What does Black Mirror teach us about privacy and security?


Some forms of entertainment touch upon the fantastical and far-fetched, while others are rooted in reality. What makes the Netflix series Black Mirror so captivating to audiences around the world is that it has elements of both.

Black Mirror takes modern day societal and technological issues and pushes them to the extreme. It’s a bleak commentary on how people use technology and how it uses them at the same time. The many things that happen throughout the series don’t or won’t necessarily happen in real life. But they do pose an intriguing look at developing norms and touch on the dangerous “side-effects” of technological advancement.

One of the central themes that Black Mirror highlights is the risk that technology poses to personal privacy and online safety. The scenes and setup might be surreal for dramatic effect, but the core message is valid and reflects real concerns.

So here’s a look at Black Mirror’s take on cybersecurity and privacy, and how that’s rooted in reality.

3 Times Black Mirror Highlighted Real-Life Security Concerns

The series might leave viewers feeling doom and gloom after each episode, but it’s not all negative. These days internet users are more digitally conscious than ever and take steps to protect themselves. Luckily, we don’t live in some dystopian world (yet!), and there’s still time to do something about it.

Black Mirror Season 5 screenshot with Miley Cyrus privacy
Black Mirror Season 5 debuts in June.

***WARNING: Spoilers ahead.***

1. The Entire History of You

In the episode:

People have implants that record everything they see, hear, and do. This allows them to play back their memories, either for themselves or others. This can lead to joy. But it also leads to a lot of paranoia and heartache between a couple when past secrets come to light. Often forcefully.

In real life:

People might not have implants, but they do have mobile phones. Which they carry around with them everywhere and share a lot of personal information on. It’s not unusual for spouses to become suspicious and invade each other’s privacy by looking through their phones. Some even go so far as installing tracking software without their partner’s knowledge.

Unfortunately, this is a part of sharing so much through digital media. People can mitigate the risks by using strong passwords, but ultimately, once shared, the risk is always there.

2. Shut Up and Dance

In the episode:

This episode of Black Mirror features hackers that use a fake anti-malware tool to gain access to people’s devices. They then record private or illicit acts through the device’s camera. The hackers use the threat of exposing these recordings to force people into doing certain things. Unfortunately for them, these hackers end up ruining their lives by releasing that information despite their compliance.

In real life:

Hackers are a very real and pervasive threat that has been plaguing humanity for several years now. While companies and businesses are the main targets, no one is safe from this threat. Cyberattacks are more common, and the attackers are always seeking out new ways to steal people’s personal data.

People are taking steps to make themselves less noticeable. One solution is to follow online cybersecurity trends. Another is to use a VPN, which has become popular thanks to the many benefits it offers. The strong encryption and privacy provided by a VPN are alluring. But keep in mind that nothing is infallible and there’s no one catch-all solution to this problem.

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3. Hated in the Nation

In the episode:

Hackers take control of artificial bee drones that were initially created to battle the decrease in the bee population. They then use these bee drones to kill the person that received the most mentions in the ‘DeathTo’ hashtag on social media each day.

In real life:

Numerous celebrities, journalists, and regular social media users have received death threats from other individuals on the internet. It usually never goes further than heated words on a screen, but there have been cases of real-world harm. People have been attacked, businesses targeted, and jobs lost.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to find someone online these days. Whether it’s via hacking or simple online sleuthing. Cybersecurity experts have warned people not to reveal their locations, and to take care of their devices. By following proper online security tips, like not opening unsolicited attachments, they can avoid being infected by some hacker’s malware.

Miley Cyrus in Black Mirror Season 5
Black Mirror Season 5 features Miley Cyrus.

In Conclusion

These are only three Black Mirror episodes out of many that touch on the various risks technology poses. It’s a brilliant review of modern society’s flaws thanks to an overdependence on technology. We have a lot to learn about cybersecurity from this TV show. It’s best not to wait for something terrible to happen and make sure you’re protected right now.

What do you think of Black Mirror? What do you think of the state of privacy and security today? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.

Last Updated on February 3, 2021.


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