How Google and Facebook hooked us – and how to break the habit
Big tech companies avoid taxes and have taken over our lives and created monopolies – but what can we do about it and how much change do we really want?
RARELY has a thumbs up led to such bad feeling. Back in 2009, Justin Rosenstein created Facebook’s “Like” button. Now he has dedicated himself to atoning for it.
Rosenstein’s voice is far from a lone one. A decade ago, society was wide-eyed at the possibilities of social networks, web search, smartphones and online shopping. The Google motto “Don’t be evil” expressed a prevailing optimism about how the internet, and the companies shaping it, would create a better, more open world.
No longer. “Just a few years ago, no one could say a bad word about the tech giants,” says Martin Moore of King’s College London. “Now no one can say a good word.” Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon variously avoid tax, crush competition and violate privacy, the complaints go. Their inscrutable algorithms determine what we see and what we know, shape opinions, narrow world views and even subvert the democratic order that spawned them.
In 2018, a “techlash” is in full flow. There is broad agreement that something must be done about big tech. But must it? And if so, what?
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