The Big Tech monopolies have established their own fiefdoms in their respective arenas.
Google and Apple dominate their respective platform app markets. Facebook controls social media. Google controls search. Netflix is the 800-pound gorilla over video streaming. Amazon dominates online retail and cloud. But even as the consolidation continues, the top monopolies are at war to squeeze each other out and emerge as the beast astride the entire economy.
In the end there can only be one. That’s not true, but it’s what investors want to hear. If you’re going to drive up FAANG stock prices to insane heights, there has to be the expectation of endless growth that will justify insane share prices and burn rates.
So the big boys are also fighting each other. Some more ineptly than others.
Facebook has been the obvious target because it’s the most vulnerable. A lot of the attacks on Facebook zeroed in on its political weakness: an older user base on its main platform that tends to be more conservative.
That and the fact that its business model is sharing user data.
For now, these wars tend to be short-lived and sometimes inexplicable.
The current conflict has Apple facing off against Facebook. Facebook is reportedly moving to hit Apple with an anti-trust lawsuit while Apple is accusing Facebook of the usual sins, profiting from extremism and reselling user data.
There’s a particularly striking line from Apple CEO Tim Cook from his speech praising the EU’s regulation of data privacy. “At Apple, we made our choice a long time ago. We believe that ethical technology is technology that works for you. It’s technology that helps you sleep, not keeps you up. It tells you when you’ve had enough.”
Ethical technology tells you when you’ve had enough. Enough what? And who decides that? The technology isn’t making decisions. Apple is.
Cook’s line lays out the three tech industry templates.
1. Technology can be turned over fully to the control of the user while trusting him or her to make the relevant decisions
2. Technology can be as exploitative as possible
3. Technology can control the user for “ethical” reasons
Despite Cook’s rant, most Big Tech likes to pretend it’s taken the third road. And it’s quite a dark road.
Apple decided that Parler users had enough. And so it wiped out their app.
The philosopher kings of Silicon Valley rule people for their own good. They decide when we’ve had enough. That’s their version of ethics and our version of tyranny.
Technology that works for you is under your control. Technology that works for the ethics of its owners isn’t your technology. It’s your enslavement.
The question is when will the users decide that they’ve had enough.