Twitter is imploding. What if digital tools like maps and Google suffered a similar fate?

Instead of providing the most direct route, your Maps app directs you from a company’s advertisers on the way to your destination. An app store is littered with malware and scams. A reputable search engine refuses to return results for competing products.

If that kind of digital apocalypse sounds like a paranoid fantasy, perhaps you haven’t been paying attention to what’s happening on Twitter, where the implosion of the blue watchdog as we know it has made it nearly impossible to tell for sure whether public figures and institutions they are who they say they are..

None of these other scenarios has yet come true, but the rapid deterioration of Twitter’s trustworthiness as a global town square indicates how much we rely on products built on the goodwill of a few tech companies.
The products of big tech companies like Google, Apple, and others have become so integral to modern life that it can be hard to imagine living without them. Like electricity and water, they function as utilities, providing essential services such as directions and business infrastructure, but without the same regulation.
“These private companies have shaped our world for a long time,” said Emily Dreyfuss, a San Francisco-based writer and researcher at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. “We haven’t had to deal with what that means, what the negative impacts might be, and what it means for our daily lives.”

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