Digital Media and Global Affairs expert Dr. Taylor Owen argues the reality of the internet is now largely one of control, by four platform companies — Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple — worth a combined $2.7 trillion — and their impact on democracy is deeply troubling. In an open letter, Owen writes:
Our common grounding and ability to act as a collective are being undermined. We must take ownership of our digital lives. It means thinking very differently about the bargain that platforms are offering us. The answer isn’t to disengage, as these tools are embedded in our society, but instead to think critically about this bargain. But acting as individuals is insufficient. Platform companies are among the largest and most profitable in the world. They shape the internet, are the world’s market place, and are even planning and developing our cities. Their scale and power demands a collective response. This will mean altering our model of governance.