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Facebook v Murdoch—Battle of the media giants tramples voices of dissent

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 21/02/2021 - 5:28pm in

The decision by Facebook to ban news from feeds in Australia took millions by surprise and highlighted the company’s power to control what we see.

Facebook’s move left the 40 per cent of Australians who regularly use it to access news media high and dry.

It was a blow to the big media companies that use social media to reach their audiences but also to smaller outlets like The Saturday Paper and Overland magazine, as well as left publications like Solidarity and Green Left Weekly.

It also showed Facebook’s hypocrisy. While it claims to have problems shutting down misinformation from conspiracy theorists and Nazis, the company’s news ban closed the pages of organisations like Oxfam, Save the Children, Diversity Council Australia and the Australian Council of Social Service at a stroke.

Facebook’s shutdown was a calculated move to derail the Bill before parliament that would require companies that bring together other outlets’ publications to pay for the content—a law that would most affect Google and Facebook.

Mainstream media has lost a massive proportion of its income to the two big tech companies, who display news content they do not have to spend to create.

Newspapers used to make fat profits from advertising, especially lucrative classified ads for jobs, cars and real estate.

Nearly all that advertising has migrated to digital platforms. Newspapers can sell ads on their web sites but only at a fraction of the price they used to be able to charge for print.

The result has been massive job losses among journalists and allied workers—with only about 4000 employed now compared to about 12,000 just 15 years ago.

According to the journalists’ union, the MEAA, in the 2018-19 financial year, Facebook and Google earned more than $5 billion in digital advertising in Australia while paying only $117 million in tax.

The government’s Bill is an attempt to drag back some of that income for the benefit of those still publishing papers, principally News Corp and Nine – who complain that they have to employ journalists while Facebook and Google scoop up the profits.

All political parties use social media in their election campaigning. But they still defer to News and Nine because their publications set the political agenda for TV, radio and online.

So in this battle of media and social media barons, the Liberals are taking sides with Murdoch and Nine over Zuckerberg.

Google meanwhile has taken the easier option of paying Nine more than $30 million annually for five years for the use of its news content, with other deals struck so far with Seven West Media and Junkee Media.

This sounds impressive but Nine’s digital and publishing arm lost more than $50 million last year.

The government’s Bill will not bring back journalists’ jobs or increase media diversity. There is no requirement on media companies which get money from Google or Facebook to re-employ staff. The Bill, of course, does nothing for workers at the ABC who’ve lost their jobs because of the Liberals’ budget cuts.

Most specialist and regional media outlets are likely to get small change, if anything. There will continue to be “news deserts” – areas where there are no local news outlets and therefore no independent oversight of such things as council planning decisions.

The media industry is facing a real, structural crisis. But there is nothing to be gained for the left in lining up with Murdoch or Zuckerberg. Both are motivated by profits, not independent, quality journalism.

Instead, we need to be arguing for cracking down on tax loopholes that allow Facebook and Google to get away with paying minimal tax.

As the MEAA argues, that income should be directed to diversifying Australia’s media ownership—assisting start-ups, supporting regional and community journalism and supporting the national newswire AAP and public broadcasting.

As we publish, Facebook and the government are in further negotiations. If Facebook gets the concession it wants, we may return to “normal”.

But the Facebook ban is a reminder to the left that we cannot rely on billionaires when it comes to getting radical alternatives out to wider audiences.

We need to be on the streets, mobilising and building resistance and helping grow the number of activists who can take our arguments into their workplaces and communities directly.

By David Glanz

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The post Facebook v Murdoch—Battle of the media giants tramples voices of dissent appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Facebook: Genocide is Cool but Don’t Threaten our Profits

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/02/2021 - 5:28am in

Australia’s 18 million Facebook users woke up yesterday to find that, without warning, local and global news sites were unavailable, meaning that they could not view or share news at all. Facebook users across the world were also unable to read or access any Australian news publications. The tech giant had taken the step of essentially shutting down its site and “unfriending” an entire nation in response to the government’s proposals to tax them.

Lawmakers in Canberra had drawn up plans to “level the playing field” between social media giants and the traditional press. In practice, this would mean Facebook and Google handing over a sizable chunk of their advertising profits to the government to subsidize struggling news outlets, on whom they depend for content.

In choosing the nuclear option, Facebook appears to have hoped to trigger a public outcry that would force the government into a U-turn. However, it seems to have miscalculated, as the action drew widespread condemnation, even from human rights groups. Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch’s Australia Director condemned the company for “severely restricting the flow of information to Australians,” not just for news, but also information on government health and emergency services. “This is an alarming and dangerous turn of events,” she concluded.

“It is extremely concerning that a private company is willing to control access to information that people rely on. Facebook’s action starkly demonstrates why allowing one company to exert such dominant power over our information ecosystem threatens human rights,” said Tim O’Connor of Amnesty International Australia. “Facebook’s willingness to block credible news sources also stands in sharp distinction to the company’s poor track record in addressing the spread of hateful content and disinformation on the platform,” he added.

 

Myanmar: digital accessory to a genocide

One particularly shocking example of Facebook’s complicity in spreading hate is in Myanmar, where thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been killed and more than 700,000 have fled to neighboring countries.

A United Nations human rights investigation found that the platform, which is virtually ubiquitous in Myanmar, had been used to spread fake news about Muslim atrocities in order to spark a genocide. “I’m afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it originally intended,” said UN investigator Yanghee Lee.

Facebook admitted that played a role in the violence. However, it resisted calls for it to suspend its service inside the country. “Facebook does a good deal of good — connecting people with friends and family, helping small businesses, surfacing informative content. If we turn it off we lose all of that,” said a company executive.

In 2018, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said that he felt “fundamentally uncomfortable sitting here in California at an office, making content policy decisions for people around the world.” This discomfort apparently disappeared when the company’s bottom line was threatened with regulation.

 

A media behemoth

Facebook can certainly afford to pay a levy to help journalism. The Silicon Valley giant recently announced it had taken in over $84 billion in advertising revenue in 2020 (a 21% increase from 2019) and posted a spectacular total post-tax profit of $29 billion. 71% of Australians use the company’s services, making it by far the most widely used social media platform in the country, ahead of YouTube, Instagram, and WhatsApp respectively.

Unlike traditional media, Facebook and Google do not produce any reporting of their own, nor do they employ any journalists. Together, the two companies bear significant responsibility for the decline of journalism across the developed world, as advertisers have ditched the traditional press in favor of targeted advertising offered online. Together, the two companies account for over three-quarters of all online advertising revenue in Australia. Facebook’s marketplace has also largely made small advertising — a key source of income for print media — obsolete. From a high of over $49 billion in 2006, advertising revenue for U.S. newspapers has decreased by over two-thirds, with a corresponding drop in the number of journalists employed. It is clear that, if old media is to be saved, something must be done. Whether this is the solution is up for debate.

Behind closed doors, Google has already signed a number of deals with Australian outlets, promising to cut them in on their advertising revenue. Facebook, however, has chosen to up the ante, participating in a direct standoff against the Australian government. Other nations, such as Canada, are already promising to give the social media giants the Australia treatment, meaning that the outcome of the conflict will likely have global repercussions for the future of the press and of social media.

Perhaps this explains why Facebook was comparatively uninterested in shutting itself down to stop a genocide in Myanmar but chose the nuclear option when it came to government regulation of its business model.

Feature photo | Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about “News Tab” at the Paley Center, in New York, Oct. 25, 2019. Mark Lennihan | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Facebook: Genocide is Cool but Don’t Threaten our Profits appeared first on MintPress News.

ScoMo Tells Colleagues To Not Worry About Facebook As Jen Told Him That The Girls Prefer Snapchat

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/02/2021 - 7:00am in

Australian Prime Minister Scotty from marketing has told his distraught colleagues to not worry too much about Facebook as his wife Jen told him that the girls prefer to use Snapchat.

“I would say to my colleagues and the people of Australia, don’t panic things will be ok,” said Prime Minister Scotty. ”I’ve talked to Jen and apparently the girls aren’t really into Facebook they prefer Snap Chat.”

”So, to all the news sites out there get on the old Snap Chat and get back to singing my Government’s praises.”

When asked why his Government seemed to be going from one bungle to another, the Prime Minister said: ”I reject the premise of your question.”

”My Government is getting on with things, I mean no one was talking about Facebook yesterday were they?”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going down to Engadine Maccas to do a bit of Tik Toking with the cleaning crew. Tik Tok is also a social media site, heard of it?”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

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Sky News Devastated To Lose 1 Of Their 6 Viewers Due To Facebook Lockout

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/02/2021 - 2:45pm in

Niche cable channel Sky News Australia is said to be devastated today after learning that they have lost one of their 6 viewers due to being excluded from Facebook.

”We still hold out hope that our lost sheep will return to the flock,” said a Sky News Spokesperson. ”I mean I’m not sure why they’re departing now, have you seen some of our new shows?”

”Cory Bernardi the chap who left the Liberals to start his own party which failed, he has a show you know.”

When asked why the network kept persisting with extreme right wing presenters given their miniscule ratings, the Spokesperson said: ”Well think of it as a public service.”

”I mean if they weren’t on Sky News who knows what they’d be up to.”

”Bolt has breached the racial discrimination act, Credlin was steering the Tony Abbott ship and don’t get me started on what Alan Jones has gotten away with.”

”So, sure we do have low figures but without us it would be worse for the country to let our assortment of presenters roam free.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

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Another nail in Australia’s coffin – the silence will be deafening

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/02/2021 - 12:55pm in

Tags 

Facebook

Another nail in Australia’s coffin – Facebook bans sharing news in Australia and Google backs big business – guess who wins? PS: But… we can still write, post and share our own. By Jon Chesterson   Does that sound like a tweet or what! Another nail in the coffin for Australian democracy, freedom of information, voice…

The post Another nail in Australia’s coffin – the silence will be deafening appeared first on The AIM Network.

Scotty From Marketing Employs A Focus Group To Workshop Reactions To Victims Of Rape

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/02/2021 - 7:20am in

Australian Prime Minister Scotty from marketing has reacted swiftly to the fall out from his handling of the Parliament house rape crisis by going out and employing a focus group to workshop his future responses.

”The PM thought he was onto a winner by talking about how his wife told him to view the situation,” said a Government Insider. ”But, that didn’t really go down to well with the electorate, so it’s back to the drawing board.”

”Thankfully it seems the fall out is only on twitter and some of the leftie papers like the Guardian.”

When asked why as a human being he needed a focus group to tell him how to react to rape, the Government Insider said: ”Humanity has no place here, this is politics.”

”Do you think ScoMo won the last election by being human, heck no, he did it by using all the marketing tricks under the sun.”

”Being human, do you really think Peter Dutton would have lasted as long as he did in Canberra if it was about being human?”

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to join ScoMo at Engadine Maccas for lunch. That place polls through the roof for places for a PM to eat.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

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Facebook, the ADL and the Brewing Battle to Label Zionism as Hate Speech

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/02/2021 - 4:32am in

The Biden administration is opening a new child prison along the United States-Mexico border. The center, located in Carrizo Springs, around 100 miles southwest of San Antonio, is being specifically built for unaccompanied migrant children attempting to cross the border and will hold around 700 people when finished, although plans noted it will be expanded if the government deems it necessary.

Words are perceived in different ways by different people. That’s the nature of human communication and no matter how widely-adopted our alphabets become or how standardized our dictionaries get, we will never eliminate the personal history that gives context to what we hear and what we say.

This is the fatal flaw in the never-ending efforts by social media companies to mold inviolable definitions for the words we choose to employ when expressing ourselves on their platforms. It places them in the position to please everybody, which we all know is a fool’s errand. On the other hand, establishing rigid meanings can also be used to manipulate the message.

Zionism is one word, in particular, that evokes intense and passionate debate as all ideologies do. But, now the term is coming under scrutiny after an “innocuous” email shed light on Facebook’s response to concerted action by a powerful Jewish rights group that led to new community guidelines curbing so-called “hate speech.”

Facebook Leaked email about Zionism

A November 10 internal Facebook email first published by “The Verge”

The leaked email brought attention to a discussion ostensibly taking place inside the multi-billion-dollar company to design its censorship algorithms and moderator criteria according to the wishes of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL); posing the question of whether moderators should interpret the word as a slur against Jewish people, in general, or just Israelis.

 

The two flanks

A petition began circulating in the wake of the email’s publication in November soliciting Facebook to put a stop to any attempts to moderate the word ‘Zionist’ on its platform, arguing that it “would too easily mischaracterize conversations about Zionists – and by extension, Zionism – as inherently anti-Semitic [sic].”

The petitioners, led by the nonprofit Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), also point out the inescapable loop that results when we attempt to regulate definitions by ignoring context, highlighting the fact that many white supremacists and Evangelical Christians support Zionism.

According to its website, JVP’s mission revolves around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and supports “an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.” Under the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which amended federal civil rights law in the United States by making the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism part of the U.S. code, JVP could be considered an anti-Semitic organization, since it could potentially be accused of de-legitimizing Israel or targeting Israel “only for peace or human rights investigations.”

Reportedly, the ADL had initially opposed the bill and expressed as much to legislators going so far as to arrange “private sit-downs” with Congress members to lay out their case against adopting this definition in questions of civil rights law. However, just a year into his tenure as ADL CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt stepped in and put the kibosh on any objection to the bill.

Fast forward to 2021 and Greenblatt is leading a crusade to have the IHRA definition installed on the most popular social media platform, with which it has already been collaborating closely on several content censorship initiatives.

 

Flat worders

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) led a coalition of 1,000 companies to flex their collective muscle and boycott the social media giant’s ad business. “When Mark Zuckerberg said he would allow Holocaust denial on his platform” the ADL determined that it was time to take a more hardball approach to remove what Greenblatt calls “some of the worst elements of society” from the popular website.

Facebook reacted quickly to the July 2020 boycott. A month later, Zuckerberg himself had already made plans to meet with the organizers and announced changes to the site’s community guidelines that, according to him, had been based on “feedback from the civil rights community.” Four days before Facebook caved to their demands, the organizers went in for the kill in a letter asking the social media company to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism; effectively bringing Facebook into alignment with official state policy.

Facebook Antisemitism Letter

A cadre of pro-Israel organizations sent an open letter asking Facebook to adopt the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism

ADL’s push to force the company to implement the changes to its moderating policies was aided by the histrionics of Sacha Baron Cohen, who has made his name defaming other cultures through films like Borat, comparing Zuckerberg to a “restaurateur gladly serving neo-Nazis”. The associate director of the ADL’s Center for Technology and Society Daniel Kelley, meanwhile, blasted Facebook for “putting revenue above all else” and signaled that as a raison d’être for the boycott.

The hypocrisy may not have been evident to Kelley since he was perhaps unaware of why his boss had actually started on his campaign to make the IHRA definition a part of Facebook moderation policies. According to a former member of the ADL’s Civil Rights Division, Greenblatt’s “stand down” order on the staff members and executives who were advising against the definition’s adoption in 2016 was the result of a donor who “was mad at us.”

Former ADL employees identified the donor as Marc Rowan, a private equity billionaire who had partnered with Senator Harry Reid in 2012 to bring forward a bill to expand the definition of anti-Semitism and, which led directly to the introduction of the Anti-Semitism Awareness bill of 2016.

 

What’s in a Name

The ADL’s penchant for using civil liberties rhetoric to protect Zionist ideology in the United States is not as well-known as it should be. Since its inception, the Jewish non-governmental organization has engaged in the subversion of black resistance movements in America in order to set the parameters of acceptable critique of the apartheid state and has not shied away from turning public opinion against minority groups to advance the agenda, as it did with the Ilhan Omar anti-Semitism scandal two years ago.

The Facebook “Zionist” debate is yet another chapter in a strategy of polarization, that the organization has employed time and again to sow division where there might be any threat of consensus over the atrocities committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people. After all, it doesn’t matter what you call the act of killing a child in front of his home. There is no moderator or algorithm in the world that can hide such deeds.

Feature photo | Shutterstock

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Facebook, the ADL and the Brewing Battle to Label Zionism as Hate Speech appeared first on MintPress News.

Scotty From Marketing Tells Doctors To Hurry Up And Get Vaccinating As He Wants To Have His Picture Taken

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 05/02/2021 - 8:25am in

Tags 

Politics, Facebook

Australian Prime Minister Scotty from marketing has ordered the countries doctors to start with the vaccinating as he is keen to have his picture taken and splashed across the front pages of the nation’s newspapers.

”To the Australian doctors I say less dabbing and more jabbing,” said the Prime Minister. ”We need to get started with the vaccinations as the quicker it’s done the less time people like Pete Evans and my colleague Craig Kelly have to stir up any form of protest.”

”Besides, I have a new pack of Cronulla sharks branded band aids to put on the owie.”

When it was pointed out to the PM that doctors could not currently vaccinate as the vaccine hadn’t arrived, the PM said: ”Well don’t look at me it’s not like I drive a delivery van.”

”Enough with the excuses, let’s get down and do the hard yakka and have our photos taken.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to head off and mow Craig Kelly’s lawns. It’s part of the deal I made to get him off Facebook for a couple of weeks.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

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The Sedition That Nobody’s Talking AboutThe sudden lurch from...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/01/2021 - 10:16am in

The Sedition That Nobody’s Talking About

The sudden lurch from Trump to Biden is generating vertigo all over Washington, including the so-called fourth branch of government – CEOs and their army of lobbyists.

CEOs are being hailed – and hailing themselves – as guardians of democracy. That’s after saying they will no longer donate to the 147 Republican members of Congress who objected to the certification of Biden electors, on the basis of Trump’s lies about widespread fraud. 

Give me a break. For years, big corporations have been assaulting democracy with big money, drowning out the voices and needs of ordinary Americans, and fueling much of the anger and cynicism that opened the door to Trump in the first place.

Their assault hasn’t been as violent as the pro-Trump mob who stormed the Capitol. And it’s entirely legal. But it’s arguably more damaging over the long term.

A study published a few years ago by two of America’s most respected political scientists, Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page of Northwestern, concluded that the preferences of the average American “have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy.” Lawmakers respond almost exclusively to the moneyed interests – those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.

So now, in the wake of Trump’s calamitous exit and Biden’s ascension, we’re to believe CEOs care about democracy?

As Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, put it, “No one thought they were giving money to people who supported sedition.”

Yet Dimon has been a leader of a more insidious form of sedition. He piloted the corporate lobbying campaign for the Trump tax cut, deploying a vast war chest of corporate donations.

For more than a decade Dimon has driven Wall Street’s charge against stricter bank regulation, opening bipartisan doors in the Capitol with generous gifts from the Street. (Dimon calls himself a Democrat.)

When Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg shut Trump’s Facebook account, he declared: “You just can’t have a functioning democracy without a peaceful transition of power.”

But where was Zuckerberg’s concern for a “functioning democracy” when he amplified Trump’s bigotry and lies for over four years?

After taking down Trump’s Twitter account, Jack Dorsey expressed discomfort about “the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation.”

Spare me. Dorsey has fought all attempts to limit Twitter’s power over the “global conversation.” He shuttered Trump only after Democrats secured the presidency and control of the Senate.

Look, I’m glad CEOs are penalizing the 147 Republican seditionists and that big tech is starting to regulate social media content.

But don’t confuse the avowed concerns of these CEOs about democracy with democracy itself. They aren’t answerable to democracy. At most, they’re answerable to big shareholders and institutional investors who don’t give a fig as long as profits keep rolling in. 

If they were truly committed to democracy, CEOs would permanently cease corporate donations to all candidates, close their PACs, stop giving to secretive “dark money” groups and discourage donations by their executives.

And they would throw their weight behind the “For the People Act”, the first bills of the new Congress, offering public financing of elections among other reforms.

Don’t hold your breath.

The fourth branch is already amassing a war chest to stop Joe Biden and the Democrats from  raising corporate taxes, increasing the minimum wage, breaking up big tech and strengthening labor unions.

Make no mistake: These CEOs and their corporations don’t actually care about protecting democracy. They care only about protecting their bottom line.

Inquiry’s bumpy ride awaits, after tech giants’ “blackmail” tactics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/01/2021 - 12:34pm in

As the Senate inquiry into the Digital Media Code began on Friday, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has expressed her displeasure over the lack of negotiating spirit Facebook and Google have brought to the halls of Parliament in Canberra. In fact, after Day 1’s proceedings were completed, Hanson-Young, in her role of chairing the Senate inquiry,…

The post Inquiry’s bumpy ride awaits, after tech giants’ “blackmail” tactics appeared first on The AIM Network.

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