On the planet, at this moment, half of the people are connected to 1 of the 5 companies that have the largest number of Internet accounts.
And almost all of us trust them, without even asking ourselves what terms and conditions we accept: the “Club of 5” is today more powerful than ever.
He conquered the world as the great powers did in past centuries, but they exchanged armies for silicon and colonies for data: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple dominate the globe and gave their owners immense fortunes.
What type of society is being built around the philosophy of these companies and their business models?
Natalia Zuazo, a journalist specialized in technopolitics, tried to ask Facebook how the system works by means of which it shows its news on the wall. The blessed “algorithm”: that word we all repeat without being completely clear what it is and with obvious suspicions about how it works.
Cordially, Zuazo was receiving one excuse after another. First for weeks. Then, months. Until he realized they would never answer him.
They do not give official information. The influencers who work with them and the journalists who are friends with them, they give them. To be monetized, he tells Oracle Tribune.
Why so much mystery? Because the “Club of 5” wants to make a better world for all under a philanthropic motto that acts as a common denominator in their speeches, but the monopolies they have built begin to generate certain suspicions.
Today 8 great millionaires concentrate the same wealth as half of the world’s population. And 4 are owners of technology companies: Bill Gates of Microsoft, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Larry Ellison of Oracle.
Larry Page and Sergei Brin from Google, Steve Ballmer from Microsoft, Jack Ma from Alibaba and Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs (Apple), are not far behind.
“But if technology does not work for more people to live in a dignified way, then something is failing,” Zuazo reflects, addressing the issue in The Internet Owners (Debate, 192 pages, 299 pesos).
The control of Google’s data, Facebook’s lack of transparency on news handling, Uber’s labor and urban conflicts, and the commercial impact of giants like Amazon set off the first serious alarms.
─You ask “what would happen if the truly powerful were transparent”. Are not they from their terms and conditions that, according to a study that you quote, almost nobody reads?
Yes, there is something of that. But it is the 2 parties that are involved. I believe that we forgive more these big companies or we have more confidence. And this is because of the marketing, advertising and magic that they sell us. But the Cambridge Analytica case began to arouse concern.
─You speak of a “utopia” of the “Club of 5”. How important were those left on the road, such as Yahoo, AOL or MySpace?
─Much, because some of them were bought to form the current monopolies. The current scheme has this paradox: on the one hand they are negative in terms of the market, like any monopoly for the user, but for some reason the platforms are in that place; they are the best Yahoo mail was not as efficient as Gmail. In that kind of thing is the answer to success. But being so big implies a great risk and we have lost the courage to ask these companies to work together in accordance with social objectives when using our information.