Cutting Big Tech From Your Life: It's Practically Impossible To Completely Unplug

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The AirPower wireless charger and iPhones are displayed in the showroom after the new product announcement at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 12, 2017. (Marcio Jose Sanchez, File/AP)
The AirPower wireless charger and iPhones are displayed in the showroom after the new product announcement at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 12, 2017. (Marcio Jose Sanchez, File/AP)

Find our buildout from this hour, featuring a partial transcription, here.

With Meghna Chakrabarti

A tech writer spent six weeks trying to block Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple from her life. She found out that’s impossible.


Kashmir Hill, deputy editor for the special projects desk at Gizmodo. (@kashhill)

From The Reading List

Gizmodo: "I Cut the 'Big Five' Tech Giants From My Life. It Was Hell" — "A couple of months ago, I set out to answer the question of whether it’s possible to avoid the tech giants. Over the course of five weeks, I blocked Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple one at a time, to find out how to live in the modern age without each one.

"To end my experiment, I’m going to see if I can survive blocking all five at once.

"Not only am I boycotting their products, a technologist named Dhruv Mehrotra designed a special network tool that prevents my devices from communicating with the tech giants’ servers, meaning that ads and analytics from Google won’t work, Facebook can’t track me across the internet, and websites hosted by Amazon Web Services, or AWS, hypothetically won’t load."

The Verge: "Mark Zuckerberg reportedly ordered all Facebook executives to use Android phones" — "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ordered his management team to only use Android phones, according to The New York Times. The decision reportedly occurred after Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized Facebook in an MSNBC interview for being a service that traffics “in your personal life.”

"In those comments made back in March, Cook dismissed a question asking him what he would do if he were in Zuckerberg’s shoes dealing with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal by saying, 'I wouldn’t be in this situation.' Cook’s comments 'infuriated' Zuckerberg, according to the NYT. In an interview with Recode, Zuck said he found Cook’s comments to be 'extremely glib,' and that 'I think it’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you. Because that sounds ridiculous to me.'

"'We’ve long encouraged our employees and executives to use Android because it is the most popular operating system in the world,' said Facebook in response to the New York Times article."

Gizmodo: "Amazon and Facebook Reportedly Had a Secret Data-Sharing Agreement, and It Explains So Much" — "Back in 2015, a woman named Imy Santiago wrote an Amazon review of a novel that she had read and liked. Amazon immediately took the review down and told Santiago she had 'violated its policies.' Santiago re-read her review, didn’t see anything objectionable about it, so she tried to post it again. 'You’re not eligible to review this product,' an Amazon prompt informed her.

"When she wrote to Amazon about it, the company told her that her 'account activity indicates you know the author personally.' Santiago did not know the author, so she wrote an angry email to Amazon and blogged about Amazon’s 'big brother' surveillance.

"I reached out to both Santiago and Amazon at the time to try to figure out what the hell happened here. Santiago, who is an indie book writer herself, told me that she’d been in the same ballroom with the author in New York a few months before at a book signing event, but had not talked to her, and that she had followed the author on Twitter and Facebook after reading her books. Santiago had never connected her Facebook account to Amazon, she said.

"Amazon wouldn’t tell me much back in 2015. Spokesperson Julie Law told me by email at the time that the company 'didn’t comment on individual accounts' but said, 'when we detect that elements of a reviewer’s Amazon account match elements of an author’s Amazon account, we conclude that there is too much risk of review bias. This can erode customer trust, and thus we remove the review. I can assure you that we investigate each case.' "

Allison Pohle produced this hour for broadcast.

This program aired on February 7, 2019.



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