Taking them down

How to take the identity capitalism complex down

I’m currently at RightsCon in Tunis, speaking and exchanging with a lot of different actors around tech and human rights issues, from state to civil society to Facebook (because it seems shame is dead). And I talk to a lot of people (except Facebook ones, they’re scary as hell), and the conversation inevitably lands on what we’re doing at LQDN, and the short answer is We’re out to get the GAFAM down.

And then, they ask me how are we going to do that, what are the next steps, what’s the plan to destroy those hegemonic capitalistic system whom promotes hate speech ? And the thing is, we do not know, because it haven’t been done since the internet exists (except some anti trust cases, but even then, Microsoft survived for instance).

We know ways to not do that, to not harm them enough to destroy them. Using the current system of laws and regulations, including anti trust and anti monopoly laws, have only limited results. Even if it’s an interesting way to achieve some results, in the mid-term (four to five years), corporate monsters will spend billions of dollar on lobbyist money to change the law, as is happening with e-Privacy.

Boycott doesn’t work. Or only on insane scales. And it kind of makes it a personal choice, or issue, while the GAFAM are a threat to society. Their goal is to make money, not to protect their users. And they make money by selling to advertisers a closed list of identities that can be targeted by ads, they make money by turning what you read and write, what you are and what you like, into promotional content and user engagement. And if your identity does not suit the social vision of what the GAFAM can and will tolerate, then you’re erased from this catalog of ID, and you’ll be targeted by ads which will shape you in something else.

Also, promoting and monetizing hate have impact in everybody’s life, wether you’re on Facebook or not. The fact that neo-nazis, nationalists and identitarians are pushing their ideas without being demoted by the platform, gives them legitimacy and the strength to take their hatefull goals and ideas in the street and push it on anyone which they see as an ennemy.

This is why, even with decentralisation going forward, destroying mono cultural hegemonies is still required. You cannot just boycott Facebook, you need to destriy them, split their body in parts which can then be incinerated, salted and sent into the sun.

Having your own safer space, is akin to boycotting Facebook and the likes. It’s important that you have the capability to do it, but it will not makes the GAFAM go away.

Taxations and regulations are other ideas which I see a lot being suggested. It could work, at least it could probably reduce the harm their doing to our society, but we all know that they’re quite good at hiding their money away from national taxes system.

Regulation is kind of bad too. A lot of them requires to have some resources to spend on regulation conformity, and to have lawyers that are competent, trained on the subject and able to defend yourself. It cost money, money being the thing that GAFAM have in stupidly high amount, they can follow regulation quite easily, while most of all the small actors probably can’t afford it. Or GAFAM will not comply and pay bills. Or they’ll make proposals, produce white papers, grab a share in multi-stakesholder system to push their view in the regulatory body. They’ve done it before (look at how it became stupidly insane to setup a mail server or how they pushed to have DRM implemented in HTML specifications), they’ll do it again, they can wait five years paying bills in the tenth of billions of dollars without really being at risks.

So, what works ? We do not really know. We do not know how to take down a GAFAM, and that’s why we try a lot of different things. And that is why we also needs to find how other people did against similar systems.

Because we had this kind of system before. Systems who were pushing their ideology and cultures on anyone, in an intent to maximise the profit, while denyin minorities or locals to exist in a way which do not suit them. Those system were the colonist nation-state and private trade company (such as the Dutch East India Trade Company or the British India Trade Company).

So yes, we need to use anti-colonialism tactics and strategy. Some of them implies getting the heck out of the toxic space those corporations to organize, we need to promote alternate cultural and ideas, we need to make association with the GAFAM as toxic as we can, for any one who would want to negociate with them to be publicly exposed and shamed as a white supremacist promoters and accomplice.

This is what everyone who want to give back control to societies and communities should do. None of the GAFAM are your allies, or ever will be your allies. They might provide some opportunistic help, but I really think that, in the longterm, it deals more damage than it create goods.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, I’m in criticial lack of coffee and there’s too many people here. The only thing I know is that we do not really know how to destroy the GAFAM, but that doesn’t means that we should not try anything. Or talking to activists who’s been fighting oppressive corporate and nation complex for decades. And supporting them wheneever you can.