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Friday, 10 May 2024 09:39

News Corp mantra: Google good, Facebook very bad Featured

News Corp mantra: Google good, Facebook very bad Image by Karen .t from Pixabay

News alert! Google has just renewed what News Corporation calls a "lucrative deal". Expect some unstinting praise about the search giant to appear in the august columns of The Australian over the next couple of weeks.

The Google money deal comes as News Corp releases its third-quarter results.

And Facebook? Boy, is that company in for more negative coverage. A report in The Australian about a Senate inquiry into the alleged societal damage wrought by Meta and other social media sites was headlined "Meta’s dangerous playbook to be exposed, as Labor establishes a committee to probe tech giant".

Of course, the Google deal renewal with News Corp has nothing to do with the merits of having the media giant as a partner. No, Google has serious business in Australia: it wants to try and boost its share of the Australian cloud market as well as its share of the take from digital advertising (which it already monopolises).

Plus, it is eager to try and capture at least a little more of the enterprise security market Down Under following initiatives announced at the RSA Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

The Australian's James Madden and Sophie Elsworth had a good time with the report on Meta, writing: "The decision by tech giant Meta to abandon payment-for-content deals with news outlets, and its failure to monitor publishing of harmful and illegal material on its social media platforms, will be the focus of a federal parliamentary inquiry.

"The Albanese Government will establish a joint parliamentary select committee to investigate the consequences of Meta walking away from its financial deals with news media companies, and the impact that decision will have on Australian society."

The Age had a slightly more sober take: "Labor is launching a parliamentary inquiry into social media at which MPs will grill tech executives about the impact of TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and X on mental health, public debates and Australian journalism, after Meta announced it would stop funding media companies for use of their articles."

But apart from some grumbling from pollies during such a hearing, what is the worst one can expect? Maybe Nick McKim will be there and he will theatrically threaten someone or the other with jail time. But the theatrics apart, what do the social media companies have to fear? If truth be told, absolutely nothing.

The ABC stands to lose a few millions and a whole lot of staff when Facebook does not re-sign. As former staffer Quentin Dempster wrote in Pearls and Irritations, the money from Facebook led to the ABC opening "its first bureau in Charleville added to 10 new locations: Batemans Bay, Warragul, Carnarvon, Hervey Bay, Gladstone, Whyalla, Northam, Swan Hill and Victor Harbour. The ABC also applied the new money to boost reporting numbers in nine existing bureaux in Horsham, Burnie, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Katherine, Esperence, Karratha, Longreach and Toowoomba".

All those staff will now face the axe. But the ABC is at least maintaining a dignified silence and not acting like the old man who shouts at the sky.

As I asked a few days back, one wonders when the Labor Government will try to level with the public and tell the masses that it is powerless to do anything to curb these companies. Why keep up this charade any longer?

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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