Oh goodie – another corporate takeover, this time in the information business. Pretty soon we’ll down to three or four companies running the world, and that guy in the Austin Powers movies who sits around stroking a cat and screaming “One billion dollars!” (about how much Yahoo paid for Tumblr by the way) may not be as far from reality as you may think (Rupert Murdoch, we are trying desparately not to look in your direction).
Anyway as ever, money talks and as ever someone is getting rich (Tumblr guys) and someone else is getting more powerful (Yahoo) and all the while, the guy in the middle, the normal joe on the street, that being you, is going to get squeezed by the narrowing of choice in networking platforms and the growth of monopolising virtual behemoths. You see when the likes of Google, Facebook or Yahoo take over some other company everything changes. The company is subsumed into the internet giant that bought it and the dreaded terms and conditions are altered according to the draconian and interfering preferences of the internet giant. They are basically saying, “Listen we almost own the internet at this stage so you’ll give us permission to do whatever we like with your information or you can go offline for your kicks”. A lot of lip service is paid to data protection rights and so on but the internet is essentially not policed and the big boys can do what they want. Do you honestly believe some data protection official is going to stand up to a big bad internet corporation? And even if somebody does throw away a load of cash fighting a legal battle against these guys – do you think they can afford better lawyers? You bet and that’s quite often what the legal system boils down to these days; how much can you afford for your legal team?
Anyway back to Yahoo and Tumblr – Yahoo are doing the usual thing that takeover tyrants do in the beginning, claiming they won’t screw things up and Tumblr will continue as an independent entity. Doesn’t that sound nice? So they paid over a billion dollars to do absolutely nothing. Don’t believe a word of it – expect advertising and lots of it, then as time passes and people forget about the takeover, expect Yahoo to gradually introduce their “revised” terms and conditions for users of Tumblr, perhaps something like you must use a Yahoo email account in order to access upgraded blogging features. The big companies always do stuff like that, it’s usually hidden away in the small print of those infernal terms and conditions that nobody reads.
How to stop this kind of thing? We can’t unfortunately, that’s how business works – suddenly those sad old bearded sandal-wearers who grow their own vegetables and are forever banging on about alternative energy sources don’t seem so disturbed, do they?