At its inception, the internet was imagined as a decentralized, horizontal and open space that would foster freedom and equality. Today, it is a collection of walled gardens, a hierarchical ecosystem ruled by a few gatekeepers who leverage access to data, attention and infrastructural capability to enclose users and competitors in relations of dependency. The transition happened over the course of one, or at best two, decades.
Why did the power of digital platform companies such as Google/Alphabet, Facebook/Meta, Amazon, and Apple emerge and grow so quickly without a regulatory response? An important reason is that the intellectual and material toolbox available to Western lawyers, policymakers, and thinkers is grossly inadequate to diagnosing and addressing harm and power formation in the information capitalist era. Harm itself often appears elusive, impervious to theorizing, and controversial. A question that arises, then, is why our modes of thinking and governing markets are so poorly equipped to address the felt erosion of basic human and collective needs in an increasingly digitalized society. Why have consumerism, addiction, polarization, and mistrust in institutions become pervasive and untamable parts of life in the 21st century? How have these problems become parts of
— source promarket.org | Elettra Bietti | Jan 28, 2022