Sabo strikes again! Google boss’ $380M cash deal sparks street artist’s #gCorp stealth campaign

While you and I were sleeping, the street artist Sabo was busy at work on the streets of San Francisco waging his private war against the excesses and duplicity of Silicon Valley.

You might remember his last campaign in New York, exposing the incestuous relationship between Zuckerberg and Schumer: #ZuckSchumer.

His new target is Google boss Sundar Pichai, a man last in the headlines for firing Google engineer James Damore for airing his views on diversity inside the business in his infamous Google memo. (Essentially, if you are straight, white or male you are at the back of the queue as far as this number-one search engine is concerned.)

Pichai is $380,000,000 richer this week after cashing in a small percentage of his stock options. It’s one of the largest payouts in history.

No decent Conservative would protest against the accumulation of wealth, aspiration or the free market. Certainly not me. But given the true source of these profits, this figure does seem particularly obscene.

As Sabo rightly points out, Google users are being conned. We believe we are receiving a service for free, whereas in fact it is our private and personal information that is being packaged up and sold to the highest bidder. We are the product.

“I wanted to demonstrate how Google can pay Pichai $380,000,000 while not charging the public for its products. It seduces people into taking its free services without regard to the real price they are paying,” Sabo said.

He says most Google users are unaware of the permission they grant the company to spy on every keystroke they make and thereby develop profiles to sell to advertisers and others:

“Google’s pervasive surveillance tracks us more than Facebook does. If you think Facebook is bad, Google is far worse. It tracks you everywhere. Everything you’re doing. On your Android phone. On your computer. In your car when you’re using Waze. In your home. Your children. Google even tracks the barometric pressure so it knows what floor you’re on. All your movements. These small pieces of data create patterns of your personality and behavior, which Google sells to advertisers and others who target you.”

There is something deeply puritanical in the demeanour of these lords of Silicon Valley. They masquerade as holier than thou. Zuckerberg is a perfect example.

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They convey the sense that we minions should be relentlessly grateful to them, the masters of the tech universe, for bestowing upon us the magnificence of their brilliant minds.

In truth, they are the new gold diggers, and we are the resource being mined.

In response, Sabo has plastered Google’s exclusive bus stops in San Francisco and around Silicon Valley with signs showing Pichai decked out in jewellery and cash.

“Google’s a huckster company,” Sabo said. “So Pichai’s character looks like part hustler, part used-car salesman, with slick clothes and gold bling.”

This has got to be a bit of an awkward start to your morning commute if you are a Google employee:

In the office Sundar Pichai is regarded as someone near deity. Here at the bus stop, he is mocked as a dodgy used-car salesman:

“Ultimately this is about corporate greed. Like the huge oil companies, Google is just another gigantic multinational corporation. But much bigger. And unlike the huge oil companies that drill resources from the ground and are routinely criticised, Google drills its resources from people’s private lives but is somehow lauded for its work.”

“The real price is each Google user’s individual privacy – their humanity stored on server farms to be sold,” he says.

This description makes me think of battery chickens, farmed without daylight, disposed of when their productivity falls.

Is that how Google sees us, too? I think back to the ‘ugly memo’ from Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth, who co-invented Facebook’s News Feed and is currently in charge of its virtual reality efforts:

“So we connect more people.

“That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack co-ordinated on our tools.

“And still we connect people.

“The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned.”

Sabo is silently shouting at us to start asking some difficult questions.

As he pads off softly into the night, it might be time for us all to start waking up.

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