apple and facebook

Sculpture José Resende / Latin America Memorial, São Paulo/ photo: Christiana Carvalho
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By FRANCISCO LOUÇA*

The war between Apple and Facebook is a cannon volley against control technology

In your remarkable book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff recalls the Edict of 1513 of the kings of Spain, which determined that, upon arrival, soldiers would have to read a “Requerimiento” to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, asking them if they agreed to submit: “We declare that it is known to all that God is one and indivisible, there is only one hope, one only King of Castile, owner of these lands: manifest yourself without delay, and swear allegiance to the Spanish king, as his vassals.” The silence of those who ignored the language of these strange soldiers dressed in iron was taken as an assent and authorization for possession, or as a refusal and a signal for destruction, which was the same thing. Thus, the genocide claimed the legal foundation of a contractual authorization.

Zuboff suggests that the big internet companies behave like the Spanish conquerors, reading us a “Requerimiento” that is written in an unknown language and invokes an impregnable magic. By remaining silent, we accept giving up our data, letting our lives be watched and wrapping ourselves in communication bubbles that constitute human hives, subject to the laws of accumulation. We are not the product of this trade, we are the creators of an information surplus that is transformed into profit by manipulation machines. If so, the war between Apple and Facebook is a cannonball against control technology.

wonderful pandemic

The five largest communication companies grew 46% in 2020. They are now worth 7,2 billion dollars. This abundance culminates a path of success: Apple is the biggest company in the world and, for the past four years, more than 90% of the increase in advertising has been in the hands of Google and Facebook. These giants are reshaping society, creating information technologies based on data about our lives, access, consumption, travel and conversations. They use images, emails, locations, purchase records, to let them know that we are fans of FC Porto or Simpsons fans, and to create tastes according to instrumental standards that are gradually refined. As in Conquista, this is facilitated by the concession to permissive laws, authorized cookies or incomprehensible forms that we subscribe to with the deception that the services are free.

For this reason, Apple's decision to allow users to block data traffic from 2021 onwards angered Facebook which, with Google, has been the engine of this Achievement. It is true that some and others resort to similar practices: FB bought WhatsApp and Instagram to prevent potential competitors (and that is why there is a process to separate the companies); Apple applies predatory fees to application providers (which is why it clashed with the creators of the “Fortnite” game, Epic Games). But Apple relies on device sales and is lagging behind in this data mining industry, while its rivals need it. For this reason, FB wants to prevent us from blocking its data plundering business: Zuckerberg, not by chance an ally of Trump, launched a campaign to “give small businesses a voice”, in reality to protect their maximized access to the Internet. control technology.

MAD

During the Cold War, the threat of nuclear holocaust was undervalued by its potential MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction, in the English acronym). Also in this war between Apple and FB there is a MAD border, as these companies are linked to each other. Google pays Apple more than $10 billion annually to operate on its mobile phones and computers; FB needs them too. We still don't have a single provider of devices, services and networks. There is therefore an agreement between them that survives the competition, they want the internet to be the biggest market in the world. There are no innocents in this war, all these companies want to dominate. But there are also disaffected Indians.

So perhaps this Apple-FB conflict is a sign of the times, there is a public opinion that makes demands for protection against Conquest. The Indians started to translate the “Requerimiento” and they don't like what is written.

*Francisco Louçã he was coordinator of the Left Bloc (2005-2012, Portugal). Author, among other books, of The Curse of Midas – The Culture of Late Capitalism (Lark).

Originally published on the website left.net.

 

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