Instead of providing the most direct route, your maps app routes you by a company’s advertisers on the way to your destination. An apps store is littered with malware and scams. A trusted search engine refuses to return results for competitors’ products.

If that kind of digital apocalypse seems like a paranoid fantasy, maybe you haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on at Twitter, where the implosion of the blue-check system as we know it has made it nearly impossible to say for sure if public figures and institutions are who they say they are..

None of those other scenarios have come to pass, yet, but the rapid deterioration of Twitter’s trustworthiness as the global town square point to how much we rely on products built on certain tech companies’ good will.

The products of large technology companies like Google, Apple and others have become so integral to modern life that it can be difficult to imagine living without them. Like power and water, they function as public utilities, providingessential services like directions and business infrastructure, but without the same regulation.

“These private companies have been shaping our world for a really 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 confront what that means, what the negative impacts of that could be, and what that means for our daily lives.”

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