App Development and Ethics at the Crossroads Post-Election

January 2, 2017 - 2 minutes read

In the past five years, the effects of the app economy on the social and financial structure of America has grown far beyond what anyone expected. The Ubers and AirBnBs of the app store have revolutionized how we rent, buy, and even think about property. Social networks like Facebook have connected us in ways we never foresaw, making billionaires in the process — while lowering earning potential for others. What’s more, the changes are far from over, as NYC app developers predict that artificial intelligence and the “Internet of Things” could drive a social upheaval greater than the industrial revolution.

What makes the mobile revolution different from the industrial one, however, is that techies on the whole are deeply involved in examining the crossroads between tech and ethics. Events over the past election cycle have drawn even more eyes to the issue of tech ethics, as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg found himself at the center of a debate about the role of social media and news congregators in creating and cementing “echo chambers” of political thought.

While Zuckerburg still denies the claims that echo chambers on their mobile app could have swayed the election results one way or the other, they are undeniably taking steps to address whatever effect they do have. Flagging potential fake news distributed on the site is just one step in the process. It remains to be seen how algorithm changes could push more dissenting and diverse opinions into our newsfeeds in 2017.

Facebook isn’t the only group of app developers with a newfound respect for the importance of tech in shaping social thought. Startups across the board have filled the likes of Medium and LinkedIn with thought pieces on the subject, and even before the surprise election result tech employees were among the most outspoken supporters of challenging the political and economic status quo.

One thing’s for certain: iPhone app developers are not as far into the “echo chamber” as some pundits would assume. Here’s predicting that 2017 will be an inspiring year for tech-driven social change, equality, and positive impact digital products.

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