The New Villains of New Media: Apple, Google & Facebook

Brent Lang explains why for The Wrap:

They’re supposed to be the good guys, right?

No longer. Over the past year, several technology giants have begun to shed their status as white knights. And it’s precisely because they’ve been held to such a high standard that when they behave like the multi-billion-dollar corporations they are, their image takes a shellacking.

Move over, MIcrosoft. The tech triumvirate of Google, Apple and Facebook have surpassed even that longtime evil empire to become the new villains of New Media.

“These companies have wrapped themselves in a lot of the idealism surrounding the web, but their business realities are beginning to be in conflict with the rhetoric they use to promote themselves,” Nicholas Carr, a technology writer and the author of “The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google,” told TheWrap.

By failing to live up to their lofty talking points — Google’s corporate philosophy states “you can make money without doing evil” — all three have suffered serious public relations hits.

  • Apple’s troubles are linked with the iPhone 4 roll-out this summer. And it’s not just the engineering problems: The company’s (read: Steve Jobs’) combative response to customer complaints created enormous friction. That was on top of its decision to call for a police raid on a Gizmodo.com editor’s house after a prototype of the phone leaked.
  • Google has presented itself as defender of net neutrality. Last week, however, the company backed away from that stance by entering into a joint agreement with Verizon on a policy for handling internet content. This plan could lead to movie studios being charged extra if they want to deliver high-quality downloads of films, as well as medical companies, sports and gaming.
  • Facebook found itself embroiled in a debate over privacy concerns earlier this year. News that a loophole in the service’s privacy settings allowed advertisers to access user identification and personal information prompted a massive backlash…

[continues at The Wrap]

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  • Vox Penii

    This article describes several the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder — one trait of which is idealization and unrealistically high expectations followed by demonization when the object of adoration is proved flawed.

    • Connie Dobbs

      …or what some people refer to as “par for the course” for consumer (aka Human) behavior – and our love of hyperbole.

  • Gemmarama

    at the risk of social death, i don't have a facebook. this is why:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/1

    sinister bastards.

    • Earbudcontender

      Facebook is a resource of humanity, I'm not going to let the corporate virus take it from me but I will let them tend to the servers. Just use ad blocking software. And if they sell info to advertisement its like parents giving money to their kids go no where.

      • Gemmarama

        well if you're not going to click on the link i suppose i'll have to stop being lazy and do some cutting and pasting. it's about much more than ads mate. read on:

        “…does Facebook really connect people? Doesn't it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in cyberspace, while chained to my desk? A friend of mine recently told me that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at his desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook actually isolates us at our workstations.

        Facebook appeals to a kind of vanity and self-importance in us, too. If I put up a flattering picture of myself with a list of my favourite things, I can construct an artificial representation of who I am in order to get sex or approval. (“I like Facebook,” said another friend. “I got a shag out of it.”) It also encourages a disturbing competitivness around friendship: it seems that with friends today, quality counts for nothing and quantity is king. The more friends you have, the better you are. You are “popular”, in the sense much loved in American high schools. Witness the cover line on Dennis Publishing's new Facebook magazine: “How To Double Your Friends List.”

        …Facebook is a well-funded project, and the people behind the funding, a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, have a clearly thought out ideology that they are hoping to spread around the world. Facebook is one manifestation of this ideology. Like PayPal before it, it is a social experiment, an expression of a particular kind of neoconservative libertarianism. On Facebook, you can be free to be who you want to be, as long as you don't mind being bombarded by adverts for the world's biggest brands.

        …But Thiel[board member] is more than just a clever and avaricious capitalist. He is a futurist philosopher and neocon activist. A philosophy graduate from Stanford, in 1998 he co-wrote a book called The Diversity Myth, which is a detailed attack on liberalism and the multiculturalist ideology that dominated Stanford. He claimed that the “multiculture” led to a lessening of individual freedoms. While a student at Stanford, Thiel founded a rightwing journal, still up and running, called The Stanford Review – motto: Fiat Lux (“Let there be light”). Thiel is a member of TheVanguard.Org, an internet-based neoconservative pressure group that was set up to attack MoveOn.org, a liberal pressure group that works on the web. Thiel calls himself “way libertarian”.

        …TheVanguard describes its politics as “Reaganite/Thatcherite”.

        …His philosophy, briefly, is this: since the 17th century, certain enlightened thinkers have been taking the world away from the old-fashioned nature-bound life, and here he quotes Thomas Hobbes' famous characterisation of life as “nasty, brutish and short”, and towards a new virtual world where we have conquered nature. Value now exists in imaginary things.

        …Facebook is profoundly uncreative. It makes nothing at all. It simply mediates in relationships that were happening anyway.

        Thiel is also on the board of advisers of something called the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. From its fantastical website, the following: “The Singularity is the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence. There are several technologies … heading in this direction … Artificial Intelligence … direct brain-computer interfaces … genetic engineering … different technologies which, if they reached a threshold level of sophistication, would enable the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence.”

        So by his own admission, Thiel is trying to destroy the real world, which he also calls “nature”, and install a virtual world in its place, and it is in this context that we must view the rise of Facebook. Facebook is a deliberate experiment in global manipulation, and Thiel is a bright young thing in the neoconservative pantheon, with a penchant for far-out techno-utopian fantasies.

        …Facebook's most recent round of funding was led by a company called Greylock Venture Capital, who put in the sum of $27.5m. One of Greylock's senior partners is called Howard Cox, another former chairman of the NVCA, who is also on the board of In-Q-Tel. What's In-Q-Tel? Well, believe it or not (and check out their website), this is the venture-capital wing of the CIA.”

        these people are NOT your friends. on facebook, you are not being yourself, you are presenting yourself. it's not real communication – that only comes with eye contact and body language.

        log off. read a book. go to the pub. plant some seeds. anything. but don't kid yourself facebook has anything to do with real life.

  • Gemmarama

    well if you’re not going to click on the link i suppose i’ll have to stop being lazy and do some cutting and pasting. it’s about much more than ads mate. read on:

    “…does Facebook really connect people? Doesn’t it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in cyberspace, while chained to my desk? A friend of mine recently told me that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at his desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook actually isolates us at our workstations.

    Facebook appeals to a kind of vanity and self-importance in us, too. If I put up a flattering picture of myself with a list of my favourite things, I can construct an artificial representation of who I am in order to get sex or approval. (“I like Facebook,” said another friend. “I got a shag out of it.”) It also encourages a disturbing competitivness around friendship: it seems that with friends today, quality counts for nothing and quantity is king. The more friends you have, the better you are. You are “popular”, in the sense much loved in American high schools. Witness the cover line on Dennis Publishing’s new Facebook magazine: “How To Double Your Friends List.”

    …Facebook is a well-funded project, and the people behind the funding, a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, have a clearly thought out ideology that they are hoping to spread around the world. Facebook is one manifestation of this ideology. Like PayPal before it, it is a social experiment, an expression of a particular kind of neoconservative libertarianism. On Facebook, you can be free to be who you want to be, as long as you don’t mind being bombarded by adverts for the world’s biggest brands.

    …But Thiel[board member] is more than just a clever and avaricious capitalist. He is a futurist philosopher and neocon activist. A philosophy graduate from Stanford, in 1998 he co-wrote a book called The Diversity Myth, which is a detailed attack on liberalism and the multiculturalist ideology that dominated Stanford. He claimed that the “multiculture” led to a lessening of individual freedoms. While a student at Stanford, Thiel founded a rightwing journal, still up and running, called The Stanford Review – motto: Fiat Lux (“Let there be light”). Thiel is a member of TheVanguard.Org, an internet-based neoconservative pressure group that was set up to attack MoveOn.org, a liberal pressure group that works on the web. Thiel calls himself “way libertarian”.

    …TheVanguard describes its politics as “Reaganite/Thatcherite”.

    …His philosophy, briefly, is this: since the 17th century, certain enlightened thinkers have been taking the world away from the old-fashioned nature-bound life, and here he quotes Thomas Hobbes’ famous characterisation of life as “nasty, brutish and short”, and towards a new virtual world where we have conquered nature. Value now exists in imaginary things.

    …Facebook is profoundly uncreative. It makes nothing at all. It simply mediates in relationships that were happening anyway.

    Thiel is also on the board of advisers of something called the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. From its fantastical website, the following: “The Singularity is the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence. There are several technologies … heading in this direction … Artificial Intelligence … direct brain-computer interfaces … genetic engineering … different technologies which, if they reached a threshold level of sophistication, would enable the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence.”

    So by his own admission, Thiel is trying to destroy the real world, which he also calls “nature”, and install a virtual world in its place, and it is in this context that we must view the rise of Facebook. Facebook is a deliberate experiment in global manipulation, and Thiel is a bright young thing in the neoconservative pantheon, with a penchant for far-out techno-utopian fantasies.

    …Facebook’s most recent round of funding was led by a company called Greylock Venture Capital, who put in the sum of $27.5m. One of Greylock’s senior partners is called Howard Cox, another former chairman of the NVCA, who is also on the board of In-Q-Tel. What’s In-Q-Tel? Well, believe it or not (and check out their website), this is the venture-capital wing of the CIA.”

    these people are NOT your friends. on facebook, you are not being yourself, you are presenting yourself. it’s not real communication – that only comes with eye contact and body language.

    log off. read a book. go to the pub. plant some seeds. anything. but don’t kid yourself facebook has anything to do with real life.

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