"After the U.K.’s Brexit referendum in June 2016, and specifically, after
Donald Trump became the president at the end of 2016, the media blamed the tech
platforms for widespread misinformation and disinformation. The most
influential article, from November 2016, was BuzzFeed‘s piece entitled, “This
analysis shows how viral fake election news stories outperformed real news on
Facebook.” It was the first domino to topple.
When I asked what was the story that formed the Techlash, all the interviewees
answered, in one way or the other, that it was the election of Donald Trump.
“Even though it wasn’t the story that people wrote about the most, it was the
underlying theme.” Then, new revelations regarding the Russian interference
with the U.S. election evolved into a bigger story. On November 1, 2017,
Facebook, Google, and Twitter, testified in front of the U.S. Congress. The
alarming effect was from combining the three testimonies together.
In the tech sector, there’s a sentence that you hear a lot: “change happens
gradually then suddenly.” There were years and years of “build-up” for the
flip, but the flip itself was in the pivotal moment of Donald Trump’s victory
and the post-presidential election reckoning that followed it. The main
discussion was the role of social media in helping him win the election.
If Hillary Clinton had been elected in November 2016, the Techlash might have
been much smaller. “We would not have seen the amount of negative coverage. It
is not just because almost every tech journalist is reflectively anti-Donald
Trump; it is that almost every tech person is anti-Donald Trump.” As a result,
Silicon Valley began to regret the foundational elements of its own success.
The most dire warnings started to come from inside the industry as more sources
spoke up and exposed misdeeds."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics