This is how we end up with a neofeudal society that benefits the Protected Few at the expense of the powerless, exploited Many.
Blow-out earnings from Facebook and Amazon have cheered Wall Street, but institutional owners might want to focus not just on blow-out earnings but rising blowback against the tech superpowers (Facebook, Google and Amazon).
The blowback is social and political: people are starting to question the social and political costs of these tech darlings’ dominance and the billions in profits they reap.
The typical corporation can buy political influence, but Facebook and Google are manipulating the machinery of democracy itself. That’s a much more dangerous type of power than buying political influence or manipulating public opinion by openly publishing biased “news.”
We all understand how Corporate Media undermines democracy: recall how every time Bernie Sanders won a Democratic primary in 2016, The New York Times and The Washington Post “reported” the news in small typeface in a sidebar, while every Hillary Clinton primary win was trumpeted in large headlines at the top of page one.
But this sort of manipulation is visible; what Google and Facebook do is invisible. I recently addressed these invisible (but oh-so profitable) mechanisms in a series of essays:
- How Far Down the Big Data/’Psychographic Microtargeting’ Rabbit Hole Do You Want to Go?
- Is Profit-Maximizing Data-Mining Undermining Democracy?
- Should Facebook, Google and Twitter Be Public Utilities?
- Should Facebook and Google Pay Users When They Sell Data Collected from Users?
Here’s a selection of recent articles on related topics:
- Research Shows Google’s Search Manipulations Tried To Rig Election For Hillary
- Google’s File On You Is 10 Times Bigger Than Facebook’s – Here’s How To View It
- Don’t Fix Facebook. Replace It. (The New York Times)
- The Infuriating Innocence of Mark Zuckerberg (The New Yorker)
Amazon is the embodiment of numerous destructive dynamics: