Before the outbreak of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), Western technology companies, most of them U.S.-based like Google and Facebook, were already vacuuming up large quantities of our personal data and trading or selling it like it was a commodity in some bizarre 21st-century version of a Roman market.
But after the outbreak has now driven some 40 percent of the world’s population (more in the U.S.) out of the public square and into our homes, we continue to crave contact with the outside world.
And Big Tech is there to deliver it to us.
We FaceTime more. We Snapchat. We WhatsApp. We Skype. We are dating, intermingling, visiting, and interacting virtually now, and each day it seems that, as the outbreak widens and deepens, our leaders keep moving the self- isolation and social distancing goal posts.
And throughout it all, we seem to be more willing than ever to disregard digital privacy as we feed our desire to interact.
“Likewise, the market power that made Big Tech look so dangerous makes it look vital and dependable now,” writes Lionel Laurent for Bloomberg News.
Amazon, for instance, “which has always wanted to be the Everything Store, is now the Only Store in cities like Paris and San Francisco, where it’s an essential lifeline for a myriad of household goods (with some restrictions) that can’t always be found in the grocery stores or drugstores that are still operating,” Laurent continues.
And now, a mega-corporation once accused of killing off large sectors of the economy — malls, retailers, even food distributors — has become, in the Age of Coronavirus, the only part of the economy that still functions.
Ditto for the other tech giants.
Laurent believes that it’s possible we’re seeing the beginning of a new economy, post-virus, and one that will be forged by a merger of sorts between Big Tech and Big Government. While the former becomes the dominant economic and social interaction force, the latter will use the former to help track disease and in the meantime our activities.
Does Mark Zuckerberg know more about the virus pandemic than Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro?
Because we can’t have a successful pandemic response without knowing whether or not the bourgeoisie are in compliance, right?
Gone now are the calls for Big Government to place any restraint on Big Tech. The former must support the latter if the masses are to be supplied, entertained, connected and placated during this time of extreme danger and emergency measures. (Related: Three unmistakable signs that WAR is coming to America: Pompeo orders all American citizens to “immediately” return to the USA.)
Will it become the ‘new normal?’ Sure, if the power brokers have their way about it.
Already, power is being flexed, as Laurent writes:
Facebook Inc. is taking down harmful misinformation related to the new coronavirus and redirecting users to public health authorities. Amazon has banned more than one million products that falsely promised to cure the coronavirus. Google is banning promotional ads for medical masks so they aren’t hoarded by panic-buyers.
Meanwhile, the Big Tech giants are flexing their muscle in the U.S., and without even a hint of interference from Congress.
Breitbart News Senior Technology Correspondent Allum Bokhari writes that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is now the country’s “chief medical officer.”
“Does Mark Zuckerberg know more about the Chinese virus pandemic than Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro?” writes Bokhari, adding that likely the Brazilian leader does for a number of reasons, including life experiences and the fact that he’s the head of a country.
And yet, Zuckerberg’s platform has banned footage of Bolsonaro speaking to his people, attempting to calm their fears about the virus.
What’s next, choosing what news Americans can see on his platform? Oh, wait…