PUBLISHED NOV 11, 2019

The Big Tech companies: Their influence and controversy

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The Story

With great power comes great responsibility. And not everyone thinks Big Tech is up to the task.

And by Big Tech you mean…?

The phrase often refers to four tech companies that dominate our lives: Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Sometimes Microsoft is thrown in with the group. These tech companies are some of the most valuable companies in the US. 

How big are we talking?

Let’s run through some stats. 

Apple

Founded: By a turtleneck lover (aka Steve Jobs) and his friend Steve Wozniak in 1976

Wallet size: $265 billion in revenue in 2018

Plus ones: App Store, Apple Music, iCloud, Apple TV+

Fan base: According to the company, there are 1.4 billion active Apple devices out there in the world. Everything from iPhones to Apple Watches.

Amazon

Founded: By Jeff Bezos in 1994 as Barnes & Noble’s worst nightmare

Wallet size: $232.9 billion in revenue in 2018

Plus ones: Whole Foods

Fan base: Bezos holds Amazon stats close to the vest. But last year he said that there are more than 100 million Prime members in the US

Facebook

Founded: You’ve seen the movie. Mark Zuckerberg and friends. Dorm room. Harvard. Circa 2004

Wallet size: $56 billion in revenue in 2018

Plus ones: Instagram, WhatsApp

Fan base: 2.45 billion monthly users on Facebook

Google (now under the parent co Alphabet)

Founded: By Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998

Wallet size: $136.8 billion in revenue in 2018

Plus ones: YouTube, (recently announced) Fitbit, and Google Maps

Fan base: More than 2 billion people use the co’s Android operating system. Many of its other products have more than 1 billion users (Gmail, Google Maps, Chrome)

I get it, they’re rich.

That, plus in the past few years, the feds, Congress, and state officials have become increasingly concerned that these companies hold too much power over things like prices, have been misusing users’ data , and have too much control over both their respective platforms and the services marketed on them.

Can you give an example?

Think about it this way: Apple created the App Store, and has control over which apps get featured on it, including its own. Google has its search engine, but it also has services and products that it promotes through that search engine, like Google Shopping. These fall under antitrust concerns. The question here is: has Big Tech gotten so big that it’s violating antitrust laws by squashing its competition and ultimately hurting consumers? 

Well is it?

For example, some people think Facebook unfairly maintained a monopoly in social networking by acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp. The Justice Dept, the FTC, state AGs, and Congressional lawmakers are all looking into potential antitrust violations by tech companies.

What about my data?

We get into concerns surrounding privacy and election interference, plus the proposals on the table when it comes to breaking up or regulating Big Tech, in theSkimm app. Every week, the app goes deep on a different news topic to give you the context you need to understand what's going on in the world. Download the app now and you get the first week free.

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