Silicon Valley was once seen by most Americans as a net good for society. However, favorable views towards these tech giants have tumbled in the last few years largely due to growing controversies and bad publicity.
A new poll by the Pew Research Center should be a wakeup call to most major tech firms, indicating that distrust towards them by mainstream Americans is growing. Just four years ago, the vast majority of Americans viewed Silicon Valley as having a net positive impact on society. Over 71% said so then, but this number has now plummeted by 21 percentage points to just 50%.
According to the survey, the percentage of Americans who hold negative views towards these tech companies has doubled from 17% to 33%. Around 20% of respondents had neutral responses, feeling no particular way about the big tech companies and their impact.
What’s especially remarkable, also, is that the partisan divide when it comes to this concern is marginal. Democrats leaned about 10 percentage points in being more likely to hold positive views. More negative views were held by Republicans and conservative-leaning folks, likely a consequence of the allegations that social media companies censor right-wing voices. Regardless, the degrading of public trust in so-called ‘big tech’ is visible on both sides.
The results are not surprising. After all, Pew Research Center found in 2018 hat 55 percent of Americans thought that these tech conglomerates held too much sway and influence. The mounting legal issues surrounding Facebook has only made this worse, with the social media giant being forced to pay a $5B fine recently.
What the fallout will be from the decline in public trust is still unknown. Ultimately, alternatives need to exist so the public can get off Facebook and these major platforms if they so choose. Decentralized alternatives have often been touted as a possible avenue, but it remains to be seen whether these technologies can scale. As of now, blockchain companies are building layer one solutions which can hopefully meet this demand, but it seems that the hegemony of Big Tech will resume until the crypto-sector can work out these fundamental issues.
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