Monday, October 22, 2018

Kicking you off the internet

They've almost figured out the trick now.
For corporate media, the story of Russia covertly influencing the country promotes a climate where they can re-tighten their grip on the means of communication by accusing alternative media on both left and right of being Russian-sponsored “fake news.” As previously reported (FAIR.org, 8/22/18), under the guise of protecting readers, big media companies like Google, YouTube and Bing have changed their algorithms, resulting in devastating drops in traffic for reputable alternative media sites. Alternative media has been deleted, de-ranked, de-listed and de-monetized, effectively sidelining them. In response to ostensible Russian meddling, media giant Facebook announced last week (Washington Post, 10/11/18) it had shut down over 800 US accounts and pages for “inauthentic behavior,” a term even more nebulous than “fake news.” Included in the 800 were several police accountability watchdog groups and other alternative media, adding to its recent (temporary) deleting of TeleSUR English. 
It's been a tumultuous transition period in the media business. The most distortive trope we have to describe it would have us believe "the internet killed journalism."  But that's not anything like what's been going on.  Capitalism has been killing journalism for a long time.
Commercial journalism was never really great to begin with, of course. But as its practitioners experienced the same erosion of wages, benefits, and job security Americans have been subjected to as steadily worsening rates since the 1970s, they elected to tell that story as though it were a special circumstance unique to them.

Which is how we end up with confused narratives about the wonders of "disruption" which we only realized too late would turn out to be horrors.
It is only now, a decade after the financial crisis, that the American public seems to appreciate that what we thought was disruption worked more like extraction—of our data, our attention, our time, our creativity, our content, our DNA, our homes, our cities, our relationships. The tech visionaries’ predictions did not usher us into the future, but rather a future where they are kings.

They promised the open web, we got walled gardens. They promised individual liberty, then broke democracy—and now they’ve appointed themselves the right men to fix it.

But did the digital revolution have to end in an oligopoly? In our fog of resentment, three recent books argue that the current state of rising inequality was not a technological inevitability. Rather the narrative of disruption duped us into thinking this was a new kind of capitalism. The authors argue that tech companies conquered the world not with software, but via the usual route to power: ducking regulation, squeezing workers, strangling competitors, consolidating power, raising rents, and riding the wave of an economic shift already well underway.
It looks like the books reviewed in that article are pretty interesting.  But it's also absurd to pretend nobody saw any of this coming.  But if we do not pretend then we have to grapple with the fundamental problem of a media industry dominated by billionaires and mega-conglomerates. We're not going to do that so instead we're going to kick you off the internet. That'll fix everything for sure. 

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