Google, Facebook 'monetise news' while 'ducking accountability': TOI edit warns of 'digital colonisation'

'If Google, Facebook succeed in devastating the newspaper industry, it won’t be good news for democracy'.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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In its lead edit today, the Times of India argued that digital platforms like Google and Facebook "drain profits" while news producers incur the costs.

According to the piece, platforms like Google and Facebook "demand gratitude for imparting wider reach to news content and play deaf to sharing revenues for content produced at considerable cost". In the process, Google and Facebook "don’t have to invest in news gathering but can waltz away with the ad revenues and earn close to trillion dollar valuations while paying a pittance for journalism".

With advertising revenues "crashing" during the Covid-19 outbreak, the editorial said, "authorities must urgently address the glaring asymmetry between digital platforms and news outlets".

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It added that digital platforms "end up enjoying the best of both worlds, monetising news while ducking accountability for fake news and virus misinformation".

The newspaper poetically invoked a comparison to Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer: "Recall Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer who gets his friends to paint a fence on a sweltering summer day and walks away making them pay him the wages for their labour. Indian media companies are in a similar situation with Facebook and Google. These digital platforms demand gratitude for imparting wider reach to news content and play deaf to sharing revenues for content produced at considerable cost."

The government must resist this "digital colonisation", it added.

Newspapers have been struggling to survive the coronavirus fallout. Layoffs, salary cuts, and leave without pay have ramped up in the last few weeks.

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