If you’re reading Gizmodo, odds are you’re aware Big Tech’s gotten itself into trouble before. But between brutal antitrust battles, a lengthening laundry list of lawsuits, and persistent privacy problems, even the most dogged observer can find it difficult to remember the contours of a specific scandal or pinpoint when, exactly, we started thinking about that specific problem with that social network. To that end, the newly formed Tech Oversight Project has devised a one-stop Wiki filled with enough Big Tech badness to clog up a Congressional hearing.
At its launch, the Big Tech Wiki features around 90 separate links to pages on a diverse assortment of topics and issues. Viewers, for example, can find entries explaining Meta’s lobbying efforts against antitrust legislation listed alongside a breakdown of Google’s fraught relationship with the U.S. military. The Wiki also features pages dedicated to “Big Tech Lying to Congress” and “Big Tech as The New Big Tobacco.” Many of the titles sound like the Google searches of a worked-up tech critic.
Sacha Haworth, The Oversight Project’s Executive Director, spoke exclusively with Gizmodo over the phone to explain the group’s reasons for creating the Wiki.
“The goal is to provide an encyclopedic reference for those who are trying to learn a bit more about the context and history of Big Tech. We also wanted to remind folks of their [Big Tech’s] behaviour as monopoly powers,” Haworth said.
Those spheres of influence include famous jockeying among social media companies and emerging tech but also includes lesser-known areas like fintech and the automotive industry, Haworth said. The organisation hopes the Wiki will serve as a useful starting point of information for journalists, staffers working on legislation or general consumers looking to learn more about general Big Tech malfeasance.
In addition to the pages for broader topics and arguments, the Wiki features dozens of handy entries on tech terms, products, and legislative efforts. The creators included the names of lesser-known Big Tech lobbying groups like American Edge, which the Oversight Project describes as a “dark-money astroturf group” formed by Facebook in 2020 designed to “combat potential federal regulations.” The Wiki also features a listing calling out the group NetChoice for consistently speaking out against lawsuits potentially threatening Google, one of its clients. Those lesser-known players in Silicon Valley’s orbit are poised to take on a more important role in the years to come now that the Internet Association, once the Big Tech’s primary unified lobbying arm, is officially dead.
The Tech Oversight Project launched earlier this year with the aim of using “campaign-style” initiatives to hold Big Tech accountable. So far, those efforts have included several reports detailing tech giants’ hypocrisy on issues like support for an open internet and others that criticised Alphabet, Apple, and Meta for reluctance to work with the U.S. military in developing next-generation artificial intelligence.
The group receives funding from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s left-of-centre Omidyar Network and the Economic Security Project. Supporting new antitrust legislation making its way through the U.S. House and Senate sits at the top of the Oversight Project’s list of policy goals, an agenda that shines through in the Wiki, with its repeated entries highlighting tech’s anti-competitive practices.
The Wiki also highlights four “featured pages” for anyone uninterested in clicking through the entire collection. Those featured pages, which can be interpreted as the Oversight Project’s primary areas of interest include “Google is a Monopoly,” “Facebook is a Monopoly,” “Big Tech and National Security,” and “Big Tech spreading Anti-Vax.”
Haworth said the Wiki, though lengthy, is still far from exhaustive and that the organisation plans to continue updating the Wiki with more entries and new information moving forward.
“We tried to present this information in a straightforward manner so anyone learning about this for the first or hundredth time could use it as a resource,” Haworth said. “No matter what your issue with Big Tech is, there’s something for everyone here.”
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