Facebook move hugely symbolic - The ebb and flow of power

London once had a Worshipful Company of Mercers and, among many others, a Worshipful Company of Skinners. The Worshipful Company of Pewterers has existed since 1348. Many of those bodies are not relevant today but their decline maps how technology and commercial imperatives changed our world. 

Today, the Worshipful Company of Firefighters or Tax Advisers have a relevance skinners or pewterers no longer enjoy. Each profession peaks and ebbs as we evolve. The growth of influence of one process or another is a reliable guide to where real, self-accumulating power has moved.

In that context, it is impossible to ignore the symbolism of the announcement that Facebook is to lease the 14-acre Bankcentre campus in Dublin’s Ballsbridge. The once unassailable, pin-striped bankers make way for geeks in T-shirts — though their ambitions are equally rapacious.

The expansion will allow the tech giant add 5,000 staff to its Irish operation. Once AIB’s flagship, and maybe the modern Versailles of Irish banking, the Bankcentre is another old world bastion fallen to the relentless advance of ever richer, and more powerful, tech giants. 

Pewters and skinners had finite influence but banks and social media giants have shown how they can steer societies — and democracies — towards dark, unknown chaos. Though primarily symbolic this move must re-energise efforts to contain a leading member of what has become the Worshipful Company of Worldchangers.

More on this topic

Facebook takes action against campaign aimed at disrupting foreign elections

Facebook changes live streaming rules following New Zealand attack

WhatsApp users urged to update app following spyware vulnerability

Facebook sues South Korean analytics firm over allegations of data misuse

More in this Section

Divorce Referendum: Yes or no - it's your choice

Divorce Referendum: Compassion that reflects life’s reality

Divorce Referendum: Enter the disposable relationship

Divorce Referendum: Regime keeps couple in toxic situation


Chelsea Flower Show feeling Brexit sting

Scientists say you really, really shouldn’t use homemade sunscreen from a recipe on Pinterest

Spoilers: Game of Thrones finale problematic in both plot and execution

The Earth's magnetic north pole is shifting rapidly – so what will happen to the northern lights?

More From The Irish Examiner