🎧 Facebook and the news: should the divorce be permanent? (The Minefield)

Listened Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg continue talks as Australia stands firm on proposed media laws from ABC News

The Prime Minister says the government will not respond to Facebook’s threats, urging the company to “come back to the table” and continue negotiations over the news media code.

In response to Facebook’s decision to temporarily remove all news in Australia, Waleed Aly, Scott Stevens and Belinda Barnet investigation whether if it is even right for news organisations to depend upon Facebook as the modern form of distribution in the first place. Aly actually praised Facebook’s decision as a ‘brief relief from the tyranny of pragmatism’. The problem raised is that Facebook is not a model that is moral. As a platform, it showcases media all together, which subsequently ends up lowering the value of everything on there. They investigate whether it is a better outcome for people to seek news elsewhere, rather be at the peril of algorithms and the shareablility of content. The concern is that this is all beyond regulation when the platform capitalists get the data and content for free.

In other reporting on the situation, Nicholas Stuart suggests that this decision only confirms Facebook’s dominant role:

Facebook wanted a deal, but only one that left it in control. Sure, they preferred not to gift money to anyone, particularly slow media behemoths that can’t even get their distribution model right. But Zuckerberg can live with this, because the government’s cemented his role. Facebook’s now driving the media jalopy.

Adding to this, Alex Hern suggests that until the technology sector change their approach, we are going to have more calls to “regulate us, just not like that”

Like all industries, tech has its shadow lobbying groups, it secretly funds its think tanks and so on. But, unlike others, the tech industry has focused firmly on that core pro-regulation message. “We want to be regulated; we want new laws that cover us; we’re not like the Other Industries, we’re cool and likeable”.

Except that message fails, because it’s coming from an industry that simply cannot accept that regulation is driven, first and foremost, by a desire to limit the harms caused by that industry – harms which the industry can’t even be convinced exist.

In other words, we’re going to see this more in the future. Until tech changes its view of regulation from something that offloads blame to something that prevents harm, that cycle – “Regulate us! No not like that” – will continue.

While Cory Doctorow argues the real focus is not links, but the ad market.

This vertical integration is the source of confusion about whether this is a link-tax. The goal of the regulation is to clean up the ad markets, but Googbook use links as a stick to beat up publishers when they don’t submit to corrupt ad practices, so links get implicated.

Doctorow suggests that the another approach to the problem is adversarial interoperability and adjusting the control that companies like Facebook have on our data and attention.

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