Media mogul Rupert Murdoch recently stated his belief that Facebook should pay publishers on their platform, “similar to the model adopted by cable companies,” while at the same time attacking both Facebook and Google for the rise of “scurrilous news sources.”
Variety reports that Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire owner of News Corp and CEO of Fox News, recently stated his belief that Facebook should adopt a “carriage fee” similar to the cable network payment model. In a statement provided by News Corp, Murdoch said, “If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies.” Murdoch continued to say, “The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.”
Murdoch also attacked both Facebook and Google for popularizing “scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable.” Murdoch stated that “the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically.” He then commented on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying, “I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is a sincere person, but there is still a serious lack of transparency that should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms.”
If Rupert Murdoch sounds like a leftist with a serious case of sour grapes over the success the alternative and “new right” news media have achieved on Facebook, that falls in line with some of his other recent positions.
Conservative author Ann Coulter blasted Rupert Murdoch in 2016 for his pro-immigration stance writing in a column, “When it comes to immigration, Fox News is indistinguishable from George Soros.” According to Coulter, the “Rupert Murdoch enterprise is implacably pro-open borders, pro-amnesty and, consequently, anti-Trump.” Murdoch has previously urged the government to eliminate the cap on H-1B visas, which he claims is “arbitrary and results in U.S. companies struggling to find the high-skill workers they need to continue growing.” Ironically, Murdoch shares his zeal for H-1B visas with Facebook, who employ a large number of foreign tech workers.
Murdoch also implied that Americans worried about illegal immigration were xenophobic saying, “Is the idea of immigration reform complicated by the fact that some immigrants went outside the legal system to be here?” he asks. “Yes. It is complicated even more by the fear some Americans have, quite naturally, of how changing populations might also change our culture, communities and economic circumstances.”
Murdoch’s comments come shortly after Facebook announced an update to their newsfeed system that would see a greater focus on content from users friends and family, possibly at the detriment of publishers and news organizations on Facebook. “We want to make sure that our products are not just fun, but are good for people,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an interview. “We need to refocus the system.” Adam Mosseri, the vice president of product management at Facebook states, “there will be anxiety” from publishers and partners who have already complained about the lack of revenue they receive from online platforms.
Facebook’s newsfeed update and the announcement that the company would be ranking “trusted sources” of news higher in newsfeeds than others have made many worry that Facebook is specifically targeting conservatives. Mark Zuckerberg explained the new “trusted sources” project saying:
We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective.
Here’s how this will work. As part of our ongoing quality surveys, we will now ask people whether they’re familiar with a news source and, if so, whether they trust that source. The idea is that some news organizations are only trusted by their readers or watchers, and others are broadly trusted across society even by those who don’t follow them directly. (We eliminate from the sample those who aren’t familiar with a source, so the output is a ratio of those who trust the source to those who are familiar with it.)
Zuckerberg has openly stated that he wants to influence Facebook users away from “polarization” and “misinformation:”
There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today. Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them. That’s why it’s important that News Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground.
Breitbart News has written a guide outlining how users can continue to see posts from our Facebook page in their newsfeed after the update.
Facebook employed a similar tactic for fighting “fake news” in 2017 with the help of partisan fact-checkers such as Snopes, ABC, Politifact, and FactCheck.org. The initiative saw certain news stories and Facebook posts marked with a “disputed” tag. This initiative was recently canceled after it was found to be ineffective. One professional fact-checker spoke to the Guardian anonymously about their work at Facebook, saying:
I don’t feel like it’s working at all. The fake information is still going viral and spreading rapidly. It’s really difficult to hold [Facebook] accountable. They think of us as doing their work for them. They have a big problem, and they are leaning on other organizations to clean up after them
Facebook also chose initially to block users from inviting their friends to the crowdfunding page for a new feature film about the Roe v. Wade court case. Jalesia McQueen, an executive producer of the movie, said in a statement “It is outrageous that Facebook purports to be apolitical when there have been trends of blocking pages of conservative causes, such as our Roe v. Wade movie page.” Facebook has since unblocked users from inviting friends to the page stating that the block was caused by an error relating to “spam behavior.”