What’s going on here? Why are people still so unafraid of the world’s richest corporations, even as those corporations collect fine-grained data on almost every aspect of our lives and shape the way we work, communicate, and spend our free time?
One relatively obvious factor may be that the big tech companies make things that people love: iPhones, Gmail, Instagram, and other flagship products have hundreds of millions of loyal users. The warm feelings those devices and services engender may blind people to the industry’s darker undersides of mass surveillance, targeted advertising, and addictiveness. That said, Hollywood makes movies and TV shows that people love, too.
It’s fair to note that many tech companies really do care about their effects on the world, at least to some extent. And it would be silly to deny that the products they’ve made have improved a lot of people’s lives and made us smarter in many ways. But it’s also naïve to underestimate the power and influence that they wield, at least partly if not entirely in service of their own growth and profits.