It Is Just Business

June 19, 2018

Australia is a long way from Harrod’s Creek. I notice this “real” news item: “Aussie Start-Up Ups the Stakes in Global Fight with Google.

The story alleges that Unlockd’s app was blocked on the Google Play store. As a result, the company is on thin ice. The story reveals:

Google’s threat had “a deep impact” on the company’s now-delayed plans to float on the Australian stock exchange.

Is this possible? Consider that Facebook has been under a lot of fire since the Cambridge Analytica kerfuffle. Now The Guardian announces, “Zuckerberg Set Up Fraudulent Scheme to ‘Weaponise’ Data, Court Case Alleges.”  The article points to a lawsuit by a California company that claims Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg specifically, hatched a plan to “weaponize” user data against other companies. Writers Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison explain:

“A legal motion filed last week in the superior court of San Mateo draws upon extensive confidential emails and messages between Facebook senior executives including Mark Zuckerberg. He is named individually in the case and, it is claimed, had personal oversight of the scheme. Facebook rejects all claims, and has made a motion to have the case dismissed using a free speech defence. It claims the first amendment protects its right to make ‘editorial decisions’ as it sees fit. Zuckerberg and other senior executives have asserted that Facebook is a platform not a publisher, most recently in testimony to Congress. … The developer alleges the correspondence shows Facebook paid lip service to privacy concerns in public but behind the scenes exploited its users’ private information. It claims internal emails and messages reveal a cynical and abusive system set up to exploit access to users’ private information, alongside a raft of anti-competitive behaviours. Facebook said the claims had no merit and the company would ‘continue to defend ourselves vigorously’.”

As for those “anti-competitive” behaviors, the suit claims that as many as 40,000 companies that had been enticed to rely on Facebook for traffic  were betrayed when, it says, the platform throttled their reach to followers for business reasons. It also posits that the liberties the company has taken with user data were to make up for its failure to dominate the mobile space back in 2012. See the write-up, if curious, for more details. We are told a trial date has been set for April of next year.

There’s no pattern discernible from the actions of two different companies. I assume that “It’s just business.”

Cynthia Murrell, June 19, 2018

 

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