GAFA: C’est des salauds, mais des salauds tellement cool ! (Will Silicon Valley finally lose its most-favored robber baronism clause ?)

C’est un salaud, mais c’est notre salaud. John Foster Dulles (?)
J’appelle stratégies de condescendance ces transgressions symboliques de la limite qui permettent d’avoir à la fois les profits de la conformité à la définition et les profits de la transgression : c’est le cas de l’aristocrate qui tape sur la croupe du palefrenier et dont on dira «II est simple», sous-entendu, pour un aristocrate, c’est-à-dire un homme d’essence supérieure, dont l’essence ne comporte pas en principe une telle conduite. En fait ce n’est pas si simple et il faudrait introduire une distinction : Schopenhauer parle quelque part du «comique pédant», c’est-à-dire du rire que provoque un personnage lorsqu’il produit une action qui n’est pas inscrite dans les limites de son concept, à la façon, dit-il, d’un cheval de théâtre qui se mettrait à faire du crottin, et il pense aux professeurs, aux professeurs allemands, du style du Professor Unrat de V Ange bleu, dont le concept est si fortement et si étroitement défini, que la transgression des limites se voit clairement. A la différence du professeur Unrat qui, emporté par la passion, perd tout sens du ridicule ou, ce qui revient au même, de la dignité, le consacré condescendant choisit délibérément de passer la ligne ; il a le privilège des privilèges, celui qui consiste à prendre des libertés avec son privilège. C’est ainsi qu’en matière d’usage de la langue, les bourgeois et surtout les intellectuels peuvent se permettre des formes d’hypocorrection, de relâchement, qui sont interdites aux petits-bourgeois, condamnés à l’hypercorrection. Bref, un des privilèges de la consécration réside dans le fait qu’en conférant aux consacrés une essence indiscutable et indélébile, elle autorise des transgressions autrement interdites : celui qui est sûr de son identité culturelle peut jouer avec la règle du jeu culturel, il peut jouer avec le feu, il peut dire qu’il aime Tchaikovsky ou Gershwin, ou même, question de «culot», Aznavour ou les films de série B. Pierre Bourdieu
Bourdieu chose to make it his life’s work to debunk the powerful classes’ pretensions that they were more deserving of authority or wealth than those below. He aimed his critiques first at his own class of elites — professors and intellectuals — then at the media, the political class and the propertied class. “Distinction,” published in 1979, was an undisputed masterwork. In it, Bourdieu set out to show the social logic of taste: how admiration for art, appreciation of music, even taste in food, came about for different groups, and how “superior” taste was not the result of an enchanted superiority in scattered individuals. This may seem a long way from Wellington-booted and trucker-hatted American youth in gentrifying neighborhoods. But Bourdieu’s innovation, applicable here, was to look beyond the traditional trappings of rich or poor to see battles of symbols (like those boots and hats) traversing all society, reinforcing the class structure just as money did. (…) The power of Bourdieu’s statistics was to show how rigid and arbitrary the local conformities were. In American terms, he was like an updater of Thorstein Veblen, who gave us the idea of “conspicuous consumption.” College teachers and artists, unusual in believing that a beautiful photo could be made from a car crash, began to look conditioned to that taste, rather than sophisticated or deep. White-collar workers who defined themselves by their proclivity to eat only light foods — as opposed to farmworkers, who weren’t ashamed to treat themselves to “both cheese and a dessert” — seemed not more refined, but merely more conventional. Taste is not stable and peaceful, but a means of strategy and competition. Those superior in wealth use it to pretend they are superior in spirit. Groups closer in social class who yet draw their status from different sources use taste and its attainments to disdain one another and get a leg up. These conflicts for social dominance through culture are exactly what drive the dynamics within communities whose members are regarded as hipsters. Once you take the Bourdieuian view, you can see how hipster neighborhoods are crossroads where young people from different origins, all crammed together, jockey for social gain. One hipster subgroup’s strategy is to disparage others as “liberal arts college grads with too much time on their hands”; the attack is leveled at the children of the upper middle class who move to cities after college with hopes of working in the “creative professions.” These hipsters are instantly declassed, reservoired in abject internships and ignored in the urban hierarchy — but able to use college-taught skills of classification, collection and appreciation to generate a superior body of cultural “cool.” They, in turn, may malign the “trust fund hipsters.” This challenges the philistine wealthy who, possessed of money but not the nose for culture, convert real capital into “cultural capital” (Bourdieu’s most famous coinage), acquiring subculture as if it were ready-to-wear. (Think of Paris Hilton in her trucker hat.) Both groups, meanwhile, look down on the couch-­surfing, old-clothes-wearing hipsters who seem most authentic but are also often the most socially precarious — the lower-middle-class young, moving up through style, but with no backstop of parental culture or family capital. They are the bartenders and boutique clerks who wait on their well-to-do peers and wealthy tourists. Only on the basis of their cool clothes can they be “superior”: hipster knowledge compensates for economic immobility. All hipsters play at being the inventors or first adopters of novelties: pride comes from knowing, and deciding, what’s cool in advance of the rest of the world. Yet the habits of hatred and accusation are endemic to hipsters because they feel the weakness of everyone’s position — including their own. Proving that someone is trying desperately to boost himself instantly undoes him as an opponent. He’s a fake, while you are a natural aristocrat of taste. That’s why “He’s not for real, he’s just a hipster” is a potent insult among all the people identifiable as hipsters themselves. The attempt to analyze the hipster provokes such universal anxiety because it calls everyone’s bluff. And hipsters aren’t the only ones unnerved. Many of us try to justify our privileges by pretending that our superb tastes and intellect prove we deserve them, reflecting our inner superiority. Those below us economically, the reasoning goes, don’t appreciate what we do; similarly, they couldn’t fill our jobs, handle our wealth or survive our difficulties. Of course this is a terrible lie. And Bourdieu devoted his life to exposing it. Those who read him in effect become responsible to him — forced to admit a failure to examine our own lives, down to the seeming trivialities of clothes and distinction that, as Bourdieu revealed, also structure our world. Mark Greif
L’aura de cool absolu qui entoure Barack Obama doit en effet beaucoup –voire tout– à Pete Souza. Le photographe officiel canarde le président américain partout –dans son bureau, dans ses voyages, quand il va embrasser des bébés et manger des hot-dogs– et fournit en instantané sa légende iconographique. Les photos sont mises à disposition du public et des médias par la Maison Blanche, sous une license Creative Commons, pour qu’elles soient mieux partagées. Grâce à Pete Souza, on a l’impression d’être dans la vraie vie de Barack Obama, alors que rien n’est plus construit que ses photos. Slate
The aesthetics of cool developed mainly as a behavioral attitude practiced by black men in the United States at the time of slavery. Slavery made necessary the cultivation of special defense mechanisms which employed emotional detachment and irony. A cool attitude helped slaves and former slaves to cope with exploitation or simply made it possible to walk the streets at night. During slavery, and long afterwards, overt aggression by blacks was punishable by death. Provocation had to remain relatively inoffensive, and any level of serious intent had to be disguised or suppressed. So cool represents a paradoxical fusion of submission and subversion. It’s a classic case of resistance to authority through creativity and innovation. Today the aesthetics of cool represents the most important phenomenon in youth culture. The aesthetic is spread by Hip Hop culture for example, which has become “the center of a mega music and fashion industry around the world” (…). Black aesthetics, whose stylistic, cognitive, and behavioural tropes are largely based on cool-mindedness, has arguably become “the only distinctive American artistic creation” (…). The African American philosopher Cornel West sees the “black-based Hip Hop culture of youth around the world” as a grand example of the “shattering of male, WASP cultural homogeneity” (…). While several recent studies have shown that American brand names have dramatically slipped in their cool quotients worldwide, symbols of black coolness such as Hip Hop remain exportable. However, ‘cool’ does not only refer to a respected aspect of masculine display, it’s also a symptom of anomie, confusion, anxiety, self-gratification and escapism, since being cool can push individuals towards passivity more than towards an active fulfillment of life’s potential. Often “it is more important to be ‘cool and down’ with the peer group than to demonstrate academic achievement,” write White & Cones (…). On the one hand, the message produced by a cool pose fascinates the world because of its inherent mysteriousness. The stylized way of offering resistance that insists more on appearance than on substance can turn cool people into untouchable objects of desire. On the other hand, to be cool can be seen as a decadent attitude leading to individual passivity and social decay. The ambiguity residing in this constellation lends the cool scheme its dynamics, but it also makes its evaluation very difficult. (…) A president is uncool if he clings to absolute power, but becomes cooler as soon as he voluntarily concedes power in order to maintain democratic values. Thorsten Botz-Bornstein
Cool est généralement associé au sang-froid et au contrôle de soi et il est utilisé dans ce sens comme une expression d’approbation ou d’admiration. Cette notion peut aussi être associée à une forme de nonchalance. Wikipedia
There is no single concept of cool. One of the essential characteristics of cool is its mutability—what is considered cool changes over time and varies among cultures and generations. One consistent aspect however, is that cool is wildly seen as positive and desirable. Although there is no single concept of cool, its definitions fall into a few broad categories. The sum and substance of cool is a self-conscious aplomb in overall behavior, which entails a set of specific behavioral characteristics that is firmly anchored in symbology, a set of discernible bodily movements, postures, facial expressions and voice modulations that are acquired and take on strategic social value within the peer context. Cool was once an attitude fostered by rebels and underdogs, such as slaves, prisoners, bikers and political dissidents, etc., for whom open rebellion invited punishment, so it hid defiance behind a wall of ironic detachment, distancing itself from the source of authority rather than directly confronting it. In general, coolness is a positive trait based on the inference that a cultural object (e.g., a person or brand) is autonomous in an appropriate way. That is the person or brand is not constrained by the norms, expectation of beliefs of others. (…) Cool is also an attitude widely adopted by artists and intellectuals, who thereby aided its infiltration into popular culture. Sought by product marketing firms, idealized by teenagers, a shield against racial oppression or political persecution and source of constant cultural innovation, cool has become a global phenomenon that has spread to every corner of the earth. Concepts of cool have existed for centuries in several cultures. In terms of fashion, the concept of “cool” has transformed from the 1960s to the 1990s by becoming integrated in the dominant fabric of culture. America’s mass-production of “ready-to-wear” fashion in the 1940s and ‘50s, established specific conventional outfits as markers of ones fixed social role in society. Subcultures such as the Hippies, felt repressed by the dominating conservative ideology of the 1940s and ‘50s towards conformity and rebelled. (…) Starting in the 1990s and continuing into the 21st century, the concept of dressing cool went out of the minority and into the mainstream culture, making dressing “cool” a dominant ideology. Cool entered the mainstream because those Hippie “rebels” of the late 1960s were now senior executives of business sectors and of the fashion industry. Since they grew up with “cool” and maintained the same values, they knew its rules and thus knew how to accurately market and produce such clothing. However, once “cool” became the dominant ideology in the 21st century its definition changed to not one of rebellion but of one attempting to hide their insecurities in a confident manner. The “fashion-grunge” style of the 1990s and 21st century allowed people who felt financially insecure about their lifestyle to pretend to “fit in” by wearing a unique piece of clothing, but one that was polished beautiful. For example, unlike the Hippie style that clearly diverges from the norm, through Marc Jacobs’ combined “fashion-grunge” style of “a little preppie, a little grunge and a little couture,” he produces not a bold statement one that is mysterious and awkward creating an ambiguous perception of what the wearer’s internal feelings are. While slang terms are usually short-lived coinages and figures of speech, cool is an especially ubiquitous slang word, most notably among young people. As well as being understood throughout the English-speaking world, the word has even entered the vocabulary of several languages other than English. In this sense, cool is used as a general positive epithet or interjection, which can have a range of related adjectival meanings. Wikipedia
Ronald Perry writes that many words and expressions have passed from African-American Vernacular English into Standard English slang including the contemporary meaning of the word « cool. » The definition, as something fashionable, is said to have been popularized in jazz circles by tenor saxophonist Lester Young. This predominantly black jazz scene in the U.S. and among expatriate musicians in Paris helped popularize notions of cool in the U.S. in the 1940s, giving birth to « Bohemian », or beatnik, culture. Shortly thereafter, a style of jazz called cool jazz appeared on the music scene, emphasizing a restrained, laid-back solo style. Notions of cool as an expression of centeredness in a Taoist sense, equilibrium and self-possession, of an absence of conflict are commonly understood in both African and African-American contexts well. Expressions such as, « Don’t let it blow your cool, » later, chill out, and the use of chill as a characterization of inner contentment or restful repose all have their origins in African-American Vernacular English. (…) Among black men in America, coolness, which may have its roots in slavery as an ironic submission and concealed subversion, at times is enacted in order to create a powerful appearance, a type of performance frequently maintained for the sake of a social audience. (…) « Cool pose » may be a factor in discrimination in education contributing to the achievement gaps in test scores. In a 2004 study, researchers found that teachers perceived students with African-American culture-related movement styles, referred to as the « cool pose, » as lower in achievement, higher in aggression, and more likely to need special education services than students with standard movement styles, irrespective of race or other academic indicators. The issue of stereotyping and discrimination with respect to « cool pose » raises complex questions of assimilation and accommodation of different cultural values. Jason W. Osborne identifies « cool pose » as one of the factors in black underachievement. Robin D. G. Kelley criticizes calls for assimilation and sublimation of black culture, including « cool pose. » He argues that media and academics have unfairly demonized these aspects of black culture while, at the same time, through their sustained fascination with blacks as exotic others, appropriated aspects of « cool pose » into the broader popular culture. George Elliott Clarke writes that Malcolm X, like Miles Davis, embodies essential elements of cool. As an icon, Malcolm X inspires a complex mixture of both fear and fascination in broader American culture, much like « cool pose » itself. Wikipedia
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme ans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Barack Obama (2008)
Pour généraliser, en gros, vous pouvez placer la moitié des partisans de Trump dans ce que j’appelle le panier des pitoyables. Les racistes, sexistes, homophobes, xénophobes, islamophobes. A vous de choisir. Hillary Clinton
Ces idées ont un nom : nationalisme, identitarisme, protectionnisme, souverainisme de repli. Ces idées qui, tant de fois, ont allumé les brasiers où l’Europe aurait pu périr, les revoici sous des habits neufs encore ces derniers jours. Elles se disent légitimes parce qu’elles exploitent avec cynisme la peur des peuples. (…) Je ne laisserai rien, rien à toutes celles et ceux qui promettent la haine, la division ou le repli national. Je ne leur laisserai aucune proposition. C’est à l’Europe de les faire, c’est à nous de les porter, aujourd’hui et maintenant (…) Et nous n’avons qu’un choix, qu’une alternative : le repli sur nous frontières, qui serait à la fois illusoire et inefficace, ou la construction d’un espace commun des frontières, de l’asile et de (…) faire une place aux réfugiés qui ont risqué leur vie, chez eux et sur leur chemin, c’est notre devoir commun d’Européen et nous ne devons pas le perdre de vue. (…) C’est pourquoi j’ai engagé en France un vaste travail de réforme pour mieux accueillir les réfugiés, augmenter les relocalisations dans notre pays, accélérer les procédures d’asile en nous inspirant du modèle allemand, être plus efficaces dans les reconduites indispensables. Ce que je souhaite pour l’Europe, la France commence dès à présent à le faire elle-même. Emmanuel Macron
J’entends les voix apeurées qui nous appellent à construire des murs. Plutôt que des murs, nous voulons aider les gens à construire des ponts. Mark Zuckerberg
Mes arrière-grands-parents sont venus d’Allemagne, d’Autriche et de Pologne. Les parents de [mon épouse] Priscilla étaient des réfugiés venant de Chine et du Vietnam. Les Etats-Unis sont une nation d’immigrants, et nous devrions en être fiers. Comme beaucoup d’entre vous, je suis inquiet de l’impact des récents décrets signés par le président Trump. Nous devons faire en sorte que ce pays reste en sécurité, mais pour y parvenir, nous devrions nous concentrer sur les personnes qui représentent vraiment une menace. Etendre l’attention des forces de l’ordre au-delà des personnes qui représentent de vraies menaces va nuire à la sécurité des Américains, en dispersant les ressources, tandis que des millions de sans-papiers qui ne représentent aucune menace vivront dans la peur d’être expulsés. Mark Zuckerberg
We can suggest what you should do next, what you care about. Imagine: We know where you are, we know what you like. A near-term future in which you don’t forget anything, because the computer remembers. You’re never lost. Eric Schmidt (Google)
I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time. (…) Let’s say you’re walking down the street. Because of the info Google has collected about you, we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are. (…) I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next. Eric Schmidt
The average American doesn’t realize how much of the laws are written by lobbyists (…) Washington is an incumbent protection machine. Technology is fundamentally disruptive. (…) Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it. Google implants, he added, probably crosses that line. (…) With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches. We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less now what you’re thinking about. Eric Schmidt
There’s such an overwhelming amount of information now, we can search where you are, see what you’re looking at if you take a picture with your camera. One way to think about this is, we’re trying to make people better people, literally give them better ideas—augmenting their experience. Think of it as augmented humanity. Eric Schmidt
Barons voleurs est un terme péjoratif, qu’on trouve dans la critique sociale et la littérature économique pour caractériser certains hommes d’affaires riches et puissants des États-Unis au XIXe siècle. Dans l’histoire des États-Unis d’Amérique, l’âge doré voit l’éclosion de ces capitaines d’industrie qui façonnent le rêve américain mais sont aussi accusés, à cette période de capitalisme sauvage, d’exploiter et éventuellement réprimer la main-d’œuvre, ainsi que de pratiquer la corruption. L’expression apparaît dans la presse américaine, en août 1870, dans le magazine The Atlantic Monthly, pour désigner les entrepreneurs pratiquant l’exploitation pour accumuler leurs richesses. Leurs pratiques incluent le contrôle des ressources nationales, l’influence sur les hauts fonctionnaires, le paiement de salaires extrêmement bas, l’écrasement de leurs concurrents par leur acquisition en vue de créer des monopoles et de pousser les prix à la hausse, ainsi que la manipulation des cours des actions vers des prix artificiellement hauts, actions vendues à des investisseurs voués à l’appauvrissement dès le cours retombé, aboutissant à la disparition de la société cotée. L’expression, forgée par les muckrakers, allie le sens de criminel (« voleur ») et celui de noblesse douteuse (un « baron » est un titre illégitime dans une république). Le président Theodore Roosevelt est intervenu contre les monopoles en obtenant du gouvernement conservateur qu’il mette au pas ces capitaines d’industrie, qu’il appelle des « malfaiteurs de grande fortune » et des « royalistes de l’économie ». Wikipedia
In the US, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are generally praised as examples of innovation. In the French press, and for much of the rest of Europe, their innovation is often seen in a less positive light—the ugly Americans coming over with innovative approaches to invading personal privacy or new ways to avoid paying their fair share. Take Google: its tax affairs in France are being challenged (paywall)—which comes soon after it has been forced to institute a “right to be forgotten” and threatened with being broken up. But the spread of the term “GAFA” may be as much to do with cultural resentment as taxes. “I think it’s more about distribution of power in the online world than tax avoidance,” Liam Boogar, founder of the French start-up site, Rude Baguette, tells Quartz. France, after all, is a country with a long history of resisting US cultural hegemony. Remember José Bové, the sheep farmer who destroyed a McDonald’s in 1999 and was a symbol for the anti-globalization movement? Times have changed; McDonald’s most profitable country in Europe is now France. Having lost that battle, the French have instead turned their ire to Silicon Valley. There is also a loss of public sympathy in the wake of the massive American government spying revelations. Jérémie Zimmermann, one of the founders of La Quadrature, a tech-oriented public policy non-profit, tells Quartz he dislikes the term “GAFA” and prefers to refer to the big US firms as the “PRISM” companies (after the US National Security Agency program revealed by Edward Snowden) or the “Bullrun” firms (another NSA program), which he uses to refer to “more or less every US-based company in which trust is broken”—citing examples that include Intel, Motorola, and Cisco. Even if the term has a negative connotation, it’s worth noting which companies didn’t make the acronym. Microsoft, most notably. Samsung is another. No Yahoo. Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon pretty much dominate every facet of our lives—from email from friends and family to what’s in your pocket to how you get everything in your house to how you pay. As far as acronyms of global power go, it works. Quartz
GAFA is an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon — the 4 most powerful American technology companies. Usage of the term “GAFA” is increasingly common in Europe. The acronym, originally from France, is used by the media to identify the 4 companies as a group – often in the context of legal investigations. The EU is (…) generally quite hostile to the unfettered ambitions of corporations. Any company that seeks to acquire a monopoly, engage in anti-competitive practices, dodge taxes, or invade EU citizens’ privacy is likely to find themselves under investigation, and potentially facing a hefty fine. Every GAFA company is currently under investigation by the EU for something. Google knows a lot about you, although there are some steps you can take to minimise it. The company uses the information they pull from your browsing habits, emails, Google Drive files, and anything else they can get their hands on to serve you ever more targeted ads. In the past this has led to the EU criticising Google’s use of personal data. More recently, the EU has been investigating Google for antitrust violations. Microsoft has been fined €2.2 billion for abusing its dominant market position and pushing its own services over the years, and the EU is concerned that Google is doing the same with search and Android. If they’re found to be abusing their position, they’ll face billions of euro worth of fines and be required to change their business practices. Google has already been forced, by the EU, to change how it operates. After a landmark ruling last year, citizens of the EU have the “right to be forgotten” on the Internet. People can request that search engines remove links to web pages that contain information about them — although MakeUseOf readers don’t seem too fussed about it. Apple Music was only unveiled this month but, according to Reuters, the deals they’ve inked with record companies are already under investigation. The EU, however, is more interested in Apple’s tax practices. The Union already shut down some tax loopholes, such as the Double Irish, that Apple used to minimize their tax burden, both in Europe and the US. The Union is continuing to investigate whether other practices they engaged in were legal. A ruling was due this month but has been pushed back. The EU isn’t keen on Facebook for the same reason most people aren’t — its questionable privacy record. Facebook knows a surprising amount about us – information we willingly volunteer. From that information you can be slotted into a demographic, your « likes » recorded and relationships monitored. There are several investigations, and a class action law suit, looking into whether or not Facebook’s privacy policy is legal. So far things are looking bad for Facebook. Despite frequent updates, a Belgian report released earlier this year “found that Facebook is acting in violation of European law“. Just like the other companies, Facebook could face heavy fines if they don’t fall into line with the EU’s policies. The EU’s issue with Amazon is a little different. The EU wants a Digital Single Market where every citizen would be able to purchase the same products at the same price as any other, regardless of where the products were being sold from. They are, according to VentureBeat, concerned that Amazon, and other e-commerce companies like Netflix, “have policies that restrict the ability of merchants and consumers to buy and sell goods and services across Europe’s borders.” For example: videos offered by the company’s streaming aren’t available in every country, which is at odds with the EU’s aim to treat every member nation and citizen equally. A year-long investigation launched this year so, at least for now, Amazon is free to continue as they are. The EU is clearly not going to let the GAFA companies operate unchecked, nor let them have the same level of independence they enjoy in the US. The EU takes a much more hands on approach to consumer protection and anti-competition laws than the Obama administration. Make us of.com
Les chiffres sont vertigineux. Apple est l’entreprise la plus capitalisée en bourse, avec une valeur qui a dépassé les 800 milliards de dollars. Celle d’Alphabet, la maison mère de Google, atteint près de 650 milliards de dollars. Google représente 88% du marché de la recherche sur Internet aux Etats-Unis et Facebook vient de franchir la barre des deux milliards d’utilisateurs actifs. Amazon? Le géant de la vente en ligne, qui s’apprête à ouvrir un deuxième siège en Amérique du Nord – plusieurs villes sont en lice –, est en train de tuer le petit commerce. Cette toute-puissance inquiète. (…) Un sondage publié le 25 septembre par le quotidien US Today révèle que 76% des Américains sont désormais d’avis que les GAFA, les Big Four de la tech et leurs petits frères, ont trop de poids dans leur vie. Pas moins de 52% d’entre eux jugent cette influence «mauvaise». Certains de ces géants ont dû faire face à des scandales, ce qui entache leur déontologie et leur crédibilité. Le 6 septembre, Facebook a admis que près de 500 faux profils liés à la Russie avaient acheté pour plus de 100 000 dollars de publicité, entre juin 2015 et mai 2017, pour influencer l’élection présidentielle américaine en véhiculant des messages censés nuire à Hillary Clinton. «Je ne veux pas que qui que ce soit utilise nos instruments pour nuire à la démocratie», a proclamé son cofondateur et patron Mark Zuckerberg dans une vidéo, en présentant ses excuses. C’est la première fois que le groupe admet avoir été manipulé ainsi, offrant à la Russie une plateforme de choix pour sa propagande. De quoi intéresser le procureur spécial Robert Mueller, qui enquête sur les possibles collusions entre l’équipe de Donald Trump et Moscou. Facebook va devoir rendre des comptes devant le Sénat. Le Congrès entendra également Twitter et Google dans le cadre de l’affaire russe. Une audience publique est prévue le 1er novembre. Facebook avait déjà été critiqué pour avoir diffusé des vidéos de meurtres et de suicides en direct. Et facilité, grâce à ses algorithmes, des messages racistes et antisémites ciblés. Le New York Times s’est moqué des excuses tardives du groupe, en trouvant une analogie avec Frankenstein, qui a échappé à son créateur. Faut-il réguler le secteur? S’achemine-t-on vers une législation antitrust contre les géants de la tech? Le controversé Stephen Bannon, que Donald Trump a limogé cet été de son poste de conseiller stratégique à la Maison-Blanche, l’avait appelée de ses vœux. Tout comme la sénatrice démocrate Elizabeth Warren, à l’autre bout de l’échiquier politique. La News Media Alliance, qui regroupe plus de 2000 titres américains et canadiens, donne également de la voix en ce sens, les médias d’information souffrant de la rude concurrence des géants d’Internet. (…) Comme le rappelle le New York Times, Facebook et Google bataillent ferme depuis le mois dernier contre un projet qui veut les rendre responsables s’ils hébergent du trafic sexuel sur leurs sites. L’enjeu est majeur: une loi vieille de vingt ans protège pour l’instant les compagnies internet de poursuites en justice en raison de contenus postés par des internautes. Sentant le vent tourner, les géants de la tech commencent à renforcer leurs équipes d’avocats et de lobbyistes. Le Temps
Many of the more privileged Americans who frequent fancy restaurants, stay in hotels and depend on hired help for lawn and pool maintenance, home repair and childcare don’t think illegal immigration is that big of a deal. Those in the higher-paid professions do not fear low-wage competition for their jobs in law, medicine, academia, the media, government or the arts. And many who have no problem with the present influx live in affluent communities with good schools insulated from the immediate budgetary consequences of meeting the needs of the offspring of the 11 million here illegally. These wealthier people aren’t so much liberal in their tolerance of illegal immigration as they are self-interested and cynical. In contrast, the far more numerous poor and lower middle classes of America, especially in the Southwest, are sincerely worried — and angry. (…) For the broad middle class, the poor and minorities — people who dine mostly at home, travel infrequently, mow their own lawns and change their children’s diapers — inexpensive service labor is not seen as much of a boon to them. Plus, lower- and middle-class Americans live in communities where schools are more impacted by an influx of Spanish-only speakers. And as janitors, maids, groundskeepers, carpenters, factory workers and truckers, they fear competition from lower-wage illegal alien laborers. Legal immigrants who wait years in line to enter the United States legally can be particularly unsympathetic to others who cut in front — in violation of the law. Victor Davis Hanson (October 6, 2006)
The furor of ignored Europeans against their union is not just directed against rich and powerful government elites per se, or against the flood of mostly young male migrants from the war-torn Middle East. The rage also arises from the hypocrisy of a governing elite that never seems to be subject to the ramifications of its own top-down policies. The bureaucratic class that runs Europe from Brussels and Strasbourg too often lectures European voters on climate change, immigration, politically correct attitudes about diversity, and the constant need for more bureaucracy, more regulations, and more redistributive taxes. But Euro-managers are able to navigate around their own injunctions, enjoying private schools for their children; generous public pay, retirement packages and perks; frequent carbon-spewing jet travel; homes in non-diverse neighborhoods; and profitable revolving-door careers between government and business. The Western elite classes, both professedly liberal and conservative, square the circle of their privilege with politically correct sermonizing. They romanticize the distant “other” — usually immigrants and minorities — while condescendingly lecturing the middle and working classes, often the losers in globalization, about their lack of sensitivity. On this side of the Atlantic, President Obama has developed a curious habit of talking down to Americans about their supposedly reactionary opposition to rampant immigration, affirmative action, multiculturalism, and political correctness — most notably in his caricatures of the purported “clingers” of Pennsylvania. Yet Obama seems uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of living out what he envisions for others. He prefers golfing with celebrities to bowling. He vacations in tony Martha’s Vineyard rather than returning home to his Chicago mansion. His travel entourage is royal and hardly green. And he insists on private prep schools for his children rather than enrolling them in the public schools of Washington, D.C., whose educators he so often shields from long-needed reform. In similar fashion, grandees such as Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos do not live what they profess. They often lecture supposedly less sophisticated Americans on their backward opposition to illegal immigration. But both live in communities segregated from those they champion in the abstract. The Clintons often pontificate about “fairness” but somehow managed to amass a personal fortune of more than $100 million by speaking to and lobbying banks, Wall Street profiteers, and foreign entities. The pay-to-play rich were willing to brush aside the insincere, pro forma social-justice talk of the Clintons and reward Hillary and Bill with obscene fees that would presumably result in lucrative government attention. Consider the recent Orlando tragedy for more of the same paradoxes. The terrorist killer, Omar Mateen — a registered Democrat, proud radical Muslim, and occasional patron of gay dating sites — murdered 49 people and wounded even more in a gay nightclub. His profile and motive certainly did not fit the elite narrative that unsophisticated right-wing American gun owners were responsible because of their support for gun rights. No matter. The Obama administration and much of the media refused to attribute the horror in Orlando to Mateen’s self-confessed radical Islamist agenda. Instead, they blamed the shooter’s semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a purported climate of hate toward gays. (…) In sum, elites ignored the likely causes of the Orlando shooting: the appeal of ISIS-generated hatred to some young, second-generation radical Muslim men living in Western societies, and the politically correct inability of Western authorities to short-circuit that clear-cut connection. Instead, the establishment all but blamed Middle America for supposedly being anti-gay and pro-gun. In both the U.S. and Britain, such politically correct hypocrisy is superimposed on highly regulated, highly taxed, and highly governmentalized economies that are becoming ossified and stagnant. The tax-paying middle classes, who lack the romance of the poor and the connections of the elite, have become convenient whipping boys of both in order to leverage more government social programs and to assuage the guilt of the elites who have no desire to live out their utopian theories in the flesh. Victor Davis Hanson
For the last two decades, Apple, Google, Amazon and other West Coast tech corporations have been untouchable icons. They piled up astronomical profits while hypnotizing both left-wing and right-wing politicians. (…) If the left feared that the tech billionaires were becoming robber barons, they also delighted in the fact that they were at least left-wing robber barons. Unlike the steel, oil and coal monopolies of the 19th century that out of grime and smoke created the sinews of a growing America, Silicon Valley gave us shiny, clean, green and fun pods, pads and phones. As a result, social media, internet searches, texts, email and other computer communications were exempt from interstate regulatory oversight. Big Tech certainly was not subject to the rules that governed railroads, power companies, trucking industries, Wall Street, and television and radio. But attitudes about hip high-tech corporations have now changed on both the left and right. Liberals are under pressure from their progressive base to make Silicon Valley hire more minorities and women. Progressives wonder why West Coast techies cannot unionize and sit down for tough bargaining with their progressive billionaire bosses. Local community groups resent the tech giants driving up housing prices and zoning out the poor from cities such as Seattle and San Francisco. Behind the veneer of a cool Apple logo or multicolored Google trademark are scores of multimillionaires who live one-percenter lifestyles quite at odds with the soft socialism espoused by their corporate megaphones. (…) Instead of acting like laissez-faire capitalists, the entrenched captains of high-tech industry seem more like government colluders and manipulators. Regarding the high-tech leaders’ efforts to rig their industries and strangle dissent, think of conniving Jay Gould or Jim Fisk rather than the wizard Thomas Edison. (…) The public so far has welcomed the unregulated freedom of Silicon Valley — as long as it was truly free. But now computer users are discovering that social media and web searches seem highly controlled and manipulated — by the whims of billionaires rather than federal regulators. (…) For years, high-tech grandees dressed all in hip black while prancing around the stage, enthralling stockholders as if they were rock stars performing with wireless mics. Some wore jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts, making it seem like being worth $50 billion was hipster cool. But the billionaire-as-everyman shtick has lost his groove, especially when such zillionaires lavish their pet political candidates with huge donations, seed lobbying groups and demand regulatory loopholes. Ten years ago, a carefree Mark Zuckerberg seemed cool. Now, his T-shirt get-up seems phony and incongruous with his walled estates and unregulated profiteering. (…) Why are high-tech profits hidden in offshore accounts? Why is production outsourced to impoverished countries, sometimes in workplaces that are deplorable and cruel? Why does texting while driving not earn a product liability suit? Victor Davis Hanson
Progressives used to pressure U.S. corporations to cut back on outsourcing and on the tactic of building their products abroad to take advantage of inexpensive foreign workers. During the 2012 election, President Obama attacked Mitt Romney as a potential illiberal “outsourcer-in-chief” for investing in companies that went overseas in search of cheap labor.Yet most of the computers and smartphones sold by Silicon Valley companies are still being built abroad — to mostly silence from progressive watchdogs. (…)  Progressives demand higher taxes on the wealthy. They traditionally argue that tax gimmicks and loopholes are threats to the republic. Yet few seem to care that West Coast conglomerates such as Amazon, Apple, Google, and Starbucks filtered hundreds of billions in global profits through tax havens such as Bermuda, shorting the United States billions of dollars in income taxes. The progressive movement took hold in the late 19th century to “trust-bust,” or break up corporations that had cornered the markets in banking, oil, steel, and railroads. Such supposedly foul play had inordinately enriched “robber baron” buccaneers such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Mellon, Andrew Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan. Yet today, the riches of multibillionaires dwarf the wealth of their 19th-century predecessors. Most West Coast corporate wealth was accumulated by good old-fashioned American efforts to achieve monopolies and stifle competition. Facebook, with 2 billion monthly global users, has now effectively cornered social mediaGoogle has monopolized internet searches — and modulates users’ search results to accommodate its own business profiteering. Amazon is America’s new octopus. Its growing tentacles incorporate not just online sales but also media and food retailing. Yet there are no modern-day progressive muckrakers in the spirit of Upton Sinclair, Frank Norris, and Lincoln Steffens, warning of the dangers of techie monopolies or the astronomical accumulation of wealth. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook are worth nearly $1 trillion each. (…) The tech and social-media industries pride themselves on their counterculture transparency, their informality, and their 1960s-like allegiance to free thought and free speech. (…) On matters such as avoiding unionization, driving up housing prices, snagging crony-capitalist subsidies from the government, and ignoring the effects of products on public safety (such as texting while driving), Silicon Valley is about as reactionary as they come. Why, then, do these companies earn a pass from hypercritical progressives? Answer: Their executives have taken out postmodern insurance policies. Our new J. P. Morgans dress in jeans and T-shirts — like the late Steve Jobs of Apple or Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook — appearing hip and cool. Executives in flip-flops and tie-dyes can get away with building walls around their multiple mansions in a way that a steel executive in a suit and tie might not. The new elite are overwhelmingly left-wing. They head off criticism by investing mostly in the Democratic party, the traditional font of social and political criticism of corporate wealth. In 2012, for example, Obama won Silicon Valley by more than 40 percentage points. Of the political donations to presidential candidates that year from employees at Google and Apple, over 90 percent went to Obama (…) No one has grasped that reality better that the new billionaire barons of the West Coast. As long as they appeared cool, as they long as they gave lavishly to left-wing candidates, and as long as they mouthed liberal platitudes on global warming, gay marriage, abortion, and identity politics, they earned exemption from progressive scorn. The result was that they outsourced, offshored, monopolized, censored, and made billions — without much fear of media muckraking, trust-busting politicians, unionizing activists, or diversity lawsuits. Hip billionaire corporatism is one of the strangest progressive hypocrisies of our times. Victor Davis Hanson

Attention: des barons voleurs peuvent en cacher d’autres !

A l’heure où avec leur formidable force de frappe financière et trésors de guerre accumulés …

Les multinationales géantes du numérique semblent à la manière des « barons voleurs« du 19e siècle américain …

Concentrer tous les pouvoirs et écraser toute concurrence sur leur passage …

Face à des gouvernants dont ils partagent clairement le ton volontiers moralisateur et méprisant

Et des masses rejetées dans les passions désormais déclarées rétrogrades des questions d’identité et de souveraineté nationales …

Comment ne pas s’étonner de l’étrange indulgence dont…

Sous prétexte de leur coolitude …

Continuent jusqu’ici à bénéficier ces nouveaux maitres de morale et de mépris qui les dirigent ?

Silicon Valley Billionaires Are the New Robber Barons

Progressives used to pressure U.S. corporations to cut back on outsourcing and on the tactic of building their products abroad to take advantage of inexpensive foreign workers.

During the 2012 election, President Obama attacked Mitt Romney as a potential illiberal “outsourcer-in-chief” for investing in companies that went overseas in search of cheap labor.

Yet most of the computers and smartphones sold by Silicon Valley companies are still being built abroad — to mostly silence from progressive watchdogs.

In the case of the cobalt mining that is necessary for the production of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars, thousands of child laborers in southern Africa are worked to exhaustion.

In the 1960s, campuses boycotted grapes to support Cesar Chavez’s unionization of farm workers. Yet it is unlikely that there will be any effort to boycott tech companies that use lithium-ion batteries produced from African-mined cobalt

Progressives demand higher taxes on the wealthy. They traditionally argue that tax gimmicks and loopholes are threats to the republic.

Yet few seem to care that West Coast conglomerates such as Amazon, Apple, Google, and Starbucks filtered hundreds of billions in global profits through tax havens such as Bermuda, shorting the United States billions of dollars in income taxes.

The progressive movement took hold in the late 19th century to “trust-bust,” or break up corporations that had cornered the markets in banking, oil, steel, and railroads. Such supposedly foul play had inordinately enriched “robber baron” buccaneers such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Mellon, Andrew Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan.

Yet today, the riches of multibillionaires dwarf the wealth of their 19th-century predecessors. Most West Coast corporate wealth was accumulated by good old-fashioned American efforts to achieve monopolies and stifle competition.

Facebook, with 2 billion monthly global users, has now effectively cornered social media.

Google has monopolized internet searches — and modulates users’ search results to accommodate its own business profiteering.

Amazon is America’s new octopus. Its growing tentacles incorporate not just online sales but also media and food retailing.

Yet there are no modern-day progressive muckrakers in the spirit of Upton Sinclair, Frank Norris, and Lincoln Steffens, warning of the dangers of techie monopolies or the astronomical accumulation of wealth. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook are worth nearly $1 trillion each.

Conservatives have no problem with anyone doing well, so their silence is understandable. But in the Obama era, the nation received all sorts of progressive lectures on the downsides of being super-rich.

Obama remonstrated about spreading the wealth, knowing when not to profit, and realizing when one has made enough money. He declared that entrepreneurs did not build their own businesses without government help.

Yet such sermonizing never seemed to include Facebook, Starbucks, or Amazon.

The tech and social-media industries pride themselves on their counterculture transparency, their informality, and their 1960s-like allegiance to free thought and free speech. Yet Google just fired one of its engineers for simply questioning the company line that sexual discrimination and bias alone account for the dearth of female Silicon Valley engineers.

What followed were not voices of protest. Instead, Google-instilled fear and silence ensued, in the fashion of George Orwell’s 1984.

On matters such as avoiding unionization, driving up housing prices, snagging crony-capitalist subsidies from the government, and ignoring the effects of products on public safety (such as texting while driving), Silicon Valley is about as reactionary as they come.

Why, then, do these companies earn a pass from hypercritical progressives?

Answer: Their executives have taken out postmodern insurance policies.

Our new J. P. Morgans dress in jeans and T-shirts — like the late Steve Jobs of Apple or Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook — appearing hip and cool.

Executives in flip-flops and tie-dyes can get away with building walls around their multiple mansions in a way that a steel executive in a suit and tie might not.

The new elite are overwhelmingly left-wing. They head off criticism by investing mostly in the Democratic party, the traditional font of social and political criticism of corporate wealth.

In 2012, for example, Obama won Silicon Valley by more than 40 percentage points. Of the political donations to presidential candidates that year from employees at Google and Apple, over 90 percent went to Obama.

One of the legacies of the Obama era was the triumph of green advocacy and identity politics over class.

No one has grasped that reality better that the new billionaire barons of the West Coast. As long as they appeared cool, as they long as they gave lavishly to left-wing candidates, and as long as they mouthed liberal platitudes on global warming, gay marriage, abortion, and identity politics, they earned exemption from progressive scorn.

The result was that they outsourced, offshored, monopolized, censored, and made billions — without much fear of media muckraking, trust-busting politicians, unionizing activists, or diversity lawsuits.

Hip billionaire corporatism is one of the strangest progressive hypocrisies of our times.

Voir aussi:

How Silicon Valley Turned Off the Left and Right
Victor Davis Hanson
Townhall
Sep 28, 2017

When left and right finally agree on something, watch out: The unthinkable becomes normal.So it is with changing attitudes toward Silicon Valley. For the last two decades, Apple, Google, Amazon and other West Coast tech corporations have been untouchable icons. They piled up astronomical profits while hypnotizing both left-wing and right-wing politicians.

Conservative administrations praised them as modern versions of 19th-century risk-takers such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs and other tech giants were seen as supposedly creating national wealth in an unregulated, laissez-faire landscape that they had invented from nothing.

At a time when American companies were increasingly unable to compete in the rough-and-tumble world arena, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook bulldozed their international competition. Indeed, they turned high-tech and social media into American brands.

The left was even more enthralled. It dropped its customary regulatory zeal, despite Silicon Valley’s monopolizing, outsourcing, offshoring, censoring, and destroying of startup competition. After all, Big Tech was left-wing and generous. High-tech interests gave hundreds of millions of dollars to left-wing candidates, think tanks and causes.

Companies such as Facebook and Google were able to warp their own social media protocols and Internet searches to insidiously favor progressive agendas and messaging.

If the left feared that the tech billionaires were becoming robber barons, they also delighted in the fact that they were at least left-wing robber barons.

Unlike the steel, oil and coal monopolies of the 19th century that out of grime and smoke created the sinews of a growing America, Silicon Valley gave us shiny, clean, green and fun pods, pads and phones.

As a result, social media, internet searches, texts, email and other computer communications were exempt from interstate regulatory oversight. Big Tech certainly was not subject to the rules that governed railroads, power companies, trucking industries, Wall Street, and television and radio.

But attitudes about hip high-tech corporations have now changed on both the left and right.Liberals are under pressure from their progressive base to make Silicon Valley hire more minorities and women.

Progressives wonder why West Coast techies cannot unionize and sit down for tough bargaining with their progressive billionaire bosses.

Local community groups resent the tech giants driving up housing prices and zoning out the poor from cities such as Seattle and San Francisco.

Behind the veneer of a cool Apple logo or multicolored Google trademark are scores of multimillionaires who live one-percenter lifestyles quite at odds with the soft socialism espoused by their corporate megaphones.Conservatives got sick of Silicon Valley, too.

Instead of acting like laissez-faire capitalists, the entrenched captains of high-tech industry seem more like government colluders and manipulators. Regarding the high-tech leaders’ efforts to rig their industries and strangle dissent, think of conniving Jay Gould or Jim Fisk rather than the wizard Thomas Edison.

With the election of populist Donald Trump, the Republican Party seems less wedded to the doctrines of economic libertarian Milton Friedman and more to the trust-busting zeal of Teddy Roosevelt.

The public so far has welcomed the unregulated freedom of Silicon Valley — as long as it was truly free. But now computer users are discovering that social media and web searches seem highly controlled and manipulated — by the whims of billionaires rather than federal regulators.

The public faces put on by West Coast tech leaders have not helped.

For years, high-tech grandees dressed all in hip black while prancing around the stage, enthralling stockholders as if they were rock stars performing with wireless mics. Some wore jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts, making it seem like being worth $50 billion was hipster cool.

But the billionaire-as-everyman shtick has lost his groove, especially when such zillionaires lavish their pet political candidates with huge donations, seed lobbying groups and demand regulatory loopholes.

Ten years ago, a carefree Mark Zuckerberg seemed cool. Now, his T-shirt get-up seems phony and incongruous with his walled estates and unregulated profiteering.

Of course, Silicon Valley’s critics should be wary. They wonder whether the golden tech goose can be caged without being killed.

Both liberals and conservatives are just beginning to ask why internet communications cannot be subject to the same rules applied to radio and television.

Why can’t Silicon Valley monopolies be busted up in the same manner as the Bell Telephone octopus or the old Standard Oil trust?

Why are high-tech profits hidden in offshore accounts?

Why is production outsourced to impoverished countries, sometimes in workplaces that are deplorable and cruel?

Why does texting while driving not earn a product liability suit?

Just because Silicon Valley is cool does not mean it could never become just another monopoly that got too greedy and turned off the left wing, the right wing and everybody in between.

Voir également:

Self-made wealth in America

Robber barons and silicon sultans

Today’s tech billionaires have a lot in common with a previous generation of capitalist titans—perhaps too much for their own good

The Economist

IN THE 50 years between the end of the American civil war in 1865 and the outbreak of the first world war in 1914, a group of entrepreneurs spearheaded America’s transformation from an agricultural into an industrial society, built gigantic business empires and amassed huge fortunes. In 1848 John J. Astor, a merchant trader, was America’s richest man with $20m (now $545m). By the time the United States entered the first world war, John D. Rockefeller had become its first billionaire.

In the 50 years since Data General introduced the first mini-computers in the late 1960s, a group of entrepreneurs have spearheaded the transformation of an industrial age into an information society, built gigantic business empires and acquired huge fortunes. When he died in 1992, Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, was probably America’s richest man with $8 billion. Today Bill Gates occupies that position with $82.3 billion.

The first group is now known as the robber barons. The second lot—call them the silicon sultans—could face a similar fate. Like their predecessors, they were once revered as inventive mould-breakers, delivering gadgets to the masses. But just like Rockefeller and the other “malefactors of great wealth”, these new capitalists are losing their sheen. They have been diversifying into businesses that have little to do with computers, while egotistically proclaiming that they alone can solve mankind’s problems, from ageing to space travel. More pointedly, they stand accused of being greedy businessfolk who suborn politicians, employ sweatshop labour, stiff other shareholders and, especially, monopolise markets. Rockefeller once controlled 80% of the world’s supply of oil: today Google has 90% of the search market in Europe and 67% in the United States.

Together, the two groups throw light on some of the most enduring themes of American history—both the country’s extraordinary ability to generate vast wealth and its enduring ambivalence about concentrations of power. Henry Ford, the youngest of the robber barons, once said that history is more or less bunk. He was wrong. The silicon sultans have the advantage of being able to learn from their predecessors’ mistakes. It is not entirely clear that they are doing so.

History rhymes

All business titans have certain things in common—a steely determination to turn their dreams into reality, a gargantuan appetite for success and, as they grow older, a complicated relationship with the fruits of their labour. But the robbers and sultans have more in common than most: they are the Übermenschen of the past 200 years of American capitalism, the people who feel the future in their bones, bring it into being—and sometimes go too far.

The most striking similarity is that they refashioned the material basis of civilisation. Railway barons such as Leland Stanford and E.H. Harriman laid down more than 200,000 miles of track, creating a national market. Andrew Carnegie replaced iron with much more versatile steel. Ford ushered in the era of the automobile. Mr Gates tried to put a computer in every office and in every home. Larry Page and Sergey Brin put the world’s information at everybody’s fingertips. Mark Zuckerberg made the internet social. Just as the railroad made it possible for obscure companies to revolutionise everything from food (Heinz) to laundry (Procter & Gamble), the internet allows entrepreneurs to disrupt everything from retailing (Amazon) to transport (Uber).

Both relied on the relentless logic of economies of scale. The robber barons started with striking innovations—in Ford’s case, a more efficient way of turning petrol into power—but their real genius lay in their ability to “scale up” these innovations to squeeze the competition. “Cut the prices; scoop the market; run the mills full,” as Carnegie put it. The silicon sultans updated the idea. Mr Gates understood the imminent ubiquity of personal computers, and the money to be made from making their software. Messrs Brin and Page grasped that their search engine could create a massive audience for advertisers. Mr Zuckerberg saw that Facebook could profit from inserting itself into the social lives of a sizeable chunk of the world’s population.

Economies of scale allowed the robber barons to keep reducing prices and improving quality. Henry Ford cut the price of his Model T from $850 in its first year of production to $360 in 1916. In 1924 you could buy a much better car for just $290. The silicon sultans performed exactly the same trick. The price of computer equipment, adjusted for quality and inflation, has declined by 16% a year over the five decades from 1959 to 2009. Each iPhone contains the same amount of computing power as was housed in MIT in 1960.

The robber barons denounced regulators in the name of the free market, but monopoly suited them better. Rockefeller rued the “destructive competition” of the oil industry, with its cycle of glut and shortage, and set about ensuring continuity of supply. The first trust, Standard Oil’s, established in 1882, was designed to persuade his rivals to give up control of their companies in return for a guaranteed income and an easy life. “The Standard was an angel of mercy reaching down from the sky and saying ‘Get into the ark. Put in your old junk. We will take all the risks’,” he wrote.

Others followed. Although the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 outlawed these devices as restraints on free trade, the barons either neutralised the legislation or got round it with another control-preserving device, the holding company. By the early 20th century trusts and holding companies held nearly 40% of American manufacturing assets. Alfred Chandler, the doyen of American business historians, summed up the hundred years following the civil war as “ten years of competition and 90 years of oligopoly”.

The silicon sultans have it easier. They sometimes brush with the law—Google and Apple have been scolded for creating informal agreements to prevent poaching wars—but network effects, whereby the more customers a service has, the more valuable it becomes, mean that their businesses tend towards monopoly anyway. In the digital world, the alternative is often annihilation. As Peter Thiel, PayPal’s cerebral founder, put it in “Zero to One”: “All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.”

The result, in both cases, is an unparalleled concentration of power. A century ago the barons had a lock on transport and energy. Today Google and Apple between them provide 90% of smartphone operating systems of; over half of North Americans and over a third of Europeans use Facebook. None of the five big car companies, by contrast, controls more than a fifth of the American market.

The 0.000001%

The silicon sultans are some of the few businesspeople who can compete with the robber barons in terms of ownership. Carnegie made a point of always owning more than half of his company. Today most firms are widely held by large numbers of shareholders: the largest individual shareholder in Exxon, the grandchild of Standard Oil, is Rex Tillerson, the company’s chief executive. He owns 0.05% of the stock. But tech is different. Together Google’s two founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt (who also sits on the board of The Economist’s parent company) control two-thirds of the voting stock in Google. Mark Zuckerberg owns 20% of Facebook shares but almost all of its “class B” shares, which have ten times the voting power of ordinary shares.

The tech titans are not as rich in relative terms as the robber barons. When Rockefeller retired in the early 20th century, his net worth was equal to about one-thirtieth of America’s annual GNP. When Mr Gates stepped aside as CEO of Microsoft in 2000 his net worth might have equalled 1/130th of it. But they nevertheless represent the most significant concentration of business wealth in the world. In 2013 34% of billionaire-entrepreneurs aged 40 or under made their money in high tech.

What makes these concentrations of wealth all the more striking is that they followed on the heels of two of the most egalitarian periods in American history. The 1830s-40s saw America (outside the slave-owning South) establish itself as the land of participatory politics and individualism that Alexis de Tocqueville celebrated in “Democracy in America”. The years between the second world war and the late 1970s were years of low inequality of income in the United States.

Both the robber barons and the silicon sultans helped to create a very different America, divided by class and obsessed with money. In “The Theory of the Leisure Class”(1899), Thorstein Veblen showed how an egalitarian society was becoming an aristocratic one. In “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” (2013) Thomas Piketty made similar claims for the past 40 years.

The culture they helped to create troubled barons of both eras. Andrew Carnegie, who had risen from bobbin-boy to steel magnate in 17 years, worried about the contrast between “the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the labourer”. Though he stretched the bounds of good taste when, as perhaps the richest man in the world, he wrote a pamphlet entitled “The Advantages of Poverty” (1891), he was nevertheless sincere in worrying that class division was producing “rigid castes” living in “mutual ignorance” and “mutual distrust” of each other. Mr Thiel contrasts the egalitarian Silicon Valley of his childhood, in which everybody lived in identikit houses and attended first-rate state-funded schools, with today’s divided Valley. But they have taken their strictures only so far. Carnegie bought a ruined castle in Scotland, Skibo, for $85,000 and maintained a staff of 85. Mr Thiel bought an oceanfront spread in Maui for $27m.

No sooner had they transformed themselves from challengers into incumbents than the robber barons succumbed to the two great temptations of a successful middle age: undisciplined growth and unqualified self-belief. Rockefeller spilled into a succession of adjacent businesses—he bought forests to supply his company with wood, established plants to turn the wood into barrels, produced chemicals for refining and bought ships and railroad cars to carry his products. Harriman turned from financing railways to dabbling in finance more generally.

The tech barons are following a similar arc. Google is pouring its super-profits into a succession of loosely related industries: robotics, energy, household appliances, driverless cars and anti-ageing. The company may well be fashioning a world in which it has a hand in everything humans do—driving them to work, adjusting their thermostats, making (and monitoring) their phone calls, and, of course, organising their information. Facebook has spent $2 billion on a start-up that makes virtual-reality equipment. Elon Musk, one of the founders of PayPal, has moved into electric cars and rockets. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, is also investing in private space travel.

Both groups started dreaming ever bigger dreams. The robber barons turned their hands to solving social problems. Ford led a peace convoy to Europe to put an end to war. When he arrived in Norway and gave the locals a long lecture on tractor production in faltering Norwegian, a local commented that you have to be a very great man to say such foolish things. In the Valley, extending life to 100 or 120 is a passion; Mr Thiel even talks about abolishing death. Reforming the state is another hobby; again Mr Thiel takes things to the limit with a project to establish a collection of floating city states in international waters outside the reach of governments. Reinventing food—creating meat substitutes in particular—is another recent craze: Messrs Brin, Gates and Thiel have invested in alternative food companies.

The most controversial sideways move the robber barons made was into day-to-day politics. A critic once wrote that Rockefeller’s company did everything to the Pennsylvania legislature except refine it. The Senate was known as “the millionaire’s club”. Robber barons bought newspapers—Ford turned the Dearborn Independent into a mouthpiece for his cranky views on the Jews. Not content with establishing what Arthur Schlesinger junior called “government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations”, a growing number of robber barons and their children went into politics themselves. Two of Rockefeller’s children became governors—Nelson of New York and Winthrop of Arkansas—and Nelson went on to be Gerald Ford’s vice-president.

The silicon sultans swore that they would not repeat this mistake, and indeed they have gone nothing like as far as their predecessors. Yet politics is both necessary to business and irresistible to the self-important. This year Google’s political action committee spent more on campaigns than Goldman Sachs, a company legendary for its political connections. Mr Zuckerberg has founded a pressure group, fwd.us, to push for immigration reform. The prospectus for the group, headed by one of Mr Zuckerberg’s former Harvard room-mates, boasts that the tech industry will become “one of the most powerful political forces” because “we control massive distribution channels, both as companies and as individuals”. These “channels” include old-media redoubts such as the Washington Post (bought by Mr Bezos) and the New Republic (bought by Facebook’s Chris Hughes) as well as new media empires such as Yahoo. Silicon Valley is now a regular stop in fundraising and an established part of America’s revolving-door culture. Al Gore, a former vice-president, has been a senior adviser to Google. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, started her career as chief of staff to Larry Summers when he was treasury secretary.

The backlash

The age of the robber barons led inexorably to the age of populist revolt, with mass strikes, anti-monopoly legislation, social reforms and, eventually, the New Deal of the 1930s. The robber barons had ruined too many people and broken too many rules. Ida Tarbell (whose father had been ruined by Rockefeller) proved to be the most devastating critic: a series of brilliant articles in McClure’s magazine aired Rockefeller’s dirty laundry and popularised the term robber baron. Theodore Dreiser, a novelist, skewered the new rich in “The Titan” and “The Financier”. Some economists worried that America was becoming as unequal as Europe.

A cohort of politicians and lawyers fairly swiftly translated the backlash into policy. Teddy Roosevelt thundered against the “criminal rich”. Woodrow Wilson followed up with even more vigorous attacks on corporate America. The 16th amendment to the constitution introduced an income tax for the first time, and the 17th amendment decreed that senators should be elected by popular vote rather than appointed by local legislatures.

That the tech barons have attracted only a fraction of the ire of the robber barons is not surprising: with relatively small, highly paid workforces, they are not involved in the battles with unions that turned the robber barons into ogres. In 1901 US Steel, Carnegie’s creation, employed a quarter of a million men—more than the army and navy combined. Today Google employs more than 50,000, Facebook 8,000 and Twitter 3,500. The electronic toys the tech barons make also inspire more affection among consumers than the commodities or infrastructure that the robber barons produced. But there are nevertheless growing rumbles of discontent. Starting in 1994, the American government successfully prosecuted Microsoft for predatory pricing and undermining competition. The EU is currently mulling various ways of reducing Google’s dominance in the search market, and has even proposed splitting its search engine operations in Europe from the rest of its business.

Aside from monopoly and inequality, the main gripe against the tech barons concerns privacy. The tech industry makes much of its money from hoovering up private information.“We know where you are,” says Mr Schmidt. “We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.” The EU is drafting a privacy directive, to come into effect in 2016, which could introduce strict rules about data collection.

Despite these growing worries, there is no sign that the trend will reverse. For all the dramatic changes between the railway age and the silicon age, America still has the right formula for producing entrepreneurs. It sucks in talent from all over the world: Carnegie was the son of an impoverished Scottish textile weaver, Mr Brin the son of Russian immigrants. It tolerates failure: the list of barons who failed at least once before they succeeded includes R.H. Macy, H.J. Heinz, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs. And it encourages ambition. Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner put their finger on an enduring national trait in “The Gilded Age” (1873): “In America nearly every man has his dream, his pet scheme, whereby he is to advance himself socially or pecuniarily.” Walt Whitman did the same: he celebrated “the extreme business energy, and this almost maniacal appetite for wealth prevalent in the United States”. And the ability to produce such men has allowed America, once again, to pull ahead of the rest of the West.

At the same time, the backlash against the robber barons points to another enduring theme: the tension between big business and democracy. Americans’ admiration for self-made millionaires leads them to be suspicious of huge organisations. Charles Francis Adams, a great-grandson of America’s second president, warned that companies were bent on “establishing despotisms which no spasmodic popular effort will be able to shake off”.

Louis Brandeis, one of the greatest Supreme Court judges, became the voice of the campaign against “the curse of bigness”. “Mere bigness” is an offence against society, he argued, because democracy “cannot endure” when you have huge concentrations of wealth in the hands of a few. Today’s Supreme Court is as comfortable with bigness as Brandeis was uncomfortable with it. Presidents habitually cuddle up to huge organisations in order to raise the money they need to run for office. Yet suspicion of size is growing once again on both the Tea Party right and the Democratic left.

So is bigness capable of redeeming itself? The final enduring theme in the story of the American barons is the story of philanthropy. Carnegie pronounced that “the man who thus dies rich dies disgraced”. The robber barons (including Carnegie) did not exactly die poor. But almost all of them became philanthropists in old age. Carnegie tried to make equality of opportunity mean something by founding 2,811 public libraries. Rockefeller’s intellectual legacy, the University of Chicago, is one of America’s greatest.

Mr Gates’s foundation is one of the largest in the world; and he and his fellows are following their predecessors by applying the same mixture of imagination and hubris to philanthropy that they applied to business. In America entrepreneurs do not just create bigger fortunes. They also cast longer shadows.

Voir de plus:

Google’s CEO: ‘The Laws Are Written by Lobbyists’
Derek Thompson
The Atlantic
Oct 1, 2010

« The average American doesn’t realize how much of the laws are written by lobbyists » to protect incumbent interests, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Atlantic editor James Bennet at the Washington Ideas Forum. « It’s shocking how the system actually works. »In a wide-ranging interview that spanned human nature, the future of machines, and how Google could have helped the stimulus, Schmidt said technology could « completely change the way government works. »

« Washington is an incumbent protection machine, » Schmidt said. « Technology is fundamentally disruptive. » Mobile phones and personal technology, for example, could be used to record the bills that members of Congress actually read and then determine what stimulus funds were successfully spent.

Schmidt pushed back on the claim that the White House doesn’t understand business. He acknowledged that the American business community distrusts the administration, but he said the criticism are mostly about tone. He also brushed off the idea that the White House needs more business executives as an argument about « symbolism » rather than substance.On the hot topic of China versus America, he made a pithy distinction between what makes the world’s leading powers uniquely successful. America is a bottoms-up entrepreneurial engine, and China is more like « a well-run large business. » »America’s research universities are the envy on the world, » he said. « We have 90 percent of the top researchers in the world. We also have a bizarre policy to train people and then kick them out by not giving them visas, which makes no sense at all. »China governs like a large industrial company, he added. « It wants to maximize its cash flow. It wants to maximize its internal and external demand. All of the interesting new ideas [for example, doubling down on solar tech] can be understood as a business expansion. »The end of the interview turned to the future of technology. When Bennet asked about the possibility of a Google « implant, » Schmidt invoked what the company calls the « creepy line. » »Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it, » he said. Google implants, he added, probably crosses that line.At the same time, Schmidt envisions a future where we embrace a larger role for machines and technology. « With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches, » he said. « We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less now what you’re thinking about.

Internet
Vents contraires contre les géants de la tech aux Etats-Unis
Critiquées pour leur situation de monopole et leur rôle joué pendant l’élection présidentielle américaine, les multinationales de la Silicon Valley doivent affronter des oppositions toujours plus fortes
Valérie de Graffenried
Le Temps
28 septembre 2017

Le vent est en train de tourner. L’appétit vorace et la toute-puissance financière des géants technologiques américains GAFA – acronyme pour Google, Apple, Facebook et Amazon – provoquent des remous aux Etats-Unis. Donald Trump n’en est pas le plus grand fan, et il ne s’en cache pas. Contrairement à son prédécesseur, il est plutôt hostile à la Silicon Valley, bastion progressiste par excellence. Des grands patrons de la tech se sont frontalement opposés à lui sur des dossiers clés comme le décret anti-immigration, le réchauffement climatique ou les émeutes de Charlottesville.

Alors quand les GAFA sont montrés du doigt en raison de leur situation de monopole et critiqués pour avoir véhiculé de la désinformation pendant l’élection présidentielle américaine, ce n’est pas Donald Trump qui monte au créneau pour les défendre. En Europe aussi, le débat est vif. A la fin de juin, la Commission européenne a sanctionné Google pour abus de position dominante en lui infligeant une amende record de 2,4 milliards de dollars (2,33 milliards de francs). Surtout, elle veut taxer davantage les GAFA, accusés de faire de l’optimisation fiscale. Elle a présenté ses premières pistes jeudi. Mais pour que les choses bougent sur ce plan, une position unanime des 28 Etats membres est nécessaire, ce qui est loin d’être acquis.

Danger pour la démocratie

Les chiffres sont vertigineux. Apple est l’entreprise la plus capitalisée en bourse, avec une valeur qui a dépassé les 800 milliards de dollars. Celle d’Alphabet, la maison mère de Google, atteint près de 650 milliards de dollars. Google représente 88% du marché de la recherche sur Internet aux Etats-Unis et Facebook vient de franchir la barre des deux milliards d’utilisateurs actifs. Amazon? Le géant de la vente en ligne, qui s’apprête à ouvrir un deuxième siège en Amérique du Nord – plusieurs villes sont en lice –, est en train de tuer le petit commerce. Cette toute-puissance inquiète. Cité par l’AFP, Bill Galston, un ex-conseiller du président Bill Clinton, cofondateur du think tank «The New Center», dénonce ces «moyens quasi illimités, qu’ils peuvent utiliser pour faire du lobbying». Et s’interroge sur le danger que cela peut représenter pour la démocratie.

Un sondage publié le 25 septembre par le quotidien US Today révèle que 76% des Américains sont désormais d’avis que les GAFA, les Big Four de la tech et leurs petits frères, ont trop de poids dans leur vie. Pas moins de 52% d’entre eux jugent cette influence «mauvaise». Certains de ces géants ont dû faire face à des scandales, ce qui entache leur déontologie et leur crédibilité. Le 6 septembre, Facebook a admis que près de 500 faux profils liés à la Russie avaient acheté pour plus de 100 000 dollars de publicité, entre juin 2015 et mai 2017, pour influencer l’élection présidentielle américaine en véhiculant des messages censés nuire à Hillary Clinton. «Je ne veux pas que qui que ce soit utilise nos instruments pour nuire à la démocratie», a proclamé son cofondateur et patron Mark Zuckerberg dans une vidéo, en présentant ses excuses.

Le syndrome Frankenstein

C’est la première fois que le groupe admet avoir été manipulé ainsi, offrant à la Russie une plateforme de choix pour sa propagande. De quoi intéresser le procureur spécial Robert Mueller, qui enquête sur les possibles collusions entre l’équipe de Donald Trump et Moscou. Facebook va devoir rendre des comptes devant le Sénat. Le Congrès entendra également Twitter et Google dans le cadre de l’affaire russe. Une audience publique est prévue le 1er novembre. Facebook avait déjà été critiqué pour avoir diffusé des vidéos de meurtres et de suicides en direct. Et facilité, grâce à ses algorithmes, des messages racistes et antisémites ciblés. Le New York Times s’est moqué des excuses tardives du groupe, en trouvant une analogie avec Frankenstein, qui a échappé à son créateur.

Faut-il réguler le secteur? S’achemine-t-on vers une législation antitrust contre les géants de la tech? Le controversé Stephen Bannon, que Donald Trump a limogé cet été de son poste de conseiller stratégique à la Maison-Blanche, l’avait appelée de ses vœux. Tout comme la sénatrice démocrate Elizabeth Warren, à l’autre bout de l’échiquier politique. La News Media Alliance, qui regroupe plus de 2000 titres américains et canadiens, donne également de la voix en ce sens, les médias d’information souffrant de la rude concurrence des géants d’Internet.

Le Congrès est en plein chantier sur la fiscalité des entreprises, mais pour l’instant aucun projet majeur n’est prévu pour limiter l’influence et l’expansion des GAFA. Les bénéfices de l’innovation technologique pour le consommateur semblent encore primer. Le climat politique a toutefois bien changé à Washington. Les législateurs du Congrès ont les GAFA sérieusement à l’œil. Le corset qui commence à les gainer promet de se resserrer.

Comme le rappelle le New York Times, Facebook et Google bataillent ferme depuis le mois dernier contre un projet qui veut les rendre responsables s’ils hébergent du trafic sexuel sur leurs sites. L’enjeu est majeur: une loi vieille de vingt ans protège pour l’instant les compagnies internet de poursuites en justice en raison de contenus postés par des internautes. Sentant le vent tourner, les géants de la tech commencent à renforcer leurs équipes d’avocats et de lobbyistes.

Voir également:

Mark Zuckerberg sort de sa réserve pour critiquer la politique d’immigration de Donald Trump

Le patron de Facebook a ouvertement critiqué les récentes décisions du président américain sur l’immigration. Sheryl Sandberg, numéro deux de Facebook, a quant à elle exprimé son désaccord sur la question de l’avortement.

Le Monde.fr avec AFP et Reuters

« Mes arrière-grands-parents sont venus d’Allemagne, d’Autriche et de Pologne. Les parents de [mon épouse] Priscilla étaient des réfugiés venant de Chine et du Vietnam. Les Etats-Unis sont une nation d’immigrants, et nous devrions en être fiers. » Vendredi 27 janvier, le fondateur de Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, a publié un message sur le réseau social pour critiquer les récentes décisions de Donald Trump concernant l’immigration.

Un fait rare : Mark Zuckerberg avait pris soin, jusqu’ici, de ne pas afficher trop ouvertement ses opinions politiques – malgré des soupçons d’ambitions électorales, qu’il a démentis – et s’était abstenu de soutenir un candidat pendant la campagne présidentielle américaine. Il avait toutefois laissé entendre, dans un discours en avril dernier, son aversion pour certaines idées de Donald Trump, sans pour autant le nommer : « J’entends les voix apeurées qui nous appellent à construire des murs. Plutôt que des murs, nous voulons aider les gens à construire des ponts. »

Depuis, Donald Trump l’a emporté, et a durci dès ses premiers jours de mandat la politique d’immigration pour « protéger la nation contre l’entrée de terroristes étrangers », rapporte un décret publié vendredi soir. Il interdit notamment l’arrivée de ressortissants de sept pays musulmans pendant trois mois : Irak, Iran, Libye, Somalie, Soudan, Syrie et Yémen. Deux jours plus tôt, il avait signé un autre décret ordonnant la construction d’un mur à la frontière entre les Etats-Unis et le Mexique.

« Comme beaucoup d’entre vous, je suis inquiet de l’impact des récents décrets signés par le président Trump », explique Mark Zuckerberg, avant de développer :

« Nous devons faire en sorte que ce pays reste en sécurité, mais pour y parvenir, nous devrions nous concentrer sur les personnes qui représentent vraiment une menace. Etendre l’attention des forces de l’ordre au-delà des personnes qui représentent de vraies menaces va nuire à la sécurité des Américains, en dispersant les ressources, tandis que des millions de sans-papiers qui ne représentent aucune menace vivront dans la peur d’être expulsés. »

Les poids lourds américains inquiets

Comme beaucoup d’employeurs de la Silicon Valley, M. Zuckerberg plaide depuis longtemps pour un assouplissement des règles d’immigration aux Etats-Unis. Notamment parce que ces entreprises recrutent beaucoup de personnes étrangères et que les lois américaines compliquent leur arrivée.

Le patron de Facebook n’est d’ailleurs pas le seul à s’être montré inquiet après le décret signé vendredi par le nouveau président américain. Dans une note interne qu’a pu consulter le Wall Street Journal, Sundar Pichai, qui dirige Google, a expliqué que ce décret pouvait affecter 187 salariés de l’entreprise. « Nous sommes inquiets de l’impact de ce décret et de toutes les propositions qui pourraient imposer des restrictions aux Googlers [les employés de Google] et leurs familles, ou qui pourraient créer des obstacles pour apporter de grands talents aux Etats-Unis. »

D’autres poids lourds de la Silicon Valley comme Apple, Netflix et Tesla ont exprimé leur consternation au sujet de ce décret.

Alphabet, maison mère de Google, a rappelé d’urgence les membres de son personnel qui se trouvaient à l’étranger et a invité ceux qui pourraient être concernés par le décret à ne pas quitter les Etats-Unis.

« Ce n’est pas une politique que nous soutenons », écrit quant à lui Tim Cook, le patron d’Apple, dans une lettre adressée à ses employés. « Nous avons pris contact avec la Maison blanche pour expliquer ses effets néfastes pour nos collaborateurs et notre entreprise », poursuit-il, promettant d’aider les victimes du décret.

Selon Brad Smith, président et directeur juridique de Microsoft, 76 employés de la firme viennent des sept pays concernés par le décret. « En tant qu’entreprise, Microsoft croit à une immigration équilibrée et hautement qualifiée (…) Nous croyons à l’importance de protéger les réfugiés reconnus comme tels et respectueux de la loi dont les vies peuvent être menacées par les procédures d’immigration », ajoute-t-il dans un courriel.

Quant au fondateur de SpaceX, Elon Musk, qui a récemment semblé cultiver une relation avec Trump, il a tweeté que « beaucoup de gens qui sont affectés par cette politique sont de solides partisans des États-Unis » qui ne « méritent pas d’être rejetés ».

Fait étonnant, le réseau social Twitter a aussi réagi, affichant son soutien aux personnes concernées par ce décret : « Twitter est construit par les immigrants de toute religion. Nous serons toujours pour eux et avec eux ».

« Ne pas autoriser (les ressortissants) de certains pays ou les réfugiés à venir en Amérique n’est pas correct et nous devons épauler ceux qui sont affectés », a pour sa part déclaré Brian Chesky, cofondateur et directeur général d’Airbnb, qui a promis d’héberger gratuitement les étrangers refoulés.

Sheryl Sandberg attaque Trump sur l’avortement

La numéro deux de Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, a elle aussi critiqué publiquement Donald Trump jeudi, cette fois sur le terrain de l’avortement. Parmi les nombreux décrets signés par le nouveau président dès son entrée en fonctions, l’un interdit le financement d’ONG internationales soutenant l’avortement. Une décision « qui pourrait avoir de terribles conséquences pour les femmes et les familles partout dans le monde », a déploré Mme Sandberg sur Facebook.

La directrice opérationnelle de Facebook avait rencontré M. Trump en novembre, lors de la réunion qu’il avait organisée à la Trump Tower avec plusieurs dirigeants de la Silicon Valley, ce qui avait déclenché un certain nombre de critiques. Contrairement à Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sanberg, par ailleurs fondatrice d’une ONG consacrée aux femmes, avait affiché son soutien dès juin 2016 à Hillary Clinton, mais s’était montrée très discrète à ce sujet depuis.

Voir encore:

Taxation des GAFA : l’Union européenne désunie
Si la France a réussi à imposer son ordre du jour sur cette question, ses propositions ne font pas l’unanimité.
Le Monde économie
Cécile Ducourtieux (Bruxelles, bureau européen)
21.09.2017

Le ministre de l’économie, Bruno Le Maire, a réussi un beau coup médiatique ces derniers jours en imposant à l’ordre du jour européen le sujet de la taxation des géants du numérique (les « GAFA », pour Google, Amazon, Facebook et Apple). Pour autant, la solution inédite avancée par Bercy ne fait pas l’unanimité dans l’Union. Le ministère français suggère que, pour obliger ces multinationales championnes de l’optimisation fiscale à payer les impôts correspondant à leur activité effective dans un pays, on impose, non pas leurs bénéfices, mais leur chiffre d’affaires, au motif qu’il serait plus facile à matérialiser.

Après avoir obtenu le ralliement, début septembre, de trois autres poids lourds européens (ses homologues allemand, italien et espagnol), M. Le Maire est également parvenu à convaincre six autres ministres (l’autrichien, le grec, le slovène, le bulgare, le portugais et le roumain), à l’Ecofin, la réunion des grands argentiers européens du 16 septembre à Tallinn (Estonie). Pour ne pas être en reste, la Commission européenne, jusqu’alors très prudente à l’idée d’une « taxe GAFA » spécifique, a rendu publique, jeudi 21 septembre, une « communication » sur le sujet.

Pour autant, l’institution s’est gardée de tout enthousiasme. Si elle salue l’activisme hexagonal, et assure qu’elle va l’explorer plus avant, elle reste convaincue que la bonne solution, à terme, pour éviter que les géants du Net continuent d’échapper massivement à l’impôt en profitant d’une fiscalité datant du XXe siècle, peu adaptée à la dématérialisation accélérée des échanges, c’est une remise à plat complète de la taxe sur le profit.

« Il n’est plus question de tolérer une situation où des sociétés échappent pratiquement à l’impôt malgré des bénéfices considérables. C’est une question de justice sociale et de pragmatisme. Nous estimons que le manque à gagner pour les fiscs européens est supérieur à 5 milliards d’euros par an », explique au Monde Pierre Moscovici, le commissaire à l’économie. Pour autant, estime l’ex-ministre de l’économie du gouvernement Ayrault, « il vaut mieux, pour adapter notre fiscalité à l’ère du numérique, changer la roue qu’ajouter une rustine aux règles existantes ».

Travail de conviction

La Commission tente, depuis fin 2016, de relancer un projet jugé très ambitieux d’harmonisation au niveau européen du calcul de l’impôt sur le revenu. Baptisée « Accis » à Bruxelles, pour « assiette commune consolidée pour l’impôt sur les sociétés », cette ébauche de directive est censée définir les règles d’établissement de la base fiscale pays par pays, et celles de la consolidation des profits au niveau des sociétés mères.

La Commission préférerait largement poursuivre son travail de conviction auprès des pays membres, plutôt que de l’abandonner pour la proposition française, plus rapide à mettre en œuvre à court terme, jure M. Le Maire.

« Nous n’excluons aucune option, et l’initiative française réunissant désormais dix pays est la bienvenue. Mais nous tenons à rappeler que la taxation du numérique est une question politique, qui appelle des réponses globales et exige un temps de réflexion. Les options les plus simples à énoncer ne sont pas forcément les plus simples à mettre en œuvre », insiste M. Moscovici.

La taxation du chiffre d’affaires inquiète à Bruxelles : comment éviter de taxer doublement les sociétés du Net (par le chiffre d’affaires et par le profit), alors que cette pratique va à l’encontre de toutes les règles en matière fiscale ? Quel seuil de revenus « numériques » choisir pour cibler les « grosses » plates-formes sans pénaliser tout l’écosystème des start-up européennes ? En 2010, une première tentative de taxe Google hexagonale avait été rapidement abandonnée pour cette dernière raison. Elle visait la publicité en ligne, principale source de revenus de la plupart des acteurs du Net, à commencer par les plus petits…

Doutes sur le fond

Par ailleurs, au-delà de ces doutes sur le fond, huit pays membres ont fait part, selon nos informations, de leurs fortes réserves concernant la proposition française, lors de l’Ecofin (la Suède, Malte, les Pays-Bas, le Luxembourg, l’Irlande, Chypre, la Belgique et le Royaume-Uni). Or, rien ne peut avancer au niveau européen en matière fiscale sans l’unanimité des pays membres. Certains, comme l’Irlande, le Luxembourg ou les Pays-Bas pratiquent des fiscalités notoirement accommodantes pour les GAFA, et sont parmi les moins enthousiastes à Bruxelles dès lors qu’il s’agit de lutter contre la fraude et l’évasion fiscale, même si leur position s’est un peu assouplie après le scandale « LuxLeaks », fin 2015.

D’autres, comme la Suède, réclament généralement que les travaux européens se calent sur les discussions internationales dans le cadre de l’OCDE (Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques), afin que les Etats-Unis y soient associés.

Chargés de la présidence tournante de l’Union et obligés, du fait de cette responsabilité temporaire, à une certaine neutralité, les Estoniens se sont prudemment tenus en retrait du débat à l’Ecofin. Plutôt en faveur de la poursuite des négociations autour d’Accis, ils vont tenter de rapprocher les points de vue européens avant le conseil des dirigeants de l’Union, fin décembre.

Leur but ? Sur un sujet identifié désormais comme prioritaire, ils veulent que l’Europe contribue à influencer le travail de l’OCDE, qui travaille aussi sur la taxation du numérique et doit rendre son rapport en avril 2018. Si une proposition législative de la Commission émerge de toutes ces tractations, ce ne sera logiquement pas avant cette échéance internationale, soit au plus tôt dans le courant du deuxième trimestre 2018.

Voir de plus:

Comment Macron alimente le populisme

Emmanuel Macron, qui vomit le populisme, fait tout pour l’alimenter. Il en a apporté la démonstration, mardi à la Sorbonne, en se faisant le défenseur exalté de l’Union européenne, sans vouloir entendre les réticences des peuples. Sa prétendue ‘refondation’ européenne n’est autre que la perpétuation d’une institution technocratique et éloignée de la vie des gens. Son choix d’une ‘Europe souveraine » est celui d’une supranationalité qui méconnait les nations et leur désir de maîtriser leur destin. L’entendre affirmer que l’Europe doit « faire une place aux réfugiés » car « c’est notre devoir commun » révèle son indifférence aux inquiétudes qui partout se manifestent. En Allemagne, la percée de l’afD, ce week-end, a été motivée par la folle politique migratoire d’Angela Merkel et son incapacité à mesurer le danger islamiste. C’est Alice Schwarzer, grande figure du féminisme en Allemagne, qui déclarait l’autre jour dans Le Figaro, parlant de la chancelière : « Elle n’a pas perçu la différence entre l’islam et l’islamisme, entre la religion et l’idéologie politique (…) De cette fausse perception sur la politisation de l’islam ont découlé de nombreuses erreurs ». D’islam politique, il n’en a évidemment pas été question dans le discours fleuve du chef de l’Etat. Il ne veut ‘conduire la bataille’ que pour donner plus de pouvoirs encore à une Union de plus en plus soviétoïde. Il n’a réservé ses coups, comme à son habitude, qu’à ceux qui ne pensent pas comme lui.

Ce mercredi, dans Le Figaro, l’universitaire Jean-Claude Pacitto alerte sur l’intolérance qui s’est installée dans l’Université, aux prises avec des moeurs mafieuses donnant au conformisme sa place de choix, lors des procédures de cooptation. Pacitto s’interroge : ‘La France n’est-elle jamais sortie de cette tentation toute soviétique qui consiste à envisager le débat qu’en termes d’élimination des adversaires ?’. En tout cas, à entendre Macron hier à la Sorbonne, la réponse est non. En effet, non content de s’aveugler sur une Union européenne vécue comme une violence ou une menace par beaucoup de citoyens abandonnés, le président s’est une fois de plus laissé aller au manichéisme en usage chez les esprits sectaires. Pour lui, ceux qui critiquent l’UE laisseraient voir un ‘nationalisme’, un ‘identitarisme’, un ‘souverainisme de repli’ et autres « passions tristes ». Il dit de ceux-là qu’ils « mentent aux peuples ». Et de menacer, d’ailleurs peu clairement : « Je ne laisserai rien, rien, à ceux qui promettent la haine, la division ou le repli national ». Mais où est la haine, en l’occurrence, sinon dans ces propos présidentiels qui cherchent à discréditer des contradicteurs. Je ne sais pas si la méthode est spécifiquement soviétique. Reste qu’elle vient compléter un autoritarisme qui se retrouve généralement chez les faibles. Le macronisme devient, de plus en plus, un despotisme éructant.

Voir par ailleurs:

The Hipster in the Mirror
Mark Greif
The New York Times
November 12, 2010

A  year ago, my colleagues and I started to investigate the contemporary hipster. What was the “hipster,” and what did it mean to be one? It was a puzzle. No one, it seemed, thought of himself as a hipster, and when someone called you a hipster, the term was an insult. Paradoxically, those who used the insult were themselves often said to resemble hipsters — they wore the skinny jeans and big eyeglasses, gathered in tiny enclaves in big cities, and looked down on mainstream fashions and “tourists.” Most puzzling was how rattled sensible, down-to-earth people became when we posed hipster-themed questions. When we announced a public debate on hipsterism, I received e-mail messages both furious and plaintive. Normally inquisitive people protested that there could be no answer and no definition. Maybe hipsters didn’t exist! The responses were more impassioned than those we’d had in our discussions on health care, young conservatives and feminism. And perfectly blameless individuals began flagellating themselves: “Am I a hipster?”

I wondered if I could guess the root of their pain. It’s a superficial topic, yet it seemed that so much was at stake. Why? Because struggles over taste (and “taste” is the hipster’s primary currency) are never only about taste. I began to wish that everyone I talked to had read just one book to give these fraught debates a frame: “Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste,” by Pierre Bourdieu.

A French sociologist who died in 2002 at age 71, Bourdieu is sometimes wrongly associated with postmodern philosophers. But he did share with other post-1968 French thinkers a wish to show that lofty philosophical ideals couldn’t be separated from the conflicts of everyday life. Subculture had not been his area, precisely, but neither would hipsters have been beneath his notice.

He came from a family of peasants in the foothills of the Pyrenees. His father was elevated by a job in the village post office — although he always emphasized that he had attained his position by being neither better nor different. Pierre, as a child, was elevated yet more drastically by the school system. He so distinguished himself in the classroom that he was carried to studies at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. This was the pinnacle of French intellect, the path of Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Yet Bourdieu chose to make it his life’s work to debunk the powerful classes’ pretensions that they were more deserving of authority or wealth than those below. He aimed his critiques first at his own class of elites — professors and intellectuals — then at the media, the political class and the propertied class.

“Distinction,” published in 1979, was an undisputed masterwork. In it, Bourdieu set out to show the social logic of taste: how admiration for art, appreciation of music, even taste in food, came about for different groups, and how “superior” taste was not the result of an enchanted superiority in scattered individuals.

This may seem a long way from Wellington-booted and trucker-hatted American youth in gentrifying neighborhoods. But Bourdieu’s innovation, applicable here, was to look beyond the traditional trappings of rich or poor to see battles of symbols (like those boots and hats) traversing all society, reinforcing the class structure just as money did.

Over several years in the 1960s, Bourdieu and his researchers surveyed 1,200 people of all classes and mined government data on aspects of French domestic life. They asked, for instance, Which of the following subjects would be most likely to make a beautiful photograph? and offered such choices as a sunset, a girl with a cat or a car crash. From government dietary research, they took data on the classic question: Do you think French people eat too much? The statistical results were striking. The things you prefer — tastes that you like to think of as personal, unique, justified only by sensibility — correspond tightly to defining measures of social class: your profession, your highest degree and your father’s profession.

The power of Bourdieu’s statistics was to show how rigid and arbitrary the local conformities were. In American terms, he was like an updater of Thorstein Veblen, who gave us the idea of “conspicuous consumption.” College teachers and artists, unusual in believing that a beautiful photo could be made from a car crash, began to look conditioned to that taste, rather than sophisticated or deep. White-collar workers who defined themselves by their proclivity to eat only light foods — as opposed to farmworkers, who weren’t ashamed to treat themselves to “both cheese and a dessert” — seemed not more refined, but merely more conventional.

Taste is not stable and peaceful, but a means of strategy and competition. Those superior in wealth use it to pretend they are superior in spirit. Groups closer in social class who yet draw their status from different sources use taste and its attainments to disdain one another and get a leg up. These conflicts for social dominance through culture are exactly what drive the dynamics within communities whose members are regarded as hipsters.

Once you take the Bourdieuian view, you can see how hipster neighborhoods are crossroads where young people from different origins, all crammed together, jockey for social gain. One hipster subgroup’s strategy is to disparage others as “liberal arts college grads with too much time on their hands”; the attack is leveled at the children of the upper middle class who move to cities after college with hopes of working in the “creative professions.” These hipsters are instantly declassed, reservoired in abject internships and ignored in the urban hierarchy — but able to use college-taught skills of classification, collection and appreciation to generate a superior body of cultural “cool.”

They, in turn, may malign the “trust fund hipsters.” This challenges the philistine wealthy who, possessed of money but not the nose for culture, convert real capital into “cultural capital” (Bourdieu’s most famous coinage), acquiring subculture as if it were ready-to-wear. (Think of Paris Hilton in her trucker hat.)

Both groups, meanwhile, look down on the couch-­surfing, old-clothes-wearing hipsters who seem most authentic but are also often the most socially precarious — the lower-middle-class young, moving up through style, but with no backstop of parental culture or family capital. They are the bartenders and boutique clerks who wait on their well-to-do peers and wealthy tourists. Only on the basis of their cool clothes can they be “superior”: hipster knowledge compensates for economic immobility.

All hipsters play at being the inventors or first adopters of novelties: pride comes from knowing, and deciding, what’s cool in advance of the rest of the world. Yet the habits of hatred and accusation are endemic to hipsters because they feel the weakness of everyone’s position — including their own. Proving that someone is trying desperately to boost himself instantly undoes him as an opponent. He’s a fake, while you are a natural aristocrat of taste. That’s why “He’s not for real, he’s just a hipster” is a potent insult among all the people identifiable as hipsters themselves.

The attempt to analyze the hipster provokes such universal anxiety because it calls everyone’s bluff. And hipsters aren’t the only ones unnerved. Many of us try to justify our privileges by pretending that our superb tastes and intellect prove we deserve them, reflecting our inner superiority. Those below us economically, the reasoning goes, don’t appreciate what we do; similarly, they couldn’t fill our jobs, handle our wealth or survive our difficulties. Of course this is a terrible lie. And Bourdieu devoted his life to exposing it. Those who read him in effect become responsible to him — forced to admit a failure to examine our own lives, down to the seeming trivialities of clothes and distinction that, as Bourdieu revealed, also structure our world.

Mark Greif, a founder of n+1 and an assistant professor at the New School, is the editor, with Kathleen Ross and Dayna Tortorici, of “What Was the Hipster? A Sociological Investigation,” published last month.

Voir encore:

Si vous souhaitez être crédibles, arrêtez de dire « Les GAFA »
Julien Cadot
Numerama
27 janvier 2017

Les GAFA n’existent pas. Essayons de comprendre pourquoi cette expression n’a pas de sens en 2017.

Si l’on regarde du côté de Wikipédia, on s’aperçoit que l’acronyme GAFA se rapporte à deux choses. Premièrement, il peut signifier Geometric And Functional Analysis, bimensuel anglophone dédié à la recherche en mathématiques. Il peut aussi signifier Google Apple Facebook Amazon, quatre entreprises qu’on nommerait également « Géants du web ». Si votre passion pour les chiffres vous a conduit à cet article, nous avons le regret de vous informer qu’il ne sera pas question du périodique dans ces paragraphes, mais bien de nos amis américains.

Car il est rare, en France, qu’une journée se passe sans que le terme GAFA (le plus souvent « Les GAFA ») ne soit employé. On le trouve dans la presse web et papier, à la radio, à la télé, mais aussi dans la bouche de candidats à la présidentielle, sous la plume d’économistes ou dans les rapports des associations et organismes qui s’intéressent à la vie du web. Et pourtant, en 2017, plusieurs raisons nous conduisent à penser que ce terme est à bannir. Nous allons essayer de les expliquer.

Commençons par une rapide autocritique. Si vous faites une recherche sur GAFA Google, vous vous apercevrez bien vite que l’acronyme se trouve sur nos pages. Et c’est vrai : notre première volonté étant de nous faire comprendre le plus immédiatement possible, nous avons pu l’utiliser. Pourtant, depuis un an à peu près, il faut savoir que nos journalistes ont la consigne de ne jamais l’employer au premier degré. Il peut être utilisé dans des propos rapportés et quand il s’agit, nous allons le voir, de souligner par ironie une conception trop simpliste des acteurs du web.

GAFA : 4 entreprises qui n’ont rien à voir

Et c’est précisément le premier point qui nous turlupine : dire « Les GAFA », c’est faire un rassemblement qui n’a, au fond, pas beaucoup de sens. Les Géants du Web ? Apple est loin d’être né du web et encore aujourd’hui, l’entreprise de Cupertino est plus connue pour son matériel que pour ses logiciels (qui ne sont pas forcément des parties du « web »). Google est une agence de publicité, un moteur de recherche, un créateur de robot, un fournisseur d’accès à Internet, un fonds d’investissement, un chercheur en santé et en intelligence artificielle… et Google ne s’appelle plus Google, mais Alphabet.

Amazon est un e-commerçant. Tout ce que fait Amazon n’a qu’un but : vendre toujours plus de choses sur Amazon. Kindle, 1-Click, Dash, Alexa, Premium, Prime Now et autres services se regroupent autour de l’activité principale du géant de Seattle : c’est une boutique qui veut vendre des choses matérielles ou immatérielles. Une grosse boutique internationale, mais une boutique quand même. Facebook, enfin, est un réseau social, une régie publicitaire, une plateforme de contenu, un kiosque pour les médias (voire un média), un autre réseau social (Instagram) ou un explorateur de tendances technologiques. C’est, dans un sens, celui qui s’approche le plus de Google / Alphabet. Mais effectivement, (GF)+A+A, ça sonne moins bien.

(GF)+A+A, ça sonne moins bien

Ces quelques définitions fort simples et non exhaustives de ces sociétés montrent bien que les mettre sous une même bannière n’est presque jamais justifié, sans compter qu’en plus d’être différentes, ces entreprises sont concurrentes et pas une bande de copains américains. Ou alors, le regroupement se justifie par des choses beaucoup trop vagues (multinationale, richesse, optimisation fiscale, communication…) qui sont aussi des caractéristiques de milliers d’entreprises qui n’ont rien à voir avec la tech ou le web. Et le premier défaut de cet acronyme est particulièrement problématique quand il se mêle par exemple à la politique, quel que soit le bord.

Emmanuel Macron a par exemple employé le terme le 27 janvier 2017 pour dire que « Les GAFA » participeraient au financement de son pass jeunesse pour la culture. La « culture » a un rapport avec l’activité d’un Amazon, par exemple, ou celle d’un Google en tant que moteur de recherche. Mais pourquoi diable faire payer Apple et Facebook pour un pass culture ? Pourquoi ne pas impliquer Twitter et Microsoft ? Et surtout, pourquoi éviter des acteurs qui ont, eux, tout à voir avec la culture, comme Netflix ?

GAFA : et les autres ?

Cette dernière interrogation nous mène à un deuxième point : le terme « GAFA » est désuet. Il sonne comme une sorte de locution creuse et un brin moqueuse, souvent utilisée pour parler en mal de ces entreprises qui sont autant des mastodontes que des dinosaures de notre web. Quand on entend le mot, on a l’impression de se trouver en 2010 et d’entendre parler du tout puissant IBM.

Aujourd’hui, le web et les nouvelles technologies se sont redessinés très largement et évoquer par exemple l’impact d’une entreprise sur la société, positif ou négatif, sans parler d’Uber ou de Tesla est un non sens. Tout comme parler d’un grand réseau social et oublier Snapchat. Ou parler de Google et d’Apple sans évoquer les colosses de l’autre côté du globe que sont Baidu, Alibaba, LeEco ou Samsung et dont la croissance est loin d’être stoppée. C’est comme si la locution donnait un éclairage bien trop important à quatre entreprises, qui sont certes énormes, mais qui ne sont pas l’alpha et l’oméga de l’innovation, de la nouveauté ou de l’économie moderne.

À ce sujet, employer le terme « NATU » (Netflix, Airbnb, Tesla, Uber) qui cherche à s’imposer pour remplacer « GAFA » est tout aussi problématique : il oublie, lui aussi, les puissants asiatiques et fait un plan serré maladroit sur quatre autres entreprises qui n’ont, elles non plus, rien en commun.

GAFA : effacer les problèmes derrière un acronyme

Dès lors, un candidat à une élection présidentielle (tous ou presque le font) qui emploie « GAFA », « NATU » ou même « Géants californiens » (ils sont loin d’être tous californiens), n’a pas vraiment d’idée de qui il parle et de comment il souhaite impliquer tel ou tel acteur dans tel ou tel plan. Et ce point est peut-être le plus important de tous : résumer un groupe informe a une conséquence bien réelle sur la manière dont les gouvernements, états, organisations, économistes et même les militants agissent.

Si l’on prend le problème réel de la fiscalité on comprend très vite qu’on ne traite pas de la même manière avec Apple (Irlande) qu’avec Netflix (Luxembourg) Google (bureaux internationaux, présents à Paris et à Londres) ou qu’avec des sociétés moins exposées et donc moins souvent pointées du doigt (Samsung, Huawei…) et qui pratiquent très probablement des « optimisations » sur lesquelles il y aurait à enquêter.

Arnaud Montebourg évoquait « quatre entreprises californiennes »

Sans parler de tout ce qui n’entre pas dans la fiscalité. Par exemple, quand on est une collectivité ou une ville, ce n’est pas du tout la même chose de monter un projet avec Google (plusieurs centaines d’employés à Paris, allant de la communication à la recherche) qu’avec un Facebook (petits bureaux, compétences très orientées business) ou un Amazon qui a à la fois des bureaux mais aussi des entrepôts et des livreurs et qui opère donc à plusieurs niveaux avec des tas de problématiques et d’interlocuteurs différents.

Traiter avec les GAFA, faire plier les GAFA, faire financer X ou Y choses avec les GAFA, organiser un plan avec les GAFA, impliquer les GAFA sont autant de propositions qui n’ont aucune signification pratique et aucune portée réelle : tout au plus s’agit-il de vaines promesses ou de faux espoirs.

GAFA : créer une mythologie technologique

Le dernier point que nous souhaitons relever est peut-être tout à la fois le moins grave et le plus remarquable. En effet, à force d’être mal utilisé, à tort et à travers, le terme a remplacé l’objet qu’il désigne. Le signifiant « Les GAFA » est une sorte de chimère sans signifié, qui résonne comme une menace toute puissante, l’épure d’une techno-divinité. Les GAFA nous espionnent. Les GAFA nous contrôlent. Les GAFA nous privent de telle ou telle liberté.

Si on estime que « Les GAFA » n’ont aucun sens réel, alors toutes ces phrases sonnent creux — en plus de perdre en crédibilité. En effet, si l’on prend par exemple la collecte des données personnelles, il est on ne peut plus faux de mettre Google, Amazon, Facebook et Apple dans le même panier. Les quatre compagnies n’ont pas du tout la même politique sur le sujet et une critique ou un éloge qui s’applique à l’un ne s’appliquera pas forcément à l’autre.

« Les GAFA » n’existant pas, ils ne peuvent ni être une cible crédible, ni un allié de confiance. En revanche, le terme entretient un flou artistique qui n’aboutit, concrètement, à rien.

Les GAFA n’existant pas en tant qu’entité, il est très difficile de mettre autre chose que de l’irrationnel derrière cette expression, même si elle a pu avoir du sens au moment où elle a été employées la première fois. Et l’irrationnel, surtout dans des cas économiques, sociaux ou politiques très concrets que nous venons d’esquisser, n’a rien d’une route à emprunter pour avancer.

Voir de plus:

American cultural imperialism has a new name: GAFA
Quarzƒ
December 01, 2014

In France, there’s a new word: GAFA. It’s an acronym, and it has become a shorthand term for some of the most powerful companies in the world—all American, all tech giants. GAFA stands for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.

The phrase is used by newspapers, blogs, and talking heads on TV—see here and here and here (all links in French). It even appears in the local version of “The Internet for Dummies.” Le Monde’s economics editor, Alexis Delcambre, tells Quartz that GAFA first appeared in his newspaper in December 2012. “GAFA is not used very often, but when used, it is almost always on critical topics, including taxes or personal data,” he says.

In the US, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are generally praised as examples of innovation. In the French press, and for much of the rest of Europe, their innovation is often seen in a less positive light—the ugly Americans coming over with innovative approaches to invading personal privacy or new ways to avoid paying their fair share. Take Google: its tax affairs in France are being challenged (paywall)—which comes soon after it has been forced to institute a “right to be forgotten” and threatened with being broken up.

But the spread of the term “GAFA” may be as much to do with cultural resentment as taxes. “I think it’s more about distribution of power in the online world than tax avoidance,” Liam Boogar, founder of the French start-up site, Rude Baguette, tells Quartz. France, after all, is a country with a long history of resisting US cultural hegemony.

Remember José Bové, the sheep farmer who destroyed a McDonald’s in 1999 and was a symbol for the anti-globalization movement? Times have changed; McDonald’s most profitable country in Europe is now France. Having lost that battle, the French have instead turned their ire to Silicon Valley.

There is also a loss of public sympathy in the wake of the massive American government spying revelations. Jérémie Zimmermann, one of the founders of La Quadrature, a tech-oriented public policy non-profit, tells Quartz he dislikes the term “GAFA” and prefers to refer to the big US firms as the “PRISM” companies (after the US National Security Agency program revealed by Edward Snowden) or the “Bullrun” firms (another NSA program), which he uses to refer to “more or less every US-based company in which trust is broken”—citing examples that include Intel, Motorola, and Cisco.

Even if the term has a negative connotation, it’s worth noting which companies didn’t make the acronym. Microsoft, most notably. Samsung is another. No Yahoo.

Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon pretty much dominate every facet of our lives—from email from friends and family to what’s in your pocket to how you get everything in your house to how you pay. As far as acronyms of global power go, it works.

What Is GAFA? Why The EU Doesn’t Love Large Harry Guinness
Make us of.com
June 18, 2015

GAFA is an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon — the 4 most powerful American technology companies. Usage of the term “GAFA” is increasingly common in Europe. The acronym, originally from France, is used by the media to identify the 4 companies as a group – often in the context of legal investigations.

The EU has been butting heads with large companies for years. Let’s take a look at why it doesn’t like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.What’s Different About Europe?

The Europe Union, or EU, is composed of 28 countries. The major European powers, like France, Germany and (for the time being) the United Kingdom, are all members. The EU creates laws that cover all member states and treat every citizen equally. It is because of the EU that I, as an Irish person, am free to travel, work and live in almost any other European country.

The EU is based on the idea that nation states operating together are more powerful than those standing alone. It’s also generally quite hostile to the unfettered ambitions of corporations. Any company that seeks to acquire a monopoly, engage in anti-competitive practices, dodge taxes, or invade EU citizens’ privacy is likely to find themselves under investigation, and potentially facing a hefty fine.

Every GAFA company is currently under investigation by the EU for something.

Why the EU Doesn’t Like Google

Google knows a lot about you, although there are some steps you can take to minimise it. The company uses the information they pull from your browsing habits, emails, Google Drive files, and anything else they can get their hands on to serve you ever more targeted ads. In the past this has led to the EU criticising Google’s use of personal data. How Much Does Google Really Know About You? How Much Does Google Really Know About You? Read More 

More recently, the EU has been investigating Google for antitrust violations. Microsoft has been fined €2.2 billion for abusing it’s dominant market position and pushing it’s own services over the years, and the EU is concerned that Google is doing the same with search and Android. If they’re found to be abusing their position, they’ll face billions of euro worth of fines and be required to change their business practices.

Google has already been forced, by the EU, to change how it operates. After a landmark ruling last year, citizens of the EU have the “right to be forgotten” on the Internet. People can request that search engines remove links to web pages that contain information about them — although MakeUseOf readers don’t seem too fussed about it.

Why the EU Doesn’t Like Apple

Apple Music was only unveiled this month but, according to Reuters, the deals they’ve inked with record companies are already under investigation. Apple Unveils Apple Music at WWDC, U.S. Army Website Hacked, & More… [Tech News Digest] Apple Unveils Apple Music at WWDC, U.S. Army Website Hacked, & More… [Tech News Digest] Apple Music arrives at last, the United States Army gets hacked, Uwe Boll’s Kickstarter rage, Pizza Hut Blockbuster Box movies, and Grand Theft Auto V in real life. Read More

The EU, however, is more interested in Apple’s tax practices. The Union already shut down some tax loopholes, such as the Double Irish, that Apple used to minimize their tax burden, both in Europe and the US. The Union is continuing to investigate whether other practices they engaged in were legal. A ruling was due this month but has been pushed back.

Why the EU Doesn’t Like Facebook

The EU isn’t keen on Facebook for the same reason most people aren’t — it’s questionable privacy record. Facebook Privacy: 25 Things The Social Network Knows About You Facebook Privacy: 25 Things The Social Network Knows About You Facebook knows a surprising amount about us – information we willingly volunteer. From that information you can be slotted into a demographic, your « likes » recorded and relationships monitored. Here are 25 things Facebook knows about… Read More

There are several investigations, and a class action law suit, looking into whether or not Facebook’s privacy policy is legal. So far things are looking bad for Facebook. Despite frequent updates, a Belgian report released earlier this year “found that Facebook is acting in violation of European law“.

Just like the other companies, Facebook could face heavy fines if they don’t fall into line with the EU’s policies.

Why the EU Doesn’t Like Amazon

The EU’s issue with Amazon is a little different.

The EU wants a Digital Single Market where every citizen would be able to purchase the same products at the same price as any other, regardless of where the products were being sold from. They are, according to VentureBeat, concerned that Amazon, and other e-commerce companies like Netflix, “have policies that restrict the ability of merchants and consumers to buy and sell goods and services across Europe’s borders.” For example: videos offered by the company’s streaming aren’t available in every country, which is at odds with the EU’s aim to treat every member nation and citizen equally.

A year-long investigation launched this year so, at least for now, Amazon is free to continue as they are.

What Do You Think?

The EU is clearly not going to let the GAFA companies operate unchecked, nor let them have the same level of independence they enjoy in the US. The EU takes a much more hands on approach to consumer protection and anti-competition laws than the Obama administration.

So tell me, what do you think? Is the EU overreaching in its regulation of the GAFA companies or is it right to limit the tech giants’ ambitions?

7 Responses to GAFA: C’est des salauds, mais des salauds tellement cool ! (Will Silicon Valley finally lose its most-favored robber baronism clause ?)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    HOW CAN SO SMART BE SO STUPID ? (When will the green sermonizers who live in one of the most artificial and ecologically fragile environments on the planet start to fix premodern problems before dreaming about postmodern solutions ?)

    Over some 50 consecutive months of drought, California did not start work on a single major reservoir — though many had long ago been planned and designed. Instead, given the lack of water-storage capacity, and due to environmental diversions, tens of millions of acre-feet of precious runoff water last year were simply let out to the ocean. (…) Silicon Valley is the state’s signature cash cow, emblematic of progressive-cool culture and tech savvy. Yet many streets around high-tech corporate campuses are lined with parked Winnebagos that serve as worker housing compounds. In nearby Redwood City, World War II–era cottages have become virtual hostels. Trailers, tiny garages, and converted patios serve as quasi-apartments. California may offer the world a smartphone app for every need, but it cannot ensure affordable shelter for those who help to create the world’s social-media outlets and smartphones. How can so smart be so stupid?

    Victor Davis Hanson

    J'aime

  2. jcdurbant dit :

    WHAT ROBBER BARONS ? (Just because today’s robber barons look like us does not mean that their dogged pursuit of tax exemptions, offshoring and outsourcing, and vertically integrated monopolies is in our interest)

    One reason billionaire Donald Trump won the Electoral College was that he was transparent. He did not fake a southern drawl or an inner-city patois in the manner of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Unlike Mitt Romney, he exaggerated rather than apologized for his wealth. His loud clothes, garish jet, and American boosterism were in your face, and allowed Americans to draw their own conclusions—and, in contrast, made vastly rich progressive activists like Tom Steyer and Al Gore seem disingenuous.

    Visible class distinctions of the past were a result of pride in achievement and old-fashioned snobbery. But their practical effect was to warn that the interests and agendas of the elite were not always the same as those of the public. Today’s billionaire hipsters blur these ancient distinctions. But just because a Master of the Universe looks like us does not mean that his dogged pursuit of tax exemptions, offshoring and outsourcing, and vertically integrated monopolies is in our interest.

    VDH

    The robber barons of the nineteenth century are disparaged today for their greed and power. But Amazon, Facebook and Google operate virtual monopolies, the influence of which exceeds the oil, rail, steel, and banking trusts of the Gilded Age. The chief difference is that companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, or Apple are worth more in inflation-adjusted dollars than were Standard Oil or U.S. Steel, and their global reach now affects 6 billion people, not a continent of 60 million. Yet because their leaders wear the costume of the ordinary man, they seek an informality to help exempt them from old-style trust-busting and product liability suits from which their Gilded Age predecessors—with their top hats and gold-tipped canes—were not immune.

    Why do we take seriously the take-a-knee protests of NFL players? Most are multimillionaires and live rarefied lifestyles. In a politically correct age of disproportional impact and proportional representation, coveted and lucrative careers in professional sports are not subject, as most professions, to diversity mandates. The NFL is 70% African-American; no one suggests that race should trump merit or that players are the billionaire owners’ indentured serfs. But the fact that many multimillionaire players are tattooed, don cool jewelry, and wear their hair long gives the impression that they are somehow just ordinary guys exploited by the powers-that-be.

    The effort to render elites and their sense of entitlement invisible to the public means that the phrase “limousine liberals” should be replaced with “Uber liberals” …

    https://www.hoover.org/research/camouflaged-elites

    J'aime

  3. jcdurbant dit :

    WHAT PROFIT AT ANY COST ?

    The “Le Moujahid Solitaire” is the first French language iteration of the notorious English language Telegram channel, “Lone Mujahid.” This channel was known for bomb making instructions, advice on knife attacks, and suggesting potential targets. Previous versions of the “Lone Mujahid” channel have used British English, and have urged attacks in the U.K. and Australia. The French language focus of the channel is new, and with more than 125 members, it shows the continued desire of ISIS and their online supporters to strike in Europe. The appearance of “Le Moujahid Solitaire” follows several recent terrorism related arrests in France. On January 20, 2018, it was reported that French authorities had arrested a man in Nîmes who was in possession of explosives and bomb-making instructions. The individual had made a video in which he pledged allegiance to ISIS. In September and November, French police made several arrests related to suspected terror cells, including potential bombings. French authorities claimed that in the November arrests, perpetrators communicated via Telegram…

    https://www.counterextremism.com/blog/new-telegram-channel-shows-isis-determination-attack-france

    https://www.counterextremism.com/blog/new-telegram-channel-shows-isis-determination-attack-france

    https://www.counterextremism.com/blog/continuing-availability-isis-bomb-making-videos-google-platforms

    J'aime

  4. jcdurbant dit :

    IT’S THE SOCIAL MEDIA GOADING, STUPID !

    « Often-trivial disputes between young people are escalating into murder and stabbings at unprecedented rates. The goading of rivals on online message boards and video sites “revs people up” and normalises violence. The speed at which disputes gathers pace echoes the way in which some Islamists, including the perpetrator of the lorry attack in Nice in 2016, were radicalised within days or weeks. A febrile online atmosphere is among factors responsible for rising knife crime. Also to blame are drug-dealing, absent fathers and socio- economics. There’s definitely something about the impact of social media in terms of people being able to go from slightly angry with each other to ‘fight’ very quickly. gangs who “posture on social media”, including rap videos in which they goad rivals, glamorise violence. It makes [violence] faster, it makes it harder for people to cool down. I’m sure it does rev people up. »

    Cressida Dick (London Metropolitan Police commissioner)

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/web-giants-drive-children-to-violent-action-hwh7xzdhd

    J'aime

  5. jcdurbant dit :

    IT’S THE SOCIAL MEDIA GOADING, STUPID !

    Social media is the ‘catalyst’ for some of the most serious violent and sexual attacks committed by young people. Crimes are being plotted by children and teenagers online in ways that were ‘inconceivable’ just a few years ago. Instead of trouble springing from youths loitering on street corners, they are now planning and inciting offences using smartphones and computers in their bedrooms, In one in four cases, young people’s use of social media sites, such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, was directly related to the crime they had committed. Arguments involving troubled young people often start online before ‘escalating dramatically’ into physical assaults when the protagonists meet in the street or on public transport. Young people are also being blackmailed online, using indecent images that they have been pressured to upload on to the internet. And gangs are posting video online of members threatening and goading rivals, describing how they would murder them, which fuels violence and bloodshed.Social media is a large part of young people’s lives, and we found it featured often enough in the build up to a serious offence. ‘Many of these young people shun Facebook and other common applications, in favour of lesser known and, therefore, more private media.

    Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5018453/Social-media-fuels-crimes-children.html

    J'aime

  6. jcdurbant dit :

    DANGEROUS GAMES (Quand la Roquette joue à la guerre des gangs américains)

    Une vingtaine de jeunes de la bande de Riquet – un quartier sensible du XIXe – armés de bâtons et de couteaux, seraient venus narguer une dizaine de personnes d’un groupe du XIe arrondissement, en train de tourner un clip de rap, rue de la Roquette. C’est au cours d’un bref affrontement, mais d’une rare violence, survenu devant des passants impuissants que l’adolescent a été poignardé. Hospitalisé en urgence à La Salpêtrière (XIIIe), il a succombé à ses blessures peu de temps après son arrivée…

    http://www.leparisien.fr/paris-75/paris-emotion-apres-la-mort-d-un-ado-de-15-ans-rue-de-la-roquette-14-01-2018-7500603.php

    J'aime

  7. jcdurbant dit :

    WHAT NO-TAX MONOPOLY ? (Guess who won’t have to pay a cent in federal taxes for the second year in a row and will even get a $129 million rebate this year ?)

    « Amazon has a ‘no-tax monopoly.' »

    Donald Trump

    https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/jul/26/donald-trump/amazon-no-tax-monopoly-donald-trump-said/

    « Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers. Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt – many jobs being lost! »

    Donald Trump

    Those wondering how many zeros Amazon, which is valued at nearly $800 billion, has to pay in federal taxes might be surprised to learn that its check to the IRS will read exactly $0.00. According to a report published by the Institute on Taxation and Economic (ITEP) policy Wednesday, the e-tail/retail/tech/entertainment/everything giant won’t have to pay a cent in federal taxes for the second year in a row. This tax-free break comes even though Amazon almost doubled its U.S. profits from $5.6 billion to $11.2 billion between 2017 and 2018. To top it off, Amazon actually reported a $129 million 2018 federal income tax rebate—making its tax rate -1%…

    http://fortune.com/2019/02/14/amazon-doesnt-pay-federal-taxes-2019/

    J'aime

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