What is ‘tech lash ‘? What will be happening when the technology company is no longer the wonder child who explores the truth, unearths innovation, and expresses reality? When the technology company has the power to approach each individual through the APP in a close way? Will they be able to affect public opinion? From the government perspective, especially governments that follow the rule of ‘democracy’, where the public opinions can alter a nation’s election, and the nation’s choice of a future leader, a nation’s development of the future development, the power of giant technology companies can not be neglected. According to Alarabiat: “ The notion of electronic participation (e-participation) can be broadly understood as the use of information and communication technologies to facilitate online deliberations and consultations between the government and citizens”(2021). From the civil society organizations’ perspective, will they be able to unite people without using the platform of social media? Will they be able to express their true opinion when they do not take outside help? Can they make sure that their team is still a team with integrity? For the technology company itself, when they forget their initial will of building a better future for the good of the society and connecting people, they will face a good amount of employees who stand up and fight against the company.
According to Bloomberg News: “The golden boy ‘ Mark Zuckerberg just lost 6 billion dollars in one hour” (2021). 6 billion dollars may not be a big deal for Mr. Zuckerberg at all since his total net worth is much higher. But this Harvard graduate definitely has made something special on earth. Starting everything in his college dorm, Mr. Zuckerberg built a platform that attracts all the college students at Harvard, very soon this platform’s popularity is stretched to MIT and the rest of college students across the US. Soon, Facebook steps out of the border and becomes popular all over the world. One of Facebook’s revenue streams is an advertisement. Under the guidance of capitalism, small and media size family-owned companies are trying to approach their potential buyers in every possible way. Facebook‘s large audience base and the function of tracking and recording their user data allow the business owner to find their most possible buyers and keep in touch with their users in a close and intimate way. However, the story did not end there. Mr. Zuckerberg has been a familiar face to capitol hill recently regards inappropriate handling of user data, affecting the election result, spreading false news, and being a platform that organizes terrorist attacks. According to Thorson: “algorithmic ‘sorting out’ of users has consequences for who is exposed to news and politics on Facebook”2021). Recently, Facebook’s formal employees also stand up to criticize Facebook for putting profits in front of public health and turn a blank eye on the mental damage it could cause to the users. When the tech giant Facebook is altering the selection result, cherry-picking the news can be seen, intentionally releasing the ads that are matching with the company’s CEO’s view rather than the real public opinion. Technology companies such as Facebook are facing a midlife crisis.
To what extent has the development of the internet been shaped by structural inequalities?
While I work as an online English tutor, I remember the day I had my first student register for my class, her name is Qiao. She lives in a district called Developmental Zone ( Kai Fa Qu 开发区) in Dalian; an area with limited financial and educational resources. Education is supposed to be a greater equalizer, and the nature of online education is to let children from remote areas receive an education that is as good as children who went to expensive private schools. However, the internet connection in her house is never stable, which affects her class learning. At the same time, due to a lack of stable internet connection, Qiao is not able to receive qualified English listening material of high quality or keep in contact with her friends to combat loneliness. According to Kaso: “The existence of activities to access Facebook for students of State Islamic High School of Palopo with internet social media can also maintain student learning achievement (2021). Qian comes from the lower level of society, her future solely depends on her education because her family will not be able to build ties with the powerful and the rich. It is not Qiao’s fault that she did not learn well during the class, the neighborhood she lives in is not in the wealthy zone of the city, the basic internet infrastructure is not well established around the area. When it rains, it pours. The creator of the Internet web let the internet be a public resource for everyone on earth. The Internet is supposed to be the force that reduces inequalities; however, the reality is that disappointing.
When the content is moderated by the platform, and the viewers are not able to get a full view of the pictures, not only the biases but also potentially damaged opinions are all possible results. There is an old Chinese saying that: when you view the leopard from a straw, you only see the spots. One of the painful examples caused by the platform alteration is the story of Wei Ze Xi. When Wei was first diagnosed with cancer, he used the Chinese version of ‘google’: Baidu to look for top hospitals and doctors for the treatment. And he followed Baidu’s lead for hospital selection, and he picked the first one that showed up on the website and trusted the introduction written on the website. Little did he know that the ranking and the word descriptions are all paid by the hospital itself. Later Wei posted his situation, his treatment, and his disease to the social media platform, and some viewers on the platform pointed out to him that the so-called “leading treatment” has been outdated for years. Wei’s situation has not improved due to the ineffective treatment. The misguidance not only wasted Wei’s family’s entire family savings, more importantly, but Wei also missed the critical period that can be saved from the disease. In the end, Wei’s young life ended. Besides the social search engines like Baidu, the government should also enforce content moderation restrictions on social media. According to Hussain: “Artificial intelligence-enabled social media analysis should be considered for adoption by institutions and governments alongside surveys and other conventional methods of assessing public attitude”(2021). On the social media platform, some social media influencers will act inappropriately to draw people’s attention and attract more business partners for advertisement money. They are giving hate speeches to surprise the viewer, and society’s overall culture becomes anything but positive and healthy. As the CBSN news “ EU hits Google with a record $5B Fine.” Tech giant’s good days no longer exist. A low level of antitrust regulation from the government gives tech companies a good growth period. The potential political tie guarantees its strong development as well. However, the public will wake up eventually and the good days of stealing users’ data and selling the user’s information are coming to an end.
Alarabiat, A., Soares, D., & Estevez, E. (2021). Determinants of citizens’ intention to engage in government-led electronic participation initiatives through Facebook. Government Information Quarterly, 38(1), 101537.
Hussain, A., Tahir, A., Hussain, Z., Sheikh, Z., Gogate, M., Dashtipour, K., … & Sheikh, A. (2021). Artificial intelligence–enabled analysis of public attitudes on facebook and twitter toward covid-19 vaccines in the united kingdom and the united states: Observational study. Journal of medical Internet research, 23(4), e26627.
Kaso, N., Nurjihad, A., Ilham, D., & Aswar, N. (2021). Facebook and its Impact on Students’ Learning Achievement at State Islamic High School of Palopo. Jurnal Studi Guru dan Pembelajaran, 4(1), 1-15.
Thorson, K., Cotter, K., Medeiros, M., & Pak, C. (2021). Algorithmic inference, political interest, and exposure to news and politics on Facebook. Information, Communication & Society, 24(2), 183-200.