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[flagged] Apple is not your friend (twitter.com)
113 points by kgraves 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 106 comments





This submission has no content. Please do better than that. An OP needs to have interesting information for the reader to process—otherwise we get lame and tedious discussions that we've all heard before.

In short: more fiber less sugar. Some sugar is ok, but not only. Indignation, by the way, is pure sugar.


However, out of that list of four, Apple is the one that I have seen being “least evil” with me and my data.

Google dropped their “don’t be evil” motto for a very damn good reason, and the safety of their own app marketplace is a fucking joke.

Facebook is even worse than Google, in that it has never stopped trying to appear innocent of wrongdoing while paddling like mad under the surface.

Microsoft… has gone all Spyware with _all_ of their products as of late, although at least their business-class stuff is moderately neutered.

Apple may Hoover up some data, but it does at least employ actual security and privacy in many places. They make stands where it makes sense to take stands, and they bend in the wind where the hurricane would snap a stiffer branch. Finally, their walled garden - although not perfect - is far safer than any other one out there. They make missteps just like any other entity run by humans, but a fair number of their actions do point in the correct direction.

If given no alternative choice that is evil-free, I will chose the least evil option as my vote. Apple it is, at least for all my personal devices.


> but it does at least employ actual security and privacy in many places.

It doesn't. It has total control over what you can use which is the least privacy and security friendly option you can have. That control means they can give up any privacy and security promises under a bit of government pressure, like Apple already did plenty of times. It's the same problem as with end-to-end encryption in vendor controlled binaries, they promise you it's there, but they can and will silently compromise it if pressured or decide to do so.

> Finally, their walled garden - although not perfect - is far safer than any other one out there.

Walled gardens are not inherently safer than anything out there.


> If given no alternative choice that is evil-free, I will chose the least evil option as my vote.

I was on Android until the start of 2019 when my wife bought a new iPhone and I took her 6S. I'd had enough of Android spying on me.

My argument was the same as yours: Apple don't make (that much) money off my data so they MUST be better than Google. Right?

When I think about it, I honestly cannot say that they have better privacy than Google. How can I? They may market themselves as having that but Apple products and software aren't open source. And even if they were, how do I know that the version of some product that my phone is connected to is using a "non-evil" version at the backend.

I now don't believe any of them give a shit about privacy. At all! Not one bit! They say marketing-speak to reach the most lucrative audience and from a financial perspective it makes perfect sense.

However, there is/may be another choice! The Librem 5 could maybe just start something: I'm not in the queue for the first batch but by the start of next year I hope to have one.


I don't think services have to be open source for us to trust their privacy. In the context of Apple there has been enough conflict in the press with the FBI and other authorities that their actions speak enough I can trust them in the absence of source code.

And I think there is enough financial strategy for other companies - such as Samsung, who for example sell smart TVs at a loss to recoup money from Ad/tracking information sourced from the tv - to know that others are trying this while Apple doesn't seem to be.

on iPhones: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FBI–Apple_encryption_dispute

and Smart TVs: https://www.consumerreports.org/privacy/how-to-turn-off-smar...


>I don't think services have to be open source for us to trust their privacy.

I agree that we don't NEED open source but it would definitely help.

In all honesty I'm not sure any corporation could fully reassure everyone that they are trustworthy but being open source would at least show they are serious about it: they may have a back door but there's a risk it will be spotted!

That being said (and is pointed out by another commenter here) Microsoft are showing that on one hand they can giveth (open sourcing .NET) and on the other they taketh away (the incessant forced telemetry).

Now that I write this I believe the answer is something like the Librem 5 with self-hosted backend infrastructure (I'm not a employee but I will be buying one at the start of 2020 when my current contract expires - I wish I had backed them at the start :()... it's not ideal but I think it's the only solution going forward.

On a slight tangent, there was an experiment done with bookies and laymen to predict winners based on 5 points of data then scaled up to around 80 points of data and it showed that the bookies were no more accurate than the laymen regardless of how much data they had at their disposal (my Google-fu is not working today so I can't find the experiment and my figures may be a bit off).

I've asked on here before for a link to research that shows more data moves the needle enough to justify its collection... At the time of writing this, I do not believe it does.


>I honestly cannot say that they have better privacy than Google.

Yes you can. One is a data mining company that sells gateway drugs to its services, one is a hardware/os/framework company that transitioned in to an app marketplace company. Google makes money collecting data and targeting advertising. Apple makes a cut, like Visa, on transactions.


> Apple don't make (that much) money off my data so they MUST be better than Google.

What prevent them to do it later?

There's investigation about iOS/Android telemetry: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/android-devices-send-10...


Your argument is flawed. How do you know that Apple protects personal data better than others? I think it has the least experience and probably Google is the best in that area. Microsoft is maybe second.

Apple makes money on their HW and their media sales and application sales. You have to spend the money by choice for Apple to make money. What does most of the world pay Google for? At Google you are the product. Why is that so hard for everyone to understand. The same goes for FB.

Just because you pay for something doesn't make the incentives to screw you over to get even more money go away.

Does it? Various user-blaming shenanigans, when Apple messes up their HW design can serve as an example. "You're holding it wrong", "You're putting the phone in your pocket", "You're using keyboard wrong in a real world with dust and stuff", etc.


> At Google you are the product.

Nothing prevent Microsoft to sells Windows Home/Pro as beta version of Enterprise and gets money & free QA.

If you pays money nothing guarantee your personal data will be used too.


That is mostly true, people are generally concerned with the way Windows 10 handles disabling telemetry and other privacy concerns such as automatically reinstalling or reenabling 'features' after updates. In addition you get the bonus of having ads in your start menu by default, a mess of features/software you can't remove and opting out of everything is quite the process.

You can of course sniff your network traffic to see what does get collected, and that way you at least know what they collected and you can imagine how it can be used and abused.


I don't see a big difference, I would trust my data with the competent one. Especially when I look at Apple / China situation. It just shows what their actual focus is.

This is the case with all these corporations, making money is their primary concern. In addition their options are 'comply to our laws if you want to sell your products here' or 'no selling on this market'. Not justifying their actions, this just isn't a uniquely Apple thing.

> Apple makes money on their HW and their media sales and application sales.

I don't see why they can't make some extra by making you the product as well.

Also, people who are into Apple are known to be willing to pay for stuff. A very lucrative group for everyone.


Please, be serious for a moment. It would have to be an amount of money to be worth the risk and therefore show up in quarterlies. Also there would have to be a buyer. And there would have to be a bunch of companies Apple shopped their data to. And thousands of employees and ex-employees. You really think Apple could keep a thousand ex-employees quiet? Think about it for a moment—if they were doing it, its leaking would be a certainty.

And if it leaked, Apple would be in very deep doo-doo with easily the largest class action the company has ever been hit with. It would be an unacceptable risk to even contemplate such a stupid idea. All for what, a few extra pennies?


HP is making money on HW. They are also making money from your data.

Adobe is making money from selling software. They also make money from their telemetry system.

etc...


You can easily argue that Apple unlike those others hasn't shown signs in the direction of selling your personal data (directly or indirectly).

Google is an advertisement platform so they are the most experienced in using and selling your data (indirectly).

Microsoft is moving heavily in the SaaS direction with an insane amount of telemetry going out towards their servers from Windows 10. (If you have any concern for your privacy you will have to either disable that via powershell or 3rd party scripts/applications and verify that after every update it is still disabled.)

Facebook is infamous for their facebook pixel, they're looked upon as invading the privacy of everyone in multiple ways. So they're rightfully looked upon as an evil. They've sold and continu to sell private data directly and indirectly, including people who are not on their platform.

Finally Apple doesn't make their money using your private data (at least not on the same scale as those other companies mentioned). So you can view them as the least evil, at least when it comes to private data.


its so disingenuous to equate telemetry with tracking. The former is looking for app crashes, usability patterns and the latter is watching "what interests you" soas to serve you more of that. There is no reason to believe Microsoft is using Windows telemetry crash/threat data to shape Bing ad targeting. (Yes I understand browsing history is part of the overall telemetry. Microsoft would be smart to brand that separately than diagnostic data.)

The other main use of telemetry is to power active threat protection. Having it turned on on more machines makes everyone safer.


Google hast the most transparency for your data. Google was one of the first to allow you to download it. It shows you all services you use. It tells you constantly that this is the case.

It has the best 2fa.


I don't really care how transparent they are if they still try to stalk me everywhere I go both online (with Google Analytics, ads, ReCaptcha, etc) and offline (buying card transaction data from MasterCard).

How about when Google tracked all users location even with the location service disabled?

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/aug/13/google-lo...

You don't see Apple doing shit like that... quite the opposite.


it has an appearance of it, but we have no idea if that's all the info and/or the real control we have

google 2fa is the same as apples for the most part.

I disagree with you regarding Apple - they are the ones who started the trend of the ultimate walled gardens by letting the platform maker decide which software resides on your device. Neither Google nor Facebook nor Microsoft were inclined to do that. Apple single-handedly changed the narrative (in a significant way, since earlier there were tiny pockets of walled gardens like gaming consoles). The society is going to suffer in the long term because of that.

Apple still complied with the alphabets, according to Snowden. IIRC they even let some NSA infiltrate into their supply chain to inject malware at the firmware level on phones and laptops.

Do you have any source for the supply chain claim? All I can find is about the Bloomberg article, which isn't related.

> Google dropped their “don’t be evil” motto for a very damn good reason

They didn't drop it though.

>> "And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right – speak up!"

https://abc.xyz/investor/other/google-code-of-conduct/


They replaced it with “Don’t be not okay.”

You're right - but they certainly deemphasised it. Compare to an earlier version where it's the first three words: https://web.archive.org/web/20160202030302/https://abc.xyz/i...

The press at the time ran articles like "Google Removes 'Don't Be Evil' Clause From Its Code Of Conduct" (https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2018/05/google-removes-dont-be-ev...), even though they mention keeping that mention at the end.


your argument does not hold water since there are many more alternatives to use. You are in no way forced to use either of these services.

That doesn't really address the issue he raises though, you are somewhat forced to use modern devices if you wish to partake in the world/society. In addition if you get the choice at work between certain laptops and certain phones, you are absolutely forced to use those.

In addition if you look at the alternatives in the smartphone branch you get the choice between high-end android-based devices and iOS devices or outdated mid-range hardware with relatively poor support and you might not have all the apps you require.

In addition to that there aren't any services out there as well integrated as apples ecosystem is. (device to device), so if you want features like that you don't really have much of a choice outside of the big three.


> In addition to that there aren't any services out there as well integrated as apples ecosystem is. (device to device)

Yes, there are compromises to be made between convenience and freedom. You are arguing that you prefer convenience than freedom; congrats.


I am not arguing that at all, you are arguing that there are plenty of alternatives, implying they are just as good quality wise. They are simply not.

From almost all perspectives they are objectively worse, except for privacy. Features, Security and convenience are all significantly better on Apple, Microsoft and Google products.

This is not a value-statement, I'm not saying one approach is better than the other. This completely depends on what you personally value most, if you care exclusively about your privacy then you will have to sacrifice a lot of in other departments to achieve that, if it's worth that to you go for it.

The point I was arguing though; if you have to make a choice between these large corporations and what you care about most is your privacy, then Apple is probably your best bet.


> I am not arguing that at all, you are arguing that there are plenty of alternatives, implying they are just as good quality wise. They are simply not.

I am not implying that. You have alternatives, and they are less convenient, but more respectful of your rights. You get to make a choice, depending on a trade-off between your values.


You really think Google dropped their motto for a damn good reason? Really?

You can easily stay away from all four.

You can, but not easily.

It's 2019, it is easy these days. With GNU/Linux, DuckDuckGo, Mastodon, Matrix, XMPP, microG, F-Droid etc. it's just a matter of giving it a try. The hard thing isn't staying away from the big four - it's untangling yourself from all the network effects you already got yourself into.

That's why it's not easy. Most people are already entangled in those networks. They use Google Docs to write papers and presentations, they have an Android phone, a GMail address, and the websites they visit are filled with trackers for all sorts of things. It's entirely possible to avoid all of these things, but not easy. It requires a certain amount of technological savvy that most people don't have. It should be within easy reach of everybody, and it's really not.

For one, Apple, unlike Google and Facebook, is not an advertising company. Selling your data is not part of their business model

Can you show me an instance of Google selling your data?

Apple has advertising service lines though - https://searchads.apple.com

Which is essentially selling data in the same way that other advertisers do…


> Which is essentially selling data in the same way that other advertisers do…

Not really: https://searchads.apple.com/privacy/


Off topic for this particular submission but on topic for Twitter submissions in general: is anyone else rate limited like 90 % of the time when accessing Twitter using the mobile browser on mobile data? Maybe it is because I'm signed out of Twitter in Safari, but I can't read most of the tweets and threads posted to HN.

I've never ever clicked on a twitter link on my mobile phone and seen anything else than the rate limited message.

Only way to get around it is to check "Request Desktop Site" but that's an annoying workaround.

Never understood how such a major website could be this broken.


Yes, me, I always have to tap my way out of some nagging dialogs that ask me to log in, or download the app. Then I'm rate limited. I then have to go back and click the link again before I can view it. 100% of the time.

Use a different browser, something like Privacy Browser [1] which enables custom Javascript/referer/cookie/etc. settings. For Twitter I tend to block anything and everything which makes it revert to its non-JS page. Enabling Javascript gives the normal page without all those popups and app nags. I have never been rate limited. I am a passive Twitter reader since I do not have an account there so for me this solution works, I do not know whether it is possible to actually post anything on that site in this manner.

[1] https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com.stoutner.privacybrowser....


Yes, that's a dark pattern to force you to use the app. If you request a desktop site, it works immediately.

Yes, I’ve seen this quite often and been annoyed with it. I thought it had to do with the embedded web view in certain apps or the user agent used by an app’s web view. Whenever this happens, I just skip going to that tweet. If Twitter wants to make things so frustrating and tough, I don’t need to patronize that platform further.

any time I click back, and click the link a second time, it loads.

El just get a “unable to load” in the twitter page (or similar message). It goes away if I just reload the page... ?

Unfortunately for me no amount of reloading fixes it. When it works, it is for no obvious reason except that maybe I got lucky and other users on the same CGNAT my cell service provider is using weren't using Twitter for a while so it's my turn in the Twitters IP white list.

Same here. I just switch to the "desktop version" and it works.

I consider Twitter broken on mobile. It's no great loss.

Apple mightn't be your friend, it's true, but it's not as though they're blocking the web app version of this which has been available to any device from day 1.

I'm not stating this to defend Apple, whose decision I also find questionable (although relatively consistent with some other rejected/pulled apps, like the one for locating and avoiding alcohol-testing checkpoints), but rather to give us all a bit of perspective — the same information remains available and usable via a web app, probably the better place for it anyway as then no store front can limit it.


Apple intentionally held back mobile web that companies cannot build mobile web apps that are as capable as native apps.

So this is partly why we're all at the mercy of walled garden App Stores.


> Apple intentionally held back mobile web that companies cannot build mobile web apps that are as capable as native apps.

Are you suggesting that random websites should have the same level of access to your device as native apps?


Well... it's kind of a catch-22 though.

If we all agree that it's good for web apps to be less capable than native apps, then we shouldn't be using the open availability of web apps as an excuse for censoring native apps. There's a lot of stuff this app can't do as a web-app that it can do as a native app.

There's a faction of HN that wants to the web to be for read-only documents, and there's a faction of HN that wants the web to be an open, device-agnostic distribution platform for politically risky apps that Apple would otherwise lock off of its devices. But it can't be both.

Those two factions often end up talking past each other. It's a very difficult balance.


Web apps! See original comment.

Web apps that can ask permission to access features of your phone like a native app.

There are Progressive Web Apps now that are decent like Twitter's but it's still not as good as a native app.


Random websites? No.

Websites that are given consent? Sure.


I've fallen for these mega-corp's marketing bullshit many times over the years: It's easy done!

It's also easy to forget that they only care about appeasing shareholders and the way to do that is to make money.

At any cost!

I am currently working on a (personal) .NET Core project so I'm using Windows 10 but when it's up and running I am going to spend some serious time looking into Linux instead and developing my .NET core stuff there. I'm also waiting for the Librem 5 now: All other phones are thinly-veiled spyware as far as I am concerned.

*takes off rose-tinted glasses!

Edit: changed focus from Apple to mega-corps instead


I would walk away from .Net Core as well. Microsoft have proven themselves on several occasions that they don't give a crap about the end user. The whole default opt-in telemetry nightmare of .Net core is an example. The final result of the discussion was a "fuck you, we're still doing it" and nothing more. Also getting support on anything is now basically "it's open source, raise a ticket we'll never fix". And not to mention the insane versioning, churn and schizophrenic direction changes.

Same old corporation. They just worked out how to label customers as consumers and pacify the userbase by putting it on GitHub instead of Connect and reducing the support availability (have you tried getting desktop support, even paid per incident on windows 10? Don't bother!)

For me a software ecosystem has to stand 100% alone for me to invest in it. That basically leaves Python and C at this point which I'm honestly not that unhappy with.


On that note, what ecosystem gives me the coverage that .NET gives? I've been Microsoft-focused for 20+ years.

By ecosystem I mean, an IDE as good as Visual Studio and the simplicity of pressing F5 to test my code... that sort of thing.


I've been using Microsoft stacks since 1991. I am at home with Python, an editor and a terminal at this point.

F5 to run is terribly inefficient in the long run (wait until you get a 2MLOC recompile and then secondary compile when your project is starting in IIS)


Java I suppose, but then aren't you just replacing Microsoft with Oracle.

I know what you mean though, I've been a VS user for a long time and find it very productive.


> default opt-in telemetry

You mean opt-out. Opt-in is when it's off by default.


> opt-in telemetry nightmare of .Net core

`export DOTNET_CLI_TELEMETRY_OPTOUT=1`. Wow, such nightmare.


They actually broke it so that didn't work for a bit.

That's enough to cause a major issue in some organisations with strict security policies.

Opt in telemetry is fine. Opt out definitely not. This is a major inversion of policy.


I'm not really a .net person, I'm mostly php w/ some nodejs/golang/elixir but I tried .net and tooling and things at least work now on arch linux where I don't think they would've 5-10 years ago.

Apple's imho one of the worst players, they have the most closed ecosystem imaginable it should be illegal to require a developer to buy your hardware just to develop apps on your platform. I'll never support or use an apple unless mandated by a client and they'll need to supply the hardware.

Google's bad too but at least I can side-load apps and install custom rom's easily enough.


They don't actually work on Arch - it's the only distro without official .NET Core SDK package, and the community-provided version has too many issues (https://www.reddit.com/r/archlinux/comments/cx64r5/the_state...). Not sure if there is 3.0 SDK yet.

Based on the linked content, a better title might be "No venture-capital-funded startup, no billion or trillion dollar corporation is your friend."

No company is your friend, they just want your money.

There are a lot of mom and pop shops, which just do what is their passion and they want their customers to be happy. Money is just a means to support themselves. E.g. I frequented a lot of local record shops and it was clear that their owners did not want to get rich. They would talk to you for 15-30 minutes about bands and new releases, even if you just bought one record with a < 1 Euro profit margin. They just loved music and they enjoyed customers that loved music.

No profit-driven company is your friend. When it's about profit, money becomes the end.


How many of these mom and pop shops are 'venture-funded'? that's the point I think he's making. Venture funding and selling out takes all the passion out of the business and makes it into a greedy Mr. Burn's style enterprise.

Edit: Let me add -- just look at what happened w/ WhatsApp. The guys who sold it to Zuck n co, regret it fully but can't take it back. They know they sold their souls to satan, and at least now they're outspoken against the turn Whatsapp took, though a bit late and a few pay-days past.


I see where you are coming from but there's a scale-aspect to this.

These entities aren't traditional companies, like your local newsagent or plumber or whatever. They've reached a level that they can influence governments and can control entire populations (to a degree).

They have immense power and can effectively wield it as they please to further their own ends.

They are related to small local companies only as they have to file a tax return... that's about it!


In reality, no providers of service or product that you depend on are your friend. Extend these ideals to food providers, medical services, etc...Agreed that the choices of providers are little bit wider, but still the ideals are the same.

Of course no company is a friend. But there are businesses, who take their customer serious and more importantly, act with integrity, and treat you accordingly.

When did people begin to think that corporations of any kind could be their friends? Did they even? Or is this just another tantrum by yet another man-baby? I don’t want to be rude here, just wondering. Also: given the point is valid, isn’t this largely preaching to the choir? Or is this a predominantly American thing? I’m genuinely interested.

Why do people expect Apple to be their friend?

There was a recent trend, since mid 00's, that some organizations have the world best interest at heart.

Sadly, in relation to this, governments could be your friend. A good government could stand up for the "right" thing instead of the thing that makes money. But somehow, large subsets of the population have been convinced that government is inherently evil.

Companies exist to make money; why would anyone think differently?


Government is never your friend.

It's a bandit that's too big for you to stare down, shaking you down for money every time you turn around.


Comments here summarized in one sentence:

Google/Microsoft/Facebook are a bunch of horrible companies, ergo, Apple is good.


I would summarise it as:

Google/Microsoft/Facebook are a bunch of horrible companies, Apple is least bad.


Which is still broadly missing the point.

What the tweet says: "None of these major companies are your friend. Some are better than others, but none of them, when push comes to shove, care about you."

How HN is responding: "But Apple's still technically the best amoral company, right? I mean, if we're gonna rank them. Let's rank them."

I agree that people need to be pragmatic about the companies they interact with. Realistically, very few people are going to cut the entirety of FAANG out of their lives, so ranking has some value. But don't let ranking companies get in the way of recognizing that when push comes to shove, even the least bad companies will still throw you under a bus for a buck.

That's all the tweet was saying -- recognize that Apple is also an amoral company. Be pragmatic, not loyal. The people on here setting up company tiers are missing that point.


It starts like that and the further down the threads you go the more it moves toward praising apple for this and that

No problem with that, but why does every single post criticizing apple for something end up this way??


How could a company ever be the friend of somebody? That's silly from the get-go.

Not sure about how newsworthy this is, as it seems rather obvious and is based on different newsworthy sources. By itself, it is not high of content though.

Still, discussion about this issue is worth it.

Given the author's other post on Twitter

> In the 1930s and 40s, Thomas J. Watson’s IBM punch-card mainframes helped Hitler perpetrate the Holocaust.

> Imagine what IBM Watson can help dictators achieve today with AI.

(Apart from having to think about China's credit score system about which a Black Mirror episode is devoted already.)

This made me think of the tangent of the book IBM and the Holocaust [1] which is still on my to read list. AFAIK, in my country (NL) IBM's machines were used to sort based on religion [2]. It is a major historical reason why one's religion is nowadays consider PII. Of course, it is easy to check is someone regularly buys kosher or halal meat at the grocery store...

Data is a ticking time bomb. Or, as Bruce Schneier wrote in an essay, "data is a toxic asset." [3]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_the_Holocaust

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_international_subsidia...

[3] https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/03/data_is_a_tox...


Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Yes, Aral Balkan has at it for years and appears to be the heir-apparent to Richard Stallman's ethics and principles.

Business aligns itself with money. It's just that simple.

I have a lot of privacy concerns with Google. But they have also enabled my phone to run on mostly Open Source code, both OS and applications. This is important to me, and for that reason I bunch them apart from Apple and MS.

> mostly Open Source code, both OS and applications.

It's not true. Without closed kernel drivers and closed-source Play Store/Youtube/Pay apps any Android is just piece of plastic.


The device drivers can be a problem on many devices, even when running AOSP-derived distributions many of these are lifted from a stock distribution and used as blobs. The bit about Android needing Play Store/Youtube/Pay apps is not true though, I do not have any of these on any of my devices which continue to work just fine - I'd go so far as to say that they work better without these parts: battery consumption goes down markedly, privacy invasion goes down tremendously. I might not be getting the 'Android experience' as Google intends but seeing as I do not want that anyway I don't see this as a negative.

> can be a problem on many devices

Can you provide a one 100% working Android device with open drivers?


Replicant [1, 2] supports 13 (older) devices. As to whether they are 100% working depends on what you intend to use the device for given that some functions (e.g. GPS) are not supported. If you're genuinely interested in this subject a search for blob-free android will give more results, also pointing out alternatives like PostmarketOS and Librem which are not Android-based but (in the case of PostmarketOS) can run on Android hardware [3].

[1] https://www.replicant.us/

[2] https://www.replicant.us/freedom-privacy-security-issues.php

[3] https://wiki.postmarketos.org/wiki/Devices


Capitalism is founded on the idea that the consumer is a means to an end. Apple, Google, Facebook, etc, can do as they please insofar as they keep creating value to their shareholders.

Which is another way of saying "if you don't like my garden, get the hell out of it!".


Capitalism is founded on the idea that if we let everyone focus on making money for themselves however they like, the emergent feedback loops will sort things out and we'll have a world where everyone's needs are met.

In the past two or three centuries we've identified a lot of ways in which this turns out wrong. There's a kernel of a really good idea in there, true, but it also needs a lot of tuning.


Agreed, but "tuning" is an understatement.

Capitalism worked well when most businesses were local and being a large, successful company meant employing a lot of people from the same communities as your customers. This proximity is largely responsible for that emergent feedback loop.

Today, many businesses can become exceptionally profitable with relatively few employees. And they can treat those few employees as poorly as the market can bear because 99% of your customers don't live anywhere near them.

And those forces of change are still as strong as ever. Technology and automation is speeding up change in the economy faster than ever before. Maybe there'll always be enough work for full employment, but maybe not—and the pace of change is now far too fast for human capital to keep up.


> Capitalism is founded on the idea that the consumer is a means to an end.

No it's not, and repeating such myths only helps abet companies who act in such a way.


My broader point is that you as a consumer have no means to directly affect the decisions being taken by companies, other than choosing with your feet and go buy to another company or, in the case where there is no real alternative to big techs, boycott.

Now, at this point, it occurred to me that if I want to access the market being created by Apple Store, I have to comply with the rules of that market. That's it. Protest is futile if you still buy the next iPhone. Buying is another way of saying "I vouch for what you're doing".

Are there alternatives to not buying their stuff if you want to alter in some way how they act? My opinion is there aren't. Thus, the consumer is a means to an end. If there are no consumers, I must pivot my strategy in order to have them, but make no mistake here: Apple isn't here to make the world a better place, but to make money.

You can see other places where this has happened (and in this, other explanations may also fit). Say, for instance, taxis. They used to be bad and expensive, but people had to put up with it because there were no clear alternatives. Like the Big Swinging Dicks in Michael Lewis's Liar's Poker, they can be rude because they have the power to be rude. Now, enter Uber, or a broader competitive landscape in the municipal bonds, and these behaviours are gone.

Compare how a taxi driver treats you in San Francisco vs how you are treated in remote places where Uber hasn't landed yet (Santorini island in Greece is the first one that comes to mind to me) and you understand that monopolies breed this sort of reckless behaviour towards their users.


Your thinking is all over the place. You've changed your criticism of capitalism into one of monopolies. Everyone understands that monopolies tend towards abuse of customers/consumers, including capitalists.

You're right, I haven't expressed myself in the best terms.

It's best to avoid the word "capitalism" if possible because it means different things to different people. It's much safer to talk more narrowly about "free markets" if that's sufficient for the point you're making.



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