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The internet would transform society and a new book says it has in a way that diminishes humanity

Stashed in: Teh Internets, Winner take all., Bullies, Unintended Consequences

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Unintended consequences:

In our super-connected 21st-century world, rather than promoting economic fairness, the net is a central reason for the growing gulf between rich and poor and the hollowing out of the middle classes.

Rather than generating more jobs, it is - as I will explain - a cause of unemployment. Rather than creating more competition, it has created immensely powerful new monopolists such as Google and Amazon in a winner-takes-all economy.

Its cultural ramifications are equally chilling. Rather than creating transparency and openness, it secretly gathers information and keeps a watch on each and every one of us.

The CEO of Twitter admits they haven't even tried to solve the problem.

This month, after years of social networks being scarred by appalling personal abuse and bullying - leading to several suicides - Twitter, which has 288 million users a month, finally admitted there was ‘no excuse’ for its failure to stop its users sending vile messages to the targets of their hatred.

The company’s boss, Dick Costolo, admitted: ‘I’m frankly ashamed at how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue. It’s absurd.’

Rather than encouraging tolerance, the internet has unleashed such a distasteful war on women that many no longer feel welcome online.

An increasingly common kind of online attack involves the threat of rape against women.

Amanda Hess, for example, a feminist writer and journalist in the U.S., has received threats ‘to rape you and remove your head’ from men who have disagreed with her writing.

Her feeling as a result — that the internet is no place for women — is confirmed by the many thousands of women who are staying out of online chat-rooms because of misogynistic abuse.

The internet has also unleashed a seemingly unstoppable flow of increasingly hardcore sexual materials. Only this week it emerged that half a million pornographic images are posted on Twitter every day.

The article really goes after Google and Amazon as profiteers.

It’s easy to forget the crusading intentions with which the internet revolution began. But then the mantle passed from the techno wizards and visionaries to businessmen.

The internet lost a sense of common purpose, a general decency, perhaps even its soul. Money replaced all these things.

Amazon reflects much of what has gone wrong. Now by far the dominant internet retailer, it has achieved this position by crushing or acquiring its competitors and selling everything it can lay its hands on.

It has felt the need to expand so ruthlessly because in its type of e-commerce, margins are extremely tight and economies of scale vital.

In 2013, Amazon made sales of $75 billion (£49 billion) but returned a profit of just $274 million (£178 million).

To succeed, it has to make itself a virtual monopoly, stifling rivals along the way. Inside the company this is known as the Gazelle Project, after founder Jeff Bezos instructed one of his staff that ‘Amazon should approach small book publishers the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle’.

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