Techdirt Podcast Episode 198: Life Without The Tech Giants

from the experimentation dept

One of the most common responses to various complaints about giant tech companies is that you can just not use their products and services. Many people have pointed out just how difficult that would really be, but Gizmodo's Kashmir Hill decided to try it for real: she cut Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple out of her life for a week each, followed by a week without any of them. Her report on that final, empty week is coming out soon, but in the mean time she joins us on the podcast to talk about what it's like to live without big tech.

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Filed Under: kashmir hill, podcast, technology
Companies: amazon, apple, facebook, google, microsoft


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Feb 2019 @ 2:35pm

    Sick and tired of the "You think Facebook is unstoppable? That's what people said about MySpace!" talking point.

    Facebook is not what MySpace was 12 years ago. Facebook is a multi-billion-dollar corporation with multiple apps. Across those apps it has a userbase in the billions, many of which are either wholly dependent on said apps for communication, or don't know that alternatives exist and think that Facebook and its services are the entire Internet or that Facebook is wholly separate from using the Internet. That can only get worse as Facebook's Free Basics attempts to make in-roads in more developing nations. Good-old-fashioned competition isn't enough, especially since Facebook has the money and manpower to quickly copy the features of its competitors or buy them out.

    As well, the situation with Amazon using data from AWS to decide which companies to invest in is, in fact, quite creepy. "We see that this company, which is using our nigh-ubiquitous service that's practically mandatory in many places these days, has been gaining serious traction. Why don't we invest in them (or by them outright)?" is pretty damn creepy.

    I have no idea why Mike keeps playing softball with his words. He says that this or that is "really interesting" when the implications of how utterly ubiquitous these companies are and how many pies they have their fingers in is in fact quite shocking when looking at it on the grand scheme of things. The worst of the worst is when he says that companies are just "doing a bad job". This is despite numerous instances of these companies pulling nasty moves or turning a blind eye all in the name of profit. I understand this Podcast was probably recorded before the "Friendly Fraud" incident with Facebook. The "Friendly Fraud" that Facebook let slide for a good long while, no doubt with countless people in the company all in on the scam, is much more than just doing a bad job; it's a company intentionally doing something horrid for the sake of more money. I'm genuinely curious to see if Mike will continue to say that Facebook is merely "doing a bad job".

    I also strongly disagree with Mike's belief that the FTC needs to stick to the consumer harm standard. These companies need to have their size, power, and reach curtailed before the consumer harm that the FTC actually goes after them for is catastrophic in nature, severely affecting millions (if not billions) of people.

    Antitrust needs to come back in a big way, swinging a big stick.


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