Sunday, February 12, 2017

How Silicon Valley Could Take Down Trump

Tech leaders in Silicon Valley know from personal experience how damaging 
Donald Trump’s immigration ban is for the United States because many of them were born somewhere else themselves. A 2016 study found that 51 percent of billion-dollar U.S. tech start-ups were founded by immigrants. Here are 11 chief executives and founders of tech companies who immigrated to the United States. See them all:

What exactly could these companies do? The better question is: What couldn’t they? Google could ensure that search results around important topics, like immigration and the environment, point to the work of factual nonpartisan groups, not the nonsense from "fake-news" Web sites, or even messaging from the White House. For example, when people search “Is crime at an all-time high,” which Trump has falsely asserted, Google could ensure it sends users to F.B.I. data that shows that crime, in fact, has fallen steadily for decades.
Apple, likewise, could push an update out to Americans’ iPhones giving them an option to add contact information for their local and state officials. When you open Twitter in the morning, the social network could figure out how to marry contentious tweets with corresponding viewpoints. Amazon could mail everyone a copy of the U.S. Constitution. (At the very least, they could send a couple of copies to the White House.)

These are not partisan issues, but democratic ones. And modern brands, which purportedly stand for things, should be allowed to express a viewpoint in our post–Citizens United world—and they should also have the courage to do so confidently without fearing reprisals from investors on Wall Street.

For some tech companies, even the biggest ones, going up against the Trump administration is probably a little daunting. Take, for example, Trump’s taunts toward Amazon and Jeff Bezos.  “Believe me,” Trump said about Amazon during one of his public fulminations last year, “if I become president, oh, do they have problems; they’re going to have such problems.”

With Jeff Sessions as the attorney general and his alleged history of unethical statements and actions, you could easily imagine anti-trust threats being used to fend off a tech giant like Amazon. But at the end of the day, Trump isn’t going to want to do anything that could hinder his job growth. 

And going after a company that employs more than 268,000 people won’t be a smart move.


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