Last week, Slate released its list of the 30 “most evil” tech companies doing humanity the most harm.
We could have some fun with this.
Off the top of my head, I would think tech companies that are creating military drones, and those assisting the Department of Defense to wage war, would be at the top of the list. And, in fact, Palantir Technologies comes in at No. 4 on the evil tech list. Its website is as cold as it can get. Palantir, co-founded by Peter Thiel, collects and analyzes data, and works with the U.S. government on an artificial intelligence program that could allow the Pentagon to better target drone strikes.
Still, there are so many different levels of evil when it comes to the world of tech. There are numerous companies that do data dumps, unauthorized surveillance and are secretly selling us—yes, you and me—as a commodity to other companies. Needless to say, we are still in the tech Wild West, when it comes to how we are manipulated by tech companies and how tech companies are regulated.
I think a lot of these companies start out with good intentions (I’m talking to you, Facebook), but then they become corrupt along the journey. As Edward Snowden said, there’s no good reason for tech companies to keep our data—except to profit from it. It’s the old Gordon Gekko adage: “Greed is good.”
I mean Facebook (which is No. 2 on the list) was originally just a stolen idea intended to connect college classmates. Now, it allows political advertising that can alter the outcome of our elections, as we saw in 2016. And Mark Zuckerberg has no plans to change it. Maybe he loves that Russian troll money?
Jeff Bezos’ Amazon is listed as the No. 1 evil tech company. The company started out as an online bookstore, but even back in the day, it was criticized for putting real-world bookstores out of business. (Which it did.) Now, it has moved on to other creepy entities, such as its acquisition of the Ring home surveillance network—which could potentially allow law enforcement to use homeowners’ footage in investigations. Yep, Big Brother is watching you—and we’re providing the footage—via Amazon. And further, your Ring home surveillance doorbell is probably being shipped to you via some huge warehouse, where workers are treated no better than robots and aren’t allowed to have bathroom breaks. Just wait until the Amazon delivery drones start showing up at your door, complete with a camera intact to catch you if you happen to screw up.
Here’s a quick rundown from Slate on a few of the tech companies mentioned that really shout “EVIL.”
Uber: The ride-share company treats non-employee employees like customers, and average pay is around the minimum wage range. “Sorry,” says Uber. “We’re just providing a platform—and hold no legal responsibility.”
Twitter: Just last week, CEO Jack Dorsey asked Elon Musk how he could fix Twitter. The company claims to take a stance against bullying, although the social media platform allows our president to make statements that incite violence.
LiveRamp (formerly Acxiom): The company is a consumer data broker that collects personal info, such as home values, credit card transactions and health history, from hundreds of millions of people—for target ads. Think of the data collecting work Cambridge Analytica did to help President Donald Trump get elected; now, multiply that with what LiveRamp does on a daily basis.
23andMe: The U.S. might soon have a national DNA database and thus, a need for DNA privacy protection. 23andMe wants us to get used to our DNA data being shared. I’m sure this wasn’t 23andMe’s original intent, but it probably realized how much it could profit from our data. I’m sure you haven’t read the company’s terms of service…
8kun (formerly 8chan): The anonymous internet forum rebranded with a new name, but it’s still the same online playground for Nazis and women-haters.
Anduril Industries: Palmer Luckey’s venture helped the Trump administration build a virtual border wall. Immigrants’ rights group Mijente called Anduril “a surveillance apparatus where algorithms are trained to implement racist and xenophobic policies.”
Airbnb: The online lodging marketplace destroys and gentrifies low-income neighborhoods—and pushes people out of their homes.
mSpy: A stalker’s delight, the software company is played off as an app for parents to wield weird control over their kids. mSpy allows users to monitor another person’s messages, locations, social media, browsing histories, calls and other digital activity. Creepy.
What is your favorite evil tech company? Let us know via Twitter.