Tech surveillance campaign challenges big tech to hide behind small businesses – TechCrunch

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Time and time again, the most powerful tech companies have pushed the narrative that any threat to their own trillion dollar businesses will reverberate, hurting small businesses that depend on their products.

But unlike the warm and fuzzy anecdotes Big Tech has rolled out over the years, some business owners struggle to rely so much on massive and opaque corporations and often have little recourse if things go wrong.

These struggles are the sort of thing that the tech watch group Responsible technology wants to attract attention with its new awareness campaign, “The main street against big technology. “ The six-figure campaign includes a full-page ad in the San Jose daily, The Mercury News, next week, digital ads on social platforms and an ongoing video series highlighting the experiences of small business owners who go against the PR stories of tech companies. .

The project has received support from the Main Street Alliance, Small Business Rising, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the American Economic Liberties Project.

“The [campaign] really highlights the litany of Big Tech misdeeds these small business owners are subjected to – misleading and unreliable data, with hidden costs and sudden changes in rules or algorithms that can bring their entire business to its knees without any access to the customer service, ”Accountable Tech co-founder Jesse Lehrich told TechCrunch. “Each entrepreneur has their own story and their own reason to speak up.”

Lehrich calls Facebook’s long-standing public relations campaign of defending small businesses “incredibly cynical and opportunistic” – a position that some Facebook employees seem to share. The reality of running a business on big tech platforms isn’t always rosy for small business owners, who are subject to the whims of massively powerful companies with whom they have only a tenuous relationship.

“They are completely at the mercy of these giants, with little access to legitimate metrics or customer service,” Lehrich said. “It’s not a partnership, it’s exploitation.”

Public sentiment also appears to be entering a phase where people widely recognize that even free tech platforms come at a cost, whether in the form of privacy sacrifices or the endless flow of user-created content. which provide a canvas for advertising.

Small businesses can rely on tools from dominant tech companies, but that doesn’t mean that in theory a newbie competitor couldn’t build something that serves them as well or better. “This is how monopolies and oligopolies work – these big tech companies and their services are only ‘essential’ because they have engaged in an endless array of anti-competitive behavior to ensure that they are the only one. game in town, ”Lehrich told TechCrunch.

As Congress strives to update laws designed for an era long before internet companies even existed, the biggest tech companies will continue to rely on their market dominance, leaving corporations and businesses behind. users struggling with what they have.

“In an effort to avoid regulatory oversight, monopolies like Facebook, Google and Amazon have spent millions of dollars persuading lawmakers and the public that their commercial products are a lifeline for small businesses when in fact the opposite is true, ”Accountable Tech co-founder and executive director Nicole Gill said. “… But now small business owners are fighting back by sharing their lived experiences to expose the real relationship between Big Tech and Main Street.”


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