The conquerors of cyberspace

The conquerors of cyberspace

The virtual world sells an illusion of freedom, even anarchy, which pleases not a few users. In an act of alienation, millions of people find in the “metaverse” that an escape route is being built for their vital anxieties and the limitations of all kinds that they suffer in “reality”. On the Internet they can read, say, see, buy, “everything they want”. And perhaps sometime, in its beginnings, the world Wide Web It was a promise in that sense, but the digital ended up replicating the same dynamics of the analog world.

In the same way that the planet, its natural resources and its productive forces have owners, cyberspace also has them. A widely used acronym accounts for five of the most powerful companies: Gafam (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft).

Google is the most used search engine company globally. It has other services, such as a platform for onerous or free download of applications, but they pale before its flagship product. Having this search engine implies that Google has an overwhelming capacity to modify the social conversation, to determine what the most visible content will be, to lock its users in echo chambers where only results related to their way of seeing the world are repeated.

Amazon is the site par excellence for digital buying and selling: literally everything is sold there, from books to household appliances. Founded and run by one of the richest men in the world, Jeff Bezos, Amazon had a turnover of $500 billion last year and has a million and a half employees. One in every 40 people on the planet (of which around half do not have Internet access) is a client of this company, which manages more financial resources than economies such as Spain or Mexico.

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Facebook, or rather Meta, as they decided to call themselves to distinguish their products (digital social networks) from the corporation, is the symbol of a time when people interact more through their phones than with their neighbors, where hundreds accumulate and thousands of “friends” who could not be recognized if they collided on the street. When Meta / Zuckerberg realized that many young people saw Facebook as obsolete, and moved to Instagram, she made a decision: she bought Instagram. When Meta/Zuckerberg discovered that no one liked Messenger, his apps of messaging, and that most people communicated through WhatsApp, he made another decision: he bought WhatsApp.

Of course, cyberspace does not hang in the air. All those search engines, shopping services on-line, messaging applications and digital networks need devices to be used and technology to be processed. And that’s where Microsoft and Apple come in, the first a notable piracy company in Silicon Valley, headed by the devious Bill Gates, who “borrowed” more than one invention and made one of the greatest fortunes in universal history; the second, another symbol of this age, a status symbol already imprinted on the minds of millions of people, with its bitten apple behind phones that cost more just for being iPhones.

Each of these companies have taken advantage of the rise of new technologies, have monetized the process of computerization of global society (at least that part that is not mired in absolute misery and has no right to the Internet). They are not a force of the future, they are a power of the present that does not stop growing.

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Paradoxes of capitalism, some legislators have tried to defend the “absolute freedom of the market” by limiting Gafam’s freedom of enterprise, but –surprise!– they have not succeeded.

(Taken from Granma)