Are Facebook and Google the New Colonial Powers?
To qualify as colonial powers, Facebook and Google must effectively limit the choices and power of users, and punish or coerce those who question or resist their power.
I was struck by a phrase from a recent essay on advertising and social media, You Are the Product: As Taplin points out, that remark 'unwittingly revealed a previously unspoken truth: Facebook and Google are the new colonial powers.'
As you've no doubt noticed, the dominance of Facebook and Google in online advertising is now "in the news" for a variety of reasons: the possibility that agents of other governments influenced U.S. elections with media buys on Facebook; anti-trust concerns; the potential for these advert-tech giants to effectively silence legitimate online voices under the guise of limiting "fake news", and of course, the ongoing issues of click fraud and the underperformance of digital ads.
The phrase that captures this broad narrative is: When an online service is free, you're not the customer. You're the product.
In other words, if you're not paying for the service or content, then your information (harvested by Google, Facebook, et al.), your time online (i.e. your attention, a.k.a. eyeballs) and the content you create and post for free (videos of your cute cat, etc.) are the products being sold to advertisers at a premium.
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