Apr 22, 2018 - Technology

Big Tech's reprieve may be short


Tech companies got a brief reprieve after Mark Zuckerberg cleared the low bar for his two days of testimony on Capitol Hill earlier this month.

Reproduced from Inaugural Tech Media Telecom Pulse Survey, Harris X; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: But the chart above, from a poll by Stagwell's Harris X research consultancy (2,546 Americans polled online April 12-13, right after the Facebook hearings), shows Americans are far from satisfied with the status quo.

  • The finding: Users don't think in terms of "tech companies." They distinguish among the brands, and are far more likely to support regulation for the social media platforms than for other tech giants. Harris X: "Facebook is the only company that respondents believe should be heavily regulated."
  • Why it matters, from Axios chief tech correspondent Ina Fried: People value Facebook and aren't going to give it up, but they're saying the government has a role in protecting them from the power of these platforms.
  • Be smart: These results will be a relief to Apple and other companies that have been trying to differentiate themselves from Facebook, pointing out publicly and in constant conversations with reporters that they have very different business models that sell products and services — not access to you.
  • Go deeper: The full poll results.

An international look ... "Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match: False rumors set Buddhist against Muslim in Sri Lanka, the most recent in a global spate of violence fanned by social media," by N.Y. Times "Interpreter" columnists Max Fisher and Amanda Taub:

  • "[T]he forces of social disruption ... have followed Facebook’s rapid expansion in the developing world, whose markets represent the company’s financial future."
  • "For months, we [tracked] riots and lynchings around the world linked to misinformation and hate speech on Facebook, which pushes whatever content keeps users on the site longest — a potentially damaging practice in countries with weak institutions."
  • "[G]overnment officials said ... Facebook wields enormous influence over their society, but they have little over Facebook."
  • N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Harindra Dissanayake, a presidential adviser in Sri Lanka: “We don’t completely blame Facebook. The germs are ours, but Facebook is the wind, you know?”
  • Worthy of your time.
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