News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson has called on social media companies to create an algorithm review board to monitor abuse of social media algorithms.
During its third-quarter investors call, News Corp. reportedly discussed an issue that they have worried about for some time — the dominance of tech companies and how their algorithms can affect news being seen. During the call, News Corp. Chief Executive Robert Thomson called for the creation of an algorithm review board to monitor how social media algorithms operate and detect when they’re being abused.
“These algorithms are already potent, but they are destined to be much more formidable, and their abundant potential to skew news and skewer customers needs to be better understood and monitored,” stated Thomson. “And an Algorithm Review Board, or ARB, would be particularly useful in the oversight of companies, which have horizontal dominance, and use that leverage to dominate a vertical, such as Amazon with audiobooks and, potentially, Facebook with dating.”
Thomson has previously been critical of social media companies claiming that they should share their revenue with news corporations if they want to share their content on their platform. Thomson has referred to companies such as Facebook and Google as “bot-infested badlands,” “dysfunctional and sometimes dystopian,” and platforms for “the fake, the faux and the fallacious.”
Discussing the idea of social media companies paying news publishers, Tomson said: “Too many publishers have been patsies. What you are seeing, at last, is more publishers are prepared to be more vocal and that eerie collective silence has been broken.” Facebook’s head of news partnerships, Campbell Brown, was not particularly forthcoming about whether or not Facebook planned to pay publishers in the future simply stating “I would never say never to anything.”
Thomson recently stated however that News Corp. had discussed the importance of allowing “trusted news organizations” on the Facebook platform, Thomson stated that Facebook seemed to agree so far. Thomson stated: “We are confident that a renewed focus on provenance and on integrity will benefit our mastheads, our journalism and our advertising clients, who are learning more each day about the potential dangers of digital.” He continued: “Challenging these dominant digital platforms is important for our businesses, but also meaningful for the societies in which we operate.”