This is a tiny snippet from an upcoming exposé of the inner workings of the nightmare produced by Facebook, Google and Amazon
Isn’t it funny that the so called bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000 which resulted in a nearly 75% drop in the tech heavy NASDAQ index by March, 2000. Ultimately, among survivors and upstarts, the winner-takes-all saga led to no less than three trillion dollar companies.
If the internet is, or at lest was, a dead end for any company trying to profit, how could these few have profited so obscenely in such a short time?
Most of the answers to that question attempted for the last two decades have been blatant hero worship and “to the victors go the spoils” nonsense with hardly any media attention paid (at least until around 2016) to the deeper, and darker, story that explains this regrettable paradox.
While the truth, particularly when it comes to tech and the internet, is often maddeningly complex, hiding behind a veil of complexity is a standard technique for anyone wants to keep their billion dollar golden geese a secret, shell companies, offshore banking, derivatives and “CDOs” and the like all benefit from being opaque and complex.
And while the absolute details would take mountains of pages to explain, mainly to explain away all the contradictions, the base issues are at the same time, in many ways, insanely simple.
Fraud, Ponzi schemes, illegal monopolistic behavior, all the usual suspects are not only present but rampant and rancid like a planet sized pile of moldy cheese.
And those are the larger threads, the ones that fit into a framework of past anti-trust cases and prior greed fueled crime sprees.
The devil as they say, is always in the details. Here are a few, some general and others much more specific, that point to how we could have gotten to this absurd destination.
Google and the “hiding engine” from hell
While it is lovely that Google “allows” us to find out Lucille Ball’s birthday with a single click – or the capital of Afghanistan just as easily, what if you are looking for something a little less obvious? What if the information you need is worth something? What if you need fair, honest advice or even wisdom?
You’re out of luck. Since the entire basis for this business to to charge you (or somebody, regardless) for information that is, in reality, publicly available (the internet is public after all and the information on it does not belong to google), the primary function of Google’s vaunted trillion dollar algorithm is to hide any information of value from you until they have extracted a price.
Since they are known as a “search engine” this is counterintuitive but it will make more sense as we delve into the other two “winners” of the dot-com era. Each of these three companies share this one thing in common. They are all build to exclude, hide and criminally manipulate essentially public information for the benefit of a private enterprise. k?
Facebook and the lure of “exclusive membership”
As has been well documented, to the extent of having been memorialized in a feature length hollywood film, the fast start in membership that Facebook achieved was based on two “triggers” related to exclusivity and “hiding” of information. The first was, during the initial launch at harvard and for a period of time at various other colleges and universities, a requirement for membership was “proof” that you were a student in the form of an “edu” suffixed email. This added popularity to the site as those joining felt they had not only potential access to others where they went to school, but also would not be associating with non-students, or in the extreme initial example, not socializing with non-harvard people.
While this seems innocuous enough and a great marketing ploy, indeed it was heralded as genius by hundreds of sycophantic scribes, the next bit is where the system that exists to this day became an engine for corporate greed at the expense of virtually the entire world population.
Once you join Facebook, you are “allowed” to have contact only with “friends” that authorize you to do so. But the recommendations for “friending” those people, other than from your own laborious manual searching, are controlled by Facebooks algorithms.
This is a familiar tune. The real purpose of this structure was not to give you exclusivity or for you to benefit from the “wisdom” of the algorithm, but to block private and, in particular, business entities from coming in contact with you without first paying Facebook. In other words, using its log-in membership system and proprietary software labyrinth as a private, separate internet sphere, it was able to build the largest network of phantom tool booths the world has ever seen and now collects hundreds of billions simply because “the public” has opted-in and has no idea what an open alternative would look like or the damage that has been done by this harmless seeming “social platform”.
The real potential of networked human communications, a.k.a. the internet, is almost totally lost to history, with the surviving structure entirely based on the systems that these three giants have constructed with a view to nothing more than private, personal enrichment.
While this opinion may seem harsh, looking at the inner workings of the software and who financially benefits vs. who loses (a.k.a. everybody else) will, in time expose one of the greatest swindles ever perpetrated on the public, in this case the entire world population, or at least the population of internet users across the globe.
Amazon and the alleged layers of deceit and corruption beyond all imaginings
It is fairly common these days to hear criticism of Amazon and “worlds richest man” Bezos, which is understandable since the operation is so massive and, like any huge concern, likely to step on a few toes here and there, regardless.
Naturally there is also plenty of hero worship, particularly the insane love of “Bezonomics” and a cult of personality toward the founder and CEO for, well, stepping on the most faces of any human, other than perhaps Genghis Kahn.
Again, the real devil is in the details. It is easy to defend any criticism of the company by pointing out the “good” that it has done or continues to do and to create a “straw man” argument that the company should somehow get “credit” for those things and that they somehow offset any valid critique.
That is like saying someone who succeeded in getting elected president by bribing millions of voters should therefore be allowed to wage war or imprison anyone he likes since he has earned “credit” by doing right by those who were bribed.
There a little story, told to us by an anonymous source, who’s stories have all checked out before, that illustrates the system at work when you step onto the private property of Amazon’s web site.
Again search is at the center of the story, as is the requirement to log in and agree to terms and conditions. This is tantamount to agreeing that you are leaving the public sphere and are agreeing to abide by the rules and be subject to the whims of the private entity on whose “sole property” you are now “standing” / shopping.
In that private world Amazon, and by extension Bezos, not only play god, they are god.
To illustrate this fact let’s say you have a 7 year-old child that loves a certain children’s character and you want to buy a book that has “pop-up” cut-outs to entertain and delight. And this exact item can be found via “search”.
Naturally, you type in the name of the book or character and perhaps add “pop-up”. What shows up in the “search” results is exactly what you are looking for. It’s the precise item and it looks exactly as you had hoped. Then you look at the price. $50. Hmmm that’s a little high you think. With a little further research you find out that the “MSRP” for this item, a.k.a. the list price is $30 which seems a bit odd.
You keep trying to search and click any link on the site that will lead you to the same item at a more reasonable price – but that is only available “used” and you will not purchase a used item for your child!
In the end you rationalize, it must be a very rare item to have such a high price, and since the Amazon search results “must be scientific” there are apparently no lower priced copies available. So you buy it.
This scenario was repeated hundreds if not thousands of times for this one product over a period of several months. And likely was repeated millions of times over a period of years across thousand, if not millions of items. So what?
The search is rigged, that’s what. How do I know? The person that related this story was the seller, in 2014, of over 1000 copies of the item at $50. He did not create this fraud, merely piggybacked on what Amazon itself had set up. Only they have control of the search results.
What’s the big deal you say, after all there were no cheaper units available so it is just “surge pricing”; supply and demand, right?
Wrong. There was, after all, another listing of the same item, expertly hidden by Amazon, where only a hacker or software expert could find it. On that listing, for those that Amazon chose not to swindle, was the exact same item for the standard, heavily discounted, price of $16 or nearly 50% off the list or MSRP. You see, the result is, regardless of who is selling the item, Amazon earns triple (triple the fees) when the price is higher, as in this example.
This is not an isolated “mistake”. Many who have experience working inside the Amazon system have seen literally thousands of similar examples all tied to this “malfunctioning” search engine.
What’s more a calculation of the possible financial benefits during the time in question amounted to nearly the entire reported net profit of the entire company. It was common knowledge that the company was reporting little or no net profit during many years, even as it remained a darling of stockholders.
And if any one would bring such a specific case to Amazon’s attention? Naturally they would blame the seller, software issues, the moon and the stars, anything but admit that they use every inch of their private real estate for one purpose and one purpose only, to maximize the amount of money that ends us in their accounts.
And many who are reading this still don’t get it. “Why not?” It’s capitalism after all! To the victor go the spoils! Hail Ceasar! Heil Hitler. It’s your internet. Not theirs.
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