U.S. Senate Democrat Al Franken decries Facebook’s and Google’s ‘unprecedented’ control of the press

“Al Franken has again raised alarms about how Facebook and Google are misusing the ‘unprecedented power’ they wield over how the public gets information,” Steve Dent reports for Engadget.

“In a speech yesterday, he pointed out that while the firms control 75 percent of all news traffic referrals, both allowed Russia to interfere in US politics despite obvious signals,” Dent reports. “‘The government has a responsibility to ensure that these corporations do not endanger our national security, our democracy or our fundamental freedoms,’ Franken said.”

“‘The content creators that rely on [those] platforms to reach consumers have lost all their leverage,’ he said. ‘Google, Facebook and Amazon have used their algorithms to extract unfair terms and fees from those dependent on their platforms,'” Dent reports. “A recent example of that is Facebook’s recent “pay to play” experiment that relegated publisher’s articles in six markets from the main News Feed to a harder-to-reach area called the Explore Feed. That caused a stark drop in organic traffic for sites in those countries, something that would force publishers to make up the deficit by buying ads instead. Facebook said that it wasn’t planning on releasing the service globally, but many publishers found the mere presence of the test alarming.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote in July 2016:

Imagine if your livelihood depended on one company that had not only monopolized web search (and, thereby, basically controlled how new customers find you), but also controlled the bulk of online advertising dollars which funded your business and which they could pull, simply threaten to pull, or reduce rates at any time? Now also imagine if you believe this monopolist basically stole the product of another company that is the very subject of your business? How much would you criticize the monopolist thief’s business practices?

You might guess that it would be a tough road to walk. (We’re only imagining, of course!)

That would be a good example of why monopolies are bad for everyone.

The U.S. government has utterly failed to police Google. Because the people with the power to do so currently are corrupt. Follow the money. Hopefully, the European Union will help to correct the situation.

In the meantime, stop using Google search and Google products wherever possible. Monopolies are bad for everyone.

With this unprecedented power, platforms have the ability to redirect into their pockets the advertising dollars that once went to newspapers and magazines. No one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t.


  1. Google and Facebook only have ‘power’ because people choose to use them for one reason or another over the readily available alternatives. Unlike utility/cable companies in many areas there is choice for the consumer if they are willing to wean themselves away from Google and FB.

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