And the biggest losers in tech in 2021 are…

It feels like forever since we all were able to look back on the last 12 months and not say “good riddance, you garbage flaming hellscape of a year.” 2021 kicked off with riots at the Capitol and though things seemed to quiet down a little after, all was not well in tech.

There are companies that are obvious adds-on to this list, like Meta( formerly Facebook) with its reiterated misbehaviours this year. Activision Blizzard faces multiple suits and investigations over allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace, revealing that despite all the growth we hoped we’d uttered in the last few years, the gaming manufacture remains toxic.

But there are other industries that realized the lives of workers and customers sordid on a daily basis, very. And all major business in Big Tech have to share in the accuse. When we put together this roundup of the worst actors in tech this year, it’s clear that we’re overdue a imagine. Let’s hope that in the years to come, the people with the most influence learn how to treat people better.

A sign of Meta, the new name for the company formerly known as Facebook, is seen at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S. October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos BarriaCarlos Barria/ reutersMeta/ Facebook

For the company now known as Meta , 2021 went sideways from the very beginning.

For all its talk about safeguarding the 2020 presidential election, Facebook was ill-prepared for the insurrection that followed on January 6th. The corporation failed to recognize the danger posed by the “Stop the Steal” movement until after a viciou rabble stormed the Capitol. Then COO Sheryl Sandberg downplayed the character Facebook had played in the riot, simply to be swiftly proven wrong. In the end, the events of January 6th ultimately pushed the pulpit to do something it had studiously by-passed for most of the Trump presidency: Enforce its rules for his account.( Sort of. Trump’s Facebook ban isn’t permanent .)

Elsewhere, the appearance of coronavirus vaccines simply foreground Facebook’s poor track record at combating vaccine misinformation, which tided throughout the pandemic. After years of haul its hoof, the company finally boycotted misleading or incorrect inoculation material. But fairly mar had already been done. The US Surgeon General said viral health misinformation was an “urgent threat” to public health. President Joe Biden led a gradation further: saying that Facebook was “killing people.”

This year was also the first time the Oversight Board, developed so Facebook could outsource its thorny material equanimity decisions, was operational. The body has pushed the social network to change some policies and has repeatedly criticized the company for a lack of transparency and ability to enforce its rules evenly.

Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing entitled 'Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower' on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., October 5, 2021.   Jabin Botsford/Pool via REUTERSPOOL New/ reuters

Then came Frances Haugen, the onetime work turned whistleblower who left the company with hundreds and sheets of internal research and other documents that have since become known as the “Facebook Papers.” Her exposures paint a picture of a company that is unwilling or unable to adequately tackle some of its biggest problems, peculiarly outside the United Government and Europe. She also revealed internal research about the effect of Instagram on teenages, which was immediately abducted on by lawmakers in Congress.

Amid all that, Zuckerberg announced not an overhaul of the company’s policies , nor its examination of its internal investigate, but … a brand-new name: Meta. It’s meant to symbolize the company’s newfound commitment to a metaverse that no one can fully explain. Will the company change its content moderation plans when it comes to the metaverse? Will it invest more in safety for non-western countries? How will it address hate discussion in the metaverse? Facebook, er Meta, has already been to meaningfully address any of those questions. But if recent record is a guide, we all have a lot to worry about.

— Karissa Bell

Truth Social

You’d be forgiven if, amidst the news of actual importance in 2021, you forgot about TRUTH Social — the upcoming site built by dishonor former director Donald J. Trump. Trump wasted the majority of members of his presidency fear-mongering and spurting lies on Twitter and other social platforms, which eventually been successful in him being banned from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and most other services of note. While Trump is wrongfully convinced that this is an illegitimate witch hunt, he’s also decided to say “who needs’ em? ” and start his own.

TRUTH was announced in October, with a limited beta planned for November before a full public propel in 2022. Immediately, dedicated internet pranksters found a test version of the site in the open and signed off for a slew of high-profile chronicles( including, naturally, donaldjtrump and mikepence ).( The donaldjtrump account had a profile picture of a defecating swine, for good measure .)

The test was quickly shut down, but not before it was revealed to be basically a Twitter clone lope on the open-source software Mastodon. But since TRUTH Social didn’t properly cite its consumption and didn’t share the source code with consumers, the area was in violation of Mastadon’s open-source license agreement.

TRUTH’S periods of service were also discovered, and we learned that it was essentially hoping to be protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which currently states that services like Twitter and even TRUTH aren’t responsible for what their useds announce. This shields companionships from drawback for the dreaded things those consumers might share.

We blissfully haven’t heard much about TRUTH Social since its devastating first few days in the public spotlight; the company missed the November beta launch date and there’s no updated information on when the promised full opening might happen. Located on these early clashes, it’s easy to call TRUTH Social a loser of 2021- but the citizens of the internet who didn’t have to deal with the horrifying reality of a Trump-backed social network are all certainly winners.

— Nathan Ingraham

A woman looks at a data chip containing encryption codes for mobile and landline phones at the booth of Secusmart during the CeBIT trade fair in Hanover March 8, 2014. The German company Secusmart is known for supplying German Chancellor Angela Merkel with a secure mobile phone. The world's biggest computer and software fair will be open to the public from March 10 to 14.  REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY - Tags: BUSINESS TELECOMS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)Wolfgang Rattay/ reutersGlobal chip supply

The rise in demand for PCs, gadgets and gondolas couldn’t keep up with the slow-paced creation in global chip supplying. That’s why it’s still tough to find a PlayStation 5 a year after its start, and why used car tolls going to go perfectly bonkers. This is our brand-new reality for the next few years, at least until microchip suppliers can ramp up production and start inventing up brand-new manufacturing seeds. Basically, be prepared to use all of your paraphernalium for a little longer without upgrading.

— Devindra Hardawar

Activision Blizzard

There are far too many storeys of sexual harassment and discrimination in the video game industry. Over the past few years, the two reports of systemic misogyny and insult have rained out of Riot Games, Ubisoft and many other studios large and small, and the problems date back decades.

Among all this scum, Activision Blizzard stands out as one of the worst.

Activision Blizzard was accused of fostering a culture of sexual harassment by California’s fair-employment agency in July, and multiple make-ups have since launched investigations into the studio, showing years of mismanagement in the process. Harmonizing to the California lawsuit, chairwomen at the studio prepared a frat house-style environment where sexual harassment was commonplace and gender discrimination was systemic. The exhibition employment agency found that all of Activision Blizzard’s top leadership berths were held by white adults, time 20 percent of all employees identified as women and reports of harassment were routinely ignored.

In December, an employee specified Christine went public with her know at Blizzard, saying she was inappropriately touched by male coworkers, propositioned for copulation by her supervisors and subjected to crude commentaries about their own bodies. After reporting the abuse to management, she said she was demoted and told to “get over it.”

Irvine, CA - July 28: Several hundred Activision Blizzard employees stage a walkout which they say is in a response from company leadership to a lawsuit highlighting alleged harassment, inequality, and more within the company outside the gate at Activision Blizzard headquarters on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Irvine, CA. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)Allen J. Schaben via Getty Images

Activision Blizzard’s response to these accusations has been regrettable. Back in July, CEO Bobby Kotick sent an email to employees dismissing the California lawsuit, but he indicated a female employee’s name to it. The response was roundly and vigorously praised, with works calling it “insulting” and “abhorrent.” Kotick give Frances Townsend, one of the few females executives at Activision Blizzard, take the heat for that character for months, losing her spot on the studio’s women’s network in the process. Publicly, Kotick called the email “tone-deaf.”

Blizzard head J. Allen Brack lost his job shortly after the lawsuit was entered, and Kotick offered a co-leadership role to Mike Ybarra and Jennifer Oneal, who became the first girl to hold a chairman entitle since the studio’s founding in 1979. Oneal left the company shortly after this publicity, apparently because she was being paid less than Ybarra, and she felt “tokenized, marginalized and discriminated against” at the studio.

Activision Blizzard employees have walked out multiple times this year, calling for a culture transformation. Major business partners, including PlayStation and Xbox, have said they’re reevaluating their relationships with the studio. Shareholders and media channels alike are calling for Kotick to resign.

At this detail, investors, works, psychoanalysts, major gaming companies and multiple government agencies agree that Activision Blizzard is a hotbed of discrimination and sexual harassment, and it’s in urgent need of restructuring. In his 30 years as CEO of Activision Blizzard, this is the closest Kotick has come to actually being deposed from his position of power.

From that tilt, it almost feels like a good year for the company. Almost.

— Jessica Conditt

A large red sign saying Miquel Benitez via Getty Images5G

I’m so disappointed with 5G. If, like me, you’ve watched the networking standard since at least 2014, you’ll likely agree. The promises about downloading feature film in seconds “re extremely” mainly advantages of mmWave technology , which as of today still hasn’t broadly went out. The sub-6 network that’s more widely available today on carriers like T-Mobile and AT& T offer a just striking rate increase, and the reported latency progress it was supposed to drawing haven’t been delivered in the real world.

Yes, the telecom industry did meet its target open date of 2020 for an initial rollout of the new standard. But 5G is still too confusing for the average consumer. Any time a company says in a briefing that a brand-new concoction is 5G-ready, a guaranteed follow-up question is “Does that aim sub-6 or mmWave? ” And with the recent addition of mid-band spectrum to the mix, the seams of compatibility are exclusively going to make things more tedious.

I’ve been more than forgiving in the last couple of years, but it’s been difficult to ignore the complete mess that is the state of 5G in the US today. Sure, we’ve had more pressing issues to deal with, but if shoppers are going to embrace the new standards( and to convince people to spend money for the privilege of 5G on their manoeuvres ), the industry needs to get its act together and either commit to a more coherent message or more consistent rollout.

— Cherlynn Low

Workers and large-scale tech

For a long time, is currently working on a tech monstrou like Google or Apple was an enviable position. But 2021 plucked back the screen a bit on some of these companies, disclosing deep-rooted issues with how employees are treated. While not everyone at these big companies may be dealing with sexual harassment or poverty-stricken working conditions( to reputation exactly a few issues ), the many employees speaking out across the industry are indicative of an underlying tendency that need to be confronted by tech’s most powerful leaders.

Amazon's warehouse facility DSD8 is shown in Poway, California, U.S., September 28, 2021. Picture taken September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Mike BlakeMike Blake/ reuters

Amazon’s poor treatment of its warehouse laborers is well-known, and reports persists in 2021. At the same time, the company pushed back hard-boiled against unionization efforts in Alabama. While the union drive was demolished in a elect, a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board recently ordered a new poll, effectively nullifying the results of the earlier one. The union had entered a formal dissent right after the election, and while there’s no oath on when a brand-new poll will take place, it’s clear that Amazon will be under intense scrutiny when it does. The same should contain if New York City Amazon proletarians regard a union vote; reports have indicated that could happen soon.

Apple workers also uncovered issues within the company this year. In late August, a call used to go for current and onetime employees to share storeys of discrimination, provocation and retaliation that they had knew. This led to the start of the #AppleToo website, where these tales are regularly published.

As Jess already explained in detail above, works at Activision Blizzard mouth up about a misogynistic culture abounding with sexual harassment, as well. Reports demonstrated male executives fondled female colleagues while other works joked about crime or neglected women for the purpose of publicities. The revealings have been so damning a lawsuit was filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment, though somehow Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick still has his job.

Google isn’t free from sin, either- works contributed a massive walkout back in 2018 around how it are dealing with sexual harassment( among other concerns ). It hasn’t dealt with things on the same scale as other companionships this year, but Google’s recent decision that it wasn’t raising pay to match inflation has no doubt irked proletarians. These are just a few high-profile specimen, but together they draw a pitch-dark picture of the environment at some of tech’s biggest corporations. Perhaps the only upside here is that these hopefully put pressure on those in charge to clean house and improve things as quickly as possible.

— N.I.


Meta didn’t even dedicate Oculus a proper funeral. Instead of a celebratory news edict, Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth propagandized out a quick post to announce that the Oculus brand was being retired. What a sad fate for a company instantly restrained to the rise of consumer VR.( But perhaps this was the best direction for Meta to separate itself from the legacy of Oculus’s contentious founder Palmer Luckey .)

— D.H.

A Blue Origin New Shepard rocket lifts off with a crew of six, including Laura Shepard Churchley, the daughter of the first American in space Alan Shepard, for whom the spacecraft is named, from Launch Site One in west Texas, U.S. December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Joe SkipperJoe Skipper/ reutersBlue Origin

2021 was a big year for the burgeoning private spacelift industry. Firsts were constituted, records was accomplished and billions of dollars value of authority contracts were awarded. It should have been a surefire win for all three of the industry’s guiding firms — SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin — but then one of them managed to repeatedly shoot itself in the proverbial bring strut more than the other two combined.

Now, that’s not to say Blue Origin didn’t enjoy its share of success this year. CEO Jeff Bezos put his fund where his oversized stetson is and made a historic trip out to the Karman line along with both the oldest( at least at that point) and youngest people to ever go into room. This past November, the company even won financial backing from NASA to help build out its bonkers Orbital Reef commercial space laboratory design.

However, those achievements were often marred by the company’s public pettiness and truculence. For instance, ahead of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic preparing its own historic first successful flight into space this past July, Blue Origin took to Twitter to talk a little rubbish. This is a little rich from the company that has reportedly become a poisonous workplace.

More embarrassing still was Bezos’ repeated, and eventually abortive, attempts to secure Blue Origin a lucrative NASA contract. See, back in April, NASA apportioned SpaceX a $2.9 billion( yes, with a B) Artemis lunar lander contract.

Blue Origin immediately demonstrated to the US Government Accountability Office( GAO) over NASA’s “fundamentally biased” decision against it, creating is currently working on the lunar program to a standstill until July, when the GAO kindly told Blue Origin to take its$ 2 billion and get out. Blue Origin did not.

Instead, the infinite promote fellowship redoubled down, suing NASA in open federal field, “in an attempt to alleviate the shortcomings in the acquisition process is located within NASA’s Human Landing System, ” per a Blue Origin representative in August. The tribunal was not at all persuaded and ruled against the plaintiffs, proving SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s jab true. Blue Origin really can’t sue its highway to the Moon.

— Andrew Tarantola

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft ultimately managed to make its Edge web browser a solid challenger to Chrome, Safari and Firefox by integrating the Chromium open source structure. And then, inexplicably, it began to pile on bloat, like a predatory “buy now compensate later” feature and cringey anti-Chrome notices. All of a sudden, Edge seems more like a room to catch and commodify its customers, instead of delivering a solid network event. It’s as if Microsoft procreated it harder to change your default browser in Windows 11 on purpose( thankfully, it’s testing out a simpler method, following spate of industry denunciation ).

— D.H.

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