Julian Assange at SXSW: ‘People Are Products Sold to Advertisers’

Picture: Espen Moe (CC)

Picture: Espen Moe (CC)

Julian Assange Skyped into music and culture festival South by Southwest to address the masses. He had some choice words for interviewer Benjamin Palmer of digital advertising firm the Barbarian Group.

Industry site AdAge reported that Assange was referring to Google when he made the comment, but I can’t help to wonder if he had meant to include the Barbarian Group, as well as SXSW’s ubiquitous corporate sponsors. He also made some other interesting comments about the NSA and the “military occupation of the internet,” which you can read here.

I found one full video of the event, and I can’t guarantee it will be live for very long. It’s after the jump. Watch it while you can


It was still one of the more interesting and different sessions for SXSW attendees, who thus far have been inundated as expected with expensive and often pointless brand activations. Mr. Assange’s assertion that “people are products sold to advertisers” when talking about Google wasn’t necessarily a new one, for example, but it stood out amid the more typical fare.

Mr. Assange also touched on the nature of public perception, arguing that an organization like the National Security Agency doesn’t necessarily need to delivery on total information awareness — it just needs to make people think that it has unfettered power. “The perception of the ability to strike back, that’s all that’s needed to rule,” he said. “They don’t need to be able to kill you, but make you think they’re able to kill you.”

Keep reading.

2 Comments on "Julian Assange at SXSW: ‘People Are Products Sold to Advertisers’"

  1. Chaos_Dynamics | Mar 10, 2014 at 9:32 am |

    Dear AdAge:

    Put on your Heaven’s Gate Nike’s and prepare a batch of Jonestown koolaid.


    Just do it.

  2. erte4wt4etrg | Mar 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm |

    Reminds me of ‘The junk merchant doesn’t sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product. He does not improve & simplify his merchandise, he degrades & simplifies the client.’ William Burroughs

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