Mark Zuckerberg will be hauled before Congress this week. He’ll apologise – but his company doesn’t know how to change its brand of ‘surveillnce capitalism’
Ponder this … and weep. The United States, theoretically a mature democracy of 327 million souls, is ruled by a 71-year-old unstable narcissist with a serious social media habit. And the lawmakers of this republic have hauled up before them a 34-year-old white male, one Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, the sole and impregnable ruler of a virtual country of about 2.2 billion people who stands accused of unwittingly facilitating the election of said narcissist by allowing Russian agents and other bad actors to exploit the surveillance apparatus of his – Zuckerberg’s – virtual state.
How did we get into this preposterous mess? Answering this question requires an understanding of (among other things) the peculiar nature of digital technology, the ideology of Silicon Valley, the astonishing political naivety of Zuckerberg, the ethical tunnel vision of software engineers and – most important – the business model that has come to be known as “surveillance capitalism”.