As Jeremy Bentham proposed in his Panopticon; or The Inspection House (1787), a model for efficient prison and neighbourhood control would be the panopticon. The intention of the design of the panoptic structure was to be an architectural algorithm that could be used in prisons, schools, cities, and factories for reinforcing a system of social control. Bentham argued that those inside the panopticon should always think they are under inspection at any time. It is important “that the persons to be inspected should always feel themselves as if under inspection, at least as standing a great chance of being so” (Bentham, 1843: 44).

Bentham believed the panopticon could extend beyond the prison to be used to help control cities and businesses. In the past decades, the Internet has become a structure that is inherently similar to the panopticon. Facebook is an example of how social media has become a form of panopticon in our life.

Mark Zuckerberg is the person who created Facebook. According to Fact Zone, a news television program said that Mark is the Director of CIA’s Facebook Program. Facebook was first conceived as part of Patriot act in an CIA ceremony where they were honoring those who gave their life for serving their country. Christopher Stravinsky, deputy CIA Director state, “Facebook It’s true a dream come true for the CIA”. People willingly publicize where they live, their religious and political views, who are their friends, e-mails, phone numbers, and hundreds of photos of themselves. People also show their status updates of what they were doing moment to moment.

The social media somehow has transformed how we work, play, and communicate. People spend hours each day in the Internet where service providers can observe their customers’ online activities at any time without the customers’ knowledge. With wireless technology, the Internet can be viewed from almost anywhere on the planet. With an Internet panopticon model the social totality comes to function as the hierarchical and disciplinary panoptic machine.

            The integration of supervision and normalizations could help to provide an examination process of Internet users by those who choose to do the observing. The justification of supervision and normalizations would be to protect people from copyright violations, terrorists, or crackers. However, monitoring could also be a freelance activity, in which individuals monitor others for pay. With the plethora of hacking tools available to Internet users, it is arguable that certain individuals already have the ability to monitor online interaction and collect massive amounts of private information.

Many online companies such as American Airlines openly admit to monitoring all transactions in order to make their service family oriented. American Online has their own customers observe other customers in exchange for services. Using the inherent elements of the Internet, and employing the principles of a panoptic structure, the Internet could be used as an information gateway that would allow a governing body the ability to maintain a powerful grip on the flow of information that travels through the Internet. A tight form of social control could be exercised over those who choose to use the Internet as a main source of information, communication, research, product purchasing, and community building.

            The Internet can become a cultural necessity if people believe that the Internet is the best way to communicate, consume information, or consume products. If individuals use the Internet as a primary source to communicate, read the daily news, buy products, or download a movie, then the Internet becomes a cultural necessity. If the classic institutions of information dissemination such as newspaper, radio, and television, continue to choose the Internet as a preferred vehicle for their distribution of information, the Internet may become the main source for many societies to disseminate cultural information. Further, the implementation of the panopticon model may be perceived by users as a necessity if they are convinced that such a structure would protect them or make their transactions online more efficient. According to Holohan (2000), “the UCLA Internet Report found that over 67% of the study’s users think that the Internet is an important or extremely important source of information” (Holohan, 2000: 1).

In order for a society to request the existence of an Internet panopticon model, it is important that the model is perceived to be socially legitimate. According to Berger and Luckmann (1966), in order for structures to become culturally legitimate a system of ideas and symbolic representations needs to be created that supports the oppressive structure. “Incipient legitimation is present as soon as a system of linguistic objectifications of human experience is transmitted” (Berger and Luckmann, 1966: 94). Through pop art technology, legitimation takes place by means of symbolic totalities. The symbolic universe used by pop culture elements can allow a panopticon model to look desirable to many Internet users.

Only those that refuse to use the technology will be free from being observed. In this case of Facebook being a form of panopticon, we can choose whether we want them to take control of our privacy, or we take action and delete our Facebook account so we can prevent them from stealing our personal information. Every time that we use a free service or social media, we need to agree to their terms and conditions, and we are letting them to access to all our records for free. We have to keep present that the information that we provide to them can be used in any matters. For example, for agencies advertisements, customer’s studies, or they can even use it for legal investigation. I will encourage to think before we publish any information that may affect us in the future. From this way we will avoid been exposed to people that somehow can harm either our self or our love ones.


Bentham, J. (1843). Works. (Eds.). Bowring. Endinburgh: William Tait. 

Holohan, M. (August, 16 2000). Users Trust Information on Internet, UCLA Study Shows. 

Berger, P., L. & Luckmann, T. (1966). The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in 

The Sociology of Knowledge. New York: Doubleday.