The Changing Tide of FAANG

The acronym FAANG stands for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google. They represent the biggest stocks in the technology space.

If you had asked me a year ago, will Facebook ever go away, I'd say, “No, clearly no”. What about Google? “No, impossible. They're too big to fail.”

I'm starting to think they're not.

Eventually, Facebook will shrink quite a bit. Eventually, Google will lose it's grip on the world's technology.

Will Netflix ever shrink? Possibly yes! Apple? Yes! Amazon? Maybe not. But the rest of the FAANG could be in trouble. And 2019 will be the year where the tide has changed.

What's changed is “privacy”.

Both my interest in privacy and the world's interest in it as a whole.

I was quite pessimistic about the GDPR law when it was first introduced. Thought of it as Europeans harming themselves. Hurting business yet again. Stifling innovation.

Now we're starting to see these big companies – Facebook and Google mainly – facing increasing billion dollar fines for violating privacy laws. How long can that continue? And we're seeing privacy being enabled by default in popular browsers like Firefox. Suddenly, consumers have a choice of being tracked all over the web, or being harder to follow.

That's quite appealing actually. I'm starting to get a bit worried about the vast amounts of data there is about me out there. Too late for what's already out there. But data gets stale fast. And conflicting data muddies the water. I can still take back bits of my privacy.

Every day, there's a hack. Those hacks will never end.

There is virtually nothing anyone can do to stop determined hackers and state actors from gaining access to systems if they are determined to. One weak link, one unpatched system, one zero-day bug, and they break a link in the chain. And not to mention a small bribe to an underpaid or desperate IT worker gets a copy of a backup tape shipped via FedEx.

Government is not interested in protecting us. Google is not interested in protecting us. Facebook is not interested in protecting us. Nobody is. But us.

Managing passwords is near impossible as a consumer.

I have a password manager. I have 795 website passwords stored in there. I cannot keep track of which ones got hacked, and which ones need to be changed. I cannot even ensure my passwords are unique across the 795.

For instance, yesterday I heard that Forbes got hacked and my email was among the ones in the leak. My email and password. My Forbes password was unique, that's good. But then I go to the Forbes website, and how do I change my password? I cannot find a log in link at all. I cannot find a change password link at all. I can spend 30 minutes trying to find how to react to the Forbes link. And in the end, could not figure it out.

Hackers have won.

Websites cannot be trusted with our personal information.

Browsers are complicit in helping websites track us.

Time to anonymize more. Time to invent a fake name, email address, mailing address, birth date, gender, interests, etc. The web needs to no longer know Scott Duffy. Stop following me.

Dear FAANG. I don't trust you.

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