Much Needed Techopolypse Will Expose Big Tech’s Monopolization of News Industry

Today, the CEOs of the four largest tech companies–Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple– will appear and testify together for the first time ever at a Congressional hearing. In a final stage of the bipartisan investigation by the House Judiciary Committee, which began last year with an initial hearing highlighting the damage the tech giants have done to the journalism industry, this antitrust investigation will hopefully reveal their market power dominance over its competitors. 

While these tech behemoths have continued to make unilateral changes to its platform in the name of privacy, in reality it has created advantages for itself over its competitors and have harmed news publishers. And while the threat of a complete demise of the industry sound’s hypothetical, it’s not. Already over 1,800 communities have found themselves in a news desert, without their trusted local news — a number that will continue to grow if there are not proper regulations on big tech. 

While Americans across the country are desperate for trusted news to stay safe and informed during the pandemic, an election year and a rise in needed social justice, tech giants Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon continue to use their power to further monopolize ad revenue, online traffic, and advertisement exposure, which local journalism depends upon for survival. We’ve got the receipts here, here and here

Google and Facebook have prized click bait articles, secret algorithms, and cherry picked headlines that fail to adequately embody the vast, diverse range of individuals across the country. They repeatedly underpay reporters, strip them of control over their own content and bleed newsrooms dry, laying off at least 36,000 employees between 2008 and 2018.   Unchecked, their monopoly over digital advertising will drain communities of local journalism, ushering in a new era of newsless-democracy.

The following is a statement from Laura Bassett, former Senior Politics Reporter for HuffPost who was laid off in January 2019, and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project:

Big Tech has destroyed journalism and continues to do so as newsrooms across the country shut their doors and lay off hardworking, devoted staff. Companies like Google and Facebook don’t care about the vast range of communities across the nation or what journalism means to our democracy. They care about their own bottom line. 

Local journalism allows communities to keep the government accountable, encourages more individuals to run for office, and increases civic engagement. Yet, time after time, these companies have proved their loyalties lie with the monetary gain of overtaking publications and not transparency, reliability, and the responsibility of keeping the public informed.