The Corporate Threat to the Internet is Becoming More and More Clear
“The release of this film based on Robert McChesney’s Digital Disconnect, updated to the present moment, is a most welcome development. It is a major contribution to the enlightenment and self-defense of citizens.”
- NOAM CHOMSKY
Two separate, but linked, proceedings yesterday in Congress shined much-needed light on the central issues highlighted in MEF’s new film, Digital Disconnect, which reveals how corporate, big-money interests are turning the internet against democracy.
First, in a major rebuke to FCC Chair Ajit Pai, the Senate voted to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules designed to regulate and check the monopoly power of Internet Service Providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.
Then, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing unfolding at the same time, corporate whistleblower Christopher Wylie testified that former Trump advisor Steve Bannon enlisted British-based data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica to mine personal Facebook data in order to “discourage or demobilize certain types of people from voting” in the US.
While the Senate vote on net neutrality is expected to die in the House, and while Facebook continues to face criticism but no real government oversight, stories like these point to mounting public concerns that corporate, commercial interests are on a collision course with basic democratic freedoms and the very idea of an open and free internet.
If you’re looking for resources to engage students, or your community, on these crucial issues, we highly recommend you check out our new film Digital Disconnect, featuring renowned media scholar Robert McChesney.
“I love this movie! It offers a crash course in the hidden history of the Internet – and shows how this revolutionary platform capable of enhancing freedom and democracy is being subverted into a vehicle for monopoly, hyper-commercialism, and surveillance.”
- JEFF COHEN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM, ITHACA COLLEGE
Moving from the development of the internet as a publicly funded project in the late 1960s to its full-scale commercialization today, McChesney traces how the democratizing potential of the internet has been radically compromised by the logic of capitalism and the unaccountable power of a handful of telecom and tech monopolies. Along the way, he examines the ongoing attack on net neutrality by telecom monopolies like Comcast and Verizon; explores how internet giants like Facebook and Google have amassed huge profits by surreptitiously collecting personal data and selling it to advertisers; and shows how these companies have routinely colluded with the national security state to advance covert mass surveillance programs.
Even more urgently, Digital Disconnect details how the rise of social media as a leading information source is working to isolate people into ideological filter bubbles and elevate fake news at the expense of real journalism.
While most debates about the internet continue to focus on issues like the personal impact of internet addiction or the questionable data-mining practices of individual companies like Facebook, Digital Disconnect digs deeper to show how capitalism itself is turning the internet against democracy. The result is a vital tool for helping people make sense of a technological revolution that’s radically transforming virtually every aspect of human communication.
“Digital Disconnect combines McChesney’s terrific explanatory skills with MEF’s wonderful production values and creativity, providing a one-stop ‘zero-to-60’ education in the most important topic of our times.”
LARRY GROSS, USC ANNENBERG SCHOOL FOR COMMUNICATION & JOURNALISM