Are you down with a few Californians setting the bounds of acceptable speech for a third of the world? Do you shrug when online platforms monitor and monetize your every public thought in return for their “free” service?
If so bust out your digital wallet because Mark Zuckerberg has a crypto deal for you!
Mark Zuckerberg Crypto’s Nightmare on Blockchain Street
The Facebook founder, partnering with select venture capitalists, global financial corporations, and others have created Libra, a crypto “stable coin.”
And there is good news! International money transfers will be free through a digital wallet linked to your Facebook account. You’ll get discounts on services like Uber, Lyft, and other merchants that accept the crypto-coin. It’s designed to be easy and carefree, like sending a photo!
But is it worth it? The bad news is a global consortium of industry giants will monitor your every move. Your financial life will be analyzed and assessed continuously, likely in a cloud-based, AI-enabled mechanism you will never see or have access to. Just listen carefully and you can hear the buzz words. They will use your crypto profile to “improve” your financial “experiences” and provide you “relevant” information “tailored” to your specific needs. This consortium is built to sell you things at exactly the price you can afford (or perhaps a little over).
And one day you’ll pay your taxes through your Facebook crypto, because, of course, they’ll know exactly how much you owe. Just remember you opted in through a word wall designed to go unread.
A Global Corporate Consortium will use crypto to regulate your finances and your speech
Of course once you’re strapped in, you’ll want avoid liking that distasteful Facebook post or retweeting that meme that mocked a politician or offended an activist. You wouldn’t want anyone to feel “unsafe” would you? Also, don’t pay for membership in that organization that supports “hate,” with your corporate crypto. And don’t buy that subversive T-shirt that microagresses a fellow human either. Risk it and you may end up with a message like this:
If this inconveniences you, don’t complain. Facebook and it’s 28 partners are private companies after all, and you signed up. If this sounds dystopian, it’s already happening. Why not relinquish your financial transactions too?
Oddly, Libra’s debut PR blitz didn’t mention any of this. Of course, what matters now is adoption. Thus, the corporate crypto is supposedly missioned with providing low-cost banking to the 1.7 billion poorest among us and reduced fees for the rest. Sounds good, right? Only we’re supposed to rely on the trustworthiness of Zuckerberg and the partner corporations that ponied up at least $10 million to participate and who will receive a windfall if the coin takes off.
Libra is designed to control first-world finance not third-world transactions
But Libra’s altruistic claims fall apart fast. As Daniel Evans writing in CoinDesk explained, over half those 1.7 billion are from seven countries, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Pakistan. All have legal barriers to Facebook and cryptocurrency that make adoption unlikely.
Libra’s goal is the entrenchment of some very rich, powerful institutions that have much to lose in a decentralized world. Empowering the individual keeps control at the bottom of the “stack” instead of it rising to a corporate oligarchy who mass collect and silo your data making it difficult govern your own identity and hard to leave.
Blockchain’s promise is a world where each individual regulates and profits from the information they choose to share and receive. A tokenized world would enable each person to buy, sell, or publicize what they want with whomever they want upon prearranged terms without massive middlemen acting as data chokepoints. This paradigm shift directly threatens Facebook, credit card companies, and venture capitalists who made boatloads off the internet’s past iterations. Libra is designed to kill blockchain’s future and retrench oligarchic power for decades to come; the sappy videos are for media consumption.
Those who want to control our lives won’t go quietly. They will offer convenience, discounts, and “community.” And all they ask for in return, is to collect every data point that makes up our identity, so to keep profiting off us and keep us in line. If that doesn’t sound like a bargain. If autonomy, dignity, and control of your personal information is important to you, tell Libra to get zucked.