26 March 2020
26 March 2020
4 January 2022
Everyone want to criticise China as an authoritarian state, but if you stand back and look at how they tackle challenges that we have, there may be lessons to be learned.
There was an interesting show on ABC TV last night hosted by Hamish Macdonald ‘The China Century’, Part 1 of 5. It looked at the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and their ruthless repression. But next week it will look at how they have combined capitalism and strong state control.
Competition increase efficiency when it lowers prices, but note in the late stage of ‘laissez faire’ monopolies allow supernormal profits and their political influence puts them above the law. Sometimes the loss of central control may also mean that a fragmented industry cannot produce state of the art products. I read some time ago that the US is having a problem producing good fighter planes because the intellectual property is now spread over a number of competing companies, so no one company can be state of the art on all aspects. A single body controlling the situation would not have this problem.
The other aspect is that the Chinese can write the rules for its industries and not simply assume that whatever makes the most profit in the immediate term is the best place to consume resources.
In Australia, our economy is totally out of whack because the tax concession of negative gearing has meant that everyone has simply invested in real estate as a ‘no brainer’ way of making money. But the rise in prices is in a sense arbitrary. If a house goes up in price from $100k to a million, it is still the same house. The difference is that the person who now buys it has $million debt. The ‘profit’ is someone else’s borrowing. So at a national level, we have the second highest level of private debt in the world (after Switzerland) and just pay interest to foreign banks. We also have no money to invest in our productive export industries, or even think about them as real estate is so easy. We note that developers distort the electoral process and do dodgy deals to get their approvals through, but once it is all done, we wring our hands- nothing can be done. The building stands, and it will all happen again next time.
We watch askance as our regulatory systems fail. The Banking Royal Commission was initiated by a whistle-blower not the regulator, and nothing much has changed; one banker resignation, no one charged. We saw the Aged Care inquiry, the Casino Inquiry were both whistle-blower initiated as well. We are up to 4 inquiries into iCare and nothing changes. We hope that our buildings are OK, as the regulatory system has not been working too well there for about 25 years.
We note that our rich are getting much richer and our poor poorer, but our government does not want to do much about that. Hey if you can’t afford a Rapid Antigen Test, you can always wait and see if get sick. ‘Universal health care’ is a good slogan.
We see our kids getting fatter and more addicted to computer games, but there is not much we can do about that. We are moving to high rise schools as so many were sold off in the 1980s and now there is no space for recreation, and we also saved on sport teachers and made serious exercise optional.
We worry that our electoral system is influenced by fake news, trolls and data analysis companies. We understand that the social media concentrates on putting like people together so they will stay logged in and be available to advertise to. We understand that a shock headline also attracts more interest and controversy, so we are hyper stimulated until we ignore what is important. Advertising always affected media content towards making people more receptive to the ads and purchasing; social media has now put it on steroids.
The Chinese have taken all this on. They have put a super tax on rich people and made statements about everyone having a decent life. They have tried to lessen kids times on computers and to increase their exercise. They have taken on social media, and most recently forced a major developer to demolish high rise building because the building permit was illegally obtained. The developer is a major one, and already in danger of going broke. Can anyone image this happening in Australia or the US?
Many problems in the world are universal, and watching what a truly authoritarian government can do is interesting. We have the contrast of our governments, that seem to want to be as small as possible and not even acknowledge problems, and theirs which seems to testing the limits of power. We may not want to do it ourselves, but if we ever decide to do anything, it will be helpful to have information on the outcome of the range of possible actions.
Here is an article about Evergrande, the Chinese property developer which is going broke and now had to demolish significant assets. It was in the SMH, from Bloomberg.
Next Monday on ABC TV at 8.30pm the second article on China, considering its use of the combination of capitalism and central control.
China’s Evergrande halts trading after ordered to tear down apartments
By Jan Dahinten
January 3, 2022 — 3.29pm
Chinese developer shares tumbled following local media reports that China Evergrande Group has been ordered to tear down apartment blocks in a development in Hainan province. Evergrande halted trading in its shares.
An index of Chinese developer shares slumped 2.8 per cent as of 11.37 a.m. local time, with Sunac China Holdings and Shimao Group Holdings plunging more than 10 per cent. A local government in Hainan told Evergrande to demolish 39 buildings in 10 days because the building permit was illegally obtained, news wire Cailian reported on Saturday.
Evergrande gave no details on the trading suspension other than saying it would make an announcement containing inside information.
The government of Danzhou, a prefecture-level city in the southern Chinese province of Hainan, asked Evergrande to tear down 39 illegal buildings in 10 days, Cailian reported on Sunday, citing a document from the local government.
The report cited the document, which was dated December 30, as saying that the Danzhou government said an illegally obtained permit for the buildings had been revoked so the buildings need to be dismantled.
Evergrande didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment and calls to Danzhou authorities went unanswered on a public holiday in China on Monday.
The company on Friday dialed back payment plans on billions of dollars of overdue wealth management products as its liquidity crisis showed little sign of easing.
Property firms have mounting bills to pay in January and shrinking options to raise necessary funds. The industry will need to find at least $US197 billion ($271 billion) to cover maturing bonds, coupons, trust products and deferred wages to millions of migrant workers, according to Bloomberg calculations and analyst estimates.
Beijing has urged builders like China Evergrande Group to meet payrolls by month-end in order to avoid the risk of social unrest.
Contracted sales for 31 listed developers fell 26 per cent in December from a year earlier, according to Citigroup Inc. analysts. Evergrande’s sales dropped 99 per cent, the analysts wrote in a note dated Sunday.
4 October 2021
It is unsurprising that fake news is now an industry. Clearly if Facebook and other social media have many posts, it is just a question of paying people to say what you want, either a lot of people or a few people pretending to be a lot of people.
This is now at the stage that it can determine perceptions and elections. It is as if technology empowers little people for a while until those with power are able to use and control it.
Here is a story that I had missed, the use of tweets to rubbish the BBC for having a story that forest fires were deliberately lit in Indonesia to clear forests for palm oil plantations. And the people paying for a slag on the BBC were…?
The Oxford Internet Institute found 48 cases of States working for influence-for- hire firms in 2019-20, up from 21 in 2017-18.
1 May 2021
A Facebook whistleblower, Sophie Zhang, says that in many countries fake pages are distorting perceptions of politicians and trolling opposition leaders. She says that while there is some interest in this in the Western Democracies there is not much interest in countries like Honduras, Azerbaijan, Mexico and the Philippines. Clearly if action is delayed in these areas politicians may win elections, distorting whole nations’ futures.
Sophie Zhang was a low-level data analyst who found this and tried to get Facebook management interest, but was continually rebuffed and finally sacked.
Marx said that ‘Power is control of the means of production’ in that it gave access to money, but now it would seem that power is control of the means of information. This is why Murdoch and Fox are so powerful. With 70% of Australia’s print media a drip-feed of negative stories can get rid of governments.
My personal view is that the fact that Rudd would not change the media ownership laws in Murdoch’s favour was why Rudd fell, though of course his two other key policies, a carbon tax, and royalties on mining offended the mining lobby. Offending both Murdoch and the miners was terminal.
Apart from the mainstream media (MSM) the other significant media player, which the population think that they control, is the social media, particularly Facebook. We might ask whether it determined the 2016 US election that elected Trump, or the 2016 Brexit vote. My more recent view is that my own personal lack of awareness of the power of social media probably cost me my seat in NSW Parliament.
Be all this as it may, Sophie Zhang has raised a very important issue in the power of Facebook and the clash between its commercial interests and its social function. Like many whistle-blowers, she is a hero who has suffered for her efforts.
18 February 2021
Here is the ABC story about this. Note that Facebook sees itself as giving clients and coverage to other media, not using them to get customers. In support of this, the interesting figure is that only 4% of its users are looking for media news sites. Readers of my posts will definitely be in the 4%, presumably the other 96% is items of interest other than news. People have a right to family and social contacts, and a zillion other interests.
But Facebook is like google in that it is paid per click, so it does not seem unreasonable that it should pay the news outlets per click. It is a worry that deals are being done with the major (i.e. Big) media with no guarantee that the smaller media that give diversity of opinion will get any money. The question then become as to who sets the rate? Presumably google and Facebook charge per click and this is ‘commercial in confidence’.
The other question that is never addressed is whether we the users should ever be paid from the data harvested from us. As someone said, ‘if you are not paying for the product you are the product’.
Our personal information is hoovered up in our normal activities. whatever we buy, the words of our emails, our click preferences, and if we have voice-activated phones or devices, every word we say. This is on-sold, and what we get is the convenience of having email software, chatting on apps, or having a computer bot serve us. But what is the profit margin on the data? Could and should we get a cut of what we generate?
Facebook news ban stops Australians from sharing or viewing Australian and international news coverage
Australians are being blocked from accessing news in their Facebook feeds, in a dramatic escalation of the social media giant’s stand-off with the federal government.
Australians waking up this morning found they were blocked from viewing or sharing news content from publishers’ pages, including news organisations like the ABC.
The social media giant said it made the move in response to the government’s proposed media bargaining laws, which would force major tech giants to pay Australian news outlets for their content.
The move also prevents people overseas from sharing Australian content on the social media site.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tweeted that he had held “constructive” talks with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg this morning, while Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said Facebook should “think very carefully about what this means for its reputation and standing”.
Facebook said the proposed Australian law fundamentally misunderstood the relationship between their platform and publishers who use it to share news content.
It said it faced the stark choice between attempting to comply with a law, or banning news content on its services in Australia — and “with a heavy heart” it was choosing the latter.
The move came a day after Nine and Seven West Media reportedly made multi-million-dollar deals with Google for use of content.
“We understand many will ask why the platforms may respond differently,” the Facebook statement said.
“The answer is because our platforms have fundamentally different relationships with news.
“Google Search is inextricably intertwined with news and publishers do not voluntarily provide their content.”
A Google spokesperson took issue with this claim, highlighting growing division in the technology sector.
“All publishers, along with everyone else, always have a choice about whether their site shows up in Google Search,” they said.
The social media giant said it had explained for months that “the value exchange between Facebook and publishers runs in favour of the publishers — which is the reverse of what the legislation would require the arbitrator to assume”.
“Last year Facebook generated approximately 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimated AU$407 million.”
The company said what it gained from news content was “minimal”, and made up about 4 per cent of what people saw in their newsfeed.
Google deals continue
The legislation implementing the proposed new media code passed the House of Representatives last night. The Senate is likely to pass it next week.
The code is designed to ensure media companies are paid fairly for the use of their content on search engines and social media platforms.
Major media companies Seven West Media, Nine, and News Corp have all reportedly struck content deals with Google this week.
News Corp and Google will develop a subscription platform, share advertising revenue through Google’s ad technology services, build out audio journalism and develop video journalism by YouTube.
The deal comes after years of public feuding between Mr Murdoch and Google, most recently in Australia, where Google has threatened to shut down its search engine to avoid “unworkable” content laws.
News declined to comment on financial details of the deal, which it said involved “significant payments” by Google.
The Nine and Seven West Media deals are collectively worth $60 million a year, according to media reports.
About 37 years ago BUGA UP (Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions) identified the problem of advertisers marketing to children and produced a guide, ‘AdExpo- A Self-Defence Course for Children’. It was in black and white as BUGA UP had no money and the ads are a bit dated now, but the text us still relevant. www.bugaup.org/publications/Ad_Expo.pdf
Advertisers market to children, and are successful with it. Now there is the internet, which has made things a lot worse. Kids can be targeted with the parents only dimly aware of what is going on, and before the kids have actually been formally ‘taught’ anything. The ads are part of the exciting environment that their little heroes show them. At last attention is being drawn to this. This article is from the NY Times, with a cut-down version in the SMH of 7-8/11/20.
Are ‘Kidfluencers’ Making Our Kids Fat?
By Anahad O’Connor, NY Times 30/10/20
Popular YouTube channels often bombard young children with thinly veiled ads for junk food, a new study finds.
One of the most popular YouTube videos from Ryan’s World shows its star, Ryan Kaji, pretending to be a cashier at McDonald’s. “It’s a stealthy and powerful way of getting these unhealthy products in front of kids’ eyeballs,” a public health expert says.Credit…via YouTube
That is the conclusion of a new study published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The authors of the study analyzed over 400 YouTube videos featuring so-called kid influencers — children with large social media followings who star in videos that show them excitedly reviewing toys, unwrapping presents and playing games. The study found that videos in this genre, which attract millions of young followers and rack up billions of views, were awash in endorsements and product placements for brands like McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr., Hershey’s, Chuck E. Cheese and Taco Bell.
About 90 percent of the foods featured in the YouTube videos were unhealthy items like milkshakes, French fries, soft drinks and cheeseburgers emblazoned with fast food logos. The researchers said their findings were concerning because YouTube is a popular destination for toddlers and adolescents. Roughly 80 percent of parents with children 11 years old or younger say they let their children watch YouTube, and 35 percent say their children watch it regularly.
A spokeswoman for YouTube, citing the age requirement on its terms of service, said the company has “invested significantly in the creation of the YouTube Kids app, a destination made specifically for kids to explore their imagination and curiosity on a range of topics, such as healthy habits.” She added, “We don’t allow paid promotional content on YouTube Kids and have clear guidelines which restrict categories like food and beverage from advertising on the app.”
Young children are particularly susceptible to marketing. Studies show that children are unable to distinguish between commercials and cartoons until they are 8 or 9 years old, and they are more likely to prefer unhealthy foods and beverages after seeing advertisements for them.
Experts say it is not just an advertising issue but a public health concern. Childhood obesity rates have skyrocketed in recent years: Nearly 20 percent of American children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese, up from 5.5 percent in the mid 1970s. Studies have found strong links between junk food marketing and childhood obesity, and experts say that children are now at even greater risk during a pandemic that has led to school closures, lockdowns and increased screen time and sedentary behavior. The new findings suggest that parents should be especially wary of how children are being targeted by food companies on social media.
“The way these branded products are integrated in everyday life in these videos is pretty creative and unbelievable,” said Marie Bragg, an author of the study and an assistant professor of public health and nutrition at the New York University School of Global Public Health. “It’s a stealthy and powerful way of getting these unhealthy products in front of kids’ eyeballs.”
Dr. Bragg was prompted to study the phenomenon after one of her co-authors, Amaal Alruwaily, noticed her young nieces and nephews obsessively watching YouTube videos of “kidfluencers” like Ryan Kaji, the 9-year-old star of Ryan’s World, a YouTube channel with 27 million subscribers, formerly named Ryan ToysReview.
The channel, run by Ryan’s parents, features thousands of videos of him excitedly reviewing new toys and games, doing science experiments and going on fun trips to stores and arcades.
Children’s channels like Ryan’s World — which are frequently paid to promote a wide range of products, including toys, video games and food — are among the highest grossing channels on YouTube, raking in millions of dollars from ads, sponsored content, endorsements and more. According to Forbes, Ryan earned $26 million last year, making him the top YouTube earner of 2019. Among the brands he has been paid to promote are Chuck E. Cheese, Walmart, Hasbro, Lunchables and Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., the fast food chains. One of his most popular videos shows him pretending to be a cashier at McDonald’s. In it, he wears a hat with the McDonald’s logo, serves plastic Chicken McNuggets, cheeseburgers and French fries to one of his toys, and then eats a McDonald’s Happy Meal. The video has been viewed about 95 million times.
“It looks like a normal child playing with their normal games, but as a researcher who studies childhood obesity, the branded products really stood out to me,” Dr. Bragg said. “When you watch these videos and the kids are pretending to bake things in the kitchen or unwrapping presents, it looks relatable. But really it’s just an incredibly diverse landscape of promotion for these unhealthy products
In a statement, Sunlight Entertainment, the production company for Ryan’s World, said the channel “cares deeply about the well-being of our viewers and their health and safety is a top priority for us. As such, we strictly follow all platforms terms of service, as well as any guidelines set forth by the FTC and laws and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels.”
The statement said that Ryan’s World welcomed the findings of the new study, adding: “As we continue to evolve our content we look forward to ways we might work together in the future to benefit the health and safety of our audience.”
Other popular children’s channels on YouTube show child influencers doing taste tests with Oreo cookies, Pop Tarts and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or sitting in toy cars and ordering fast food at drive-throughs for Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and other chains. “This is basically a dream for advertisers,” said Dr. Bragg. “These kids are celebrities, and we know from other rigorous studies that younger kids prefer products that are endorsed by celebrities.”
To document the extent of the phenomenon, Dr. Bragg and her colleagues identified five of the top kid influencers on YouTube, including Ryan, and analyzed 418 of their most popular videos. They found that food or beverages were featured in those videos 271 times, and 90 percent of them were “unhealthy branded items.” Some of the brands featured most frequently were McDonald’s, Hershey’s, Skittles, Oreo, Coca-Cola, Kinder and Dairy Queen. The videos featuring junk food have collectively been viewed more than a billion times.
The researchers could not always tell which products the influencers were paid to promote, in part because sponsorships are not always clearly disclosed. The Federal Trade Commission has said that influencers should “clearly and conspicuously” disclose their financial relationships with brands whose products they endorse on social media. But critics say the policy is rarely enforced, and that influencers often ignore it.
McDonald’s USA said in a statement that it “does not partner with kid influencers under the age of 12 for paid content across any social media channels, including YouTube, and we did not pay or partner with any of the influencers identified in this study. We are committed to responsibly marketing to children.”
Last year, several senators called on the F.T.C. to investigate Ryan’s World and accused the channel of running commercials for Carl’s Jr. without disclosing that they were ads. The Council of Better Business Bureaus, an industry regulatory group, also found that Ryan’s World featured sponsored content from advertisers without proper disclosures. And a year ago the watchdog group Truth in Advertising filed a complaint with the F.T.C. accusing the channel of deceiving children through “sponsored videos that often have the look and feel of organic content.”
In March, Senators Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut introduced legislation to protect children from potentially harmful content online. Among other things, the bill would limit what they called “manipulative” advertising, such as influencer marketing aimed at children, and prohibit websites from recommending content that involves nicotine, tobacco or alcohol to children and teenagers.
The F.T.C. has long forbidden certain advertising tactics on children’s television, such as “host selling,” in which characters or hosts sell products in commercials that air during their programs. Critics say the agency could apply the same rules to children’s programs on the internet but so far has chosen not to.
“It’s beyond absurd that you couldn’t do this on Nickelodeon or ABC but you can do this on YouTube just because the laws were written before we had an internet,” said Josh Golin, the executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group.
“These videos are incredibly powerful,” he said. “Very busy parents may take a look at them and think that it’s just a cute kid talking enthusiastically about some product and not realize that it’s often part of a deliberate strategy to get their children excited about toys, or in the case of this study, unhealthy food.”
Anahad O’Connor is a staff reporter covering health, science, nutrition and other topics. He is also a bestselling author of consumer health books such as “Never Shower in a Thunderstorm” and “The 10 Things You Need to Eat.”
6 September 2020
Presumably the whole world is watching whether the Australian government can make google and Facebook pay to carry news items.
The reason is quite clear. They gain customers for being able to point them to the news sources, and then they get the advertising revenue from people on their platforms, while the people who collected the news make no money for having done so, and then lose the advertising that used to come to them when people bought their papers or watched their TV channels.
So initially I was quite in favour of the idea. Here were big foreign companies, structured to pay no tax, grabbing all the advertising and the media was dying because of the lack of advertising revenue. Strangely the ABC was not going to get any revenue- it was only going to the commercial media. I wondered if this was a good thing. Would google and Facebook favour the ABC as it was free, and direct people there rather than to commercial media. But if they did, would this produce a reaction from Murdoch, and would then the government do something more to favour Murdoch and disadvantage the ABC- hey, they are already cutting the ABC budget ?at Murdoch’s request.
But I was thinking that the rise of fake news and conspiracy theories, which threaten any rational voting or policy development is largely due to the social media behemoths. Everyone is equal in that they can post what they like, and things that are more interesting and clickable are more equal than facts. Added to this, in order to get people to stay there and click around, they are connected up with things and people that they like and who think like them. So we are all reinforced. We friend the people we like, and they friend us. And we get our facts from them, and they from us. So if we do not really chase facts in this candy store of pleasant experiences, we can soon have our own bubble, with no need for facts. Pontius Pilate has been much quoted for asking, ‘What is truth?’ He did not want to know what the truth was, and many who quote him are of the same mind. Exact truth may not always be clear, but you can get closer to it if you try, and hopefully that is what science and good journalism tries to achieve.
So when I saw the Australian government leading the world in trying to get revenue for the commercial media, when they had not even been able to get workable legislation to get them to pay some tax, I wondered who is driving this. The companies that have bought our privatised toll roads have the government collect their tolls, and fine people if they do not pay. So I wondered is this just Murdoch getting the government to collect revenue for him? Murdoch was very much in favour of the market as he gobbled up smaller media players. The Rudd and Gillard governments were ruthlessly attacked and ultimately destroyed by Murdoch, and it was always my opinion that this was because they would not change the media ownership laws to allow Murdoch to have nearly all of it- the need for balance and diversity being totally irrelevant and profits the only objective. As soon as Tony Abbott was Prime Minister this law was changed in Murdoch’s favour.
Now the market has changed. New technology has taken the money from newspapers and free to air TV, which were funded from their advertising. The model had worked reasonably well when I was young. The Fairfax family were rich from the advertising, and let the journalists write what they liked, or so we believed. With Packer, it was not quite so clear. The slogan was ‘Publish and be Damned’, but while that may have been true for more salacious material or less powerful targets, there was a suggestion that some areas were off limits, like tobacco when there was a lot of cigarette ads in the paper. Later, as Murdoch became more powerful, stories seemed to be changed a lot to suit his interest. When Indonesia had a very authoritarian government Murdoch’s coverage of it was very benign as he sought to get a satellite TV licence. This has advanced further so that now there is more advertorial content. Before local papers closed, people bought a quarter page ad and got to write the article on the rest of the page. Ideal for restaurants and clubs, but independent journalism? I think not, but it was/is the norm.
Once, stories were written first, then headline writers wrote the headlines for them. Now even senior writers are being asked to write a story to fit under a pre-written, catchy headline. Hey, we have to get a click to get the ad revenue. Senior writers have told me that the headline may be misleading and they have to slant their stories so it is not seen as absurd. What effect is this having? What about people who only read the headline? It no longer has substance- it was just put there so that they would notice it.
The ABC has been much criticised by the commercial media, and Murdoch in particular because it just gets money to provide a news and cultural service. It has a different funding model, and if the commercial media has no money, they want the ABC to have none either.
But it is time to look at the root cause. The model of funding media and journalism by advertising revenue is broken. It was fraying before google and Facebook etc came, and it is very broken now. Murdoch was quite happy to let the market sort it out, when he was winning and buying up his competition. Now he is getting the government to get him money from his technological competitors. And the Australian government, which seems more beholden to him than any other national governments is doing his bidding.
If google and Facebook decide to offer less news and change their algorithms to favour ‘free’ news sources, is this likely to affect the content of our searches? And will there be even more fake news and conspiracy theories than now? Quite possibly.
I have no particular brief to act for google and Facebook, and find their ads telling me that the end of the world is nigh almost laughable. I think that they must pay tax, and this must be based on their revenue, and not on the profits that can be so easily fiddled with foreign loans and transfer payments etc. But it seems that there are 3 related problems:
We need to discuss this carefully, so that facts and public interest win.
5 March 2017 Social media is increasingly important as it replaces mainstream media and mixes personal interaction with news and information. It is dollar driven but also personal, so that we identify ourselves and our values. Those who communicate with us individually do so with personal or mutual interest, but those who do mass communication […]
Social media is increasingly important as it replaces mainstream media and mixes personal interaction with news and information. It is dollar driven but also personal, so that we identify ourselves and our values. Those who communicate with us individually do so with personal or mutual interest, but those who do mass communication do so for financial or political interest. Since those at the big end who harvest the data are able to match the personal with the financial and political, it gives them immense power. At the little end getting someone to click on something can give you a lot of money that you would not have had, so a gimmick or a headline that makes people click on something is a trick to be striven for, without necessarily thinking through the consequences.
To illustrate this important thesis, I offer this article from The Saturday Paper, which is its later part suggests that fake news was merely headlines that would get clicks to make money and that Trump was used as he would make people click. The fact that this favoured his campaign was an incidental to the primary object of the fake news creators, who merely wanted the royalties from making people click. The idea that the tiny fractions of a cent per click on a website can create a President of the USA shows how far our decisions and lives are at the mercy of the short-term profit motive.
The power of collected data is that it allows the correlation of people interests, values and core values. Knowing what people believe, what is important to them and having access to them either through friends, honest communications or disguised communication gives the ability to change large sections of the populations values and actions, which gives a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘Manufacturing Consent’. This is very significant for the nature and use of power.
Marx said that power was control of the means of production. In nominal democracies power will become control of the means of information. This is frightening stuff. It was in the Guardian. Read on if you missed it.