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Top 5 tech conspiracies: Do you believe?
As it turns out, Britain is a nation of cynical thinkers who don’t believe everything they’re told. Recently, we delved into the world of conspiracies, asking 1,000 Brits which theories they believed in before taking a deeper look to see what we could discover.
We found out that almost half of Brits don’t think everything is how it seems, with 46% believing in conspiracy theories. 36% are on the fence with them, not sure whether they believe or not, leaving only 18% of Brits dead sure they’re not real.
Marlon Solomon, conspiracy theory blogger, comments on a possible reason why people like to believe in conspiracy theories: “Conspiracy theories are empowering. If we know that there's a small shadowy cabal of people, orchestrating every significant event that we see, and we carry this knowledge as part of an exclusive club who've been able figured this out, then we feel empowered. We feel good about ourselves. It's a comfort, bringing instant meaning and narrative to our chaotic lives. It elevates us above ordinary mere mortals - the sheeple - and imbues us with a sense of purpose and belonging.”
We took a look at the top 5 tech conspiracies to find out what’s really getting Brits thinking.
Google is watching you It’s actually a proven fact that Google holds data about your location, your searches, your emails, your preferences, and just about everything you’ve ever clicked on.
However, 35% of Brits think Google is watching their every move – even outside of their phones. Whether it be through public surveillance, or through the microphones on your phone – according to conspiracy theorists you can’t do anything without Google knowing.
Google claim it only holds data about what you do within the service – which is still almost everything you do online. And while the company has never said anything about watching you outside of this realm, many of us still remain unsure.
Your phone is killing you slowly in your sleep 18% of Brits believe that sleeping near your phone at night is bad for your health. According to this conspiracy theory, our smartphones are emitting radio frequencies that can lead to brain tumours.
Apparently, as our phones send and receive signals from phone towers, they’re emitting harmful and dangerous radio frequency energy that can cause cancer. It’s said this effect worsens when your phone has low signal, as it’s sending out more radio frequency energy to boost the connection.
Though scientists have failed to establish a connection between mobile phones and cancer as of yet, according to Cancer Research UK incidences of cancer have increased 13% since the early 1990’s. Many people believe sleeping near your phone could be the cause.
Instagram is listening to your conversations Have you ever been talking about something, for it to just randomly appear on your Instagram feed? Perhaps you’ve chatted with a friend about visiting a certain restaurant, or you’ve told your partner that you need to buy some new clothes, just to scroll through Instagram and find advertisements for the exact products or businesses you’d been talking about?
Well, you’re not alone. 18% of Brits think Instagram listens to their conversations through the microphones on their devices, picking up information about what to advertise to you.
It’s actually such a widespread concern that Marc Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (which is now the parent company of Instagram) had to address the issue during a congressional hearing about privacy in 2018. The company claims that ads are in fact generated through what it learns about your preferences through your use of the app.
Instagram claim they only use data gathered from what you’ve liked on Instagram, the personal information you’ve shared with the app, your location, activity with friends and family, in-app purchases and what kind of content you upload – which may be equally as eerie to think about.
The government are spying on you through your front camera 1 in 5 Brits are sure that the government is spying on them through the front-facing cameras and webcams on their laptops, computers, phones and tablets. It’s actually such a common conspiracy that there’s thousands of memes online about FBI agents watching your every move through your cameras.
It can be argued that the conspiracy really ignited during 2013 when the Washington Post revealed the FBI does in fact have to ability to activate webcams for investigations with due permission from a judge.
Many conspiracy theorists believe that you may not know if you’re under investigation and are being spied on through your phone, and others argue they may not really need permission at all.
The 10-year challenge has helped the government develop facial recognition The 10-year challenge was a popular social media trend that involved posting a picture of yourself from 10 years ago, alongside a recent photo that shows what you look like now. The challenge was meant to make people reflect on the changes in their own appearance over the years, and to see whether or not you’ve experienced a ‘glow up’.
However, many people questioned whether this was just a manufactured campaign designed to aid tech companies and the government in developing facial recognition – including almost 1 in 10 Brits (9%). Many speculated that with recent developments in facial recognition technology – which is used in surveillance – it would be a perfect ploy to teach recognition algorithms about aging, making it even more accurate.
Facebook released a statement claiming that this was a user-generated trend that went viral on its own accord and posed no benefits to the social media platform.