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It's the Relationship, Stupid


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As I said, power platforms are powerful. And that is out of the question, but it is somewhat controversial where that come power derives from the fact that platforms are well positioned to gather lots of data and that some of its business models, especially advertisement is very data driven has led to the conclusion that the power of platforms derives from that data wealth, the notion of surveillance capitalism has therefore taken root in the debates around platforms.
Two recent events make you think. First Google introduced a privacy preserving way of targeting its ads. And this is called the privacy sent box. As you might heard, heard Apple's prohibition of tracking by an opt-in feature called app tracking transparency in its operating systems. And you would ask why on earth would the biggest platform companies in the world, which allegedly live off our data would crack down on tracking, right? But this is hardly the first time this narrative has been challenged. Take the GDPR. The GDPR has always been advertised as a huge hit against the power of Google, Facebook and the likes. And the thinking goes, if we can limit the ability of platforms to surveil, we can also limit their power. Right? However expectations, as it turned out were hugely overblown. Instead, Google and Facebook profited from GDP. I GDPR reg regulation, big time, they increased both their market share and their revenues by selling targeted debts in 2018 alone, the GDPR, when the GDPR got into effect, Facebook's revenue increased 40% and Google's even 20.
While the rest of the at market only grew about 14% and Google's market share grew 5.4%. So you can ask what's going on here. Okay. And first of all, all, both companies profited from the consolidation of the ad tech market for you to implement the measures, to comply with the GDPR, you had to invest huge upfront costs, which was not feasible for some of the smaller companies. And they just vanished second, most independent ad tech companies didn't have direct access to the people they were tracking. They didn't even know who they were, which you might think is a good thing in terms of privacy, right? But it's actually a bad thing. Since you have trouble to get informed consent of your users, different to independent ad tech companies, Google and Facebook can easily change their policies and letting their users agree on an updated terms of services better, but on Google and Facebook's ability to gather data constrained by the GDPR.
Sure. To some extent, but so everyone's else. And since the total amount of advertisement dollars does, did not change that money still flows to the big platforms. And since the market has been consolidated even more so at this point, the notion put forward by people like S that platforms are generating some kind of behavioral surplus by manipulating. People can be counted as disproven platforms do not generate any surplus value by surveilling people. In fact, the real manipulation takes place. Whenever these companies hugely exaggerate their manipulation capabilities to their ad customers, ironically something Hubba herself contributes to apple, Uber, Facebook, and other platforms are just best positioned to capture big chunks of existing markets. Be it the market, the at market or the right hailing market, the smartphone app market, whatever. And consequently, that is also what's behind the initiatives of apple and Google.
Since the introduction of both app tracking transparency and privacy sandbox, a lot of concern have been risen toward competition and market concentration, apple, as some have argued Schutze out competition by destroying the ad business model that apple relies less on than its competitors. And Google's privacy sandbox has raised a lot of scrutiny by regulator. Since the world concept only works because of Google's heavily vertically integrated text from the browser to the protocol to the actual service. Google can leverage its text deck in order to make assumptions about their users without generating user profiles. At this point, it might be important to remind ourselves what privacy as a concept was meant to be initially. And now I get into the terrain of my previous speaker, whenever you refer to the American narrative, the right to be left alone, as it was stated by Lu Brandeis in the late 19th century, or if you take the German idea of informational, safe, determination, coined on the late 20th century, in each instance, privacy law has some common properties.
First privacy is a right second, that right is centered around individuals. And third, the right was meant to work as a defense against the state. The letter was at least the original understanding of course, which is understandable since it has always been. And I would argue, continues to be the main threat to individual Liberty, which is in turn a direct reside of the monopoly of power that we have granted to our governments. The constitution where individual rights are stated is a mechanism really for the state to restrain itself. It only works because the state is based on the very same rules of law that, and therefore can be held accountable to it. Only recently, we have begun to define privacy rights also between private actors, like companies that works to a certain extent since the state is operationally capable to assess and enforce privacy expectations in civil society. And this brings us back to platforms. Platforms are something that doesn't really fit into these categories. Platforms are certainly not the state, right? Although they too fulfilled some governance functions, which differentiates them from common, private entities like companies, although platforms are mostly run by private companies, but platforms are not just companies, either.
As I put it in my book, they are a certain form of social organization, especially kind of collective platforms are different types of collective or as David CVO puts it, they are aggregated collectives opposed to sovereign collectives. The letter being entities like clubs and companies and parties, nation states, even conferences like this one, which are basically groups of people who define themselves as a group and give themselves rules and people within aggregated collectives like platforms. On the other hand, they don't define themselves as a group just because you use Uber or WhatsApp or Twitter. You don't define yourself as a group of the users. So platforms are more like languages than nation states. Really. They are means of communications and not entities to be part of platforms, consist of accumulated decisions of adaption of a particular standard. But since the goal of adapting, a standard is always to connect to other people. Each decision of adaption is heavily informed by the decisions already made by others. Each decision is therefore not really attributable to an individual. It is distic. What does that mean? Distic the distinction between individual and D was first introduced by TRIZ and the French philosopher in his 1990s essay post to the societies of control. He argues that the era of the disciplinary society, as it was described by Michelle Fuko has come to an end. And a new paradigm of power has emerged, which he calls the societies of control one major difference, being the attributability to both the subject and the object of power relations.
The individual, which is letter for undivided can only attributed with a decision that is first is informed by every other person's deciding prior to him. And second, that will affect the decisions of every other person after him. And the act of adapting a standard is for instance, always individual divided in letter, right?
So in order to learn how platforms platform, power works, we need to learn how platforms see the world. They don't see individuals, they don't, they see individuals, the platform different to the state, which is still a construct of this disciplinary society does not care about you as a person. It does not try to govern you. It is not interested in disciplining you, you don't need to submit of it in what the platform does care about is statistics. It cares about active users. It cares about growth. It cares about target groups and about behavior on an aggregate level. And if you leave a platform, nobody will even notice. Even if thousands of people leave a platform at once the platform won't bother. But if thousands of people with shared attributes, individuals shared attributes like middle aged mothers from Southern states, leave the platform. The platform will take notice and will maybe even be alarmed because there's a pattern. There's something going on here. This is the difference between how the states sees the society and how platforms see society, platforms, own relationships. They own who, you know, where you go, what interests you have, what you watch, what you care about. They don't own these things of persons themselves, but they own the access to them.
That is because they control the means of connection and they try to own it exclusively. And that ladies and gentlemen is the real power of platforms. So I get to my conclusion and we get back to privacy. So privacy is considered a right, sure. But platforms do not really care about rights. In fact, they are totally happy to give you every right. You want join, leave, agree, disagree. Everything's voluntary, at least at the surface. And that is because second, the right is centered around individuals. So it doesn't really count. It doesn't really account for the power of distic relationships and choices. As I talked about, which is not the power of coercion where you need a negative right against that was the state error, but the power of predefined and incentivized choices. And the third thing was that the right was meant to work as a defense against the state and later for the private entities. And since platforms want to own your relationships, exclusively, your connections, as well as the connections to you,
Privacy
Laws are actually helping them doing exactly that. So my conclusion is basically applying individual rights to users in order to curb platform, power is a category mistake. Thank you very much.

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