Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, and Facebook are the biggest tech companies in the world today and they all have one common thing in possession – Users and their Data.
What is it all about?
Apple started to make laptops and then phones and now apple services are their biggest growth wheel. Amazon started selling books and then included everything on earth in their store and now prime services and echo devices are their major growth channel. Alphabet started with Google search and over the time their services are growing faster than google search grew standalone. Facebook started as a social media platform and then messaging, the marketplace, jobs, integration with Instagram and now integration with WhatsApp and their libra coin is their trump card.
All this progression from tech companies leads to one conclusion or rather to say DESTINATION – to make users spend more time and to know about them as much as possible. If we can gather information about a person completely, their choices, their aspirations, their comfort zone, and uncomfortable zone, manipulation is the next easiest task. These big tech companies are vying for this spot to ultimately reduces the competition.
There is a reason why militant or terrorism attacks mostly happens in public places and not just in someone’s private garden. Removing small street stores out of the picture was the first stage by bringing consumers online. The second step is acquiring smaller companies or the companies not able to survive in the wake of competition and finally shutting their doors. The idea is to bring all under the same umbrella so that some mass execution can be carried out. In this case, the mass execution is controlling data.
Why the War?
Most of the people know about the Cambridge Analytica fiasco mostly by reading. If we read a bit closely, a lot of users have reported how their chat or calls with their loved ones has modified the advertising they see while browsing. Ex. Someone reported, they were talking about traveling to Paris on call and the next thing they see is ads about travel packages to Paris on their browsing pages. This gets scary when it happens to us personally, no information is secure and we just give it relentlessly. In most of the scenario, we don’t have many options since we are bound to be driven by technology.
The only option left is to regulate these big tech companies though nobody is clear as to how it can be done since it’s like a spider web, all interconnected. 20 states in the US have combined filed an antitrust investigation case against these tech companies. There were a lot of penalties given to all of them at various levels, leading to just some minor hole in their bank balance. A major market share by any company leads to manipulation of data and offerings. A public example of this was Apple increasing AppStore fee since its the only source of app downloads.
The services that these companies provide have become so integral part of our life that we just can’t avoid them and there are not enough precautions to be taken. The WAR has to be between the Legal side and these tech companies where maybe some new regulations can be formed or maybe amendment is required on what can be /done or cannot be done for commercial gains.
The Outcome of the WAR
There can be one clear outcome “Nothing can be done about it and we are on our own“. This means if we want to use their service, do the barter with our Data. The other outcome can be “New resolutions or regulations are passed to control the functioning“. There is no government in the world which will accept any private company to be more powerful than them. The current scenario leads to social online proof where the big tech companies know much more about a person than the government which gives them citizenship. This news is not easy to gulp for any government and so any definite interference is always expected.
The biggest problem is the structure of these tech companies and their services. Everything is so interlinked that drawing a borderline is a tough task. The USA separated Standard Oil into 34 smaller companies with each of their own production unit. This helped in dissolving the market share and increasing competition. The same cannot be applied to today’s companies as their way of functioning is different. All their services converge to the same funnel where you input your data and get some output information based on how much information you are ready to share with them.
What we can do?
On Paper we can do a lot, but in reality, we can’t do much about it. The problem is the majority in the market share. The companies which don’t have a controlling market share cannot completely manipulate anything, maybe pricing, branding etc as they have competitions waiting for their turn. The only thing we can do is to use what necessary and leave the rest.
There are few alternatives available for few services but not all of them. We can use telegram, not WhatsApp ( since its already integrated with facebook), Duck Duck Go and not google search, We may avoid to buy everything on Amazon and give the local online sellers and some niche eCommerce websites an opportunity to sell their services and products. We may decide not to buy fancy stuff like Alexa and echo which in reality doesn’t solve any big problem and are more of a pompous in life.
It’s extremely tough (close to impossible) to choose between a costly option (local online/offline stores) and a discounted option (Amazon). A popular option (Whatsapp) and not so popular option (Telegram) and Google vs DuckDuckGo. These tech companies thrive on our inability to switch between two options and ultimately choose their options. This is why these war against the big tech companies is necessary. The least we can do is to look for possible alternatives and raise our concerns.
Today we might not be the victim, but tomorrow we might become the biggest victim of this well organized data attack.
Credits: This article is drawn with the help of video from Coldfusion youtube channel.
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