It’s probably not fair to make Mark Faceberg the, uh, face of technology, but…
Anyway, Axios tells us that Big Tech is now as loved as Big Tobacco (all the weird formatting is totally theirs):
Big Tech dollars may be becoming toxic in Washington.
What’s happening: The once lionized industry finds itself more and more cast as a pariah, with lawmakers comparing Big Tech to Big Tobacco during a hearing with tech CEOs last week and a key House Republican forswearing industry donations.
Yes, but: Plenty of officeholders still welcome tech contributions. And tech companies are doing their own re-assessing of how they give to candidates following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, after which many paused donations.
The big picture: The strained relationship on both ends represents a shift in Washington, where money previously flowed between tech and lawmakers with little question.
Driving the news: The lead Republican on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), announced last week he will stop accepting donations from Amazon, Facebook and Google.
- His counterpart on the subcommittee, Chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.), does not accept money from corporate political action committees or companies that may be subject to scrutiny from the subcommittee.
Related (and alxo Axios):
Trust in tech — including companies specializing in AI, VR, 5G and the internet of things — fell all around the world last year, the Edelman Trust Barometer found in a massive survey of 31,000 people in 27 countries.
Driving the news: The study, provided first to Axios, is a special tech edition of data collected for the annual Trust Barometer. All-time lows, going back to comparable Edelman polling in 2012, were hit in 17 of 27 countries, including the U.S., U.K., France, China, Japan, Thailand, Brazil and Mexico.
Why it matters: High public esteem has helped protect the tech industry from critics and regulators, but that shield is weakening.
And all of this news does not include Amazon’s war on its employees and their strange Twitter Fight with members of Congress:
The company has been aggressively pushing back against criticism on Twitter lately, in some cases by directly going after politicians including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). With these tweets, Recode reports that Amazon leaders were following a “broad mandate from the very top of the company” to “fight back,” as Bezos “expressed dissatisfaction” that officials “weren’t more aggressive in how they pushed back against criticisms of the company that he and other leaders deem inaccurate or misleading…
According to Recode’s report, Amazon’s suddenly very aggressive tweets raised eyebrows among some within the company. A security engineer reportedly even filed an internal support ticket flagging what they viewed as “suspicious activity” on the Amazon News Twitter account, noting the “unnecessarily antagonistic” tweets “do not match the usual content posted by this account.” Of course, the Recode report also notes that this new Twitter tone and Bezos’ directive coming amid a major union election at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, was probably not a coincidence.
And here’s one of those aggressive tweets:
If there is an upside to all of this, we’re finally seeing Amazon’s true nature (it ain’t pretty: Bezos “earned” tens of billions of Ameros since the start of the pandemic and is still trying to crush unions and spy on its employees including the contract drivers, and yes: peeing in water bottles is (allegedly) a thing); Congress is starting to not take bribes from Big Tech, and Wee the Peeple are finally seeing some of what the impacts of Google et al selling our data actually is, and maybe fighting back.