Australia should cook up a taxpayer-funded Facebook competitor based on the ABC’s existing resources, including Triple J Unearthed, according to a new report which warns the social media giant could radically alter its Australian operations in the near future.
Dunno about you, but I’m stinging to log onto TuneSpace.
The Centre for Responsible Technology think tank has today urged the government to prepare for the likelihood that Facebook will soon prevent Australians from sharing news content online, thanks to the digital media bargaining code everyone is banging on about.
Long story short, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – that is, the nation’s consumer watchdog – has presented a draft list of rules which would make digital juggernauts like Facebook and Google pay news publishers for hosting their work.
Both companies are staunchly against the idea. Google has enlisted comedians and YouTubers to claim the new rules will limit the functionality of cornerstone products, like Google Search, but Facebook has gone even further, saying they are prepared to straight-up block Aussie news content if it means they need to pay for it.
The downside is that heaps of Aussies get their news by following news outlets on Facebook, and their absence from the platform might present an obstacle between readers and the info that’s relevant to them. I mean, there’s a good chance you’re reading this, right now, because you clicked on it while scrolling your News Feed. Make of that what you will.
The Centre for Responsible Technology also points out that black hole could be filled by straight-up misinformation (which, as we all know, is currently absent from Facebook).
One proposed mitigation strategy to all of that: using the ABC to host a brand new social network, where folks can share news content to their heart’s content. Here’s what the Centre for Responsible Technology’s Jordan Guiao had to say about the proposal:
A publicly funded social network would focus on connecting and engaging the community, without harvesting their data. Public broadcasters would be particularly suited to this task, given their wide reach across local, regional and national communities, and the high levels of trust the public attributes to them.
Guiao adds that some elements of this social network “could build on existing ABC digital capabilities and projects such as Australia Talks, the discontinued ABC Open and Triple J Unearthed.” Smash that bloody ‘vibes’ button, I guess.
Other proposals include building a stronger consumer privacy act to curtail what the report deems a “surveillance capitalist business model”, and sussing out how, and why, giants like Google became so heavily entrenched in public life.
Still, the whole ABC social network thing is the bit I’m stuck on. It’s a huge proposal, but this is a pretty huge situation: Facebook really could make good on its promise to limit news content, so some pretty radical thinking may be required.
The new media bargaining code is yet to pass through Parliament, but before it does, I’m going to imagine everyone’s profile photo now comes with a five-star rating system.
The Washington Post / Triple J Unearthed