the european union's data protection regulation, which came into force in may 2018, allows anyone to request their data profiles from companies and organisations.
i used the opportunity to delve into the history of the formerly divided city of berlin and the role of the stasi (ministerium für staatssicherheit), the state security service, which was active in communist east germany (german democratic republic, gdr) between 1950 and 1990. the east german secret police gained a reputation for total surveillance as they had a file on almost one-third of east german citizens.
the journalist helge matthiesen writes though, that the surveillance undertaken by the stasi pales in comparison with the total surveillance of social media today: » the state security of the gdr was in [...] comparison an amateur troop with limited possibilities. facebook knows pretty much everything about many people. this goes into the most intimate areas of illness, family, sexual orientation and seductions. these possibilities of an overall social survey awakens the manipulators in politics. «
this may be true, but ulrich greveler, a professor of computer science, notes that » ... there is a significant difference between state-organized data collection points and the infrastructure of a social network: participation in facebook is voluntary. «
» nevertheless, in my opinion, it is still important to draw parallels between the stasi and social media, as in some countries such as china, the government is building a system that assesses the behavior of its residents in all walks of life. critics see this as a step towards total surveillance. « (axel dorloff / reporter, editor, moderator and daniel satra / reporter).