Free online Services
enabling, disenfranchising, disempowering
It is Christmas and your aunt has knitted a scarf for you. It is beautiful, useful, and you needed it. In fact, you love it. You feel that she cares about you and understands your wishes. You are most grateful for such a thoughtful gift. It seems that everybody is happy. How can there be anything wrong with such a win-win scenario? This is the same rhetorical question asked by many defenders of free online services. The answer is supposed to be stronger than a mere “nothing”. It is supposed to be a much more positive “there is everything right with this!”. Indeed, the new rhetorical question becomes “what’s wrong with you, killjoy?”. For the digital gifts from Baidu, Expedia, Facebook, Flickr (Yahoo!), Google, Instagram (Facebook), LinkedIn, Microsoft, Tencent, TripAdvisor, Tumblr (Yahoo!), Twitter, Yahoo!, YouTube (Google), WhatsApp (Facebook) and all the other thousands of digital aunts, we seem to have online ensure that we, the giftees, are part of the information society, that we live on the good side of the digital divide and that we enjoy all the amazing fruits of our technological developments. And all these, free of charge. They make every day feel like Christmas.
Floridi, L. (2015). Free online Services: enabling, disenfranchising, disempowering. Philosophy & Technology 28 (2), pp. 163-166.
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