Facebook: A Cooperative Transformation
Date Written: 11/04/2018
Year Published: 2018
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX22178
Facebook represents a standard for a global model of concentration of wealth and power in the 21st century, joined by companies like Google, Amazon, and Uber. Entrepreneurs with computer skills and good or lucky timing have privatized and enclosed the global information commons and have enriched themselves by providing services for free or for reduced prices to the billions.
Regulation of Facebook as a preeminent global media company is certainly necessary. Britain, just decided that the broadcast propaganda of Fox "news" will not be welcome on State controlled airways. But Facebook is different. It is at the heart of the internet;s global social interconnection.
What we need to recognize and take action on is that Facebook can be transformed not merely as a vehicle to build wealth for Zuckerberg and friends, but, over time, as a user owned and worker owned cooperative that share the benefits and assets, and makes the global internet commons a venue for common wealth for all users and for its workers. It is not in either the national or the common global interests of the billions for a handful of billionaires to own and control the portals and tools that characterize the global internet commons.
The kind of global monopoly power now wielded by a small number of corporations, enriching a small number of individuals, needs to be recognized as an intolerable and unsustainable model for a global economy in the 21stcentury. For me, the most effective means of dealing with the Facebooks of the world is not simply breaking them up into smaller national companies, or treating and regulating them as public utilities. Classic examples are trustbusting in a manner similar to the break-up of Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company into a number of what would be giant, vertically integrated oil majors; or dividing the utility empire of Samuel Insul into regulated "public" utilities; or, more recently, the break up of ATT into today's competitive telecom giants.