF. You are talking, basically, to the world.
I might use some pretty colorful language when discussing the latest anti-gun proposal with my law enforcement and military friends at lunch. But what I might say to my Navy SEAL buddy in person is not how I would phrase my argument when being interviewed by a reporter from NPR. My arguments are the same and just as passionate, but I keep within the bounds of civil discourse and respect.
Likewise, when commenting on any online forum, we should always remind ourselves that it is no different from being on radio or TV. A whole host of people are listening, many of whom are hoping for a way to use our own words against us.
Be forthright, sure. Just employ language you’d be comfortable using in public because essentially, whenever you are in the digital world, you are in public. Be smart. Think before you post.
About John Caile
NRA Certified Instructor John Caile has more than 35 years of experience in the firearms industry, including training others in concealed carry and practical handgun shooting skills. As the communications director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, he was instrumental in passing Minnesota’s landmark concealed carry permit law. John has appeared on national talk radio and network and public television and is a contributing writer for Concealed Carry Magazine. He continues his lifelong activism for gun owners and their rights in Palm Coast, Florida.