- Plunging stock prices and employee departures among tech companies could affect users.
- Experts say that you should expect fewer features and new products.
- Now is a good time to shore up the security of your software.
The tech world is faltering, and users might be affected along with stock prices.
Companies ranging from Amazon to Twitter are laying off staff. Experts say it may not be long before the products the companies sell become harder to find.
“Tech companies are going to be a lot more conservative with the features they release and maintain,” Zaven Nahapetyan, co-founder of Niche and a former member of Facebook’s Engineering Leadership team, told Lifewire in an email interview. “Many existing products are going to get cut due to personnel decreases and refocus on the bottom line.”
It’s not hard to find gloomy news in the tech world. Meta’s stock price is tanking, and Elon Musk’s recent takeover of Twitter has led to vast numbers of employees leaving.
Nahapetyan predicted that there would be less innovation from big tech companies, as teams would be less likely to pursue ideas that don't immediately make money.
Tech companies are going to be a lot more conservative with the features they release and maintain.
"There will absolutely be a negative impact on users, as companies use the various levers they have to get more money out of existing users—think showing more ads on a social media app or making it harder to share an account on a streaming service," he added.
The effects of a tech downturn may already be evident. Nahapetyan said that he's begun seeing more and worse ads on Instagram.
"I find myself reporting ads with inappropriate content more often than before," he said. "Quantity and quality of ads are easy parameters these companies can tweak in the short term to boost revenue, but ultimately end up hurting users and driving them away in the long term."
Matthew Ramirez, the head of Rephrasely, which makes AI content software, told Lifewire in an email that layoffs and stock plunges at tech companies have affected users of their products.
"For instance, a downturn in the market has led to a decrease in investment from venture capitalists and private equity firms, which in turn has resulted in a reduction in the number of startups being funded," he added. "This, in turn, has led to a reduction in the number of jobs available for those working in the tech industry. In addition, those who are fortunate enough to still have a job may find that their hours have been reduced or that they have been asked to take a pay cut."
A downturn could even lead to risks to your data, Craig Burland, the chief information security officer of the cybersecurity firm Inversion6 told Lifewire via email. He said that layoffs create animosity in the workforce.
"Animosity creates employees or contractors willing to take malicious action," Burland added. "Mass layoffs—especially those that are executed poorly—are a known cause of insider threat incidents. Coupled with the massive amount of user data stored in the cloud, this is a recipe for large breaches and abuse of user data."
You might want to consider how to protect yourself during a tech down. Burland said that users could protect themselves by enabling multi-factor authentication on their accounts to guard against their credentials being leaked. You should also check what information has been stored in the cloud and ask yourself whether you really want it stored online. He suggested you delete accounts that aren't used anymore and be on the lookout for news articles about incidents that may affect them.
Ramirez suggested you subscribe to email updates from the company to get updates as soon as they're available. Also, follow the company on social media if you don't already, so you can see updates there as well.
"If you're a customer of the company, reach out to their customer service team and ask for details on how the changes will impact you," he added. "You'll be surprised how willing companies are to share specifics with their customers."
For the most security, Nahapetyan said that you should seek alternatives to existing services and back up your data.
"It would not be unheard of for Meta or Google to sunset a feature that thousands or even millions of people depend on," he added. "Look for web3 alternatives to existing products, like Niche, that give people sovereignty over their own data, so that they're not at the mercy of big tech companies."