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Disgracebook: ‘Work With Us or Die’

According to witnesses who were present at the meeting – a private conversation with Australian news publishers and broadcasters, Facebook’s head of news partnerships told the group that if they do not work with Facebook that their businesses would die.

The comment is totally at odds with the effect that Facebook claims to have on journalism. At the meeting, the Facebook executive in question had been speaking about “revitalizing journalism”, and later stated that “our goal at Facebook — what the team works on every day with publishers and reporters around the world — is to help journalism succeed and thrive, both on our platform and off.”

Although Facebook has demonstrated a pattern of removing or blocking content from its website, the news last week that Alex Jones’ InfoWars media outlet had been removed from a number of social media platforms (including Facebook) has caused renewed interest in the topic of internet censorship. It has also highlighted the market dominance of Facebook, Google and YouTube, which collectively with the mainstream media, now control a dangerous proportion of the information consumers are accessing.

It is noteworthy that Australia’s competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), is currently investigating whether Facebook and Google “have disrupted the news media market to the detriment of publishers and consumers.”

The news that Facebook is telling news publishers that they will die should they decide not to work with the platform is not only shocking — it reeks of being a bona fide threat. The only thing missing from these reports is a line from The Godfather; after all, this sounds like an offer these publishers can’t refuse, or they might find themselves sleeping with the fishes.

It is even more shocking when we consider the source. There is no small degree of irony in the fact that the Facebook executive who made the comments, Campbell Brown, had previously been a TV news reporter and anchor. Ms Brown, who built her career at NBC News before moving to CNN, won an Emmy for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina and anchored shows on both networks. As a former successful and high-profile journalist, she might be expected to understand the concept and the value of a free press. Would that be too much to ask?


Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg with Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India (Photo: Prime Minister’s Office, Government of India. Source: Wikicommons)

Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

During a closed-door and off-the-record meeting last week, top Facebook executive Campbell Brown reportedly warned news publishers that refusal to cooperate with the tech behemoth’s efforts to “revitalize journalism” will leave media outlets dying “like in a hospice.”

Reported first by The Australian under a headline which read “Work With Facebook or Die: Zuckerberg,” the social media giant has insisted the comments were taken out of context, even as five individuals who attended the four-hour meeting corroborated what Brown had stated.

“Mark doesn’t care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes,” Brown reportedly said, referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “We will help you revitalize journalism… in a few years the reverse looks like I’ll be holding hands with your dying business like in a hospice.”

As The Guardian reported on Monday, Facebook is “vehemently” denying the veracity of the comments as reported by The Australian, referring to its own transcript of the meeting. However, Facebook is refusing to release its transcript and tape of the gathering.

Brown’s warning about the dire prospects for news outlets that don’t get on board with a future in which corporate giants like Facebook are the arbiters of what is and isn’t trustworthy news comes as progressives are raising alarm that Facebook’s entrance into the world of journalism poses a major threat to non-corporate and left-wing news outlets…

Continue reading this article at Common Dreams

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