Best Of The Web
“Is there a backlash toward the technology industry in the culture? I tend to think so, having written about its various twists and turns most weekdays for the past couple years now. But sometimes an obsession with a beat can lead to myopia, and so it can be useful to check in with your assumptions from time to time to see whether they still hold up.
Such an occasion presented itself over the weekend, when the New York Times published an op-ed by Rob Walker with the provocative title “There is no tech backlash.” Walker argues that whatever jaded media types and politicians might be saying about the big tech platforms, consumers remain enamored of them, and the companies’ financial performance has been superb. He writes:
According to its most recent quarterly report, the number of Facebook accounts used daily (1.59 billion) and monthly (2.4 billion) each increased by 8 percent over the prior quarter. Despite all the anecdotes you’ve heard about people deleting their accounts, the company’s flagship app added about a million new daily users in the United States alone. Revenue was up 28 percent. Even factoring in the F.T.C. fine, Facebook recorded a profit of $2.6 billion.
Facebook is not the only demonized tech platform; social media companies in general are routinely criticized as toxic swamps full of trolls, liars and bots. But again, there’s no evidence of any exodus. In the same quarter, Twitter added five million new daily users, and Snap reported that the daily user base of its flagship Snapchat app grew 7 percent, its best-ever performance as a public company. According to the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of Americans use some form of social media, a percentage that has risen steadily for years and shows no sign of flagging. (The people I know who quit Facebook all use Facebook-owned Instagram, WhatsApp, or both.)
Moreover, Walker writes, consumers continue to buy potentially privacy-destroying gadgets like voice-controlled speakers and surveillance-camera doorbells. And so while it might seem like there’s a backlash, the argument goes, in reality technological progress is proceeding apace — and the rest is just noise.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"During the debate on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal in the United Kingdom’s Parliament on Saturday—which ended, as these things often have, with a vote calling for another delay—Johnson exposed the most basic blindness of Brexit..."
"Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, wants to change his story about Ukraine. On Thursday, at a press briefing, Mulvaney confirmed that when President Donald Trump suspended military aid to Ukraine in July, one reason was that..."
"I travelled with Bedouin in the Western Desert of Egypt. When we got a puncture, they used tape and an old inner tube to suck air from three tyres to inflate a fourth. It was the cook who suggested the idea; maybe he was used to making food..."
"The ultrasound technician places the wand on my daughter’s lower abdomen and moves it slowly across taut skin glistening with gel. I’ve been holding my breath since being ushered into the dimly lit cubicle to witness a sonogram that will..."
"Even many Democrats are criticizing Senator Elizabeth Warren for refusing to admit, in plain words, that her Medicare for All plan will require taxes to increase. They’re right to complain. The point could hardly be simpler: All presidential..."
"How do you update Watchmen for 2019? That might sound like a question with an obvious answer: You just do Watchmen. After all, the graphic novel, which has been consistently in print since its 12-volume run ended in 1987, is pretty terrific..."
"The climactic face-off of the 2019 Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg took place on a wide, sunny plaza, between a statue dedicated to the millions of anonymous miners who had toiled under inhuman..."
"Mark Zuckerberg has rarely been so compelling. Facing increased scrutiny — especially after leaked audio of an internal meeting in which Zuckerberg called Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) an existential threat — the Facebook CEO outlined his..."