Big Tech is the latest punching bag for lawmakers on the left and right.
But before Americans buy the line that we “gotta break ‘em up,” let’s not forget that technology companies add tremendous value to our daily lives. So much value that you couldn’t pay people enough to stop using their services.
From 2017 to 2018, women started 1,820 businesses each day. From social media to search engines, women used Big Tech in a variety of ways to start, build and promote their businesses. They point to the lower costs, accessibility, and ease of use of technology.
Then there are the women who are freelancers in the gig economy. One study by three startup companies estimated that nearly half (44 percent) of women now have a side gig and about half (54 percent) of moms with children under age five have more than one side hustle. Technology has created new opportunities to sell services, goods, and time.
Beyond making money, people catalog and share life memories; entertain themselves; share opinions; educate themselves; connect with friends, family, and colleagues; secure employment; and build new relationships with people around the world.
This value has a price. The average Facebook user would have to be paid $1,000 to stop using it for one year. Meanwhile, consumers say they would have to be paid $8,400 to stop using email and a whopping $17,500 to stop using search engines for a year! Permanently getting rid of tech is a no-no for many.
Consumers value Big Tech despite the challenges of privacy, censorship, competition, and the spread of misinformation.
However, right now, bashing companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are popular among our national leaders – especially those running for President.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has made breaking up Big Tech a key campaign issue, took her fight to the streets of California. She just erected a billboard ad in the heart of Silicon Valley with her face and the words “BREAK UP BIG TECH.”
Yesterday, Senator Mark Warner ominously warned that “the wild, wild West days of Big Tech, I think, are over…”
These lawmakers want us to view Big Tech as the robber barons of our generation, but they ignore the tremendous value that tech companies generate.
We should not turn a blind eye data to breaches or conservative censorship. Those are serious issues that if unchecked will undermine trust. We also have to recognize the tradeoffs users make when using platforms.
The blanket call to break up or regulate tech should be considered very carefully because it could lead to less competition and stifle innovation. Just look at Europe following the introduction of their stringent tech laws.
Innovation benefits women, workers, and families in myriad ways that bring people together, expand opportunity and spread upward mobility. We don’t want to see that value lost.