Lawmakers around the world are moving to pass regulatory legislation cracking down on unchecked Big Tech companies that run amok.
But in an epic battle between billion-dollar companies and world leaders, who will win?
In a massive power struggle between Australia and Facebook, the social media platform pulled the ultimate card on the country when lawmakers attempted to force them to share profits with news media companies.
Sparking outrage, Facebook pulled the plug, effectively banning all Australian news content from the site worldwide last week.
Their action came in response to new legislation passed by Australia’s House of Representatives which legally forces Facebook and Google to negotiate payment with media companies for content used on their platforms.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison slammed the company’s action as “arrogant.”
“Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing,” Morrison said on Facebook.
After stating he is in “regular contact with the leaders of other nations on these issues,” he noted that the platform’s actions only confirm that Big Tech companies “think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them.”
Morrison warned Facebook that Parliament will not be intimidated or pressured by them and encouraged the company “to constructively work with the Australian Government, as Google recently demonstrated in good faith.”
Google is reportedly taking small steps to negotiate with companies in compliance with the country’s News Media Bargaining Code.
Australia isn’t the only country moving to crack down on Facebook and Google for making copious amounts of money by using news articles to lure customers without licensing or paying for the content.
According to the New York Post, the U.S. is just behind them in introducing similar legislation.
The House Judiciary Committee reportedly intends to introduce new laws within the next few weeks that would allow news outlets to bargain with the two Big Tech giants.
If passed, will Facebook react to the U.S. in the same way it did to Australia?
Let’s say, in the unlikely event that they did, it might not be a bad thing. Maybe returning Facebook to the social networking platform it originally was, minus the news, would lead to decentralization so people can look to other sources for their news, aside from social media.
But in the realistic scenario, Facebook and Google have too much of a vested interest in swaying American public opinion, politics, and elections to simply block all U.S. news.
If we can divest some of their profits to anyone, even if it’s news media companies, we should take the opportunity to do so in hopes of lessening their profits and influence.