Google and Facebook to push hard against proposal for regulatory body

Guardian Technology 13 Dec 2018 05:00
Google and Facebook Photograph: Handouts/PA

Google and Facebook are expected to push back hard against proposals to set up a new authority that would monitor how they use their market power and the operation of algorithms that drive the placement of news and advertising content on their sites.

Publicly, the two digital multinationals say they are studying the nearly 400-page report released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Monday.

We develop innovative products to the benefit of consumers, businesses and the economy, and we work closely with advertisers and publishers across Australia. We will continue to engage with the ACCC between now and the final report next year, said Google in a statement.

But behind the scenes there is consternation about the ACCC’s proposal to set up a new regulatory body which would have the specific job of monitoring large digital platforms.

This is particularly so as the ACCC is the first globally to grapple with a response to the market power of Google and Facebook.

A final report will come next year, around June, after another round of submissions.

But there are also broad rules that prioritise posts in feeds. After the 2016 US election and concerns about filter bubbles and fake news, Facebook has given greater weight to posts from family and friends. It says it made these major changes transparent and that it discusses major changes with media companies who might be affected.

“Every click we send to a publisher’s site has a real return and provides an opportunity for publishers to turn readers into subscribers. Through Google search and Google news we send more than 10 billion visits to publishers globally each month,” it said.

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