Metaverse: How Facebook’s rebranding reflects a dangerous trend …
(MENAFN- The Conversation) The rebranding of Facebook as Meta was seen by many as the company’s latest attempt to control corporate crises. The social media giant has been publicly attacked for creating an environment that fosters far-right extremism and violates the privacy of individuals’ data.
Yet it also represents an attempt to rename the growing power of technology monopolies to shape all areas of our lives through social expansion. It indicates a disturbing new era of “metacapitalism” – or “capitalism on steroids” as Forbes called it in 2000. It reflects a disturbing trend towards the massive expansion of technological conglomerates and the dangerous privatization of technological knowledge.
Rebranding of technological monopolies
Technology is rapidly transforming our world – from instant digital communication and AI decision making to virtual and augmented reality. The driving force behind these changes has been private tech companies, whether global start-ups or famous Silicon Valley conglomerates. But this combination of massive corporate profits and exciting technological innovations is the biggest myth of 21st century progress.
The truth is much more complicated. Big tech companies like Google and Facebook are increasingly criticized for collecting unethical data and using algorithms that encourage hate beliefs and viral disinformation.
Their technology has also encouraged unfair labor practices, including high-tech digital surveillance to monitor workers, as has happened in Amazon’s warehouses, and has facilitated digital platforms such as Uber, which refuse to guarantee the fundamental rights of workers.
In the longer term, the extraction of rare earth metals and the massive amounts of energy required to process the data are major contributors to climate change.
These problems point to the threat of capitalist technological monopolies where, according to theorist Neil Postman, culture “seeks its license in technology, finds its satisfaction in technology and takes its orders from technology”. Microsoft and Google have already been accused of monopoly practices.
These “bit tyrants” are disturbing “technopolises” who are actually using their power and influence to stifle innovation and competition using – ironically – the traditional practices of the old economy.
What is perhaps even more troubling is how these companies divert innovation from its potential for social welfare. Under the myth of the prosperity of Silicon Valley lurks the apparent attempts of big tech to promote corporate oligarchies and even authoritarian regimes to expand their economic reach and political power.
The much-publicized name change of these conglomerates is part of a larger rebranding of this technopole. As one commentator recently observed, “Facebook’s new name is ‘Meta’, and its new mission is to invent a ‘metaverse’ that will make us all forget what it did to our existing reality. It may be a different name, but it is the same economic, political and social threat to business.
The spread of metacapitalism
In his video announcement, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed that this dawn of the metaverse signaled a new technological era, giving viewers a glimpse of it in a virtual world where people could use avatars to live their imaginations. the craziest in real time with others. around the world.
The backlash has ranged from moral outrage at Facebook itself, to ridiculing Zuckerberg’s new take on technology. What is overlooked is how it represents the desire to create metacapitalism – which uses technology to shape, harness, and benefit from human interaction. It is a fully commercialized virtual reality world fueled by the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, unfair global working conditions, and the constant invasion of user data privacy for private financial gain.
Corporate and social rebranding is fundamental for the propagation of metacapitalism. Google’s 2015 name change to “Alphabet” reflects its desire to be more than just a search engine and to expand into other areas such as driverless cars, medical devices, home appliances. smart devices and drone delivery. Introducing the metaverse, Zuckerberg said:
He insisted, once again, that “we don’t build services to make money; we are making money to create better services ”.
These movements are part of a broader strategy aimed at socially renaming metacapitalism in a positive way. The introduction of the metaverse is part of a new trend in what business ethics scholar Carl Rhodes has called “awakened capitalism,” noting in a recent article that “the progressive actions of big business are not only unnecessary – they are dangerous ”.
Whether it is the Gates Foundation initially opposing the spread of global vaccines to protect patent rights, or Elon Musk promising to create a “multi-planetary civilization” – while avoiding paying taxes. much needed taxes here on Earth – corporations are now increasingly using philanthropy and utopian visions to hide their misdeeds today.
A force for good
The irony is that technology could in fact become a veritable force for radical social and economic transformation if it were freed from the narrow limits imposed on it by metacapitalism.
Digital platforms are already enabling greater cooperative ownership and direct democratic participation. Big data could be deployed to enable efficient use of energy through better tracking of energy consumption. It also allows community ownership of our information and the economy in general. 3D printers have the potential to revolutionize manufacturing so that we can easily and sustainably produce everything we need.
Importantly, open source technologies that allow their information to be freely available for use, modification and redistribution, could foster international collaboration and innovation on a scale previously unimaginable. They point to a realistic and utopian “post-capitalist” future that could transcend the need for exploitation based on principles of shared development and collective prosperity.
The rebranding of tech companies is not just cosmetic, it represents a dangerous attempt to monopolize all forms of technological development linked to a metaverse and the spread of metacapitalism. What is needed instead is a real discussion about promoting an open source culture, data rights and ownership, and the use of technology for positive social transformation – not just the sale of more products.
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