With the development of science and technology, the influence of large-scale technology enterprises on society is becoming more and more extensive. While providing convenience to people, large technology companies have also caused people to worry. The term Techlash is used to describe the growing concerns of the public, politicians, and governments regarding the growing power of large technology companies. In this article, I will explain to you why large technology companies and the government have concerns, and the measures to address these concerns.
Large technology companies mainly refer to companies that provide services to users based on the Internet. These companies mainly use social media, network services, online sales and other services as their main businesses. Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Amazon and Alibaba are all It is a good example of large technology companies. These companies use the Internet as a channel to closely link our lives with their business content. As we enjoyed the service, some worrying issues were also exposed. In this article, we will analyze the market monopoly and unfair competition of large technology companies, as well as the violation of user privacy.
Monopoly and unfair competition
With the development of web2.0, the Internet basically covers all areas of people’s lives. Large-scale technology companies can penetrate all aspects of people’s lives through the Internet. Monopoly and unfair competition information can be widely disseminated and penetrated through the Internet （Deans, 2009）. That is to say, as long as large-scale technology companies have a high market share, their monopoly and unfair competition. The behavior can be carried out effortlessly. Large technology companies can use their market position to formulate rules and set industry barriers to enter the market. This behavior makes it difficult for some small companies in the same industry to enter the market. Through investigation and analysis, it can be found that eight of the top ten companies in the world are technology companies. These companies use their resources to attack their competitors, so that their competitors are either excluded or excluded from the market. Even if some start-up companies have very good technologies or solutions, they will go bankrupt in the early stage of their business because of difficulties in entering the market. Other capable start-up companies face the problem of being acquired by large technology companies in the early stage of their business. This kind of monopoly and unfair competition is not a good thing for the economy, society and people’s lives.
In addition to the monopoly on the market, large technology companies also monopolize the lives of users. When we use an application, we often find that the function of an application is comprehensive enough to cover multiple services, and even an application can realize all the needs of users. For example, when people open WeChat, they can not only chat, but also do shopping, video watching, mini-games, payment and many other services, basically accomplishing all the things they need to do on WeChat. While this phenomenon facilitates our lives, large technology companies also monopolize our lives. This monopoly has a huge impact on users’ lives. Once a technology company fails, users’ lives will be greatly affected.
Violation of user privacy
When users use the services of technology companies, they will inevitably disclose their personal information. The user’s personal information is a very important resource. Although a single individual data is not very useful, a large amount of individual data is very important（ Buhmann & Olivera, 2020）. When these data are connected with other data, it has a huge effect. For example, when a technology company connects with an advertiser and sells the user’s personal information to the advertiser, it will cause an infringement of the user’s privacy. Large technology companies will make money from advertisers by selling user information, and users will be harassed because of privacy leaks. On the other hand, large technology companies will monitor user search data, filter bubbles through algorithms to analyze user tendencies, exclude content that users do not want to see, and conduct targeted delivery （ Pariser, 2011）. The behavior of large technology companies to monitor user search data is actually an infringement of user privacy. Their behavior of monitoring user data will make users feel uneasy, and users will think that their privacy is threatened.
In order to solve the concerns that techlash brings to society, the government, the public and technology companies need to work hard. So to what extent can these three aspects solve the public’s worries about techlash? From the perspective of the government, the government can supervise and restrict the rights of technology companies by introducing some policies. The public also has an oversight role for technology companies. From the perspective of technology companies, self-inspection of technology companies is more efficient, and technology companies can also solve the techlash problem well in cooperation with government supervision.
Advantages and risks of government regulation
The government can supervise and restrict the rights of technology companies by introducing some policies, so the government can solve the problems caused by techlash to a large extent. The advantage of government supervision is that the supervision is more powerful. Compared with the self-monitoring and public supervision of technology companies, the protection policies issued by the government can better protect the interests of the public and the country. And because it is a national policy, technology companies will be more obedient, and the corresponding government policy will be more authoritative （ Massanari, 2017）. However, government monitoring also has some risks. First, it takes a long time for the government to issue policies and laws, and users cannot immediately obtain protection through government supervision. Second, the government’s participation in supervision will greatly affect the freedom of speech （Kelty,2014）. Compared with some Asian countries, European, American and Oceanian countries are more open to speech. If the government supervises, the government will control the freedom of speech to a certain extent.
Advantages and risks of Internet companies regulating themselves
The benefits of Internet companies’ own supervision of themselves can solve problems more efficiently, because Internet companies themselves know their own problems very well, and if they want to solve problems, they can also be relatively efficient （Riedl, Whipple,& Wallace, 2021）. Compared with government monitoring methods that need to wait for the enactment of laws, Internet company self-monitoring can solve problems faster. However, self-monitoring of Internet companies also has certain risks, because considering the company’s own development and market share, the self-monitoring of Internet companies may not have too strong executive power, and technology companies may relax self-monitoring for their own profits.
Benefits and risks of public and social supervision
The public also has an oversight role for technology companies. First of all, public supervision can solve the insecurity of citizens’ techlash issues to a certain extent, and prevent the public from panicking about techlash issues. Secondly, public and social supervision can increase citizens’ awareness of protection, and citizens will pay more attention to the protection of personal privacy. Third, the public and social supervision can control the direction of public opinion, and the public promotes public opinion to support supervision by controlling the direction of public opinion. However, public and social supervision is more of an initiative, and its actual supervision is not strong. Real implementation still needs to cooperate with the government and technology companies.
In summary, the impact of techlash on society is indeed real, and it has seriously affected the market, industry and individuals. And its impact on monopoly, unreasonable competition and infringement of user privacy is particularly obvious. To solve this problem, we need to look at the three perspectives of the government, the public, and technology companies. The government and technology companies can solve the problem to a greater extent, while the public is more of a supervision and placebo effect. I think the combination of these three methods will be of great help to the solution of techlash.
Kelty, Christopher M. 2014. ‘The Fog of Freedom’. In T. Gillespie, P. J. Boczkowski and K. A. Foot (Eds.) Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society. 196-220, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Massanari, A. (2017). #Gamergate and The Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, governance, and culture support toxic technocultures. New Media & Society, 19(3), 329–346. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444815608807
Riedl, M. J., Whipple, K. N., & Wallace, R. (2021). Antecedents of support for social media content moderation and platform regulation: the role of presumed effects on self and others. Information, Communication & Society, 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2021.1874040
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