Joe Biden has not hidden his disdain for Silicon Valley. Months before extremists stormed the Capitol, he warned that Facebook’s laissez-faire attitude to misinformation could “corrode our democracy”. He pledged to revoke immediately the digital giants’ shield against liability, which is the bedrock of the internet as we know it. On Wednesday, just a week into his presidency, he will be handed fresh evidence of Big Tech’s domination when the industry unveils another record set of financial results.
Consider Facebook. Analysts at Société Générale recently downgraded the stock to “sell”, simply because it was running out of human beings to sign up. After a sharp rise over the summer, more than 3.1 billion people use one of its apps at least once a month.
It is worth thinking about that number. About four billion people globally were on the internet in 2019, according to the International Telecommunications Union. Assuming a typical 7.5% annual increase for 2020, to 4.3 billion, then exclude the 900 million internet users in China, where Facebook is barred, and Mark Zuckerberg has reached 91% of the available market.
Someone creates something stunningly popular, free, which sweeps the global population.
Politics insists that politics will have to do something about that.