By Obi Nwosu, CEO and Founder, Coinfloor UK
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Facebook is your friend.
George Orwell is in fashion again, and for all the wrong reasons. Rather than a warning from history, some people seem to have mistaken 1984 for a user manual. And no one more than Facebook: the company to which we willingly surrender our innermost secrets.
Even the most technologically disengaged person knows that Facebook was never just a social network. It’s business is building parallel worlds; ones which compete with Real Life™ for our attention, and where the only price for playing is the complete surrender of our privacy.
With last week’s launch of the new online world Horizon (along with the brand new Oculus Quest 2 to explore it with) Facebook once again displayed its talent for getting us to love Big Brother. People can now play, socialise and even collaborate through their “Infinite Office” initiative, all in Full-HD, 360o virtual reality. All you need is a headset, a Facebook ID and, of course, to register in your real name.
Orwell got one thing wrong. It’s not an omniscient and omnipotent Party we needed to fear, but private companies. In fact, if you’d told him in 1948 how much genuine need people feel towards a corporation that has abused their privacy from the get-go, he’d have dismissed it as an improbable fiction.
Despite warnings from those who built these monsters, we happily sleepwalk into a future where every click, every pre-formed thought will be recorded, analysed and algorithm-ed to change the way we think, feel and do. Facebook even continues its work on Libra, a take on digital money that only someone with a degree in doublethink could consider a “cryptocurrency”.
Anyone over the age of 30 has been witness to the creation of a new country: the world’s most populous, powerful, and totalitarian transnational state. And like Big Brother, it came in the guise of a friend. Welcome to Facebookland — you’ll never leave.
As I mentioned on this week’s Orange Pill Podcast, the technical VR advances being made by Facebook are a welcome boost to the space and are necessary and even welcome. However, in the same way Linux eclipsed Windows and Android surpassed iOS, eventually the world will need an open source alternative to transcend Facebook totalitarianism as surely as we need Bitcoin to challenge the US dollar hegemony.
Luckily alternatives ─ like the one being used in this week’s upcoming VR Magical Crypto Conference 2020 ─ exist, albeit at a much earlier stage than the more centralised options.
Mark Zuckerberg was born in 1984. Has he read it, though? And if so, did he see it as a warning or a set of instructions? His instincts for centralisation and omniscience suggest the latter.
If you care about privacy, Facebook is not your friend. Everyone knows this instinctively, even while they plunge ever deeper down the digital rabbit holes the company creates. We are becoming what Orwell warned: a mass who can never rebel until they are conscious, and can only become conscious through rebellion.
It’s time to fight back. We have the weapons: the new powers of decentralisation, censorship resistance and open source development. All we need is the consciousness that there is a better, privacy-preserving alternative to Facebookland’s dystopia.
Story: Microstrategy doubles down
A few weeks back I commented on Microstrategy’s $250M Bitcoin investment. Last week comes the news that the company has swallowed another dose of orange pills and bought another large chunk of Bitcoin, leading to a total investment of more than $400M.
Businesses embracing Bitcoin is always interesting, but it’s even more so when you listen to Microstrategy CEO Michael Saylor’s reasoning behind his decision to invest. The Anthony Pompliano interview is well worth a listen but for a synopsis, the tweet thread by Willy Woo does a very good job.
There are many takeaways but the key insight is that publicly traded companies — not politically controlled countries — are going to lead the way in terms of mainstream adoption and normalisation of Bitcoin. They are more agile, have the technical and commercial skills needed to understand Bitcoin’s potential, and have little to lose and much to gain by adopting it. Early adopting companies will have a significant advantage over newer entrants and they are by definition, good at marketing and selling an offering to their constituency of customers.
Once again, this shows how the private sector can be the catalyst of political, social and monetary change without building an all-encompassing dystopia. Where Facebook’s vision is a future where everyone is transformed into ad-consuming personas, the Bitcoin revolution is about restoring power and autonomy to those who have been let down by traditional financial structures.
That this now includes some of the world’s biggest corporations is yet another strong sign of Bitcoin’s progress down Hegemony Road. If you want to be on the right side of history, don’t go where companies are leading you: look who they are following.
This article was originally published in The BTC Times here.
Image Credit – The blog post image is from Markus Spiske, on Unsplash.