Don't be evil. Look beyond

31 Jul 2019

 

Have you ever thought about how the tools you’re using to access information might be influencing your experience of the world around you?

 

I’m not talking about Facebook and the other social networks here.  We all know how easily that type of media can be one-sided (or worse, straight up misleading). But there are apps out there that are just as bad, and we don’t quite know that.

 

Look at Google Maps, for example. 

 

Apparently, in Israel, Google Maps doesn’t show the Arab-run public transport routes, adding to the political divide. Plus, where you are - or really, what your IP is - influences the country borders you’ll see on Google Maps.

 

 

 

 Source: Quartz


 

Now, it’s easy for me to say that sitting in the comfort of my home in one of the most liberal countries in the world. When a business enters a (new) market, it needs to abide to their laws and regulations, which influence - and sometimes even limit - they way the company operates. Respecting compliance is a regular exercise for me when working with Uber and Heineken. 

 

But isn’t the job of such a highly respected corporation - especially one whose name is commonly used as a synonym to seek information - to actually let us know that the information we’re getting might not be the whole truth?

 

Objectivity can be tricky when two sides are looking from opposite angles

Doing the right thing might not always be easy. 

 

But even so.

 

I work in comms, and I really care about access to information, so for me there's something intrinsically wrong about all of this.

 

We're waking up to the impact big tech companies have in shaping the way we see and access the world, but it feels like there's more to explore. Are we too focused on privacy and the impact of misuse of data in an individual level that we forgot to look beyond? Or is the information out there and we're too lazy to search for it? 

 

I honestly don't know what the answer is.

But I am a strong believer in the positive impact of the internet (which, for me, is just a beautiful, powerful manifestation of globalisation #love), and I won't stop using Google Maps anytime soon.

 

This isn't a 'shame on you, Google'.

This is just a reminder not to take things on face value so much and encourage a little bit of thinking. 

 

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