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How Newton’s Law Applies to Trust

Most of us no longer trust our society’s primary institutions

Zuck and Cook are throwing food, but they are highlighting an incredibly important point: trust

“Mark Zuckerberg has hit back at Tim Cook’s veiled criticism of Facebook’s data policies, saying the suggestion that his company did not care about its users was “extremely glib” and “not at all aligned with the truth”.

One of the most damaging long-term trends is that most of us no longer trust our society’s primary institutions or the people who lead them.

According to Pew research, only 4% of Americans have a great deal of confidence in business leaders. That’s terrible for business leaders, but not surprising. Many business leaders — like many politicians — have not earned our trust.

Although it is natural and necessary to blame business leaders, most business models — at least those of publicly-traded companies — simply do not prioritize building and maintaining trust. Indeed, as Equifax showed us, many businesses would rather pay — late and at a premium — for post-breach crisis management than do the hard work of building trust.

As this Apple-Facebook spat shows, the trust deficit is most acute as it relates to our data.

Apple makes money by selling devices and services. Facebook makes money through data-powered advertising. Both are* tech companies*, but they operate very different models.

As technology continues to connect the world, consumers and providers will have to reconcile this growing trust deficit. My hunch is that it will not happen organically; instead, new companies will make trust central to their platforms.

And Newton’s Third Law of Motion — that the world works through cycles of actions and reactions — will again result in creative destruction.