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The Trillion-Dollar Chameleon

The Trillion-Dollar Chameleon

Twenty years ago, no one had heard of either Facebook or Google, neither of which existed yet. For that matter, no one knew much about social media or search engines in general.

Cell phones were still simply mobile, small, and expensive telephones. There was no concept of a phone as a handheld computer.

Today, five companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) — have a collective worth of more than $3 trillion. Yet such transnational companies remain mostly exempt from the sort of regulations and accountability faced by most other industries.

Major corporations understandably fear product-liability laws. Oil companies are hectored by class-action lawsuits and headline-grabbing attorneys badgering them to pay up for supposed climate change brought on by commuters filling up each week. Tobacco companies have paid out billions of dollars due to cigarettes’ contribution to lung cancer. Pharmaceutical corporations are often forced to pay millions in fines when their prescription drugs cause dangerous side effects.

Yet every year, nearly a half-million Americans are injured in traffic accidents due to distracted driving involving a cell phone. No one knows how many millions of people worldwide are addicted to the apps on their smartphones — a habit that can be harder to break than an opiate addiction and can leave addicted users in a similar zombie-like condition. Yet unlike Big Pharma, Big Oil, and Big Tobacco, Big Tech is rarely held responsible for the deleterious effects of its products on millions the world over. Continue…

hmmmm, well i suppose he does make a good / valid point about the big tech companies being more accountable… especially when compared to the big companies in other industries around the world — though i feel like the EU is probably a little better on this front… even if it’s obviously a double-edged sword.

PS. damn hipsters…

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