Journalists Support Tech Organizations Standing Up to Google: FLoC will severely damage the news industry, and tech organizations are pushing back

WASHINGTON, DC – After Google announced it would turn the ad marketplace upside down with its withdrawal from using third-party cookies — a critical tool that helps publishers monetize content and pay for newsgathering — and introduce their own proprietary solution called “FLoC,”, the organizations that underpin the modern web browsing experience have begun to stand up to the behemoth. Most major browsers that are competitors to Google Chrome — Brave, Vivaldi, Edge, and Mozilla’s Firefox, to name some — have declined to use it’s new technology called the Federated Learning of Cohots, or FLoC. 

Now, a proposal from WordPress would see Google’s FLoC plans automatically disabled as a security issue — a potential deathblow for the scheme given that WordPress powers more than 59.7% of software-built websites.  There is hardly a journalist working today who hasn’t had their reporting published via WordPress at some point — news organizations from CNN to CBS New York that use WordPress as their CMS, along with a wide range of niche and minority-focused publications, and its removal would be major blow to Google and an enormous win for news funding.  Google’s own study found that eliminating third-party cookies for news publishers would result in “an average revenue loss of 62% with a median loss of 60%.” 

Google’s FLoC, in a vacuum, would essentially box everyone out and allow them to share “information about your browsing behavior with sites and advertisers that otherwise wouldn’t have access to that information,” as the browser Brave puts it. This would lock publishers into Google’s ad marketplace and force them to play a rigged game, blocking them from monetizing how they want.  We already know from the recent revelations about Google’s Project Bernanke, where Google was essentially insider trading in the advertising market, that they cannot be trusted to accurately tell publishing partners about how their technologies work, or even to trust that publishers are being paid fairly at all.  

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:

“We strongly support the teams at WordPress, Brave, Mozilla and others who are using their power to stand up to Google.  Without reliable advertising revenue, publishers wouldn’t be able to support their journalists financially.  Knowing that such popular technologies are not giving in to Google’s monopolistic project will allow more journalists to have jobs and publishers to monetize their platforms however they want.”