Monday, April 16, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg’s long game: the next billion – Monday Note

Final paragraphs from a wide-ranging Facebook reality check

"Thanks to its fantastic business success and the remarkable moral flexibility of its management, Facebook is poised to consolidate its global domination. Its one billion users in developing countries are already using the entire lineup of Facebook apps (WhatsApp is the number one application in 109 countries), which reminds me of this excellent article in Quartz “How Facebook can survive without the West’s advertising money”. The best (or worst) is yet to come, with Facebook products controlling the payment systems in these countries, and quite likely the distribution of information over mobile phones (and perhaps news production, thanks to multiple Facebook Journalism Projects that will foster editorial talent in Nigeria and elsewhere).

One element is missing in this bleak depiction: What Facebook will be willing and able to do in China. In theory, not much. The Great Firewall is pretty much impregnable. But we can factor in the following: one, Mark Zuckerberg has sent repeated signs of goodwill to the Chinese government, which sees him as ready to cooperate; two, when it come to dealing with the authoritarian regime of Xi Jinping, a new bar has been set by Apple, which agreed to store iCloud keys in China, potentially exposing millions of iPhone users to the scrutiny of Chinese authorities. That remarkable precedent could inspire Mark Zuckerberg, who already has a fertile imagination when it comes to scorning the basic rights of his billions of customers."
Mark Zuckerberg’s long game: the next billion – Monday Note

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