How Facebook and Google Buy Off the Press – Washington Monthly
October 26, 2020
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You may have heard that Big Tech has damaged journalism. Google and Facebook siphon off ad dollars needed to finance independent reporting while also inserting themselves as profit-maximizing middlemen between news organizations and news consumers. By now, many news organizations see no way forward except to depend on charitable donations from corporations and philanthropies.
What you may not know, though, is that Google and Facebook are becoming the two largest sources of such donations to for-profit and nonprofit journalism in the United States.
Prior to the conclusion of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Google and Facebook’s financial contributions to American media organizations were modest. This changed in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. Facebook received deep public scrutiny over its role as a vector for foreign interference that had benefited Trump. As the “techlash” spread, Google also began facing heat for its anticompetitive practices, its misuse of user data, and its discriminatory search results.