No one can pretend Facebook is just harmless fun any more

No one can pretend Facebook is just harmless fun any more, by Ellie Mae O’Hagan in the Guardian.

We have now reached the point where an unaccountable private corporation is holding detailed data on over a quarter of the world’s population. …

According to Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook, the company uses techniques found in propaganda and casino gambling to foster psychological addiction in its users – such as constant notifications and variable rewards. By keeping us hooked, Facebook is able to hold a huge amount of data on us. What is surprising, and worrying, is the derived data Facebook has – the profiles it can build of its users based on seemingly innocuous information. The author of the book Networks of Control, Wolfie Christl, noted that a patent published by Facebook works out people’s commute times by using location data from mobile apps. It then uses this and other data to segregate users into social classes.

Facebook’s massive data cache goes hand in hand with its acquisition of competitors. Nick Srnicek, author of Platform Capitalism, says, “Facebook is acting like a classic monopoly: it’s buying up competitors like Instagram, it’s blatantly copying rivals like Snapchat, and it even has its own app, Onavo, that acts to warn them of potential threats. All of this is combined with an unchecked sweeping up of our data that’s being used to build an impervious moat around its business.”

Now that Facebook is implicated in the Trump election, lefties too have gone anti-Facebook. Basically the political establishment has just worked out how influential Facebook is in politics, so something must be done to defang it.

Perhaps Facebook has been breaking some laws that didn’t used to matter but now suddenly seem relevant? After all, there are so many laws that everyone breaks the law several times a day it seems. How can the political establishment bring Facebook to heel?