On Friday, press freedom and antitrust advocates derided Facebook and corporate media beneficiaries of the tech titan’s multimillion-dollar spending spree after reporting that the company was rethinking its investments in a context of increasing regulatory pressures and the abandonment of press partnerships.
“For years, Facebook has sucked advertising dollars out of newspapers and newsmagazines.”
The the wall street journal reports that Facebook in recent years has paid an average of more than $15 million annually to The Washington Postas well as $20 million for The New York Timesand more than $10 million in Log. The Log the deal is part of a larger $20 million deal.
“For years, Facebook has sucked advertising money from newspapers and newsmagazines,” Barry Lynn, executive director of anti-monopoly watchdog group Open Markets, said in a statement.
“Just as the U.S. government began looking for solutions to this problem, Facebook struck a murky multi-million dollar deal with America’s most influential newspapers, ostensibly as part of an effort to end regulation and continue to siphon off ad dollars unhindered,” he said. added.
According to “people familiar with the matter” interviewed by the Logit’s unclear whether Facebook will continue its deals with media companies as Meta, the social platform’s parent company, shifts its investments from news to “products that appeal to creators” and the Metaverse.
The Log also cites Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s disappointment with “regulatory efforts around the world to force platforms like Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to pay publishers for any news content available on their platforms.” .
Facebook was so angered by a 2021 Australian law forcing major online platforms to pay publishers for links to local news that it temporarily imposed a blackout on Australian media, a move condemned by groups such as Access Now and Amnesty International.
Lynn said, “So it’s not entirely surprising to learn that Facebook wants to remove these payments, which clearly haven’t provided the regulatory protection that Facebook expected.”
It’s surprising that the public is only now learning the details of Facebook’s payments to America’s biggest newspapers, three years after the fact. Facebook should absolutely pay for the news it shares on its platform. But the American people also need full transparency about all agreements between publishers who report the news and the tech giants we expect them to cover honestly and critically.
The Open Markets Institute is calling on news publishers to immediately disclose the amounts and terms of all their agreements with Big Tech, including any renewed agreements with Facebook and existing agreements with Google. We cannot allow our free press to be captured by technological monopolies. They already wield far too much power and pose serious threats to our democracy.
Open Markets also called the Time, Joband Log to “work constructively with Congress to ensure that the Journalism Preservation and Competition Act lays the foundation for a truly fair marketplace designed to ensure strong advertising support for every newspaper in the United States, not just the a few dominant players”.
Introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in February, the bill “creates a four-year safe harbor from antitrust laws for print, broadcast, or digital media companies to bargain collectively with online content distributors (e.g., social media news companies) regarding the conditions under which content from news companies may be distributed by online content distributors.”
Google and Facebook have also been criticized for limiting traffic to progressive and independent news sites, many of which are struggling to survive amid relentless corporate consolidation.
“This is a classic example of the rich getting richer,” Jody Brannon, director of the Center for Journalism & Liberty, a program at the Open Markets Institute, said in a statement. “Facebook collects most digital ad dollars from stories by local journalists, so why can’t smaller newsrooms raise even fractions of those millions to better cover their communities?”
The Log The report comes as digital rights group Fight For the Future launches an “Antitrust Summer” campaign aimed at strengthening federal legislation to crack down on Big Tech monopolies.