What is “Techlash”?
The word “Techlash” first appeared in 2018. It was a term created by the Economist to describe the growing hostility towards tech giants such as Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, as well as the opposition to modern technology itself, especially against Innovation driven by information technology.
“Techlash manifests not just as antipathy toward continued technological innovation, but also as active support for policies that are expressly designed to inhibit it.”(Robert D. Atkinson, 2019)
Techlash stems from consumers who have lost trust in technology giants, and also from governments that are dissatisfied with the growing power these companies have.(Freya King, 2019)
Social concern involved in “Techlash”:
Shoshana Zuboff wrote in his book Surveillance Capitalism: ”Surveillance capitalism unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data. Although some of these data are applied to product or service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence,’ and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later.“
People are uncomfortable about companies using free services in exchange for access to personal data. Accenture, an influential global consulting company, said that business success cannot be at the expense of users’ concerns about digital dystopia, “Trust is the ultimate currency of the digital economy” (Daugherty, 2020) As people become more aware of privacy issues and the scale of data collection, they are more eager to know what information is collected and what privacy is known, and if social media platform companies lack Such a mechanism often evades privacy violations and data leakage issues, which will also cause customers to have a great sense of insecurity and distrust of the platform. In 2019, Facebook agreed to a fine of $ 5 billion due to improper handling of user data in the huge leak of Cambridge Analytica. Hayley Truskayama stated that “people will say they do not like what Google or Facebook is doing, they find an ad creepy or are upset about an invasion of privacy”. Social media platforms must protect consumer privacy, ensure that personal data can be mined and find information that is not good for destroying user trust, hope to know what private information the company has and how they handle this information and have the ability to change or delete the information.
Dissemination of misinformation:
False information is defined as false content spread with deceptive, misleading, or manipulated purposes(2020). With the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and other social media platform, the threshold for information dissemination has become lower and lower. The freedom that the Internet can provide not only brings us technical convenience but also brings us endless hidden dangers. There are reasons why false information is so harmful:
1). The Internet spreads extremely fast, and due to the popularity of the Internet, the rumours posted upwards are likely to endure for a long time. This is because of people’s psychological stereotypes towards certain groups(Atkinson, 2019): psychological stereotypes, also known as stereotypes, refer to individuals who have a stable and unchanging view of certain people or things under the influence of society. Psychological stereotypes are often not based on direct experience, nor based on factual materials, but are formed only by temporary prejudice or hearsay. (2015) In reality, the public has already formed a psychological stereotype of a specific social group. When some of a certain group has made a controversial behaviour, the public does not need to know the truth of the facts and will rely on the existing psychological stereotype. Make an interpretation.
2). Some people attribute the danger of media manipulation to our innate biases, which are reinforced by the “right kind of algorithmically selected” content. As a result, this mixture of prejudice and false information on social media is likely to cause this false information to spread like a virus. In the article FAKE NEWS AND REAL DAMAGES: HOW ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES CAN SOLVE OUR MANIPULATED MEDIA PROBLEM, Gillian Vernick mentioned the example “Pizzagate”, a conspiracy theory that was born on Facebook and spread on Twitter and accused the U.S. Democratic presidential candidate in 2016 Hillary Clinton ran a child pornography circle in a restaurant. Although this false information was not supported by any facts, it caused a gun thug to rush into the DC restaurant. The danger of the rumours can be seen. Moreover, the manipulated media makes it more difficult for people to trust more trustworthy sources of information. It can be seen that the spread of false information is like a “virus”, and the consequences are unpredictable regardless of the consequences.
Technological monopoly refers to the fact that a certain operator owns key technology on a certain product or a certain type of product. Through the ownership of the key technology, it squeezes its competitors out of the office, thereby achieving the monopoly right to produce such products. This kind of monopoly right is usually defined and protected by national laws and regulations. the House Judiciary chairman, Jerrold Nadler, said”…a handful of gatekeepers have come to capture control over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications”(2019)Power and control have become a hot topic. Today’s large technology companies have too much power, hurting small businesses and stifling innovation.
How the government, civil organizations and these technology companies Addressed these concern：
Government: In response to the problems caused by techlash and technology giants, it has adopted antitrust policies, designated corresponding laws and regulations, and high fines to restrict these technology giants. The Defending Each and Every Person from False Appearances by Keeping Exploitation Subject to Accountability Act (DEEPFAKES The Accountability Act criminalizes failure to disclose synthetic video manipulation. However, critics also call it too optimistic, believing that the requirement is like “asking bootleggers to mark their barrels with their contract information.” (Vernick, 2020)Threshold barriers have led to the fact that few proposals and measures in this area really deter these technology giants, and it is difficult to change the situation of market competition.
civil organizations: require relevant departments to legislate, call on platforms to provide corresponding measures, and express their own views. Many opinions and discourses come from public opinion, but if the appeal is not obvious, these civil organizations do not have the actual power to change the status quo, and their disadvantages are obvious. Their ability is limited to arousing people’s influence on the media. Concerns about problems cannot actually change these types of problems.
Technology companies: As customers’ appeals become louder, competition in the market economy becomes more and more obvious, and the pressure on the company is increasing. The platform realizes that if it fails to grasp the trust of users, it may lose the market (Accenture ) Shiti also took corresponding measures. Palmer Group, a well-known strategic marketing consulting company in the technology and media industry (Palmer, 2018), proposed three basic methods for regulating technological innovation: 1. Government Regulation, allowing regulatory agencies to intervene and Implement a regulatory system, 2. Self-Regulation, which requires individual companies to consider the social impact of technology before appearing in the market. 3. The Self-Regulatory Organization, A self-regulatory organization was established to allow all members to agree to abide by the principles, impose fines, and submit any violations to the federal regulatory agency. Although Palmer(2018) is not optimistic about the first one and believes that the lack of effective procedures will bring unnecessary attention to the company, it can also be seen that these technology giants are indeed relying on their own efforts to solve such problems step by step.
In conclusion, a series of social problems caused by Techlash include user concerns about privacy issues, the spread and harm of false information, and the threat of technology monopoly. However, the government, civil organizations, and technology company giants are all involved. To solve these problems in accordance with their own policies and systems, I believe that in the near future, with the advancement of technology and measures, Techlash will have a complete system to deal with and deal with them specifically.
- What is Techlash and what does it mean for the digital industry?/ 11 July 2019/ Freya King/ https://www.balticapprenticeships.com/blog/what-is-techlash-and-what-does-it-mean-for-the-digital-industry
- A Policymaker’s Guide to the “Techlash”—What It Is and Why It’s a Threat to Growth and Progress/ Robert D. Atkinson, Doug Brake, Daniel Castro, Colin Cunliff, Joe Kennedy, Michael McLaughlin, Alan McQuinn, Joshua New October 28, 2019/ https://itif.org/publications/2019/10/28/policymakers-guide-techlash
- John Naughton, “’The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism,” The Guardian, September 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/20/shoshana-zuboff-age-of-surveillance-capitalism-google-facebook.
- Protect privacy or pay the price of consumer techlash, report warns/ Stephen Shankland Feb. 12, 2020 11:36 a.m. PT/ https://www.cnet.com/tech/services-and-software/protect-privacy-or-pay-the-price-of-consumer-techlash-report-warns/
- A brutal year: how the ‘techlash’ caught up with Facebook, Google and Amazon/ Kari Paul/ Sat 28 Dec 2019/ https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/dec/28/tech-industry-year-in-review-facebook-google-amazon
- FAKE NEWS AND REAL DAMAGES: HOW ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES CAN SOLVE OUR MANIPULATED MEDIA PROBLEM/ November 13, 2020 Gillian Vernick/ https://drexel.edu/law/lawreview/blog/overview/2020/November/fake-news-and-real-damages/
- Judiciary Committee Launches Investigation into Competition in Digital Markets/Jun 3 2019/https://cicilline.house.gov/press-release/judiciary-committee-launches-investigation-competition-digital-markets
- Tech monopoly? Facebook, Google and Amazon face increased scrutiny/ Vivian Ho/ Jun 2019/ https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jun/03/tech-monopoly-congress-increases-antitrust-scrutiny-on-facebook-google-amazon
- 网络谣言背后的社会心理分析/ system/2015/04/27/ http://cmgc.jschina.com.cn/system/2015/04/27/024513088.shtml
- ‘Techlash’, responsible innovation, and the self-regulatory organization/ Thomas A. Hemphill/ 01 May 2019/ https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2019.1602817