It’s time to break Big Tech’s media monopoly
It’s no secret that Big Tech’s news and information monopoly has created a big problem for news publishers and content creators across the United States.
Google News, Facebook News, and similar news aggregation sites drive significant traffic to their respective sites by presenting a continuous stream of links to articles from thousands of publishers.
These aggregation websites are, in turn, able to monetize their own advertising and related products – and are able to do so without fairly paying publishers for their material. As a result, the publishing industry has been on life support for over a decade.
In order to make our information and information industry both fairer and stronger, the United States must strengthen our antitrust laws and crack down on these monopolies. With financial pressures on local newspapers being what they are, it is essential that media entities that own newspapers receive fair and adequate compensation for their content so that they can continue to provide a vital service to their communities.
This should involve setting stricter standards for the use of content and providing a legal basis for news publishers to be able to bargain collectively with these online platforms without fear of their content being excluded from the platform.
Indeed, despite the enormous income that Google and Facebook are able to generate due to their monopoly on news and information – as these digital platforms are the main source of information for 86 percent Americans – current copyright and antitrust law in the United States does not impose compensation on publishers. It also does not provide a real legal basis for news publishers to bargain collectively with these online platforms.
It doesn’t have to be. Cable operators, who were once in a similar situation with networks, pay networks for their content after not having done it before.
Note, in October 2020, the parent company of Google Alphabet created a platform, Google Showcase, which is Alphabet’s $ 1 billion investment in financial partnerships with newspaper publishers. Yet the terms of compensation are set by Alphabet, not the government or a third-party arbitrator, which still leaves publishers and creators subject to Alphabet’s terms and price.
Certainly, if these Big Tech conglomerates refuse to act in any meaningful way, the federal government and Congress must.
Since 2018, Congress has continuously circulated a bipartisan antitrust bill to address this issue, which has just been reintroduced by Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharFTC Reshuffles Facebook Antitrust Trial After Initial Setback Biparty group of lawmakers calls on Biden to guarantee journalists safe passage to Afghanistan Hillicon Valley: Senators want answers on Amazon’s biometric data collection | House members issue accompanying bill targeting app stores | Google files to dismiss the Ohio PLUS lawsuit (D-Minn.) And John kennedyJohn Neely KennedyPLUS (R-La.). The law on competition and the preservation of journalism would create a more level playing field by allowing publishers to bargain collectively with online content distributors like Alphabet and Facebook.
Positively, it is in the realm of the possible that we will soon see progress. At Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission – now headed by Great Tech Critic Lina khanLina KhanFTC revamps Facebook antitrust lawsuit after initial Hillicon Valley setback: Feds set to reveal new strategy in Facebook’s antitrust fight Senators call for FTC investigation into Tesla’s autopilot function MORE – in a new complaint alleging that Facebook is an illegal monopoly, and accusing the social media company of buying potential competitors – WhatsApp and Instagram – or of blocking their access to the platform.
And over the past few months there have been many antitrust hearings in Congress in which CEOs of companies like Alphabet and Facebook were asked about their tactics of essentially bullying competitors into accepting buyouts or being destroyed.
Note, there is precedent in other countries for antitrust actions in court. In January 2021, the French competition authority fined Alphabet following the adoption of a pan-European copyright reform which required platforms to pay for snippets of published content, or face copyright infringement lawsuits.
Alphabet initially responded by no longer showing the French-published excerpts with the links until a French competition watchdog takes the case to court. Alphabet lost the appeal and was forced to negotiate compensation to French publishers.
Ultimately, Alphabet and Facebook brought $ 182 billion and almost $ 86 billion, respectively, in revenue in 2020. Meanwhile, the news publishing industry – which Facebook and Google News have been able to tap into – has been stable decline for over a decade.
As the world of news and information continues to change, antitrust and antimonopoly laws must evolve with it.
And if companies like Alphabet and Facebook fail to recognize this by making significant changes to their practices – which they have not done so far – the federal government must urgently intervene to do so. of news and information a freer and fairer industry.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political consultant who served as an advisor to President Clinton and the 2020 presidential campaign of Michael bloombergMichael Bloomberg Democrats can continue to rack up victories by uniting progressives and moderates. upcoming budget package PLUS. His new book is “The End of Democracy? Russia and China on the rise and America on the retreat.