Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Were We Destined to Live in Facebook’s World? -- The Atlantic

From an interview with Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of the recent book Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy
"Vaidhyanathan: Here is the nightmare scenario for Facebook that could bring them down. And it’s a worse situation than we have now. [Dominant Chinese social network] WeChat goes global. It bursts out of the confines of [China] and its diaspora and there is a functional version in 20, 50, 100 languages. Facebook could be in big trouble because WeChat does everything. WeChat is the operating system of a billion users. If you’re in China, you must use WeChat, almost everybody does. If you’re in China and you use WeChat, you are checking out library books, making doctor’s appointments, buying fast food. WeChat does what Facebook does and what Twitter does and what Instagram does and what your banking app does. Each of us has like, 60 apps on our phones and we use like, 7 of them. In China, you really only need the one.

What will then happen is that Facebook will double down on becoming the operating system of our lives. It will bolster the ways that its various functions work together. Instagram would be folded into Facebook and WhatsApp will be folded into Messenger. You can see Messenger looking more like WeChat all the time. If Facebook gets into China, it’ll introduce Messenger first.

Facebook breaks down and gives authoritarian states information about us and WeChat romps around the world, giving that information to the government of China. So, in that perverse way, serious competition for Facebook is a far worse scenario than we have now."
Some related reviews and interviews:
p.s. also in the news today: Facebook Sets Up China Subsidiary to Build Innovation Hub (Bloomberg) and Facebook Gains Status in China, at Least for a Moment (NYT)

p.s.s. update: China to pull approval for Facebook's planned venture: New York Times (Reuters)
Were We Destined to Live in Facebook’s World? -- The Atlantic

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