At a glance.
- CISA announces a "new global strategy for international engagement."
- Facebook and Australian policy: updates and reactions.
CISA goes global.
- "Advancing operational cooperation;
- "Building partner capacity;
- "Strengthening collaboration through stakeholder engagement and outreach; and
- "Shaping the global policy ecosystem."
Facebook and Australia dance to the tune of economic, legal, and ethical quandaries.
The relationship among online platforms, media, and governments remains complicated, and is growing more so, as events in Australia indicate.
Following Facebook’s Australian news blackout, Computing notes that traffic to Aussie outlets is down roughly thirty percent, and that London, Ottawa, Paris, and New Delhi have extended their condolences. One point of contention, which the New York Times details, is the disabling of Government and welfare content. Facebook said it used a “broad definition” of news in an attempt to follow an ambiguous law, while preserving access to “dedicated information hubs,” and promised to reinstate pages that were mistakenly blocked.
Platformer calls Canberra’s “shakedown” “rotten” and reports that critics are terming Facebook’s response “a vile act of censorship, unchecked greed, and destruction of the public sphere.” The author thinks Facebook made the right choice in not capitulating and hopes people turn to better sources than social media for news. He worries that any funds collected under the new law may not go towards journalism anyway, and fears “Australian crony capitalism” will soon be “exported worldwide,” rendering media further beholden to Big Tech.
While (immoderately) calling Facebook a “terrible, terrible company,” Techdirt maintains that its latest move should have taken none by surprise, since the company announced its plans five months ago, and should in fact be a cause for celebration, since many profess to be unhappy with Facebook’s sway in the news industry. The author compares forcing a platform to host and pay for links to requiring an outlet to run and pay for ads. He explains that taxes are “a tool to get less of something,” claiming the link tax worked as economists would expect. Framing the battle as “Rupert Murdoch v. the open web,” he makes the case that onlookers would be upset even if Facebook gave in, since the result would be bankrolling the Murdoch “empire,” and sounds the alarm over giving outlets priority access to platforms’ daily algorithm edits.
Benedict Evans takes on outlets’ argument that Big Tech stole their revenue, and they’re entitled to a cut, claiming the news media’s “oligopoly of attention” was overthrown in the Internet age, and the reign of Google and Facebook has little to do with old patterns. Small to mid-sized businesses, which seldom bought news ads, drive Big Tech revenue. Those that advertised in newspapers, like realtors and furniture firms, now look to Zillow and Amazon. Outlets want to characterize the contest as an issue of monopoly power, but Evans thinks the proposed remedy is properly understood as a tax or subsidy, emphasizing that linking is free as a rule, and if it shouldn’t be, then all links should be paid. (He acknowledges, however, that laws needn’t be coherent.) Evans worries that subsidies incentivize dependency and paying for traffic incentivizes the worst kind of content (clickbait).
Bloomberg reports that the bill in question continues apace, but Australia-Zuckerberg talks are in progress, noting that Facebook is the primary source of news for nearly twenty percent of Aussies.
(So what still gets through? The extraterrestrial-a-phobes over at the New York Times lament that you can still get stories about space aliens from Facebook, even down under. They say it like that's a bad thing.)