FROM TECHLASH TO RESPONSIBLE TECH
WHAT’S GOING ON
In business years, the tech giants are still quite young and therefore have lots of growing up to do. Just like teenagers, the last few years may have been their reckless years, with experience now on their side and with big wake up calls, we may start to see greater levels of maturity and responsibility emerge.
Already the tech giants are rushing to self-regulate and introducing new initiatives aimed at creating a ‘healthy Internet’ and ‘digital wellbeing’.
- Facebook and Twitter both recently announced changes to their internal ad policy aimed at increasing transparency to users and preventing foreign parties from manipulating the platform.
- On Tuesday the 17th of April 2018, more than 30 high-tech companies led by FB and Microsoft announced a set of principles that included a declaration stating they refuse to help any government mount cyberattacks against “innocent civilians and enterprises from anywhere”. Google and Amazon have declined to sign it for now.
- In April, Facebook-owned platform Instagram created an entire team dedicated to making people feel better while using Instagram—and it’s literally called the “Wellbeing Team”. In response to studies that have linked social media platforms (specifically Facebook and Instagram) with mental health issues, one of their top priorities is to make the community a safer place, ‘a place where people feel good’ and fosters happiness for users. The CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom has been heard stating that the Internet was a ‘cesspool’ that he had to ‘clean up’ so we could see more to come from this newly developed team.
- Late last year, in its iOS 11 upgrade, Apple introduced a ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ feature designed to mute incoming calls, texts, and notifications while driving aimed at cutting down on accident-causing distractions. The feature can be set to turn on manually or automatically when the iPhone detects a car’s acceleration, or when an iPhone connects to a car’s Bluetooth.
- Early this month when Google ran its annual developer conference, CEO Sundar Pichai spent some time talking about how the company was striving to be a more responsible player, especially as new technologies like artificial intelligence emerge. He stated ‘We just can’t be wide-eyed about the innovations technology creates, the path ahead needs to be navigated carefully and deliberately’.
- While Google hasn’t experienced Facebook’s public backlash, it is taking a proactive position. It is reframing digital safety around personal wellbeing and is about to release new features for the next Android update currently code-named ‘P’. It includes a dashboard that tells users how often they have unlocked their phone by day and how much time they spend on different apps. It will also let users set time limit for apps and remind them after an hour of browsing Instagram that it may be time to stop (if that is the limit that has been set). Google vice president of product management Sameer Samat stated that ‘Digital well-being is going to be a long-term theme for us’.
GROWTH MANTRA’S PREDICTION
- After enjoying a decade of freedom and little scrutiny, we are now at a critical juncture which may see new levels of responsibility and maturity from the tech giants. We are already seeing snippets of evidence to support this.
- The tech giants are realising that without self-regulation, government and societal pressure will mount forcing disruptions to their business models. To avoid this, they have no choice but to take on a more responsible position which we predict will see growth in new initiatives from the tech giants aimed at fostering a healthier digital planet.
- The health and wellbeing trend that has become a priority focus for many brands will extend into digital health and internet health, with the tech giants (ironically) driving innovation in this space. We expect to see new roles emerge in the tech companies that will be focused on creating greater levels of wellbeing among their users and for the wider community.