The sharing economy and the rise of “techno populism”

It was only a matter of time before the economy of the Internet era gave rise to the equivalent of a popular movement, if not yet a political current. It has been called “techno populism.” Peer-to-peer service providers such as the Uber, a car-sharing or unlicensed taxi company, and Airbnb, a virtual platform that allows individual landlords to offer short-term rentals to vacationers or travellers, have now attracted a large following that lobbies for these companies in their disputes with governments or unions over restrictions or regulations. Both firms have had run-ins with New York City. As a reflection of our era, the support comes in form of tweets, online petitions and campaigns over social networks: no need to take to the streets. Even Facebook tried to mobilize its base in defense of its “Free Basics” service. We may be witnessing the emergence of a new political factor.

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