In Essays, Innovation

Rupert Murdoch and Robert Thompson are speaking out against Google and Facebook’s carte blanche business models.

Murdoch says that tech giants should pay for the content they post on their platforms, and Thompson says that “bot-infested badlands” have “debased” the digital environment.

I get the pushback on their argument: As two grumpy old white guys, they’re the personification of old media, fighting only fighting to preserve an outdated model of command-and-control distribution in which they’re the gatekeepers for what we see and hear.

But guess what? Google and Facebook are the new gatekeepers, and they control distribution with far more opaque and mercenary intent (and hair).

Oh, and they don’t pay for news content, whether real or fake.

New media platforms enjoy a brilliant, wildly profitable model as long as nobody thinks about it enough. If we assume that it’s just inevitable…that technological change is somehow independent of social, cultural, political, or economic truths because it “disrupts” them…then we can’t talk about it rationally, or fairly.

News Corp’s old fashioned ideas about making money for making things aren’t so outdated when you consider that sharing stuff requires stuff to share. There’s an emergent theory that such content — any content, whether essays written by reporters, or data revealed by users’ browsing behaviors — should have economic value.

Remember that Google and Facebook don’t operate for the public good. They make money, lots of it, so why should the raw resources that enrich them be free (especially since there are significant costs to producing and/or giving them up)?

I think these guys have a point.

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