It’s not Big Tech, it’s us

Tech giants Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Twitter have been under attack lately not just by hackers but also lawmakers. The latter have repeatedly accused the big corporations of having too much power and so want to break them up. I think these platforms only have as much power as we grant them. If you spend your every waking minute online, or are one of those ‘oversharers’ putting their business out there for everybody to see, don’t be surprised if someone uses it against you. Overall though, Big Tech is a necessary evil if there ever was one. Online platforms have not only made celebrities and millionaires of ordinary people, but also transformed our lives. How revolutionary is e-learning, e-commerce with online banking, shopping, live streaming and many other services that have kept some employed and others entertained? You can google anything from weather reports to recipes to DIYs. So resourceful and convenient. And how about all those sell and buy groups many have found useful over the years, but especially now when you may urgently need to buy or get rid of something? No middlemen or women required. True, the platforms have been hijacked by bigots and scammers or worse, and there needs to be some regulation and moderation.

However, we as users and consumers must also take some responsibility. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can take down all the posts deemed offensive but wouldn’t that be like shooting the messenger? Of course nobody wants to see unchecked cases of cyberbullying, racial abuse and murders streamed live but it’s not Facebook or Instagram executives committing the crimes, its people we know and follow who harbour these disturbing sentiments and we’re the ones liking, commenting and passing the content on. While I expect the big players to pay their taxes and treat their employees better, I don’t expect them to police every single person online all the time. It’s just not practical. As for data breaches and other violations, I think we’d be naive to expect no trade-offs at all.

 

Like the old saying goes, nothing in life is free. So you’re bombarded with promotional videos and ads featuring products you’re not even remotely interested in buying, or the advertiser doesn’t even ship to your location, just skip or ignore them. Something else we shouldn’t expect is for Facebook to do the all the vetting for us. Before you buy that car, make sure it’s not stolen. Mark Zuckerberg is not going to know if the piece of land or house advertised is legally owned by whoever claims it. You’re better placed to check out that restaurant whose app you just downloaded before ordering anything from them, only to complain about their portions or hygiene standards. In other words, we can’t attribute every poor service to these platforms.

 

If you’re duped into investing in a dubious moneymaking scheme or purchase a counterfeit or substandard product, maybe you should have read product reviews first. As for fake news, dangerous conspiracies and endless misinformation campaigns, again viewer/consumer discretion is in order. You can’t take everything you see online as gospel truth. Do your homework, especially regarding sensitive subjects like nutrition, health or personal finance. Take everything you come across with a grain of salt.

 

Granted some fake stories are believable and it would be understandable if someone was tricked into believing them but many are just bogus. There are people who still believe the illuminati hogwash. You receive one of those forwards from a friend or colleague and marvel at the conviction with which they felt compelled to share it. Like come on!

 

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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