Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, it may be remembered, rightly said, that the price of the freedom we can enjoy (understood in a negative sense) is its eternal vigilance.
This article is seeking to bring awareness to the reality that social media companies such as Facebook and Instagram may not always be free to use.
The price of Big Tech
Since version 14.5 of iOS, Apple’s operating system, issued a window in which the user was asked for authorization, so that Zuckerberg’s company could have access to the user’s personal browsing data and thus display advertising (according to them, so they would ensure that there was no need to “charge”).
That said, it is not the point to focus too much on a series of technical details of certain solutions, but to take advantage of this fact to deepen and understand the dynamics of the phenomenon of digitization, in which, day after day, we are digitized to a greater extent.
Data is the new oil
The engineering and economic impact of Big Data is quite palpable at this point. In fact, it is predicted that by 2022, according to data compiled by the Statista portal, it will be worth around seventy billion U.S. dollars globally.
We are talking about the economic substitute, in terms of subjective market value, of those hydrocarbon compounds that we know as oil. On top of that, we can ignore this as we become more and more dependent on the network of networks and generate greater volumes of data to be processed.
Since ancient times, large corporations such as Big Tech (Google, Facebook, Twitter…) have been involved in certain exchanges of user data for commercial purposes, regardless of the fact that, on the other hand, there is collusion with networks such as the Deep State.
Thanks to these operations, they are able to meet a large part of their budget availability, not to mention the benefit they derive from the fact that many entities, both private and governmental, use them to promote their products, events or, in general, their respective brands.
In fact, it should not be forgotten that many, for example, on web platforms that use Google AdSense (the ad service of the same Mountain View company that also owns YouTube, whose monetization has become a modus vivendi for many, this being totally legitimate), results appear that match their latest search (for example, fashion and sports concepts).
Expressing our approval or rejection through economic democracy
I am not going to go into the thesis that services such as Google would ignore users’ privacy choices in matters such as geolocation. Let us apply, in these respects, a strictly temporary “veil of ignorance.” Let’s assume that any user preference is respected.
There is nothing illegitimate, in principle, about Facebook and Google apps for iOS being paid, as, for example, may be the case with other apps for entertainment, socializing or design purposes (many are often based on so-called premium versions).
It will be up to the user to decide whether it is worth paying or not to socialize with their loved ones from their smartphone, that is, in the palm of their hand. Let us not forget that, in a way, the relevance and prestige of Web 2.0 services does not depend on crony capitalism, but on what Ludwig von Mises called “economic democracy.”
No one knows if in this hypothetical case there is not even a third-party app that connects with Facebook and Instagram servers (using its application programming interface), but an opportunity for a social network, which can come out of nowhere or exist, but seeing niches to grow (known as Alt Tech).
We must be aware that the free nature of Big Tech services can be very relative. And what we have to do is nothing more and nothing less than to promote the entrepreneurial vocation of each one of us in this free, competitive, natural and spontaneous market, while criticizing the so-called “progressive” and statist collusions.