First, the passive voice. This is an article about people looking at tech giants, but the passive voice centralizes the companies. That associates the change with companies, not observers, and also makes the claim seem more objective by downplaying the fact that this is about potentially-inaccurate perceptions.
Second, the missing subject. This goes beyond indefinite pronouns to fully absent pronouns; who's doing the seeing and the viewing? Since the best answer is "writers like me at media outlets like this one", it makes sense that it wasn't mentioned.
Third, the acausal and discrete setup. Things used to be that way, now they're this way, these are just states of being without a transition or source. Lest someone notice that David Streitfeld has built his career promoting exactly this transition, and is perhaps not simply reporting on a change he observed, the title directs attention away from what shaped perception.
And to be fair, it's just a pithy title, and there's a whole article here. (Although many of these approaches continue throughout.) But it's an interesting thing to analyze how the distinction between "people see this" and "this is reality" is blurred so aggressively in so few words.
> Yes, tech giants are now widely viewed as threats, lots of attention is invested into having negative valence about technology companies. Why do you think that is, Journalist For The New York Times?
Can you explain how this is different than how it has always been in the non-tech world?
For example: Home depot has deals with various partners to display their inventory and sell their products. But if i want to go into the stores and track the inventory and scan prices myself, they'll kick me out of the store.
You can even make this purely physical if you like, too.
If i start a store that doesn't even compete with costco (different target markets), but start recording their prices/etc, they'll also kick me out.
The usual response is "well, linkedin collected a bunch of data from users that they don't own and is now using it to make a business, and won't let me reuse it".
That's also a thing that has happened since time immemorial, it's not like databases of this nature are new. They just got easier. Before you couldn't even make a product at all!
What you are saying applies, IMHO, everywhere. It's basically a complaint that existing businesses won't let you co-opt them to get ahead, and may not be willing to partner with you. That's not special to any of the tech companies, or tech, or, well, anything.
Because you're right - secret backroom deals and corruption are so common as to be assumed in the physical world to the point of non-competitiveness. Say I want to start a home improvement supply store. Well there's already Home Depot, Lowes, and OSH, so unless I have a secret and exclusive source for free lumber, I'd be crazy to even try, given all the deals that Home Depot has that guarantees it'll never die.
So? Is moving non-digital collusion between big businesses to the Internet really the best we can achieve?
Strive for better. Stagnation is bad, tech or non-tech. Everyone's noticed how Google searching's gotten less useful, or that Facebook (for the "olds" that still use it) is more annoying than useful these days. The Internet should be enabling better businesses by promoting competition, not stifling it.
Naive? Intentionally so. (Every freemium startup has an enterprise "contact us" plan, but I choose to believe that's because enterprise customers want someone to talk to over the phone.)
Hopeful? In spades, not bought from Home Depot.
Unfortunately, yes! Thats because the Internet is just a tool and those who use it (i.e. us) haven't changed fundamentally since the advent of that tool. So why would you expect a tool to achieve a different outcomes?
If you want different outcomes, let's try changing human beings; more specifically, let's devise ways to mitigate greed, envy and jealousy.
Unfortunately this time around the DoJ appears to have zero appetite for anti-trust enforcement. Only the EU does.
Call me when Apple starts exercising prima noctis. I'm pretty sure Google can't wage war, either, and if Oracle could hang you for theft they would've done so by now. So unless I'm missing something maybe we should lay off the hyperbole a bit?
No, but such a service can be just be used to help win wars, blackmail politicians in other countries, spy on foreign businessmen and policy influencers, and those sorts of things...
Besides corporations have a long history of meddling with local politics, hiring thugs to kill people (e.g. strikers or union leaders), even helping install dictatorships.
Of course such things happen in such ways as to provide all ways of "plausible deniability" to company executives. It's not like they'll send a fax asking for such things -- "just deal with it" communicated to some local managers implies more than enough.
I don’t necessarily agree with the author, as I think he misses out much of the benefit they continue to offer the world. But I think your criticsm is anachronistic - power in the 21st century isn’t measured solely by boots on the ground, or ability to raise taxes.
And Governments have broken up powerful companies before.
The difference between modern tech giants and erstwhile powerful companies like standard oil is that tech giants are much closer to people's daily lives and occupy some much of their time. This way people are attached and strong feelings about Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc. that they didn't have towards Standard Oil.
That's incorrect. Read the history of Standard Oil. They aggressively sought to get into people's daily lives. In fact, they may have been the first massive corporation to ever do so at an all-encompassing national level. They leveraged every bit of their power and wealth to distribute down to the town -> household level, with their fuels and free lanterns to burn their fuels. They waged Edison-style fear PR campaigns at that micro economic level, trying to get into people's homes commercially (correctly noting their product was mostly safer than the older alternatives). Their distribution channels by design reached into the daily lives of nearly every person in America (this is before the automobile had reached such distribution). Their in-your-home position was drastically more important in its day, as a critical basic needs upgrade, than the position Facebook occupies today. I would specifically suggest you research Standard Oil's numerous consumer oriented businesses.
But favorable to which corporate interest or outside agency (Russian hackers)?
The corporate interests won't align on every issue or candidate, so they won't be influencing votes all the same. What's good for Google won't always be what's good for Amazon, or the Chinese government.
It's the various competing interests that somewhat cancel out. And it's not like other interests with power and money aren't aware of the reach of tech companies, and won't seek to use that to their advantage. Consider how traditional media has been used.
Or do you think the news organizations and tv/radio stations had all the power before?
Trump being elected wasn't the will of any of the tech giants. It's more of a platform that's used for whatever interest has the means to abuse it, such as pushing fake news.
Undue "influence" is a gross understatement.
Some people pointed out the more abstract type of influence (this is correct and meaningful); I'll point out the material: the list of, let's say, "indirect ability to make laws" is neverending, and it is directly proportional to a given company size.
Small and random, but significative, sample:
- Mickey mouse laws
- HSBC money laundering
- Massive tax dodging in Europe
The latter one is about to change, at least for certain non-vital topics. We see privatization in law enforcement for copyright, free speech / personal rights, and so on.
When Facebook marks "fake news" or handles "hate speech", and when Google/Youtube removes "copyrighted material", there is neither the police nor any judge in the loop. Also, there are often false positives such as removing creative commons videos with no clear path to dispute.
There will soon be laws that require companies to interpret the law, which is a very worrying trend.
Let's not forget forced arbitration. Companies that wrong you can now deny you your day in court if they just add a forced arbitration clause into the fine-print. They are removing conflicts from the justice system into a private system where the incentives are much more murky.
And what about countries that don't have 'fair' laws? Tech giants don't have many barriers if they decide to operate overseas.
And don't understate the influence on governments and voters either, just look at the tobacco industry. It is practically forcing itself on children in parts of the world. If that's tobacco, how much easier would it be for facebook to penetrate markets that don't really want them.
Wake me up when we go to war for Facebook.
It is interesting that people still think it is acceptable to call people crazy for claiming US government agencies are complicit in corruption.
>people are half a second between 'that's absurd, they're not doing that,' and 'of course it's always been that way.'
In 1994, X-Files Season 1 Ep. 17 introduced the Lone Gunmen, a group of conspiracy theorists:
>"The characters, who were used to help Mulder appear more credible"
If you watch the episode, one of the main 'batshit insane'conspiracy theories they put forward was that the government is recording everyone's phone calls--then Scully rolls her eyes and Mulder appears skeptical.
You have to admit, it is kind of crazy...
<your national intelligence service(s)> working with <tech giant>
It turns out that no matter how much power you have, there are still some lines that you have a really hard time crossing. Perhaps because it would cause an all out riot.
Similarly, most countries are unable to wage war or hang people for theft because the social willpower just isn't present to allow them to do such things. Why should it be any different for companies.
I think the question should be, what can a companies do that governments are also doing. Then we can look at what governments do that companies cannot do. If the first set is really big and the second set is really small, then maybe it's not really hyperbole, but just a minor exaggeration.
Apple probably has a better geolocalisation of people than any intelligence agency.
Facebook and Twitter are suspected to have delivered the key to the last US presidential elections.
Uber mocks the laws of several of the richest countries in the world.
Softbank is becoming a behemoth that God knows if it will ever stop growing fat of its robots and AI acquisition.
AI research is driven by web companies like Alibaba or Facebook.
They are not kings, they are king makers.
There is no evidence of it ever being practiced.
It is ius primae noctis (still there is no evidence it ever existed) or "right of the first night".
"prima noctis" doesn't make much sense in Latin, it lacks the subject (ius aka right) and prima is not genitive as noctis is.
It would make sense in expressions like "hora prima noctis" or "vigilia prima noctis" which translates to first hour (or vigilia, i.e. turn of vigilance, three hours long roughly) of the night and more loosely "just after sunset".
That's not something to treat lightly.
Clicking through to read that article, it's clear that the categories were created by an algorithm rather than a human, and when reported, were removed without fuss. The way the main article phrases it is highly misleading.
The click-through article also says that while "Jew Haters" was a group that could be selected, it was too small to buy a targetted Facebook ad for by itself. They added a few more 'jew-hating' categories, and a few 'Hitler' categories, and the target demographic was still too small. So they ended up adding the category for a small extremist political party in Germany. At this point, the target demographic was big enough to allow them to buy a $30 ad.
Painting this as "Facebook is facilitating the rise of antisemitism just for a buck" is extraordinarily disingenuous.
I think that's the point:
a) Automatic categorization means offensive categories will be created
b) It takes a complaint to have them removed.
The click-through article also says that while "Jew Haters" was a group that could be selected, it was too small to buy a targetted Facebook ad for by itself. They added a few more 'jew-hating' categories, and a few 'Hitler' categories, and the target demographic was still too small.
It is unclear to me why the fact that this particular phrase was too small to buy for means it isn't a problem. The fact is you can target ads based on it, even though currently you also need to buy other groups.
The Daily Beast, which briefly ran its own ad campaign to test the company’s tools, says Twitter’s platform shows 18.6 million accounts “likely” to engage with the word “Nazi,” while another 14.5 million users might be drawn in by the N-word. For Twitter, the process seems entirely automated and there appear to be no safeguards in place — The Daily Beast tried a number of different hateful words and phrases and none were blacklisted by Twitter’s tools.
Keep in mind that "engage with" includes everyone who takes offense to them.
> Automatic categorization means offensive categories will be created
This is like saying that an automatic printing press means offensive literature will be created. And rope causes lynchings.
Someone said this in another thread -- "algorithms" are the new "chemicals".
The most absurd part of this isn't that people are astounded that generic tools can be used for specific evils, which has been happening for many years. It's that people seem to want corporations the likes of Facebook to be in charge of making political decisions.
Yet transfer the same issue to this context and it suddenly becomes a free speech thing.
I mean, seriously, if you ran a forum and someone opened an antisemitic thread in a minor board on it, which one of your others users pointed out and you then removed, do you really think it would be fair to call you antisemitic? After all, your forum allowed the antisemtic thread to exist in the first place and didn't auto-filter it out, and apparently there's no leniency even though you removed it as soon as you knew.
I am unconvinced by a partial recreation of the actual situation by ProPublica.
The amount of cognitive dissonance and double think one must embrace to read, not an op-ed, but news article in the NYT.(1)
I don't even support Trump; I oppose him, but I'm not willing to indulge in the groupthink here. Maybe there was interference, probably even, but how can we be sure when the stories we are being fed keep falling apart? Just another in a long string of "just trust us" claims from the Deep State?
1 - https://theintercept.com/2017/09/28/yet-another-major-russia...
It sounds like you have a more inside look at things than these folks do, though?
"In 1983, 90% of US media was controlled by 50 companies; as of 2011, 90% was controlled by just 6 companies"
Eisenhower was clearly tripping balls when he warned about the disastrous rise of misplaced power of the military-industrial complex.
It is concerning that skepticism doesn't even seem to be allowed when we have all of these past failings of honesty sitting at our feet.
some examples of the backlash:
So is US interference in Russian politics. Russian spying on the US is also, surprise, surprise, commonplace. US spying on Russia is also, surprise, surprise, commonplace.
The US even has an agency dedicated to interference in foreign politics (the National Endowment for Democracy).
None of this is new.
The fact that an unaccounted for Russian linked $80k budget on Facebook became America's top story has more to do with Democrats grasping at justifications for losing the election that don't involve them being fucking useless.
Think about it. How bloody out to lunch we have to be to accept that Russia a country that we claim is ran by a dictator, the country with no technology, the country where people are barely surviving managed to fix the US presidential elections?! I guess it is possible if Google, Facebook and Twitter are ran by pimple-faced teenagers out of parents basement and they were playing against a nation state but come on.
Why do they need their prying eyes on our data?
In the old days of the internet, companies provided the hardware, and universities designed the protocols (which were federated), and ran the software.
Billions use the service that Facebook and Google provide without much of a care about how their data may or may not be used.
It's hard for me to blame Google/Facebook when we voluntarily sold our information to them and continue to do.
This, and their 'walled garden' vision of consumer internet was exactly what I was thinking when including them in the list.
But ten minutes ago, the Google app store recommended that I install Firefox Focus that is a direct competitor of Chrome and that, by blocking ads, may hurt Google main source of incomes. Beat that, non-tech giants!
That's what they promised us back then: "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." Now, instead of Usenet we have Reddit, instead of email we have Google and Microsoft, and instead of bookstores we have Amazon. Even Bitcoin is centralized.
"There's lots of rapes in these neighborhoods at night"
-- well women don't need to be wearing suggestive clothes or walking around without males
"There is illegal surveillance"
-- well I don't have anything to hide
"There are a bunch of companies who are arguably degrading the fabric of society"
-- that's not my experience
"A problem exists"
-- it doesn't apply to every person
When self-righteous outrage mobs believe they have moral authority and are drumming up support for authoritarian interventions is when it's most important to challenge them forcefully. Even if an intervention is necessary in the end, it should be the product of a healthy debate and not an outrage mob railroading through its initial whims.
There is a pretty significant difference between "$villian is doing $bad_thing to people" and "$villian is providing people the option to do $bad_thing to themselves and they are taking it." That's worth pointing out, particularly when $bad_thing is to read opposition news.
One of the "unwords" nominated for 2017 is "sozialtot". That's "socially dead" as a synonym for not having a Facebook account. As for Google, when everybody has their email at google I can craft my packets by hand, Google will still slurp them up. But oh, it's all optional, that goes without saying so it has to be said all the damn time.
> particularly when $bad_thing is to read opposition news.
You don't even know if "and their use is purely optional." refers to even one word more than the headline. If it does, you don't get to pick and chose that conveniently. The article also contains sentences such as
> All of them are making decisions about who gets a digital megaphone and who should be unplugged from the web.
Where does people doing something to themselves even figure into that? We're still at that part where someone blamed the victim and you're contorting to excuse that as something noble at heart, if lazy and inarticulate.