This year’s most engaged stories about Big Tech companies largely reflect public attitudes

September 3, 2021

Written by Haley Corzo

The world is not unfamiliar with the power and fortune that Big Tech companies hold, and it’s been that way for some time now. We’ve all seen the rise of these unstoppable tech forces in the last decade, and it seems that even a devastating pandemic can’t stunt their growth. In fact, it has only helped them become bigger, richer, and more prominent in public conversations.

We took a look at four tech giants who have all benefited during this last year in some way, shape, or form. Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google’s profits have continued to soar, and as their finances grow, they also increase their influence on industries outside of tech.

In this analysis we’ll look at the top stories surrounding these companies throughout the past year, uncover what they’re up to now, and understand the new ways they’re beginning to leverage power.

Most engaged articles on Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google

Chart showing the most engaged articles on Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google

The top articles about these tech companies focused largely on censorship. Deadline’s article about the social media company Parler received nearly 1M engagements and was easily the biggest piece of content during this time period. Apple, Amazon, and Google all removed the Parler app from their services, stating that it allowed too many posts that encouraged violence and crime. The article surfaced shortly after the Capitol riot on January 6th, which many users documented their participation in on Parler.

Continuing on the topic of censorship, a story about former President Donald Trump suing Facebook, Twitter, and Google for banning him from their platforms made a splash in the top articles, with 252k engagements on its own. The piece came from American Military News, and was fourth on the list of top articles.

Although the above stories received some of the highest engagement, Amazon was mentioned within five of the top ten articles written about Big Tech companies in the last year. This was largely due to stories about Alabama warehouse workers attempting to form the company’s first union. The biggest articles were from NPR and The Washington Post and together generated more than 361k engagements.

What’s in store for Big Tech?

In recent months we’ve seen some notable changes among the tech giants. Whether it’s a shift in leadership, product innovations, or new ventures all together, they’ve gained the public and media’s attention in the process.

On July 5th, Jeff Bezos officially stepped down as Amazon CEO, handing over the reins to company veteran, Andy Jassy. BBC’s article had over 102k engagements, as well as a high-performing Facebook post with 75k engagements by itself. There have been more than 48k likes on the post, however, the comments section contains a mix of praise and criticism, with people hoping working conditions for warehouse workers will improve under the new CEO.

Facebook post about Jeff Bezos leaving his role as CEO

Netflix made headlines with rumors that it may be entering the game space as early as 2022. Neowin reported that the company confirmed it’s in the early stages of expanding into games, and are looking to build off of previous efforts like the interactive show Black Mirror Bandersnatch. However, Netflix noted that the initial focus will be on games for mobile devices. The article in Neowin only received 6.7k engagements. Netflix has yet to release more information on when we can expect the project to kick off, and it will be worth revisiting with tools like NewsWhip Spike to see if public interest in the topic increases over time.

Apple announced new technology that will scan iPhones for child sex abuse images on all U.S. devices. This has immediately created privacy concerns among security researchers who worry this could lead to misuse by governments looking to surveil citizens. The story, which was reported by BBC, has gained over 48k engagements since August 6th.

Big Tech is getting bigger 

We’re all aware that Big Tech companies have continued to grow throughout the past year. Their income is flourishing, but their power is not limited to monetary success. Companies are beginning to insert themselves into everyday life in ways that go beyond their tech offerings.

Earlier this year Amazon made the decision to ban a book from its platform that frames LGBTQ identities as mental illness. Conservatives were quick to criticize Amazon’s decision, with Ben Shapiro’s video discussing the book being removed receiving upwards of 29k likes on his YouTube Channel. The Daily Wire’s article also gained a lot of public interest on the topic, with over 167k engagements.

Additionally, in the peak of the pandemic Google was among companies that contributed millions to the state of California on behalf of Gov. Gavin Newsom. The money went toward public services, such as programs that address homelessness, and public safety campaigns that promote wearing masks. Although this could be considered an honorable act, critics are concerned that these large donations allow corporations to have a bigger say in government issues.

Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer Special Report concludes that brands now have a responsibility to improve society. The question is — does that responsibility extend to Big Tech companies? There is a fear around these companies having too much power and influence, but there is simultaneously a push to see them make positive impacts.

Tech giants will keep growing through their products and services, but they will also continue to face various societal challenges along the way. Their actions will be highlighted in the media, and public reaction will remain of utmost importance.

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