The internet is mutating into a dystopia where all anyone ever cares about is selling you stuff 🪙. Instead of a bastion of creativity 🎨, knowledge 🧑🎓, and hope 🌅, the internet is becoming increasingly concentrated and a means for tech giants to extract your data and track your history so they can help businesses increase sales 💲. And if you thought they were doing a good job at it, you'd be sorely mistaken.
Just recently, Meta — the owner of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook — ran into big trouble for poorly handling children's data on Instagram, resulting in the publication of users' phone numbers and/or email addresses over the internet, in violation of the European Union's data privacy laws. Ireland's data privacy regulator, which led the investigation into Instagram's data practices, levied a $402 million fine on the company as a result, Reuters reported.
Meta's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg — affectionately known as billionaire Zuck here at HackerNoon — is still in denial about Instagram's negative impacts on society at large, especially on teenagers, and tech whistleblower Frances Haugen says the social media giant has yet to learn its lesson.
Nonetheless, Meta's Facebook dominated the rankings for a third week in a row, staying at the #1 spot on HackerNoon's Tech Company Rankings.
If you thought ads on the internet weren't bad enough already, wait till you hear the big-brain idea the adults at Roblox came up with. The company is fixating on 3D advertisements in a new initiative meant to help the youth-centered gaming platform move away from selling virtual currencies (called 'Robux') and make money instead by presenting "immersive ads" to users 13 and above.
As The Verge notes, Roblox's core audience is getting older and the company can no longer ride the wave of pandemic-era growth to stay afloat. Instead, the company is trying to 'grow up' along with its audience and highlighted its vision for the future this past Friday which includes age restrictions, more advertisements, and ways to diversify its revenue stream.
Roblox, which ranked #2 this week, has flirted with controversy throughout its history. When you make a platform aimed at children, there is always room for abuse. As noted numerous times over the internet in the past, the online gaming platform has been a breeding ground for pedophiles and just plain weird people who want to groom a young audience.
The daddy of all things data tracking and ad selling ranked #3 this week. It's always odd looking up news about Google on Google because it takes egosurfing to a whole another level.
To know how big Google's ad business truly is, just look at the $147 billion it made selling advertisements in 2020 — more than any other company in the world, according to Reuters. Regulators in the EU are honing in on the business though, with the European Commission widening its investigation this past week on whether the search giant has an unfair advantage over rivals and advertisers.
Believe it or not, there was a time when Apple thought tracking user data for advertisement purposes was a bit too intrusive. For years, the company was a critic of how digital advertisement was done. Now, it's all that it seems to care about.
While it didn't specifically mention advertisement at its showcase event this past Wednesday, the company is said to be planning to expand the number of ads you see on your iPhone and iPad.
As we noted previously, the Silicon Valley firm may be on a path to monopolizing advertisements on its products. Just last year, the company made a change to its privacy rules that made it difficult for Meta, Snap, and Twitter (aka the usual suspects) from showing personalized ads to Apple users, resulting in a disruption that cost the industry billions of dollars in lost revenue.
Apple ranked #4 this week.
ICYMI: Microsoft wants to monopolize the gaming industry and display ads to you in future Xbox games.
The company ranked #5 this week.
And that's a wrap! Thanks for reading Tech Company Brief Issue #15! If you'd like to see which tech companies are rising and falling in the public consciousness, feel free to head down here. See y'all next week.