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Amazon the World’s ‘Most Evil’ Tech Company

Amazon the World’s ‘Most Evil’ Tech Company main image

Amazon has been named as the world’s most evil tech company in a new ranking by Slate. Based on feedback from journalists, scholars and other notable figures, the ranking lists 30 of the world’s most concerning technology companies.

The ranking capitalizes on increased fear about the amount of power and influence technology companies have over modern society. Privacy and security concerns, whisperings of fraud, algorithmic bias and foreign propaganda, worries about data collection and corporate surveillance, digital election manipulation, and the potential incompatibilities between social media and liberal democracy – the list of negative news stories involving tech companies is long enough to entirely clog up your Facebook newsfeed.

Unfortunately for the tech industry, the appreciation we once had for their time-saving. life-improving products has been replaced with annoyance, fear, and in some instances quite a bit of hatred.

Techlash – the growing public animosity towards large Silicon Valley technology companies and their Chinese equivalents is alive and well. But what makes Amazon worst of the worst?

All powerful

Once a humble online bookseller, Amazon is now the site you go to for pretty much anything. It’s now a giant player in retail, video streaming, meal delivery, original entertainment, smart home tech, surveillance tech, and even cheap human labor.

Amazon is regularly accused of unfair work conditions in its warehouses. Workers have gone on strike during Prime Day sales to bring attention to their poor treatment – with some suffering from the elimination of stock grants and bonuses.

This is just one thing on a long list of egregious acts included in Slate’s ranking. As well as offering its workers terrible conditions, Amazon has also supported police surveillance with its Ring doorbells, contributed tech to military and intelligence agencies and been responsible for the death of local brick-and-mortar stores.

Arguably worst of all is the fact Amazon doesn't pay much in federal taxes, thanks to clever accounting and offshore tax havens. And when you think of the revenue it makes – and the added tax breaks it’s unfairly rewarded – it hardly seems like a company that’s looking out for society.

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Poor ethics

Other tech firms included in Slate’s ranking have seen a massive decline in public trust in recent years - including Facebook, the second most evil tech company in the world. The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed to the world that third parties were able (somehow) to extract and monetize Facebook user data.

Facebook’s refusal to alter its political advertising system also left it open to use by Russian trolls during the 2016 US election, enabling the widespread sharing of misinformation which benefited now-President Donald Trump.

Slate’s ranking says: “[Facebook] is far more powerful than any government…Most frighteningly of all, the corporation is controlled by a single unelected man who is determined to dodge any kind of ideological stance in the name of higher revenues.”

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Driving us crazy

Tech companies don’t need to be affecting the democratic process, harvesting your data or surveilling your every move to be evil.

When Uber launched in 2009, the prospect of hailing a cheaper cab from anywhere – with tracking systems, vehicle and driver information at your disposal - transformed life for car-less city-dwellers around the world.

The service has faced plenty of issues though. In 2019, a Guardian article found Uber was cutting driver wages and gifting inadequate bonuses, meaning drivers were left behind as the firm prepared for its stock market debut.

Ali Razak, a full-time Uber driver in Philadelphia said: “Once Uber got [control of] the market, they changed in the worst ways. The only thing drivers are asking for is fair pay. Uber is doing everything except fair pay.”

Razak said he made 80 percent of the fees from his fares when he first started, with 20 percent going to Uber. “Now, they are charging anything they want. Some of my fares they charge more than 60 percent of the rider fare.”

As well as alienating its workers, Uber has had to answer serious questions about passenger safety. In 2019 Uber was sued for US$10 million by a woman who was sexually assaulted by one of its drivers, while in 2018, 103 Uber drivers were accused of sexual assault.

Also, last year the company was banned in London after the regulator said it found 14,000 trips in which unauthorised drivers had used verified accounts to pick up passengers. Transport for London issued its second ban on the ride-hailing company in as many years, declaring it had identified "several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk”.

Given this, it’s no surprise Uber features in the top five most evil tech companies in Slate’s ranking.

See the top 10 evil tech companies from Slate’s ranking below, or click here to read their article in full.

                          Slate’s top 10 evil tech companies

Rank

Tech company

1

Amazon

2

Facebook

3

Alphabet

4

Palantir Technologies

5

Uber

6

Apple

7

Microsoft

8

Twitter

9

ByteDance

10

Exxon Mobil

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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