How to fight the tech aristocracy

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Digital platforms create new marketplaces and prosperity on the Internet, but they are ruled by Silicon Valley despots with little or no accountability. Users and workers have become the hapless subjects of online economic empires. It is only through understanding digital platforms for what they are—institutions as powerful as the state—that we can begin the work of democratizing them, writes Vili Lehdonvirta. “Is Microsoft a digital nation and does it have a secretary of state?,” asks an article in The Economist. “Apple is basically a small country now,” claims The Atlantic. “Who needs a government when you’ve got Amazon to keep things running,” quips a columnist in The Guardian.[related id=1849]These are not just idle metaphors: The value of the goods traded on Amazon is now higher than most countries’ GDP. The amount of money that Amazon earns as a cut from its merchants’ incomes is far bigger than what most governme…

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