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Big Tech Faces Challenges

In the previous edition of the Newsletter we reported on a number of challenges that Big Tech faces this year, and we asked if this was the beginning of the end of the era of Big Tech. President Biden during the election campaign already expressed his disapproval of Facebook’s interference in politics. Mark Zuckerberg’s attempts to please all in Washington was not as successful as some others. He ended up being seen as a supporter of Trump. However, even Jack Dorsey’s attempts to ensure that fake news and inflammatory speech is removed speedily from Twitter has attracted criticism from Washington. At the end of the day, it has been inevitable that the lords of tech would clash with The Establishment. Perhaps the anti-establishment Trump extended their day of reckoning. The latest attack comes from Australia, which noted that 53% of its national digital advertising goes to Google and 19% to FB. A rule has therefore been prepared that would require all social media to pay for content. This is aimed particularly at Google Search, which freely extracts its content from multiple sources including newspapers and broadcasters. Google has threatened to withdraw from Australia. The Australian government may not blink this time, and that could be serious for Google. The issue is not new. In the early days of Google Search publishers tried to get governments to force Google to pay up for content. There was a lively debate in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia in the early 2000s. In the end the politicians backed down. Google may not be so lucky this time around.

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Alastair Tempest

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