Big Tech’s COVID Conflict of Interest

Dear Editor,

Big Tech trades in bits and bytes of information.  This includes digitized words, audio, images, ideas, and other experiences.  Society has slowly transitioned from the physical to the digital world.

YouTube, Facebook, Google, and Amazon compete against each other.  They also compete with traditional physical interactions.  Tech cannot monetize traditional interactions.  Competition includes parks, conventions, tourism, and picnics.  The more we live in the physical world, the less we live in the digital world and vice versa.

COVID 19 is a respiratory disease.  Biology has known that respiratory illnesses spread less effectively outdoors.  Outdoor activities are much safer than those indoors.  Science also knew that after recovery, subsequent infections are less dangerous.  The body fights subsequent infections more efficiently.  Despite this previous knowledge, the most unlikely fearful possibilities were amplified.  Challenging the unlikely fears was silenced to “protect lives.”  Providers and scientists challenging this fear, who attempted to provide context and suggest alternatives, were digitally silenced.  Evidence and reason challenging extreme policies were de-platformed and/or search algorithms de-prioritized.  Even after COVID was experimentally proven to follow previous patterns, evidence was silenced.  Big tech manipulated information exchange, which they had an enlarging percentage, to reduce competition from physical space.  As a result, we were locked-in months longer than rationally required.

The longer we were afraid to leave our homes, the more Big Tech could monetize interaction.  We were no longer allowed to exchange ideas or debate in the barber shop, kid’s sporting events, conventions, family reunions, or water coolers.  We were encouraged to become more dependent on internet “solutions.”  This conflict of interest likely shaped big tech’s efforts to place a finger on the balance in favor of isolation.  They longer we remained isolated the more profit tech made.

When we began to challenge extreme lock down policies, Big Tech actively gave preference to divisive ideologies.  All of us, African American, Asian American, Caucasian, Native American, wealthy and/or un-wealthy were isolated in conflict of basic human needs.  Lockdown supporters were encouraged to view challenge as “white privilege.”  We were persuaded to channel anxiety from social isolation into fear and hate of each other.  Encouraging divisiveness neutralized challenges to isolative policies.

Big Tech manipulated information exchange, their product, to encourage social isolation which directly increased their personal market and market share.  By promoting socially divisive ideology, tech companies reduced the ability of competition to mount a defense.

Alan Burke