Google and Facebook—the brightly coloured gateways to our information universe. Driven by visionaries and staffed by geniuses, these towering giants of the Internet certainly seem to deserve their success. Google, just 18 years old, is worth $500 billion and has been named the world's second most valuable brand; Facebook, though six years younger, has already signed up a quarter of the world's population and is growing faster. Google, the self-appointed “organizer of the world's information”, is the playfully brilliant company that can “do no evil”; Facebook, in the words of founder Mark Zuckerberg, is “bringing us closer together and building a global community... for our personal, emotional and spiritual needs”.
Scratch away the myth and things look different: Google and Facebook are rich, the critics charge, because they're multinational monsters, nimbly dodging national laws and taxes as they grind old-media industries into dust. Contemptuous of privacy, they hoover up our secrets so they can bombard us with personalized advertising, which they're happy to run against “fake news”, pirate music and movies, and even terrorist propaganda. Arrogant, irresponsible, and unaccountable, blessed with luck but cursed with bad judgement, Google and Facebook use their colourful logos as a cloak to mask a single, simple truth: essentially as ruthless and profit-hungry as any other corporate multinationals, they're the robber barons of the information age.
Meticulously researched, yet readable and accessible, World Wide Web War examines a range of controversial issues that keep these companies locked in the headlines. From the fake Facebook news that undermines elections to the creepy Google advertising that stalks us around the Net, from suicides and murders broadcast live on Facebook to YouTube videos that peddle hate speech and terrorism. All these things follow directly from the secretive algorithms that power Google and Facebook, and the war these companies are waging for a $600-billion, worldwide advertising market.
World Wide Web War is a long-overdue critique that dismantles two decades of the Google-Facebook story, revealing how these companies have carefully nurtured their own myths of genius technology, disruptive innovation, and social benevolence as a disguise for traditional, corporate domination. As they battle and bully for strategic control, what long-term, collateral damage are they doing to the Internet and the world beyond? Why have we let one of the most important public communication technologies ever invented fall into the hands of two secretive private companies, beyond oversight and control?
Chris Woodford had his first national magazine article published at the age of 13 and has been writing about science and technology ever since. After graduating from Cambridge University with a degree in Natural Sciences, he started his career in IBM's publishing division, then trained as an advertising copywriter in London with legendary maverick John Gillard. Quickly concluding that crisp packets and junk mail could never do justice to his literary ambitions, he moved into educational publishing as an editor at Dorling Kindersley (DK) just as it was pioneering electronic books in the mid-...
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