Last year, the government extracted $1.1 trillion in taxes from us individual taxpayers. But now it will pay, along with the states, $429 million of our taxes to the coolest Silicon-Valley beauty queen: Facebook. In net tax refunds! Part of a vast package of juicy corporate welfare programs. Facebook isn’t just hogging our data; it’s gobbling up our money.
Facebook isn’t over the hill, exactly. Last October, it announced that 1 billion people a month used it, in a world of 7 billion. Leaping from one milestone to the next. But in key markets, such as the US where it derives most of its revenues, it is plateauing, and a shudder-inducing D-word has snuck into polite conversation: declining. Now we have a new reason.
Here are some easy tricks that I found to be very helpful in maintaining at least some sort of privacy and security for life on the internet (Note: This is in addition to keeping Windows, anti-virus software, Java, Flashplayer, etc. updated). Smartphones: If you use a smartphone (and a lot of apps) for everything…
A friend, who was installing Skype on a new computer, was baffled when Skype suggested contacts that weren’t on his Skype contact list but in his address book. Turns out, apps are gateways that pilfer voluminous personal information, not only address book data but also … sexual preferences. Nothing is safe. And not just of the user but also of his or her friends. And now the government is trying to catch up in the race to get our information.
Huawei is a prime example of Chinese companies scaling the value chain through innovation and technology transfer—top priorities in China’s five-year plan. But its efforts to become a major player in the US give the US government, and anyone concerned about national security, the willies. And now, these concerns dissolved another deal, yet the root problem remains.
California is broke again. The “balanced” budget last summer turned into a pile of overoptimistic assumptions. Out-of-money date is March 8. $3.3 billion must be dug up, pronto. Last fall, California had to borrow $21 billion to make it to April. Now all eyes are on Facebook. Its IPO will singlehandedly solve all budget problems forever—just like Google’s IPO had done.
With IPO hype blowing like a maxed-out hairdryer into my face, I Googled … Friendster—the shining star of social networking that everyone had drooled over. Turns out, in 2009, Friendster was bought for a pittance by MOL Global, a Malaysian company. In 2011, it discontinued social networking activities and rebranded itself as a gaming site. But there is one valuable asset it still has: user information.
A dream—or nightmare—yields to scientific progress: quantitative models recreate thoughts, and brain signals control mechanical devices. Yet, the brain is an unreliable organ that makes up for shortcomings in data with profuse creativity. It’s going to be a wild ride. And Google and Facebook will have a field day.