Some have seen Australia’s efforts to impose a mandatory code of conduct on mammoths such as Facebook or Google as a turning point for the Internet, the media and even a stake for democracy.
But it is also a power struggle between the barons of the traditional media and those of the digital sector. And Australian tech billionaire Cannon-Brookes described Australia’s willingness to pay for social media as a “robbery”.
The bill that would force tech giants Facebook and Google to negotiate with media companies and pay for social media content is indeed signed by the government, but some experts believe they see the trail of News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch here.
“It’s been over a decade since this cause was dear to our company,” admits News Corp CEO Robert Thomson, who says the initiative has “unshakable support” from the Australian tycoon.
“A huge wave”
“For many years, we have been accused of fighting the digital windmills. But what was a solitary campaign, a chimerical search, has become a huge wave that will benefit both journalism and society.”
It has been decades since the billionaire born south of Melbourne, and whose group controls Fox News, The Sun or Sky News Australia, has exerted a strong political influence in the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia.
It controls two-thirds of the daily press in Australia’s major cities and even has a monopoly in Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin.
But the empire of the 89-year-old tycoon has helplessly witnessed the rise of giants such as Facebook and Google, which extract advertising revenue crucial to the profitability of the entities it owns.
Of the $ 100 advertising spending currently made by Australian companies, 49 go to Google and 24 to Facebook, according to the Australian Competition Authority.
“For the Benefit of News Corp.”
“Let’s not delude ourselves, this (code of conduct) was deliberately developed for the benefit of a small number of companies, such as News Corp. and others,” said Lucie Krahulcova of Digital Rights Watch.
A first version of the bill even excluded the public group ABC – which has long been opposed by Murdoch’s media and the Conservative camp – from the list of beneficiaries of payments from Google and Facebook.
Former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, critical of Murdoch, told MPs in Canberra on Friday that the bill aims to solve the problems of tech giants’ domination by “consolidating the weight of an existing monopoly, Murdoch’s “.
“Everyone is afraid of Murdoch,” he said.
All? Not to Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg, who retaliated last week by announcing he would not give in to News Corp.’s demands. and the Australian average.
Instead of looking for a compromise like Google, Zuckerberg pulled out heavy artillery and decided to block news content for Australian netizens.
The result: as of Thursday, Australians can no longer share links to news sites and the pages of the Australian press can no longer be viewed via Facebook.
Enormous political weight
Half a century later, the dates when Murdoch and Zuckerberg were born are separated. But, although the two men belong to radically different eras, they also have points in common.
It is about their enormous political weight and the criticism that this influence arouses.
And it’s not the first time the two have clashed.
Murdoch’s efforts to enter the social media business ended in a fiasco when he bought the MySpace social network in 2005, resold at a loss a few years later, while Facebook continues to grow.
If we were to believe the Wired site, the two had a rough exchange of remarks in 2016 in Idaho, when Murdoch asked Zuckerberg to be more generous with the media, if he does not want the Australian to launch into a global lobbying campaign.
And these efforts have paid off, at least in part, given that Google has just agreed to pay “significant amounts” for content created by the News Corp.
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