Cyber-power; is Facebook our new Government?

cloud server platforms

When your bobbing up and down on the Thames in a wooden boat for a few days, it’s difficult to imagine how tech platforms are changing the world, but returning to terra- firma and reading “the Fracturing of the Global Economic Consensus” by Rana Farooha, I got a significant wake up call.

The article ends where I begin.

As one participant replied when I asked if he thought Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg could still run for US president one day: “Why should she? She’s already leading Facebook.”

The capacity of technology platforms to take on aspects of Government is spelt out.

A few digitally savvy participants saw Libra (Facebook’s cryptocurrency) as only a first step into areas where governments (at least in the west) haven’t been able to effect change. Facebook could, conceivably, provide online education, or become an employment platform for legions of workers in a new global gig economy.

and the article talks of territories,  quite the opposite of cyber terrorism.

One participant, pointing out that liberal democratic governments simply can’t move fast enough to keep pace with technology, wondered whether “technology platforms might be the new Westphalian states”.

The rise of cyber-power

The ability to talk to and influence the population is something that liberal democracies have aspired to and achieved over the last 200 years. But they are now having to compete with Facebook, Linked in and Twitter as authoritative.

Indeed these platforms have forced Government to use them. Trump is a slave to twitter not the other way round.

And these platforms are American looking at  a regional breakdown of the equity market share of tech platforms — 70 per cent in the US, 27 per cent in Asia, and 3 per cent in Europe.

In terms of geo-politics, China has still a lot of catching up to do, but America’s geo-political advantage only translates into economic power if the US treasury can properly tax what its stock exchanges support.

The real power of the tech-platforms is with the likes of Sheryl Sandberg.

What does this mean to you and me?

As I look at politicians trying to be popular, I see populism destroying the aura of Government. If I walk into a Government department or even parliament and see an eminent politician, that eminence is usually tarnished by their participation on social media platforms.

Western Politicians are in hoc to social media and exposed to ridicule when they try to be popular on it. By comparison the Chinese political system (control and command) gives no such freedoms and may never embrace the social media platforms, watching how it is devaluing politics and politicians in the West.

I wonder whether in ten years time, I will be looking back at the article in the FT (and my reaction to it) and thinking “prescient”. Or will we see the rise of social media in the West as a bubble that burst – returning politics and economics to what many of my generation consider “business as usual”.

Oddly, this means a lot to me and you. Instead of being observers we are in the thick of it. What we say, observe and regurgitate shapes the prevailing consensus. If we chose to stop using social media, all cyber-power could be turned off.

Is that going to happen? I struggle to think of how it could.


Meanwhile – back on the water


Not all unicorns are “cyber”


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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