The New Providers on the Block: How Big Tech Have Seized Covid19 as an Opportunity to Ascertain Power

The Covid-19 crisis has brought profound changes in every aspect of life. This paper looks at the post-Covid world as an opportunity, arguing that Covid-19 constituted an ideal event for Big Tech to ascertain power and obtain a new type of legitimacy in the global sphere.
The work conducts a case analysis of these companies in a structured manner looking at three dimensions of the pandemic: i) health disinformation, by looking at the impact of Facebook/Twitter on the regulation of free speech; ii) financial support to communities, analyzing Facebook’s recovery fund and Google’s advertisement credit program; iii) the control of digital app markets, analyzing how Google and Apple exercised their power in shaping health tracing apps.
The clash of legitimacies, between classic public power and digital private communities, will be discussed as the single most important feature of a post-Covid world, whereby communities start to gradually rely on Big Tech to address public needs.