In Europe, they view looking down from a cultural perch as exclusively their own domain, given that they believe history will always be on Europe's side.
It was, therefore, less than deft of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to muse last week in Munich that, as The New York Times put it, privacy issues shouldn't occupy European minds when their economies are wafting into the can marked "compost."
This, quite naturally, caused European eyebrows to rise and European mouths to open. Indeed,in today's Guardian, commentator John Naughton says that "companies such as Facebook are the corporate world's equivalent of sociopaths."
(Credit: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)
He describes how risibly Facebook tried to justify its supposed creation of 232,000 jobs in Europe, with a report from Deloitte that was more replete with caveats than an insurance policy. (Sample: Deloitte reportedly worked with information obtained from Facebook and "neither sought to corroborate this information nor to review its overall reasonableness.")
While I wouldn't wish to wallow in a definition of sociopathy, I did happen to ask a couple of Facebook's advertising clients how they found dealing with the world's most powerful brain child.
"They breathe their own fumes," one executive told me. And he is someone who gives Facebook rather large sums of money.
It is in this, surely, that Facebook has its power. It tells us all that in tomorrow's world, everything will be social. If you're not riding in the social Ferrari, you will be but a mere cipher in the commerce of life. Worse, you will be a mere individual, someone with absolutely no friends in the playground.
And who would want to be an isolated individual or part of an isolated company? It's tempting, then to view Facebook's world picture as expressing the mindset of a sociopath--or even a con man.
The driving force of both is that their world is the only one that matters. Their own personal joy lies in dragging everyone else into their vortex and watching as everyone stares rapt in an excitement they can't quite define. There's a lot of fun in that.
Is there some ultimate meaning and spiritual uplift in the proceedings? Not so much. Rather, it's the power of the game and the protagonist's power in the game that matter.
The gullible--that would be us--play along because the game seems to offer something that we will enjoy: success or approbation, perhaps.
But, in the end, it's rather hard to believe that every move Facebook makes is the move of a benevolent association or a social revolutionary, instead of a move by an advertising company.
Who might suspect, in their private hearts, that privacy is not something that enjoys too much philosophical debate at Facebook HQ? Rather, it's simply something that stands in the way of selling more adverts. It's an inconvenience that gets in the way of economic progress.
Because economic progress is far more important than any individual's right to keep herself to herself. That's not Facebook's fault, some might say. That's just the world we live in. We've all come to believe that economic progress matters more than anything.
Naturally, this might all change a little should one of the Facebook management run into some sort of personal bother that becomes public. But, until then, let's knock down those privacy walls and make some money.
It is wrong, of course, to suggest that Facebook's management might be isolated in their apparent views. Google, too, would surely prefer it if you gave it more and more information so that it can sell more and more--and, cute phrase this, "better"--adverts.
For Naughton, sociopaths are "individuals who are completely lacking in conscience and respect for others."
I have a feeling that the people who run Facebook and Google aren't sociopaths in their private lives--should they have them. It's just that when they create one of those social networks we call companies, a strange group-think takes over.
That strange group-think doesn't so much distort reality as try to create a new one.
We are now living in the new reality. It's one in which it all has to start with people. People are products, products are money, and money is power.
Once you have the power, you can even try to tell governments what to do and what to think. And that's so much fun.
The company said this week that recent poor performance stemmed from the popularity of the Apple iPhone in Japan, an increase in the number of foreign rivals it faces in the IT infrastructure market, and trouble expanding beyond its home country, Reuters reported.
NEC forecast a loss of $1.3 billion (100 billion yen) for the year ending March 31, and said about 7,000 of the 10,000 eliminated jobs will be in Japan, with the company taking a $520 billion restructuring charge.
In the three months ended Dec. 31, NEC said, the company's loss widened to $1.13 billion, from $345.43 million a year ago, with sales dropping 6.7 percent to $8.76 billion.Most of the cuts, which may begin March 31, will be from NEC's mobile phone business and will include both full- and part-time positions, Bloomberg reported. The company had 115,840 workers at the end of March, meaning the cuts equal about 8.6 percent of NEC's workforce.
Despite a slow start in Japan, Apple's iPhone picked up steam there in 2010, increasingly winning the hearts of people in a country that had long produced dominant devices in the market for cutting-edge consumer electronics.
Apple was the top smartphone vendor worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to Strategy Analytics, though Samsung was tops for the year
The new Sony Cyber-shot TX200V's photo and movie capabilities will make any smartphone camera look like a toy.
At just barely more than half an inch thick, the TX200V features an 18-megapixel (18!) Exmor Rbackside-illuminated sensor, a 5x f3.5-4.8 26-130mm Carl Zeiss lens, and a 3.3-inch 1.2-million-dot-resolution touch-screen OLED display. It's also waterproof to 16 feet as well as dustproof and freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. It's not shockproof, though, and the front is covered in reinforced glass.
Among its many shooting options is the capability to capture movies in AVCHD format at 1080p at 60 frames per second and nine picture effects like miniature and toy camera filters. Sony's also claiming that it has an improved autofocus system that'll focus in approximately 0.13 seconds in bright conditions and 0.25 seconds in low-light situations, which if true, is more than twice as fast as the fastest point-and-shoots I've tested. Also, Sony's developed a new extra-high-sensitivity technology that minimizes unwanted noise in low-light shooting conditions.
The 15 companies will be announcing on Monday DMARC.org, which stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance--a system for verifying that e-mails are coming from legitimate companies and not imposters trying to trick people into clicking a phishing link. Basically, the system offers a common way for companies to authenticate their legitimate communications with customers.
Also in the DMARC working group are AOL, Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, American Greetings, LinkedIn, and e-mail security providers Agari, Cloudmark, eCert, Return Path, and Trusted Domain Project.
Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and Agari announced in November that they were doing this authentication coordination for Facebook, YouSendIt, and a few dozen other e-commerce companies and social networks. Now the effort is being expanded to include more participants. The antiphishing collaboration has been going on for 18 months between various partners, DMARC members said.
"About 15 percent of all e-mail in the Gmail in-boxes comes from these organizations that have published these DMARC records," said Adam Dawes, a Gmail product manager. "That means that these records can not be domain spoofed."