Cybersecurity, Legislation & Lobbying, Politech Figures, Social

FANGs in Focus: Recent updates from Silicon Valley’s Finest

Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, technology’s top four most powerful contenders have taken up a fair few headlines in recently. Together, at the start of 2017, the group had an estimated value of $1.5 trillion, which according to reports was similar in value to Russia’s economy. Today however, some of these companies – most notably Facebook – are marred by ever revealing news announcements and their value is falling. The thing to note here, it that all four companies, though different in their own ways, offer considerable overlaps between their platforms – from apps to authorizations. Like two sides of the same coin then, the recent news challenges Silicon Valley much further than the front doors of Facebook. So let’s take a look at how FANGs have been faring in recent weeks.

FACEBOOK

Unless you have been living under a rock, you will be fully aware that Facebook are currently in some hot water, seeing the company lose $80 billion in market value since last weeks Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. Following the revelation which detailed that English data science company had illegally harvested the data of 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge, the data leak has sent the internet into minor meltdown from #DeleteFacebook to Zuckerberg finally apologising to being called to testify in front of a Congressional hearing. That was last week, however.

Since the new week Facebook has released a document which reveals their proposed improvements as well as immediately ramping up its security policies meaning a number of apps, such as  Tinder, faced technical errors whilst the coding was re-aligned. It has also announced plans to incorporate the incoming GDPR regulations across its entire platform, and appeared to be trying to regain as much ground as possible. But as ever these headlines have since been matched with more damning announcements. Just this morning news broke that Facebook had been deleting Mark Zuckerbergs Facebook messages and it was only around 48 hours ago that it was revealed by the platform that 87 million people had their data harvested – 37 million more than first expected.

AMAZON

Turning our attention to Amazon, it appears the platform is facing its own firing squad, though it is also one that a number of worlds big-dogs have had to endure. Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world and owner of the Washington Post and Amazon, faced the tweets of Trump this week in yet another highly amusing spat. The tweets have cost Amazon approximately $10 billion in share prices, and of course resulted in more “Fake News Washington Post” small-finger pointing from the Oval Office. Since the tweets, more stories have arisen that suggest the conflict between the two men is getting personal, and this fight appears far from over.

Though it seems that Trumps tweets have served less of a blow than the media storm surrounding Facebook, this conflict is one to watch – Bezos has the potential to cause a stir.

NETFLIX

In terms of technology news, these guys so far only seem to be going up in the world – literally, up onto new billboards.

The high-profile entertainment giant has recently been noticed in the news for looking to invest $300 million dollars to buy a company that owns billboards around Los Angeles. According to Reuters, it would be the largest purchase by the company yet and has been considered a smart move by some as the company further pushes to ramp up it’s spending on marketing.

By the end of 2017, it was revealed that the streaming super-giant had over 117.6 million subscribers around the world and Netflix Originals is increasingly popular and well respected for creating new content – so its generally good news for the ranks of Netflix so far.

GOOGLE

Google has dipped in an out of the news spotlight, like it always does, firstly for not decrying Facebooks blunders and secondly for supporting a US Department of Defense AI programme which will see an increase of drones used in military missions around the world. The news stories that face Google are ones of a moral challenge, coming from the media and external users and also from within the ranks of Google itself, which is never a good sign. 

According to the New York Times, a substantial number of Google staffers have rallied together against the decision to support Project Mavern. This was delivered in a letter, signed even by senior developers, in the hope that the company steers away from the business of war. This appears to be another story that will continue to reappear within headlines as events unfold and as Google and the DOD carefully consider what their next moves will be.

 

From the looks of above news, recent weeks remain dogged by the question of personal data security as this is naturally the headline that affects most people closer to home, through the devices resting on their very laps. The question of how much these companies are connected however, is one that should not be shunned. The amount of data that Google holds was quietly touched upon in some articles; surely Netflix and Amazon have vaults of our personal data somewhere.

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