25 Nov ANTI-SOCIAL NETWORKS AND TECHNOFEUDALISM
Network services come at an increasingly high personal and societal cost. The internet’s egalitarian decentralised founding principles have fallen by the wayside and today’s “Big Tech” platforms are not a neutral exchange of information. Confidential “private” messages turn out to be not private at all. The corporate social network model is the opposite of secure. Instead, it’s an engine for profit from the so-called attention economy: for captivating and perpetuating the user’s attention.
Algorithms decide everything you see. Every selection, every response – even down to the fine grain movement of your eyes – is recorded. Data is extracted on every conceivable metric, parsed and selectively sold to advertisers and influence-brokering corporations. Meanwhile, everything is stored in vast data warehouses owned by government intelligence agencies, accessible to an oligarch-oligopoly of deep state elect.
Platforms are designed to be free and universal but in fact Big Tech – and its surrogates – create fine-grained personal profiles that include ideological, relational and other deeply personal matters. Social media platforms serve to silo consumers in information-restricted echo chambers, as clusters of data-emergent shared prejudice, to be targeted, to best monetise and most effectively direct user behaviour.
Exploiting the attention economy creates constant pressure on the algorithms to channel users towards extreme, lowest common denominator groups, atomising us rather than bringing is together. In the name of profit and control, the forces of business and politics have converged on an unholy “winner takes all” monoculture, on evolving its clustering methodology to seek out and extirpate anyone not signalling enough virtue (loyalty) to the dominant neoliberal-identarian ideology.
The so-called social networks might more correctly be called an anti-social networks and if society can’t come up with a solution to the monstrous technofeudalism of big tech-plutocracy, we’re all fucked. Rich, middle class or precariat, it won’t matter. Nobody is safe from the tendrils of technology.
If there’s no organised, informed, ideologically cutting edge community pushing back on the technofeudal inertia, we face a future trapped – and crushed – between Authoritarian Scylla (China) and Totalitarian Charybdis (America/the West).