TRUST PART 2: OUR BIG FAT TECH MONOPOLIES



Like an initial romance that evolves into a nightmare, our collective relationship with big tech is a heartbreaking tale.


The good news is that it may also restore your faith in your fellow American, while frustratingly little leadership or action is done by our elected leaders to address the significant majority or people who understand and are concerned by the growth and power of big tech.


Let’s look at Big Tech!


First, having worked on the inside of Big Tech companies for almost 15 years, it makes me personally sad to see how far many of them have fallen from the principles which once defined them. On the other hand, I saw enough incompetence and ignorance during my 15 years to indicate that there really are no guardrails in place for these corporate grifters as long as they get a nice bonus at review time. Which is the truth we now see manifest in the way they behave – everything is subject to either what they can grab in terms of financial or ideological gain.


The below chart ranks trust across a variety of technology companies, as well as the federal and local government.

trust in big tech and government
CGO/YouGov Tech Poll (Aug 2021)

The three most untrusted tech companies are Facebook, TikTok and Twitter. Let's consider why they are not trusted.


Facebook: 59% of people have little or no trust in Facebook.


And it’s easy to understand why: The creepiest tech billionaire/guardian of democracy.


But it’s probably more than that. It may have to do with some questionable documentaries about the ‘evils’ of algorithms popularized by a Netflix documentary (Side note: Seriously people, we need to have a talk about how much you are trusting these so-called documentaries. As a digital marketer for over 20 years, I understand the technology and capabilities, and MANY of the claims made in “The Social Dilemma” are just flat out wrong. I’m not defending Facebook by any means, but I don’t like hyperbole and wild inaccuracies) and so-called ‘whistleblowers’ who reveal secret memos that, if true, result in more power for Facebook, and even more dishonest and inaccurate claims from traditional media who (for their own self-serving reasons) want to discredit and regulate Facebook.


Facebook has a lot of enemies.


It’s important to understand that many of Facebook’s critics are motivated by the exact same monetary or ideological motivations as the subject of their criticism. It may not make their argument invalid, but it’s important to be skeptical.


The Facebook monopoly has demonstrated a disregard for personal data combined with a rapacious appetite to buy out or manipulate perceptions to keep competitors away.


TikTok: Trusted by 9%! LOL


NINE PERCENT? That's pretty horrific. But in any case, TikTok has seen amazing growth in the past year and a half? What’s going on?


Frankly, I am biased about this. I don’t see the appeal or the point of TikTok. The only argument that I think explains their growth is that it's not one of the other social platforms. The content is generally cringeworthy, banal and obnoxious. I suspect this might be by design: While not a coordinated plan, nonetheless, TikTok 'influencers' create the type of content that acts as a repellent to most people over a certain age. Which is the point: It’s a great place for kids (where their parents can't monitor them?) and people with questionable prioritization of their own time.


TikTok is like the mental junk food of social media.


And junk food manufactured by the most oppressive, genocidal, corrupt country on Earth? Mmmmm that sound great [sarcasm]! Yes, the elephant in the bedroom may be the widespread awareness that TikTok is owned by a foreign government that many suspect do not have pure, or purely commerical, interests in creating a social media platform.


So the low trust ranking is well earned.


Twitter


If TikTok is the mental-junk-food-pushing platform run by foreign autocrats, Twitter is the scary person off their meds screaming profanities at invisible oppressors while sharing poisoned food with their cult-like following of users. That's sad enough, but to make it worse, too many leaders and influencers spend too much time in this social media platform of horrors.


And leaders and influencers who make Twitter a priority is way out of proportion to Twitter's actual reach. Twitter is only used by 23% of adults – that’s less than SnapChat, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. Yet this digital dumpster fire is where our ‘leaders’ go to ‘connect’ with 'the people'.


Twitter is not for the common person. Or at least, a person who desires courteous, thoughtful, relevant and though-provoking content. It’s a platform designed to attract and promote the narcissistic and psychotic. Twitter should be the benchmark for an individual’s mental health.


Google


Far too many people have misplaced their trust in Google. Or Alphabet. Or whatever cryptic name they want to go by.


What are some reasons that Google is able to retain so much trust? I might speculate that its related to the lack of news stories or 'hyssterical' documentaries that focus on Google's ethical violations, such as:

  • The pattern of Google buying out or using its market and legislative power to block threats of competition.

  • The millions Google spends lobbying legislators.

  • The intentional manipulation of search results or nonsensical or ideological censoring of information.


Conclusion


A majority of people don’t trust many of these monopolies with valid reasons.


But what can we do? Stay tuned! Next week is Trust Part 3: Can Big Tech Be Fixed?