Many people feel that if you are not on Facebook, you do not exist. … With so much energy, success, and capital flowing into the surveillance capitalist domain, standing outside of it, let alone against it, can feel like a lonely and risky prospect.
(Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism p. 341)
Has Facebook become an essential condition for getting access to social life?
Is this platform the new public space, the one where citizens, politicians, and company leaders all gather to express their opinions and discuss public matter?
As we grow numb, the feeling of helplessness in front of giants like Facebook forces us to resign to immobility, to status quo: without appealing alternatives, our social lives are held increasingly captive to one private company—not just ours, but also hundreds of millions, even billions human beings.
Facebook hurts what is held most precious in human nature, namely:
- the right to free will and the will to will (our capacity to make authentic, autonomous decisions is threatened by predictive algorithms and their nudging mechanisms);
- the sanctity of the individual (whose private life is instrumentalized for commercial purposes);
- the ties of social intimacy (now captured by the company); and
- the trust they enable (each social link is now used to feed a highly lucrative predictive surveillance regime).
We can choose the brand of our shoes or our telephone service provider; but do we really have the choice of the platform for our social relationships? Will this choice prevent us from accessing public and social life?
As long as there is no market allowing for a healthy competition between companies controlling the digital industry and that the monumental power they concentrate is not broken up, such an anti-choice remains an absurdity we must fight and denounce.
The autonomy of the individual, the future of democracy, and the possibility of negotiation with those in power depend on our will to demand change.