What Facebooks spat with Australia means for Canada
Hi damon fareless host of hunting warhead from. Cbc podcasts in. The norwegian newspaper fiji hunting. Warhead follows a global team of police and journalists says the attempt to dismantle a massive network of predators on the dark web winner of the grand prize for best investigative reporting the new york festivals and recommended by the guardian culture and the globe in mail. You can find hunting warhead on. Cbc listen or wherever you get your podcasts. This is a cbc podcast. Facebook news terrible. Actually i think this facebook it seems to be a catcher and i can get all of my news in the one spot so it would really impact me crazy. I'm software developers. President it to see how that the band is actually affecting other sites that are getting crash. Cable were just revolt against like honestly like i especially the younger generation they would just be chaos australian. Facebook users are not pleased when they woke up to a blank news. Feed the social media giant blocked all news content from its platform in that country. The move in response to a dispute with the government over new legislation that would require facebook to negotiate paying. News outlets for links. Terry flew is a professor of digital communication and culture at the university of sydney. He's in brisbane. Terry hello as you can hear. users Facebook users not particularly pleased with what facebook did in australia. What do you make of this. I mean people have said that this is in some ways the nuclear option to shut down new sharing in australia. What do you make of that. Okay well i think he it comes at the independence bena three eight process of reviewing the market pair of digital platforms and seemed picked on news media. Industries sent journalism in australia and Google is well facebook campaign critical of the code But this week we are very important village and seeing that google announced to series of partnerships with News publishes australia whereas facebook has sought to completely extricate us from its Sites which is your introduction indicated has generated a massive degree of over blocking of everything for a mom public health sought to domestic ball and saw its today website of the homepage of the strang. Cancelling trade unions two hundred and fifty organizations is being much collateral damage in this. What is. I gave the thumbnail. Sketch there but just briefly. What's this legislation. That would push facebook to this point to take this kind of action okay well. The legislation argues that in order to redress the unequal bargaining power between the major platforms particularly put to google and facebook and individual. News publishes that they should be a pro se. Swayed by value is put on news two sides and they saw some form of payment to denise providers that a makes the costs of producing news based on those Inefficient derived from The availability of professionally produced us on they sought and so the publishers felt as though they were being denied revenue because of the presence of not just facebook. But google as well well in australia. In many countries there is a crisis of journalism that About thirty percent of journalism jobs have been lost in the last five years and over one hundred titles closed in twenty twenty and they feel and the triple say was in some agreement that the unequal stage of the digital advertising market continues to work against them and while There is some scope to make those costs through subscriptions at the sign. Todd a there is an element of a frenemy relationship between the publishes an platforms and view is taken by both the triple c. And the government that this is reflective of couponing between the entities. Let's talk more about that as you say frenemy relationship. William eastern is the managing director of facebook for australia and new zealand. Take a listen to what he says about. this legislation. News publishes choose to post. News on facebook allows allows them to sell more. Subscriptions grow their businesses and increase advertising revenue last year facebook actually generated five point one billion free organic website referrals to australian publishes estimated four hundred and seven million dollars and from side of things. This little misunderstands this relationship. Does facebook have a point there. I mean if it helps outlets bring in more subscriptions and advertising dollars should it be paying for the content that ends up often posted by those own news outlets themselves. Will certainly it has opened up noten distribution app late and there are up ticket. Demographics most notably younger demographics largely Get the get the news from facebook. I think there's need to back somewhat from that. Which is to beware of the extinct. Twitch old oganization not just news organizations are increasingly dependent upon these platforms that they constitute the infrastructure of communication and as such very vulnerable to decisions made within those organizations which are of course also competing with them for advertising. I think we should be clear about that. These are not simply intermediaries they Commercial competitors and the aggregation of data from multiple sources has given them very substantial market power. What is this all going to mean for. Australians who use facebook to find out the news. I mean as you mentioned. There's collateral damage here. It's not just. The news feeds that have been knocked out of this but but there are other in the midst of a pandemic other vital health pieces of information that have been knocked out as well. So what is this going to mean for those. Australians who use facebook to get news the the first Vaccines covid nineteen. Vaccines arrive in australia in the coming week. And so they will be a mess vaccination program now. What we're aware of is that there is a degree vaccine. His didn't in australia and Facebook has long had issues around The circulation misinformation here. And so the the real risk that you have here. Is that in the absence of professionally produced it tori lee curated news content of any sold on facebook that it will be misinformation and fake news run rampant and it seems to me that this is the worst time for facebook to remove all professionally produced news content because the consequences can potentially guy way beyond news businesses and facebook that We are facing a potential infidel. Macaire and facebook's behavior has been deeply on accountable in that regard and so there are a lot of people who say see. This is an example of these companies being too powerful and there needs to be some effort taken whether it's deregulation or other steps to rein them in is. Is that a sign of that need. Do you think well one view of disease that this is a preemptive struck that australia is relatively small market power. And that if you can demonstrate that you bring the australian info sphere to its knees that will provide a warning to other countries and we know that canada for instance is one of a number of countries considering a comparable code and i think there is a very strong backlash this weather. It will matter in terms of facebook's advertising or use the base remains to be seen the think it's a cautionary tale for a country like canada. You know that would be wanting to predation and the The i c i would. Facebook has been has been presenting that few. But i think there's there's also a an opposite reaction which is to say well if the country lock is strategic kant introduced regulations on a company like facebook at this stage of its aleutian. It indicates that they sa- foreign companies. That have a degree not on the if market power but political power which undermines the democratic process. We wouldn't accept in other industries we wouldn't banking and finance is a complex global industry. But would we accept the proposition that they foreign banks and not subject to regulation by national governments. Because you know to do so might you know. Disrupt break the into nato break finance. Whatever we don't we haven't we haven't for some time. And i think we have seen a series of recurring scandals around platform such as facebook that have generated What's being described as the ticklish in the expectation that national governments have the obligation to their citizens and the sovereign rights To bring bring regulation forward that Brings of social responsibility and accountability to directions. Good speak with you about this. Thank you very much. thank you terry. Flew is a professor of digital communication and culture at the university of sydney. He was in brisbane australia. Canada has condemned facebook's decision to block new sharing on its platform in australia. Candidates heritage minister. Stephen gibo says yesterday that facebook's actions are highly irresponsible and compromise the safety of many australian people. Meanwhile some canadian media companies have been pushing for compensation rules similar to those in australia. Dwayne win sec is a professor at the school of journalism and communication at carleton university and director of the canadian media. Concentration research project to in good morning to you. Good morning. the world is watching this Australia has described. It's it's bargaining code as world leading. Facebook react strongly and deploys as people have said the nuclear option. Do you think that this is a cautionary tale for canada. I think it is. I think terry Flew your previous guests there. summed up some of the Concerns there. I mean we are at a time when governments around the world have been searching for a new model of internet regulation and australia has kind of stepped out in front on this and the extent to which google and facebook have been fighting this tooth and nail understandably of course also raises some particular questions they companies do claim that they are in favor of this new generation of internet regulation but anytime anything concrete is put in front of them. They ever So the australian case provides a cautionary lesson about just how far they will go who here in. This country has been lobbying for similar rules in the compared to. What's going on in austrailia. Yeah well i think we have a couple of sources the most important ones are the media companies themselves and in particular the ones representing the major press groups news media canada. You know they've been On a campaign now for several years. It's had several manifestations a few think tanks like the public policy forum has swung in behind them. I would say all with a very questionable and even dubious research to back them up They do have the ear of the minister. And policymakers and i think they are setting the policy agenda. Let me start. Let me stop you there. You say that the it's questionable dubious campaign that was launched earlier this month. The number of newspapers left their front pages blank to protest the dominance of facebook and google in their markets. The true son was part of that campaign. Take listen to the editor of the sun. Adrienne batra we up against these two big walls and google and facebook and the two big tech giants who are using their platforms to use our to showcase our work. We get zero compensation for that. So while they're collecting nearly eighty percent of the digital ad. Revenue that you see because we know now of course most people get their news content digitally and as we catch up to that. We are way far behind in terms of the plane. The plainfield being level with respect to the ad revenue. And that's where we're we're getting hammered and we're we're losing jobs because of it and and frankly you know. Democracy is affected when there isn't proper journalists. what is questionable in dubious about that line of thinking. Dwayne well the the argument that the aren't getting odd compensated for the traffic that comes to their Sites by way of google and facebook is simply untrue. the point about whether or not The relationship between them and one finance is fair and balanced Is adequate is a fair question. the citation to the data's quite interesting they point to this eighty percent figure in the figures actually comes from my research site at once in the news media canada's leveling the playing field report Last fall but now. They use it in all their campaigns without citations. Hope they're concerned about the use of news and information without proper attribution. It's kind of an irony that they themselves are waging a campaign based on this point is i mean beyond that that these companies have come in and and eating their lunch that whether it's online advertising or just market dominance that that has left We've seen it. We've seen newspapers across the country and around the world shut down And and the point that's being made as this affects the business but it also affects democracy. Yeah and i. the relationship. Between journalism and democracy i think is fundamental We don't have a robust and vibrant democracy without a free and robust press. Well there's there's no moral on that. I think the problem with the evidence here both in canada and in australia. Is that the plight of the news. Media in both countries far predates the rise of google and facebooks to their market Dominating position they begin to lose circulation in the late. Nineteen eighty s early nineteen nineties revenues kind of plateau at the end of the nineteen nineties. And stay there And they begin to plummet around two thousand six two thousand seven with the legs really kicked out from underneath them with the financial crisis which precipitates a drop in advertising. And i think this is one of the things about the australian case is its own Research for the digital platforms inquiry shows. That have that advertising spending in the country today is lower than it was in two thousand and eight and it also that newspaper revenue. Not country started to drop in two thousand and six so blaming google and facebook for the plight of the news media. I think is disingenuous. But the real problem. Here of this market dominance of the online advertising Arena in what the australian bill tries to do. I think has many good things to commend it. Just much of the case. I think is is very questionable. We asked facebook canada to speak with us today. They wouldn't And couldn't make anybody available but sent us a statement that reads in part. We believe there are other options to support news in canada that will more fairly benefit publishers of all sizes and recognize the value that platforms bring to news organizations. We stand ready to collaborate on these complex issues. Have companies like facebook. Got governments and The media industry in a bit of a bind if they can't publish Those news sources anymore The creates a void in some ways and governments. Don't want that certainly the media companies. Don't want that. So i is this. Has it left those companies and governments in some ways in a bit of a squeeze you know. I think what we have to look at Here because governments are trying to do. And i thank god minister g ball on. This is actually dead right When he says you know the time for voluntaristic philanthropic activities by google or facebook is passed now. What we're looking for is is kind of new era of concrete formal regulatory requirements and. I think this is where we need to go. And the australians are blazing the way they tried to do that in. Australia and now news isn't being published on facebook in the midst of a public health crisis right and i think this is rebounded on facebook really really badly and you show that at the opening of your show and that position is going to become untenable as other countries pursue a similar measure so maybe facebook can do this out in austria australia But what about and again. This is coming from Gabose office You know what about when. Canada germany france The uk And others Do this and this matters up in the united states as well In a number of different areas so that may be a short term measure. It's not doing facebook any any good on the public policy front or its public image and it won't work around the world so what could be done better here in canada than to ensure that public interest journalism survives but also the end result. Is that you know canadians. Have access to credible trustworthy information particularly in a crisis. Like we're in right now. So i think what we could do as we could take. We could cherry pick the good bits from the australian model and try to get rid of the bad bits. So take the good bids from the australian model. I think is first and foremost to recognize. The government has a role that we need a formalized recovery regime and to take the crown jewel from the australian model. Which basically is this idea that the google's and facebook's of the world must carry a designated range of australian news services and that the news services themselves get a fourteen day heads up notice of any major changes that the platforms are going to take. That could up Their business gives the regulator a peek behind Or under the hood of facebook and google algorithm so that they have an understanding of how these things work and the whole online ad system is understood to be ribbon with essentially fraudulent data Upon which Audiences are bought and sold and what the australian model would do basically open up this whole system to a regulated audit. This would be good. And if i could just one lasting known what we have to really do is go beyond the australian model because what it basically does is it says. Facebook and google has all of this model they've harvested through the surveillance. Capitalism business model. That drives these things and now what we should do. Spread the fruits. The spoils of surveillance capitalism model wider. And give on the news media companies A bigger slice of the big data pie. I think this is a really terrible idea. That's at the heart of the australian model instead. What we need to be talking about minimizing the collection of data in adopting strong data and privacy protection. Two trillion doesn't do that. It's good to speak with you about this. Thank you very much thank you. Matthew duane new insect is the professor at the school of journalism and communication at carleton university. In auto your thoughts on this welcome you can reach us through email. The current at cbc dot c. For more cbc podcasts. Go to cbc dot ca slash podcasts.