Recently attention has been drawn to Facebooks response to a new law in Australia regarding news articles. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has drawn up plans to force tech giants like Google and Facebook to pay for the news articles and content reposted from Australian news outlets, which they say will help to “level the playing field”. In response to this Facebook has threatened to prevent Australian users from sharing news articles as they argue that if the draft legislation becomes law it would force Facebook to pay for content that publishers place on their platform voluntarily.
This is just the latest in a serious of disputes between tech giants and news outlets, such as last month when US news outlets asked Apple to reduce the cut that it takes from subscriptions taken out on their app store, and these disputes are seen as being a result of the growth that companies such as Google and Apple have experienced while news providers have been struggling to survive.
As we can see from Facebooks response to the ACCC’S proposal, these conflicts, if not successfully resolved, could result in a reduced user experience for the many individuals that consume news via services provided by Facebook, Google, Apple and other Internet Giants. However, it could also result in a dramatic increase in the amount of fake news stories that are being circulated around the internet and social media. For example, if the ACCC’s proposal becomes law and both Google and Facebook implement their responses of blocking users in Australia from searching for or sharing news articles rather than pay the news providers, this could result in an increase of free low quality journalism being shared around instead as high quality journalism becomes harder to search for and when a user is able to find it, it will be locked behind a pay wall that many users would be unwilling to start paying for.
Since the internet was first conceived and developed it has grown into a information sharing platform that no one could have imagined it would, bringing about an Information age where we are more connected now than at any point in history prior as well as giving us access to huge swathes of data at our fingertips. However, unless the Internet Giants and news organisations are able to come to an agreement and resolve these disputes, we are at risk of moving away from the Information Age and instead moving towards an age of Misinformation.