Big Tech Goes to Washington

On July 29, the head honchos of the information technology industry—Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sundar Pichai of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Tim Cook of Apple—testified before Congress in a historical antitrust hearing.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the four moguls joined the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee via video conference in a session that covered topics ranging from anti-competitive practices to free speech. It was the first time Big Tech had ever testified as a group—and the first time Bezos had testified, period—before the U.S. legislature.

In preparation, “the subcommittee sent out 93 requests for information and in response amassed a trove of more than 1.3 million documents from the four tech giants, their competitors and antitrust enforcement agencies. The lawmakers racked up more than 385 hours of calls, meetings and briefings,” reported popular technology website cnet.com.

But one does not need a mound of research to realize the “enormous reach” of these four companies. As just one example of Big Tech’s oligarchy, “Facebook and Google dominate the online advertising industry, with some reports claiming the pair together control as much as 80% of the market.”

Whether it was Amazon’s predatory pricing or Facebook’s rabid acquisitions, Google’s third-party data-pinching or Apple’s chokehold on app developers, lawmakers were largely in agreement: “These companies as [they] exist today have monopoly power. … This must end,” concluded subcommittee chair Rep. David Cicilline.


Do You “Mind”?

Cicilline referenced the industrial pioneers who originally brought about antitrust legislation, tycoons like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan. “The names have changed, but the story is the same,” he said.

But perhaps they are not quite so similar. Those nineteenth century Captains of Industry, as their proponents christened them, were consumed with exactly that—industry. The focus was on commodity, production, economy.

America is a different animal now. Today’s focus is not only on product but on the person who consumes that product. With the Internet, the everyman now has easy access to nearly everything everywhere—and as a result, others have easy access to the everyman. Essentially, you become the product when using these services.

As Scripture predicted, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4). However, the results are not all consumer friendly.

Person using a cellphone

Facebook, still the world’s most used social media network despite the recent ad boycott, is also the cause of many an addiction. A study from Michigan State University in 2019 found that heavy Facebook users “display some of the behavioral hallmarks of someone addicted to cocaine or heroin,” knowingly making choices that produce “immediate gains but ultimate … losses.”

“Who do Americans trust more than Amazon to do the right thing? Only their doctors and the military,” answered Bezos at the congressional hearing. Amazon does not just want to be your go-to e-market; it seeks to form an emotional bond with the consumer, on par with your personal health and national security.

 It is well known that Apple visionary Steve Jobs did not shape his fledgling company as just another product pusher but as a global influencer. “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind,” his mission statement read.

Now, nearly a decade after Jobs’ death, Apple’s vision has drastically changed: “Apple sees its products not as a tool for human advancement but as … its reason for being.” Does that shift in objective have any affect on a consumer who has long relied on his iPhone as an extension of his hand—or brain? What happens when a “bicycle for the mind” becomes candy for a consumer?

While the Information Age has seen amazing advancements in technology, this industry is not just dealing with product anymore; it is catering to your mind, your habits, your character. It is embedded in how you communicate, what you like and dislike, how you learn, what you believe. What happens when those intimate influences care more about satisfying the consumer than preparing the soul?


The Customer Is Not Always Right

Researcher Dario Taraborelli made this statement in regards to Google’s search engine, “It’s become really difficult to understand where information comes from. What is the provenance of what we’re learning?”

In other words, how do we know what is true? Is something now viewed as true because it was the first answer, or the most popular—or put out by Google? Are we being primed to believe that the easier a thing is, the better?

The customer is always right and should be given what he wants. But the Bible says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3 KJV, emphasis added). It is of God—not man—that the Bible says, “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth” (Psalm 119:142).

Is Big Tech preparing us for eternity or “the passing pleasures of sin”? (Hebrews 11:25).

Our free, online video by Pastor Doug Batchelor teaches about the importance of possessing “Enduring Patience” in a time riddled with the instant gratification of consumerism. In another message, “Who Will Be Left Standing?”, Pastor Doug looks at what will endure until the end.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5), urged the apostle Paul. The mind of Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame,” because of “the joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2)—the joy of having you live eternally with Him. He bore the ultimate suffering to gain His ultimate reward, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Do you want the mind of Christ?

Kris W. Sky
Kris W. Sky is a writer and editor for Amazing Facts International and other online and print publications.
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