When Facebook’s Global Head of News Partnerships, Campbell Brown, addressed a group of more than 20 publishers and broadcasters Down Under, she said Facebook wants to help media companies to create sustainable business models. It might have been a welcome message had she not delivered it by implying that their businesses would die without the help of Facebook.
According to The Australian, at one point during the four-hour, closed-door meeting, she said: "We will help you revitalise journalism … in a few years the reverse looks like I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business like in a hospice."
Brown, whose past roles include being a correspondent for NBC News and a prime time host on CNN, was hired by Facebook last year to improve its relationships with news organizations after it came under fire for the role it played in spreading misinformation in the run-up to the presidential election in 2016.
Making matters worse, she went on to say that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg does not care about publishers. She added: “We are not interested in talking to you about your traffic and referrals anymore. That is the old world and there is no going back – Mark wouldn’t agree to this.”
Facebook has stated that the quotes were taken out of context and are not accurate, but they have failed to release transcripts of the meeting to support this claim. At least five sources who attended the meeting confirmed Brown’s comments to the media.
These remarks are further evidence of the arrogance and runaway monopolistic power of tech giants, and they should give people serious pause when they consider the influence that firms like Facebook and Google have over modern society. Their “I own this town” attitude is unappealing, even if there is an element of truth to it. These companies think they run the world, and in a way, they do – but only because people let them. The masses have become so addicted to the conveniences offered by technology like smartphones that they don’t stop to think about how they’re really paying for “free” services like Facebook, YouTube, and Google Maps. In most cases, they’re giving up a lot more personal data than they realize, while letting these companies gain an incredible amount of power over the flow of information in society and which opinions are allowed to be heard.
Facebook’s Samidh Chakrabarti has also said they “don’t want to be arbiters of truth,” yet they are quick to claim that anything going against their ideals is “fake news,” and sites like Google’s YouTube have come under attack for censoring conservative voices.
President Trump might get a lot of things wrong, but he was definitely on the right track with his recent comments that these tech businesses’ out-of-control censorship needs to be stopped.
Sources for this article include: