News – PH – Facebook vs. Australia – Canadian media could be the next target for a ban


Professor, École des médias, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Apporte des Fonds en tant que membre Fondateur de The Conversation CA-FR

The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) is concerned with improving the conversational CA

Shortly after Facebook posted news from its platform in Australia, I spent an hour on the phone with Kevin Chan, Public Policy Officer at Facebook, Inc, in Canada

He told me that he is “working really hard to prevent this result in Canada”In other words, if Ottawa follows Australia and puts forward a bill that forces tech giants to share revenue with the news business, Facebook would drop the A-bomb on Canadian journalism, too.

Chan would prefer to work out partnerships with Canadian journalism.He said Facebook had allocated $ 10 million to various news projects over the past four years. He promised, “We will do a lot more in 2021″” But don’t stick a gun to our head, he basically said, otherwise we will fight back

I actually share many of Chan’s views. Here’s One Last fall, the lobby group representing the news industry in Canada released a report on the leveling of the digital playing field claiming that a law similar to Australia would be in Canada Raising $ 620 million a year It also says “such an avenue would offset much of our decline in sales,” which means that the web giants advertising dollars are somehow diverting from the news business

That premise is wrong. What actually happened is that Google and Facebook adapted the business model that helped older media thrive in the analog age, when print and airwaves ruled the world, much better adapted to the digital age

A quote from the Washington Post Company’s 1972 annual report sums it up well: “… a quality product for our audience and a quality audience for our advertisers …” Newspapers and broadcasters were attention-grabbers They were spectacularly staged by the web giants / p>

Four out of five dollars that Google makes is advertising dollars. On Facebook, it’s 98 percent! In 2020, their advertising revenue was an impressive $ 310 billion worldwide, including $ 7 billion in Canada alone

While I applaud their success, Google and Facebook, in turn, have to acknowledge that part of that success rests on the shoulders of others The attention with which they sell ads is generated in part by news content I asked Chan how much “zero”, he replied. The value to Facebook is on the social link “It is not true that news is of value to Facebook”

And this is where we part. In the journal About Journalism, Tristan Mattelard playfully documented how Facebook wooed news organizations to gain high quality content on its burgeoning platform

Last fall, I estimated 5.3 percent of Facebook ad revenue between Jan 1, 2018 and 30 June 2020 was generated thanks to news content I have been repeating the exercise for the past few weeks, but with a larger sample of 19 million posts, 2020 were posted on Facebook pages managed in Canada

There’s a lot of news on Facebook Almost 20 percent of all posts in my sample came from media sites, from CTV News to the Lake Cowichan Gazette.But news is Facebook’s broccoli It leads to far fewer interactions than the viral content that normally appears on the platform can be found

Only 73 percent of the total interactions in my sample came from media sites.I apply that more reasonable percentage to Facebook’s advertising revenue to estimate that Mark Zuckerberg’s company made $ 210 million in 2020 thanks to Canadian journalism / p>

I confirm that this number is an incomplete estimate It is based on the little data Facebook gives researchers access to. But it is the least imperfect. When asked by a journalist at La Presse, Chan said my methodology was based on “wrong” Hypotheses “what makes my” conclusions wrong “

Chan told me that Facebook isn’t selling ads with content. More interactions don’t mean more money. I get this: reading an article by Le Devoir three times doesn’t bring more ad dollars a Facebook sells eyeballs

Those eyeballs, however, are turning to Facebook in part for what is going on in their community, province, and country.On that in mind, I don’t think news has any value to Facebook Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president for global Operations, wrote in 2013: “People come to Facebook not only to see and talk about what is happening to their friends, but also to read the news and discover what is going on in the world around them“My emphasis)

Platforms sense the heat and react with a carrot or a whip Google has chosen the carrot strategy and signed a deal with News Corp, Australia’s largest publisher. They are also actively working on similar partnerships with Canadian media, a publisher from Québec that I spoke to told me that the deals start in the summer of 2021 and could convert to “millions” of dollars

But it’s a poisoned carrot. What guarantee do we have that such partnerships will continue without a legal framework? In the fine print of those deals, I saw a clause that mentioned that Google could pull the plug with a 90 day written notice

There is a huge imbalance in power here.On the one hand, two international companies with combined revenues slightly above New Zealand’s GDP in 2020.On the other hand, the media is being read by Canadians like never before – is on the websites of the news publishers visitor numbers increased 80 percent between 2017 and 2020 – but their revenues continue to rise despite their success. They are at a disadvantage if they ask Facebook to transfer some of the revenues from Canadian journalism

The Australian approach aims to correct this imbalance The conflict between Canberra and the platforms is a historic battle between public and private interest Public interest is one of the core values ​​of journalism I always tell my journalism students, “You work in different Organizations, but they all work for the public ”

Asking Facebook to share its earnings is not an attack on the internet Recall that in 2010 Tim Berners-Lee warned us that Facebook’s “walled garden” is a recipe for abuse Century to a problem of the 21 Century to solve It is a legal requirement to support an institution working in the public interest

Facebook’s move in Australia is an abuse of private power to counter a public body acting in the public interest. If there was any reason for Canada to follow Australia’s lead, it would be

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News – PH – Facebook vs. Australia – Canadian media could be the next target for a ban
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