Google, Facebook & Amazon’s threats to local business
• Online sales will account for 17% of all US retail sales by 2022. Think about any small business losing even 10% of current sales to online = failure
• Compete in new ways. Active communication about products, sales, sales, coupons, and online.
• In 2017 Facebook and Google account for 84% of new digital advertising and 96% of its growth.
• Amazon captured 50% of black Friday sales and 44% of all online sales in 2017. They reached 38% in 2016.
• Google controls 90% of all online searches
• All local businesses are under life threatening pressure from Amazon, online giants and mega retailers
By Max Hastings for the Daily Mail // Published: 2 January 2018 // RC edited
1984. Almost 70 years ago, George Orwell wrote a nightmare into our language when, in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, he imagined a future in which ‘Big Brother’ scrutinizes an enslaved society with an all-seeing eye. More recently, civil libertarians have warned ubiquitous CCTV and Government surveillance, born out of the fight against terrorism, have begun to fulfil Orwell’s prophesy. Yet both the fictional fantasies and daily realities pale into insignificance alongside the threat posed by social media. Scarcely imagined a generation ago, they have become a monstrous, intrusive presence in almost all our lives, especially frightening because of their influence upon children.
Ruthless. Don’t take my word for it. Facebook’s former technology chief said a few days ago the site is ripping apart the fabric of society — ‘eroding human interactions’ and leaving users feeling ‘vacant and empty’. Headed by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, these men and women are armed with the most personal details about each and every one of us such as no Gestapo, KGB or Inquisition in history ever dreamed of possessing. And all this information is being extracted every second of every day — not by red hot irons and thumbscrews, but because we are handing it over through our own actions.
Comment – there seems to be ZERO outcry when these giants work with China, Iran and other dictatorial countries to install repressive filters to block any information that the government deems undesirable.
As for the scarily addictive Facebook, five years ago, when it reached a billion users, 55 per cent of them used it daily. Today, numbers have doubled — with two-thirds updating their entries every day.
We make constant voluntary sacrifices of privacy in pursuit of convenience and social exchange, seemingly unaware of the consequences. There are 32 million UK Facebook users, and the company uploads more than 300 million images every day. Many of the young not only expose every detail of their relationships, social and working lives, but some also photograph and then broadcast images of themselves having sex. Maja Pantic, a professor of affective and behavioural computing at Imperial College in London, offers a dire warning: ‘As individuals, we must get back the ownership of our own data — we just don’t understand how bad this really is.’
Already there is a fightback. Millions of iPhone users, led by the former chief of the consumer watchdog is seeking a £1 billion settlement after falling victim to Google embedding computer codes in their Apple devices which were designed to reveal to Google the websites users visited. As for the scarily addictive Facebook, five years ago, when it reached a billion users, 55 per cent of them used it daily. Today, numbers have doubled — with two-thirds updating their entries every day. For their part, while YouTube’s bosses profess a willingness to tackle abuses (some of them appalling) and Google at least pretends to think about them, Facebook simply does not care, according to a social media analyst.
The company’s origins explain a lot. Peter Thiel, one of its inventors, formed an early fascination for a 20th-century French philosopher and anthropologist called Rene Girard who identified a phenomenon known as ‘mimetic desire’. His reasoning was that, once human beings have met their basic needs for food and shelter, they are very vulnerable to a yearning to find out what other people are doing, then do it themselves. A testy stand-off happened between the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee and executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google, who were lambasted for the appalling content allowed on their sites. Thus, at the heart of Facebook’s stupendous success is how it exploits the human weakness of ‘me-tooism’ (our wish to copy the behaviour of others) on a global scale. Its system empowers individuals to connect with others who think like themselves, in a way that no other medium in history has made possible.
Targeting. In both the political and consumer spheres, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple are constantly refining its reach by targeting users with the precision of a telescopic sight through its knowledge of their age, race, sex, shopping habits and preferences. Its partnership with Experian, a consumer credit reporting agency, has dramatically increased its information on people’s credit ratings and purchases, reaching back over decades. Facebook trumpets its benevolence in enabling mankind to connect, to ‘build communities’, as if Mark Zuckerberg was a modern-day Mother Teresa, Walt Disney and William Caxton all rolled into one.
Dangerous. Zuckerberg’s prime interest is to make money from us. Facebook is valued at around £400 billion, making it the fourth most valuable company on the planet. Zuckerberg’s personal wealth is around £60 billion. What makes him and his fellow-social media giants uniquely dangerous, however, is not their money, but their unprecedented, intimate personal knowledge of billions of people. No human can be entrusted with such data, which we should properly view as a weapon of mass destruction. There must be regulation of social media, and every government in the world ought to address itself on how best this can be implemented, without, of course, imposing improper restrictions on free speech. It must be the beginning of wisdom that we understand how wildly excessive and deeply dangerous are the powers of the social media giants, headed by Facebook. They cannot be un-invented, but they must be tamed. Should we fail to do this, these wild beasts will devour our democracies, individual freedoms, media, and local businesses.