By CCN Markets: One day Bitcoin will occupy the same corner of internet nostalgia occupied by Nikola Tesla. So it goes: were it not for Thomas Edison’s superior resources, influence and propaganda, we could all be running our laptops on Mr. Tesla’s free energy right now.
Surveying the thunderous hype surrounding Facebook’s foray into the cryptocurrency game, one can’t quite shake the feeling that Mark Zuckerberg is in the process of pulling an Edison.
The analogies between the story of Facebook’s foundation and that of the upcoming Libra/Facebucks are striking. Call it inspiration, theft, or skilled reselling, but when Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004, he was working with live clay. The groundwork of Facebook already existed in the Winklevii’s HarvardConnection/ConnectU. Zuckerberg reshaped it and sent it out to become the global juggernaut it is today – with lawsuits and settlements in between.
Here, Zuckerberg resembles McDonalds tycoon Ray Kroc – a man with better salesmanship than his colleagues, and no moral scruples about taking their ideas and running with them. Like Kroc, Zuckerberg did not yet have any of that wealth, power and influence which would soon come his way.
Fifteen years later, and Facebook has become a world-wide global mega-corporation, with Zuckerberg atop its throne. Here the Thomas Edison analogy really shines. Like Edison, Zuckerberg has used his power and influence to control the narrative, crush competitors; and even threaten his own workers.
And just as Thomas Edison often stole (and in the process, often f***ed up) Nikola Tesla’s ideas and inventions, Mark Zuckerberg is now stealing Bitcoin.
Here I use Bitcoin in the broadest possible sense – as the concept of cryptocurrency as a whole. If you wanted to crush the revolutionary power of the printing press, what better way than to flood the market with nice, entertaining, harmless literature, with no substance or contemplative threat whatsoever?
If you wanted to crush the knowledge-inducing power of the internet, what better way than to flood it with infinite swathes of facts, data, and information – none of which add up to any knowledgeable whole.
If you wanted to kill the revolutionary power of Bitcoin, what better way than to release an Edison-esque, Zuckerberg-approved, Facebookified version of cryptocurrency that already has the world’s existing financial elite on board?
Facebook’s immediate priority is increasing revenue streams by connecting all of its social media platforms under one digital currency. Under Zuckerberg’s new plans, Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram will become Amazon marketplaces unto themselves – all connected by Facebucks.
Is Facebook’s immediate aim the destruction of the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency experiment? Probably not. But entities that large rarely care, or even see, those who they step on as they amble clumsily and uninvited into our lives.
The newly revealed Libra whitepaper claims its aim is the empowerment of billions of people: “Libra’s mission is to enable a simple global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people.”
If Facebook’s past history with Cambridge Analytica is anything to go by, any promises of privacy safeguards in its new blockchain venture should not be taken at face value. Data is worth more than oil in today’s economy, and Mark Zuckerberg owns one of the biggest wells in town.
And if the latest claims by blockchain company Hedera are anything to go by, then not only is Zuckerberg in the process of stealing the concept of cryptocurrency – but also its technical infrastruture. Hedera claims to have held meetings with Facebook last year, only for their ideas to suddenly appear in the form of Libra.
The only ray of hope is in the oft-repeated maxim that those who walk bigger fall harder. But in light of Facebook’s pervasive, monopolous spread through just about every aspect of society, that might just be a load of crock.
This article was edited by Samburaj Das.
Last modified: January 11, 2020 1:00 AM UTC