11 April 2018

mark zuckerberg facebook - the big four tech businesses

Mark Zuckerberg has been speaking to Congress this week in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

When did we let the ‘big four’ tech companies take over so much of our world?

When you reach out to friends, do you use Facebook? If you need something delivered quickly, do you use Amazon? When you need to know the answer to that question at the back of your mind, do you Google it? And, are you reading this on an iPhone?

Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook have become embedded into our lives like no brands before. And they know more about us than brands have before – everything from what we like to do, where we go and who we go with. They can make their money from that knowledge.

It is well known that nothing comes for free, but the conversations we’re seeing these days show that we’re not as aware as we presumed. The cost of using free services like Facebook or making the most of convenience of Alexa and Amazon, comes in the form of our data. It’s a currency these days.

Sentiment about these brands seems to be taking a negative turn in the wake of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as the EU proposing a tax on revenue rather than profit which would see Google and Amazon at least facing larger tax bills on this side of the pond. The public is now more aware than ever about the data we give away when we use these services. So, is the tide turning against the big four?

The big four?

It’s worth noting that the outrage and concern we’re now seeing over the tech giants is nothing new, rather more people are now more aware of the outrage. Late last year, NYU lecturer Scott Galloway spoke at TEDNYC about our obsession with the four big tech giants. He’s written a book on the topic.

In his TED Talk he compares the likes of Google to religion, and that we trust the information we receive from Google without question. He states how each of the four play to our psychology to ultimately manipulate our needs.

We buy from Amazon because it appeals to our convenience despite the fact that the shopping giant has a huge impact on other businesses across the world and they’ve paid less tax than many other businesses too. We continue to use Facebook despite knowing everything about the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

For me what stood out the most from that talk was the acknowledgement that the balance has shifted and technology has more capabilities and people working in the industry than ever, yet we’re doing less to impact mankind overall. Years ago, with rudimentary tech and only a few people, we put a man on the moon; the talk suggests that rate of progress has shifted now into making money rather than having an impact.

Whilst I don’t necessarily agree with every aspect of what Scott says, the talk is definitely worth a listen, but be aware, it does have strong language.

What do you think? Would you stop using these brands because of the tax they pay, or because of data scandals? Would you sacrifice your data for convenience? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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