Outlining three essential narratives in the political history of the Internet

By Primavera De Filippi, Juan Ortiz Freuler, and Joshua Tan

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a large portion of social interactions have moved online. While our interactions in the physical world are affected by national lockdowns and social distancing rules, our interactions in the digital space are increasingly affected by online operators and algorithmic gatekeepers. Proposals such as the Contract for the Web can help us navigate through some of the current challenges, yet new narratives might be needed to navigate the uncharted waters ahead.

A declaration is a political act, which describes what should be done. A…


Más allá del Dilema Social: Cuatro tipos de problemas.

Texto: Juan Ortiz Freuler. Ilustraciones: Juliana Castro. Una versión previa se publicó en La Nación (15/10/2020)

El Dilema Social no es un documental más sobre Internet. Escena tras escena, propone un debate sobre la idea de que las redes sociales son adictivas. Testimonios de ex empleados y especialistas develan las técnicas y mecanismos que se utilizan para hacernos permanecer conectados sin poder hacer mucho al respecto.

Sin embargo, esta no es la única cara de plataformas como Facebook, Twitter, TikTok o Instagram. La web -y en particular las redes sociales -han sido espacios donde las personas se unieron para reclamar por sociedades más justas. …


As we enter a new digital cold war, it’s time for a new non-aligned movement to operate as a buffer between the U.S. and China to protect the value of an open Internet.

Image: UI Here. Text: Originally published on Open Democracy — Disponible en Castellano a través de OD y AP.

Recent weeks have seen a dramatic escalation in the U.S.’ stance towards tech companies from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). After hounding the telecommunications company Huawei for years, the social networking app TikTok is the latest Chinese company to enter the firing line.

On 5 August U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo published a press release that could be seen as the master plan that explained…


Los juegos de dinero y política que dan forma a internet

¿Qué geografías

atravesaron

estos fragmentos de texto

antes de llegar a tu pantalla?

Habiendo escuchado que fotos y archivos van a “ la nube”, es probable que creas que tu acceso a ellos depende de satélites en el espacio. Pero la nube en la que se almacenan nuestros archivos se parece más a un galpón repleto de computadoras especializadas (servidores) y complejos sistemas de enfriamiento que evitan que esas computadoras se re-calienten. Aunque los satélites a menudo brindan servicios de Internet en áreas remotas, la red troncal de Internet está conformada por un conjunto de cables de fibra lo suficientemente…


The world wide web is on a crash course that could lead to permanent fragmentation. Only coordinated international solidarity can stop it.

Overlay of images compiled by the author — Public domain. This article was originally published on Open Democracy. Disponible en castellano a traves de Animal Político.

Some weeks ago, negotiations for a new global tax regime for digital platforms collapsed. The negotiation, agreed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), has two central pillars. The first pillar revolves around how to ensure large technological platforms pay part of their taxes to the coffers of each country where they have users. …


A peak into the patterns emerging from our global communications networks

Ir a versión en castellano

What geographies

have these bits of text

traveled across

before reaching your screen?

Having heard everything is “in the Cloud”, you might have come to believe that the internet is managed over satellites in space. But “the Cloud” in which our emails are stored looks more like a warehouse crammed with specialized computers (“servers”), and huge cooling systems that keep the computers from overheating. Though satellites often provide internet services to remote areas, the internet’s backbone is still a set of fiber cables thin enough to fit in the…


Original por Juan Ortiz Freuler y Rosemary Leith disponible aquí. Traducido por Juan Ortiz Freuler — correcciones y sugerencias bienvenidas)

Unas cuantas plataformas se han convertido en lo que la mayoría de la gente conoce como “Internet”. En los últimos 5 años, Google y Facebook han pasado de gestionar menos del 50% del tráfico a las principales páginas web, a más del 75% en la actualidad. Cuando las grandes empresas caen, es como si la vida online se pusiera en pausa. Algunas personas han construido sus empresas sobre estas plataformas y no pueden vender sus productos hasta que estos intermediarios…


By Juan Ortiz Freuler and Rosemary Leith

Spanish translation available here

A handful of platforms have become what most people know as the internet. Over the past 5 years Google and Facebook alone have crept from managing less than 50% of the traffic to top web publishers, to 75% today. When the big companies go down it increasingly looks as if life is put on pause. Some people have built their companies on top of these platforms and can’t sell their products until they get back on, which can take hours. Others can’t talk to their parents or kids, plan social events, coordinate political…


Also available in English and Albanian. Feel free to translate and republish (CC-BY)

En los últimos años el impacto negativo de internet sobre nuestras democracias ha comenzado a dominar el ciclo noticioso. Facebook y Twitter fueron acusados de facilitar la difusión de información falsa. En octubre de 2018, el periódico brasileño Folha reveló cómo la candidatura de Bolsonaro se benefició de una campaña coordinada de desinformación realizada a través de Whatsapp, propiedad de Facebook. Y hay una creciente preocupación de que esta táctica será utilizada para impactar sobre las elecciones generales de otros países.

En este contexto es fácil pasar por alto que Internet también desempeña un papel en el fortalecimiento de la…


Also available in Spanish and Albanian. Feel free to translate and republish (CC-BY)

Over the last few years, the potentially damaging impact of the internet on democracy has increasingly come to dominate the news. The recently disclosed internal Facebook emails, which revealed that employees discussed allowing developers to harvest user data for a fee, are but the latest in a long line of scandals surrounding social media platforms. Facebook has also been accused, alongside Twitter, of fueling the spread of false information. In October, the Brazilian newspaper Folha exposed how Jair Bolsonaro’s candidacy benefited from a coordinated disinformation campaign conducted via Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook. …

Juan Ortiz Freuler

Justice & participation. ICTs & Data. Affiliate @BKCHarvard. Alumni: @oiiOxford & @blavatnikSchool . Chevening Scholar. Views=personal. Here-> open discussion.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store