Tech’s lofty platitudes and ambitions are brushing up against some tough realities, forcing a slew of changes Thursday covering company policy to business tactics to executive transitions across Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Apple.
On Thursday, news broke that the iPhone company is now pondering life post-Jony Ive, who announced his resignation on Thursday afternoon. Ive’s surprise revelation follows the departure of former retail lead and new Airbnb’er Angela Ahrendts in April.
Meanwhile at Amazon, it’s dealing with the sobering fact that, even with a mammoth logistics network, it just can’t be everywhere at once. So instead, it’s leaning on partnerships for physical ubiquity. Its latest deal aims to spread Amazon package pick-ups in the U.S. beyond lockers to Rite Aid counters. Initially, pick-ups will be available at more than 100 Rite Aids, but may extend to as many as 1,500 locations down the road.
As Amazon looks to expand its retail scope, Twitter is tilting toward judicious restraint — namely, how to curb the reach of harmful messages posted to its platform. In particular, the micro-messaging service is targeting users with followings of more than 100,000 people, covering personalities such as politicians, celebrities and influencers.
In other words, Twitter is eyeing people with the most potential to make toxic rhetoric or violent sentiments go viral. Tweets that violate the company’s policies will warn users with a gray box stating as much. But the content won’t be removed from the platform.
Communication is a tough nut to crack for online companies, and that’s certainly true for Facebook, which has been the target of intense scrutiny from legislators and government agencies looking into how it deals with user data. The scope often examines how the company informs users of what it’s doing with their information.
The social giant announced that it’s revamping its terms of service guidelines for more transparency, explaining how it makes money in terms people can actually understand. And by “people,” it means folks other than lawyers. But the revision doesn’t actually change anything in how Facebook treats user data.
The harsh reality in tech is that, for all of its idealistic narratives and flowery language over moonshot goals, its makers are still businesses that need to drive revenue. Forgetting that simple fact can only lead to more surprises and disappointments. Think of it as the end of the age of tech innocence.