Quora Answer : Could there ever be a global government that exists solely online, causing people to reject the laws and policies of the government of the country they live in?

Feb 12, 2018

Possibly.

There are ways that, say, Facebook could be evolving into a distributed global "nation" that cuts across existing nations.

Imagine, for example, if FB decided to create a "health service" by adding medical records to each of its users' profiles and offering a basic health insurance package to all users.

Even if only a fraction of its 2 billion members bought in, it would immediately be a huge provider, able to drive costs low through cutting bulk deals for pharmaceuticals etc.

Most governments (and private corps) struggle (and often fail) to construct the expensive IT back ends for large scale electronic records about citizens. But this is FB's core competency. Something they're demonstrably good at. And the cost to FB of adding extra services to their existing user records is probably marginal.

Imagine FB getting $5 a month from 500 million users from anywhere in the world. In return, FB provides the drugs you need, as long as you can provide a valid prescription from a legitimate doctor. Anyone caught abusing the system? Facebook have a range of sanctions starting with temporary bans from various Facebook services. If you have 10 years of your life, friends and business connections on FB, will you risk it to resell cheap drugs to someone else? FB actually has a lot of power to sanction members.

FB can do the same with, say, legal aid insurance. They can offer biometric identity services to users. Allow users to register assets on an FB run blockchain.

If FB chose to make a pitch to become an alt.country, they have a huge amount of scope and power to do perfectly legal and benign stuff, before getting into anything nefarious.

Then again. Once FB are doing this, how hard is it for them to offer governments a major "outsourcing deal". Basically "we FB provide a whole range of identity records management services, trusted by billions, solid security. Why not defer to us where users have chosen to trust us with the master copy of their data? Give your citizens a choice of records provider."

Frankly, if FB don't try to co-opt governments like this, the governments will try to co-opt FB. Much as the Chinese government is doing with Chinese social media and things like Sesame Credit.

Related :

Phil Jones (He / Him)'s post in Being on the Platform