Tech giants offer empty apologies because users can’t quit

A true apology consists of a sincere acknowledgment of wrongdoing, a show of empathic remorse for the reason he did the damage and the damage it caused, and a promise of restitution by improving the actions to do things well. Without follow-up, asking for forgiveness is not an apology, it is a false tactic to forgive.

That's the kind of "forgiveness" we get from the giants of technology: an attempt to quell bad public relations and placate the afflicted. Often without the systemic change necessary to avoid repeated problems. Sometimes it is delivered in a blog post. Sometimes it's on an executive apology tour of media interviews. But it is rarely a change in the underlying structures of a company that caused the problem.

Intractable revenues

Unfortunately, the business models of technology companies often conflict with the way we want them to act. We want more privacy, but thrive in the segmentation and personalization of the data. We want to control our attention, but they keep stealing as much distraction as possible while they show us ads. We want safe, ethically constructed devices that do not spy on us, but make their margins by manufacturing them where they are cheap with questionable standards of work and supervision. We want innovative technologies to be applied responsibly, but juicy government contracts and the attractiveness of China's huge population compromise its morale. And we want to stick to what we need and what is best for us, but monetize our desire for the ultimate symbol or state content through programmed obsolescence and lock us into their platforms.

The result is that even if their leaders sincerely wanted to deliver a meaningful change in order to provide restitution for their mistakes, their hands are tied by entrenched business models and the short-term focus of the quarterly profit cycle. They apologize and go back to the problem behavior. The Washington Post recently chronicled a dozen times that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized, but the social network continues to experience a fiasco after the fiasco. The technological giants will not improve enough by themselves.

Addiction to utility

The threat that we abandon the ship theoretically should keep the captains in line. But technological giants have become basic services that many find it hard to imagine living without them. How would you connect with friends? Find what you need? Do the work? Spend time? With what hardware or software would you curl up when you feel lonely? We live our lives through technology, we have become addicted to its usefulness and we fear withdrawal.

If there were alternatives of principles to change, maybe we could hold the giants accountable. But the scalability, the effects of the network and the aggregation of supply by the distributors has led to close monopolies in these main profits. The solution of the second place is often distant. What is the next best social network that serves as an identity platform and login that is not owned by Facebook? The next best premium manufacturer of mobile devices and PC behind Apple? The next best mobile operating system for the developing world beyond Google's Android? The next best e-commerce center other than Amazon? The next best search engine? Food photo? Web hosting service? Global chat application? Spreadsheet?

Facebook continues to grow in the US UU And Canada despite the violent reaction, which shows that technology users do not vote with their feet. And if it were not for a change in the calculation methodology, it would have added 1 million users in Europe this quarter.

One of the few technological backlash that led to the real flight was #DeleteUber. Discrimination in the workplace, shady business protocols, operating prices and more combined to stimulate movement to get rid of the road navigation application. But what was different here is that US Uber users. UU They had a principled alternative to change without much trouble: Lyft. The result was that "Lyft benefited greatly from Uber's problems in 2018," eMarketer forecast director Shelleen Shum told USA Today in May. Uber missed the projections of eMarketer while Lyft overcame them, narrowing the gap between car services. And meanwhile, the CEO of Uber resigned while trying to revise its internal policies.

That is why we need regulation that promotes competition by preventing mass mergers and granting users the right to interoperable data portability so they can easily change companies that treat them badly

But in the absence of viable alternatives to the giants, leaving these pillars is a drawback. After all, they are the ones that made us practically allergic to friction. Even after massive scandals, data breaches, toxic crops and unfair practices, we largely stick to them to avoid the uncertainty of life without them. Even Facebook added 1 million monthly users in the US. UU And Canada the last quarter, although apparently all the possible sources of concern. Technology users are not voting with their feet. We have shown that we can harbor ill will towards giants while we buy and use their products reluctantly. Our influence to improve their behavior is greatly weakened by our loyalty.

Inadequate supervision

Regulators have not managed to increase adequately either. This year's congress hearings on Facebook and social networks often turned into inanimate and informed questions, like how does Facebook earn money if it's not charged? "Senator, we publish ads," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said with a smile. On other occasions, politicians intended to score partisan points by imposing or promoting conspiracy theories about bias that could not make any real progress. A recent survey commissioned by Axios found that "In the last year, there has been an increase of 15 points in the number of people who fear that the federal government will not do enough to regulate large technology companies." 55% now shares this concern … "

When regulators intervene, their attempts can be counterproductive, GDPR was supposed to help control the dominance of Google and Facebook by limiting how they could collect user data and make it more transparent. the high cost of compliance simply hampered the smaller players or drove them out of the market, while the giants had enough money to spend on jumping through the government hoops.Google really gained market share in advertising technology and Facebook experienced the smaller loss, while the smaller advertising technology firms lost 20 or 30 percent of his business.

Europe's GDPR privacy regulations were counterproductive, which reinforced the dominance of Google and Facebook. Graphic through Ghostery, Cliqz and WhoTracksMe.

Even the Honest Ads law, which was designed to bring the transparency of the political campaign to the internet platforms after the electoral interference in 2016, has not yet been approved despite the support of Facebook and Twitter. There has not been a meaningful discussion about the blocking of social networks so that they do not acquire their competitors in the future, much less that Facebook Instagram and WhatsApp are broken. Governments such as the United Kingdom that forcibly seized documents related to the Facebook machinations that surrounded the Cambridge Analytica debacle provide some indication of willpower. But a clumsy regulation could deepen the graves of the incumbents and prevent the disturbance from taking hold. We can not trust that regulators protect us enough from the technological giants at this time.

Our hope in the interior

The best bet for the change will come from the rank and file of these monolithic companies. With the war for the talent that is being waged, the employees of the rock star can have a great impact on the products, and the costs of compensation to keep them on the rise, the technological giants are vulnerable to the opinions of their own personnel. It is simply too expensive and uncomfortable to have to recruit new, highly skilled workers to replace those who are fleeing.

Google refused to renew a contract with the government after 4000 employees applied and some resigned for the use of artificial intelligence from the Maven Project to attack lethal drone attacks. The change can even flow through the lines of the company. Many technology giants, including Facebook and Airbnb, have eliminated their forced arbitration rules for harassment disputes after Google did the same in response to 20,000 of its employees withdrawing in protest.

Thousands of Google employees protested the company's handling of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct on November 1.

Facebook is desperately pushing for an internal communication campaign to reassure employees that it is improving as a result of the condemning press reports from the New York Times and others. TechCrunch published an internal memorandum from Facebook's outgoing communications vice president, Elliot Schrage, in which he took the blame for recent problems, encouraged employees to avoid pointing the finger and Operations Director Sheryl Sandberg tried to reassure employees saying "I know this has been a distraction at a time when you are all working hard to close the year, and I'm sorry." These internal apologies could come with much more repentance and a real change than those that paraded for the public.

And so, after years of trusting these technicians to build the product that we use every day, we must now trust that it will save us from them. It is a great responsibility to move your talents when the impact is positive, or to commit to face the business imperatives of your employers. We, as the public and the media, in turn must celebrate when they do what is right for society, even when it reduces the value for shareholders. If applications abuse or unduly rob us of our attention, we must stay away from them.

And we must accept that shaping the future for the collective good can be inconvenient for the individual. There is an opportunity here not only to complain or wish, but to build a social movement that holds the giants of technology accountable for delivering the change they have promised over and over again.

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