Facebook ka prevented Australians from finding or sharing news on its platform, in response to an Australian government proposal to require social media networks to pay journalism organizations for their content. The movement is already reducing online readership of Australian news sites.
Similar to what happened when Facebook suspended Donald Trump’s account in January, the war with Australia is again raising debates about the extraordinary control of social media networks over people ‘s access to information. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his country “will not be afraidFrom an American technology company.
Mine research into the history of international media policy there are show that a handful of rich countries have long exercised unfair influence over how the rest of the world gets the news.
Facebook ka 2.26 billion users, and most of them live outside the United States, according to the company. India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and Philippines are home to most Facebook users outside the US
Facebook’s share of the global social media market is dizzying, but the company is not alone. eight of the 11 most popular social media companies in the world are based in the US. These include YouTube and Tumblr, as well as Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
The geographic concentration of information technology puts these billions of non-US social media users and their government officials in a submissive position.
Big Tech business decisions can effectively dictate free speech worldwide.
The imperial origin of international news
Reliance on foreign media has long been a problem in the Global South – the so-called developing countries with a common history of colonial rule.
It began, in many ways, 150 years ago, with the development of wire services – news wholesalers who send correspondents around the world to tell stories through wire supply to subscribers. Each service chronicles the news in his native country the respective colonies or spheres of influence, so Britain ‘s Reuters would present stories from Bombay and Cape Town, for example, and France’ s Havas from Algeria.
Associated Press, headquartered in the US, became a force in the global news business in the early 20th century.
These companies are at the center of the global news production market, generating most of the content that people around the world read in the international section of every newspaper. This meant, for example, that a Bolivian reading of events in neighboring Peru would usually receive news from a U.S. or French correspondent.
The monopolies of news of the former colonial powers continued into the 20th century. Some Latin American countries, such as Argentina and Mexico, developed their own strong newspapers reporting on local and national events, but they could not afford to send many correspondents abroad.
In the 1970s, North Atlantic wire services still provided up to 75% of international news printed and broadcast in Latin America, according to my research.
Problems of the Cold War
Separately, many world leaders outside the US and Europe were also concerned that those foreign powers would interfere in their countries ‘internal affairs by secretly using their own countries’ media.
This happened during the Cold War. In the lead of a 1954 CIA-backed coup in Guatemala, the agency secretly used Guatemalan radio waves and planted local news to convince the Guatemalan military and public that the overthrow of their democratically elected president was inevitable.
After Guatemala, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, many leaders in the “third world” – countries that did not conform to either the US or the Soviet Union – began to create their own news and radio services.
“Cuban leader Fidel Castro set up a state-run international news service, Prensa Latina, to allow Latin Americans.”to know the truth and not be a victim of falsehood“He also created Radio Havana Cuba, which broadcasting revolutionary programming throughout America, including the South US. These were government agencies, not independent news organizations.
Global Global leaders also wanted to shape the international portrayal of their countries. North Atlantic news services often described the Third World as backward and chaotic, justifying the need for overseas INTERFERENCE.
This trend was so common that it won the appraiser “coups and earthquakesJournalists.
Global leaders in the South also lacked full access to communication technology, particularly satellites, which were controlled by the US and Soviet-dominated organizations.
In the 1970s, Southern Global leaders voiced their concerns about information inequalities UNESCO, lobbying for binding United Nations regulations that would ban foreign direct satellite broadcasts. It was a kinetic quest to persuade the dominant powers to relinquish their control over communication technology, and they did not go very far.
But those decades-old proposals recognized the imbalances in global information that remain in effect today.
In recent decades, other countries have set up their own news networks with the express intention of challenging the one-sided representations of their regions.
One result is Al Jazeera, created in 1996 by the Emir of Qatar to challenge the descriptions of the US and Britain in the Middle East.
Another is TeleSur, founded by Venezuela in partnership with other Latin American nations in 2005, which aims to counterbalance US influence in the region. It was created after the 2002 coup attempt against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, which was backed by US Government AND powerful Venezuelan transmitters.
Why the media matters
State-sponsored media outlets have faced accusations – some well-founded – of one-sided coverage in favor of their government sponsors. But their existence still underscores that it matters where the media is produced and by whom.
Research suggests that this concern extends to social media. Facebook and Google, for example, produce algorithms and policies that reflect the ideas of their creators – who are primarily white, male and based in Silicon Valley, California.
One study found that this can result in racism or sexist search engine search results. A 2016 ProPublica hetim also revealed that Facebook allowed housing advertisers to target users based on competition, in violation of the 1968 Right to Housing Act.
All of this raises doubts as to whether Facebook, or any international company, can make speech-regulating rules that are equally appropriate in every country where they operate. Deep knowledge of national politics and culture is necessary to understand which accounts are risky enough to suspend, for example, and what misinformation involves.
Faced with such criticism, in 2020 Facebook assembled an independent supervisory board, colloquially referred to as its Supreme Court. Composed of media and legal experts from around the world, the board has a really diverse membership. But its mandate is to support a “constitution” drafted by the American company by assessing a handful of calls to decisions to remove Facebook content.
Facebook’s current war with Australia suggests that equal control of international news remains much of a work in progress.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to more accurately characterize U.S. social media companies operating globally and the nature of the Cuban government’s news services. It is published by The Conversation US, an independent media non-profit organization, one of eight news organizations worldwide that share a common mission, brand and publishing platform. Biseda Australia has publicly lobbied in support of the Australian government proposal.
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