Big Tech Dominance Despite Global Mistrust

Hazem Ibrahim, Mikolaj Debicki, Talal Rahwan, Yasir Zaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The technological and online experiences of billions worldwide are dominated by a handful of companies known as “Big Tech.” Despite this being a cause for concern in governmental, economic, and ethical spheres, the literature lacks a study exploring the impact of public scandals on, and the global sentiment toward, Big Tech. Here, we quantify the power of Big Tech by analyzing their acquisitions, market capitalization, and number of monthly active users. Moreover, we utilize the synthetic control method to estimate the effect of public scandals on the stock price of two Big Tech companies, and find that they had no lasting effect. We also analyze the number of tweets mentioning these scandals, and find that they quickly fade from the spotlight. To explore public sentiment, we survey 5300 participants across 25 countries, and find that those from countries with lower digital literacy and more authoritarian regimes are more trusting of Big Tech. Furthermore, we find that one in three feels they lack control over the data collected about them, and one in four feels that Big Tech knows what they are thinking, knows more about them than their best friend, and may even be secretly listening to their conversations. Additionally, one in four feels addicted to Big Tech products, have no choice but to use them, and wishes there were more companies to choose from. These findings highlight the adverse effect of the oligopolistic nature of Big Tech on consumer choice and help inform policy-makers aiming to curb their dominance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Companies
  • Indexes
  • Internet
  • Policy
  • Privacy
  • Regulation
  • Social networking (online)
  • Surveys
  • technology
  • trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction

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