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Article

The Facebook news ban revealed how problematic it is to rely on corporations to provide fundamental public services

21 February 2021

... [W]hen Facebook blocked Australians from viewing and sharing "news content" on its platform, we saw what role it plays in Australian society.

...

Its platform plays the role of an important public messaging board.

But in a country with so little civil society infrastructure, our heavy reliance on a corporation to provide such a fundamental public service is deeply problematic.

Facebook, Inc. doesn't care about your fundraiser or political protest.

...

What it cares about is your personal data, which it harvests in unimaginable quantities.

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It's worth remembering what Facebook is.

It is a member of a group of companies that are engaged in something called "surveillance capitalism".

According to Professor Shoshana Zuboff, the author who coined the term, surveillance capitalism refers to the "new economic order" that has emerged in the age of the internet and smartphone.

She says the companies that practice it lay claim to our personal information, our "data", as "free raw material" to be aggressively harvested.

...

At any rate, it comes back to the question of what type of organisation should be running a country's quasi-public messaging board.

Are we happy to leave it to surveillance capitalists to run a "public good" of that kind?

[Companies also mentioned in the report are Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple.]