Leading tech companies in America
With the boom that the tech industry is said to be experiencing, given the increased interest in remote work platforms and at-home entertainment solutions, it has shone a light on the role that the industry plays in our everyday lives. When one thinks of tech giants, a few notable and world-renowned entities come to mind for revolutionising the way we do things, our access to information, the way we move around, and the ability to connect us to people from various parts of the world 24/7. The top five of these acclaimed tech giants are said to be Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet (Google) and Facebook.
Opinions on tech companies
In early 2021, a study was conducted to gain insight into what Americans think of tech companies. This is particularly of interest given the way in which these companies have infiltrated every part of our everyday lives. On search engines, one fifth of the surveyed pool expressed confidence and belief in Google’s search results, while 61% were under the impression that the medical answers are credible and have been vetted by medical practitioners. On the future of transport, nearly 45% rallied behind Elon Musk’s innovative Tesla driverless cars, which have been heavily anticipated and topical in recent years. Apple and BMW’s driverless tech was only supported by an estimated 28% and 20%, respectively.
On technology and data gathering, perhaps one of the biggest concerns amongst people in the digital age is the access that these tech giants have to personal information and activities. This has been a heavily debated matter and, as expected, the majority of the surveyed people highlighted this in their responses. Approximately 74.8% expressed concern at the data gathered by wearable tech, particularly as smart watches and smartphone tracking options have become the norm.
It is quite interesting to see that while Americans trust some tech companies, there is still largely reluctance and scepticism on the intrusive nature of some. Those that track website searches, shopping habits and location, for example, have been heavily criticised for supposedly being too invasive, despite the continued use of these platforms by many because of how they have changed the way of life. Some people are of the belief that these companies have too much power and influence, however, that is not to say that they will stop using them anytime soon.
Another area that tech companies have infiltrated is the currency trading space; what was previously done manually has now been revolutionised and technological advancements have changed the game. Nowadays, there are several platforms that provide options to trading Dollars for Euros, given the integral role that these two countries play in global economic activity. While there are certain guidelines and legalities and tax requirements that Forex traders are subjected to in America, more than a quarter of the surveyed people criticised the tax structure of the leading tech giants. However, it is important to note that this is based on assumptions and perceptions, and not verified data on how much these companies actually pay in tax for their operations.
The conversation on misinformation
A heavily debated matter amongst Americans when it comes to tech companies relates to politics, misinformation and censorship. These matters have been of much contention in recent years, given the advent of online tech companies and social media platforms, especially as some people view these platforms as credible sources of information. However, this is not the case as social media platforms have millions of users, meaning that the company is not able to monitor each and every piece of information that is shared. Although there are user or community guidelines in place, it is not possible to verify and approve all the content being shared on the platforms, this matter was especially highlighted in 2020, ahead of the elections and amid the unprecedented global conditions. The matter was under so much scrutiny last year that the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google; Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, respectively, had to testify on their handling of the issue on their respective platforms. Rep. Mike Doyle, Chair of the House subcommittee on Communications and Technology, was quoted as saying, “You can take this content down. You can reduce the vision. You can fix this. But you choose not to.” He added, “You have the means. But time after time you are picking engagement and profit over the health and safety of users.”
According to a 2018 survey that expands on the political contention, 43% percent of the surveyed Americans claimed that these companies appear to support the views of liberals over conservatives. This suggests an alleged bias by online platforms and a level of censorship when it comes to political matters. Less than half of the respondents claimed that there is an equal representation of views on online platforms and media.
Differing views across generations
It has been noted that views on the role of tech companies in society differ across generations, which may be due to the role of technology in each generation’s lives. The older generation became exposed to technology and online platforms at a much later stage than the new generation, therefore, it does not play as an integral role in their lives as it does for the youth. This also means that they may not be as aware of the dangers, misinformation and censorship that may exist. However, a point of agreement amongst those surveyed was on the issue of personal information. Only 31% of those aged between 18 and 29 felt that major tech companies do enough to protect their personal data; similarly, 19% of those aged 65 and above agreed. On the matter of whether or not major tech companies should be more regulated than they are now, 45% of the youth felt that they should, while more than half of the older generation, 57%, was of the belief that they are sufficiently regulated.