Three tech stories caught my eye over the weekend, and I see a common thread stitching them together.
YouTube has tweaked its algorithm to give video creators more earning potential. Google is accommodating this power shift from boardroom shareholder to back bedroom uploader, knowing that if they don’t allow content creators more control over their earning potential, they risk losing them and their committed followings. This isn’t anything like a commercial TV station, so the changes make sense for a platform in which the video creator was always meant to be the centrepiece – it’s the etymology of the site’s name, after all.
Secondly, Facebook promised that they aren’t tapping user’s microphones to run ads. To me, that suggests Facebook is quite comfortable in telling consumers: ‘you’re the boss’ – something that you can’t imagine many newspapers doing a few years back, by way of comparison. Facebook is powerful; but not as powerful as its gargantuan but potentially fragile audience.
Finally, Apple fired an engineer this week after his daughter published a video of the new iPhone X to YouTube – breaking one of the tech giant’s golden rules, but can this level of secrecy and security really be achievable in the modern Digital Online world? I found it strangely fitting that this came almost 500 years to the day that Martin Luther first ‘went viral’ across Europe. Half a millennium after the printing press made stopping controversial messages exponentially more challenging than a loud mouth, the internet multiplies reach by the nth degree.
These three stories say to me that in the tech space at least, the power has very much shifted from the boardroom and into the consumer’s hands. Yes, YouTube have placated their contributors, but surely the tide will only keep eating into their profits. Yes, Facebook tell us they are doing the right thing, but will consumers always be suspicious and will they always be king? Yes, Apple are good at keeping their new releases under theatrical wraps, but are they always going to keep the virtual doors watertight to leaks?