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Analysis: Big Tech Falling Short on Consumers’ Digital Rights

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Despite their advertising and marketing claims to the contrary, a new report reveals the extent to which major tech companies like Apple, Twitter/X and Meta/Facebook prioritize profit over consumers’ rights.

The meta-analysis by Atlas VPN covers data from Ranking Digital Rights, a research program at the left-leaning New America think tank, scoring companies’ policies and practices regarding privacy, governance and freedom of expression and information on a percentage scale. According to the analysis, a pre-Elon Musk Twitter scored the highest, with a 56% rating, meaning if this were school, none of the companies rated would earn a passing grade.

And if the analysis were conducted again today, there’s reason to believe Twitter/X would plummet, as the platform released a new privacy policy it expects to go into effect in late September that would allow the company to collect a great deal more user data, including metadata on encrypted messages and biometrics. The policy also expands, though doesn’t necessarily get into specific details, the ways in which X can use the data it collects, including using it to train AI models.

Close behind top-rated Twitter is Yahoo, which scored 54%, followed by Microsoft at 50% and Google at 47%. These findings largely dovetail with other research into consumer views of big tech companies, including a July survey that revealed 95% of Americans are concerned their medical information will be hacked, as well as a Brookings Institution study showing that trust in tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook and Google, declined precipitously during the pandemic.

Apple scored just 44%, though that reflects an improvement from the previous year, as the company expanded reporting on content moderation and AppStore rules. Fourth-place Google, on the other hand, saw its score drop from last year, largely due to outdated policies.

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