Facebook as a Colonial Power?

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I came across this clever image today, comparing Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Of course I came across it on Facebook!

On the left Assange says, “I give private information on corporations to you for free, and I am a villain.”

On the right Zuckerberg goes, “I give your private information to corporations for money, and I am Man of the Year.”

Right before that striking comparison, I had seen this clever cartoon.

The cartoon reads, “How about a compromise? We keep the land, the mineral rights, natural resources, fishing, and timber, and we’ll acknowledge you as the traditional owners of it.”

I can’t help but reflect that Facebook policy is rather like colonial policy. We’re traditional owners of our information, they just get to keep all the rights and sell it as they want.

Lots of internet companies seem to be working this way. Facebook’s approach to privacy – of course you have it, but we get to own and distribute the resulting information – isn’t that different from Apple’s new ibook author software – you create it, but if you use our software to publish it, we effectively own it. But, hey, your name is on it!

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