Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: The Rising Power of Non-State Entities: Case for Tech Companies

  1. #1

    Default The Rising Power of Non-State Entities: Case for Tech Companies

    With our political systems becoming more and more dysfunctional, and the long-term trend towards "individual sovereignty", many non-state actors (like NGOs, corporations etc) are gaining unprecedented influence. And you know the old adage, this creates opportunities and challenges.

    Here is an excerpt from the risk consultancy, Eurasia Group, about their 2016 top risk factors:

    6 – The rise of technologists: A variety of highly influential non-state actors from the world of technology are entering the realm of politics with unprecedented assertiveness. These newly politically ambitious technologists are numerous and diverse, with profiles ranging from Silicon Valley corporations to hacker groups and retired tech philanthropists. The political rise of these actors will generate pushback from governments and citizens, generating both policy and market volatility.
    With this context, I wanted to post about the ongoing discussion (this is the operating word here, it is not factual yet, no proof at this point) that Facebook has been manipulating its "trending news" feed:

    Gizmodo, 9-May-2016
    Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News

    Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users....
    The problem here is, given companies like Facebook are private entities, the check and balances that govern our public domain can't easily be applied. It does not help that we know they had previously engaged in "research" by manipulating news feed of individuals and study their feelings afterwards:

    Time, 2-July-2014
    Sheryl Sandberg Apologizes for Facebook News Feed Experiment

    After Facebook revealed that it secretly toyed with some users’ emotions for a science experiment, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has offered something of an apology.

    “This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,” Sandberg said during a meeting with potential advertisers in India, according to the Wall Street Journal. “And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.”...
    So there you have it. As we are trusting our data and privacy to tech companies, and becoming their product really (they earn ads revenue, based on free data we give them), there is a need for empowering individuals to balance the rise of tech companies.

    Thoughts or ideas, discussions welcome.

  2. #2

    Default

    Near term the Facebook actions are somewhat like what the old newspaper monopolies through their editorial control. Not at a surprising coming from Facebook. Longer term, with the shifting wealth building vast asset holdings coupled with the power to manipulate and control groups of people, it might be like bringing back a feudal system where we're all just a bunch of serfs renting our existence.

  3. #3

    Default

    Interesting, though I don't think this is new. I don't see much of a difference between what some tech companies are doing and what big oil, big pharma, and big tobacco have all done in the past, or as KC mentioned, what MSM has pretty much always done (to varying degrees of course).

  4. #4

    Default

    well, I agree with both of you that big corporations have had and continue to have power. What is different, IMO, is two things:

    First- that as mentioned we are now the product. You can choose to buy tobacco or not, buy a certain newspaper or not. When you are the product, the advertisers choose you (based on your data), not the other way round. And your data contains your most private information. Many people search certain ailment or symptoms before consulting their doctors, among other examples. To give you a more specific example, here is the shocking story (I first read it the book Future Crimes, but here is a link to Forbes) of how Target (the department store) found out a teenage is pregnant before her father.

    Second- related to first, is that by having access to our private preferences, tech companies can influence our behavior, for example where to shop, what to read etc. In search engine domain, it is called the "Filter bubble". I think the title of this post sums it up nicely:The Best Place to Hide a Dead Body is Page Two of Google.

    Of course, it is not all negative. You heard today a positive side of this power, when Google announced they won't advertise payday lenders.

  5. #5

    Default

    Basically the degree and style of manipulation can be personalized (a cult like approach) compared to past influences that were more general or trait focused. (Newspapers or media appealing to a broad category of readers.)

    I'll have to re-read 1984.

  6. #6

    Default

    Don't you love a But in a sentence of nothing was wrong...

    Reuters, 24-May-2016
    Facebook changes policies on 'Trending Topics' after criticism

    ...The company said an internal probe showed no evidence of political bias in the selection of news stories for Trending Topics, a feature that is separate from the main "news feed" where most Facebook users get their news.

    But the world's largest social network said in a blogpost that it was introducing several changes, including elimination of a top-ten list of approved websites, more training and clearer guidelines to help human editors avoid ideological or political bias, and more robust review procedures...

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    Don't you love a But in a sentence of nothing was wrong...

    Reuters, 24-May-2016
    Facebook changes policies on 'Trending Topics' after criticism

    ...The company said an internal probe showed no evidence of political bias in the selection of news stories for Trending Topics, a feature that is separate from the main "news feed" where most Facebook users get their news.

    But the world's largest social network said in a blogpost that it was introducing several changes, including elimination of a top-ten list of approved websites, more training and clearer guidelines to help human editors avoid ideological or political bias, and more robust review procedures...
    "Help human editors avoid..."

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •