This week three media goliaths — Facebook, Google, and Twitter, who collectively act as information gatekeepers for the Internet — announced they would begin implementing censorship practices against news sites they deem misleading.
Web sites that publish “fake,” misleading, or even satirical news will now be subject to a sliding scale of infractions that will target ad revenue and social media algorithms. Without ad revenue from monetization platforms like Google Adsense, many of these sites would not be able to continue publishing, and without Facebook’s distribution platform, even sites with good organic reach could find their traffic severely crippled.
“Moving forward, we will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose of the web property,” Google stated, following the lead of Mark Zuckerberg.
On a proprietary note, do these companies have the right to restrict users of their services who they deem to be in breach of contract? Yes. Is it understandable to want to exert some control over hacks who manipulate search engine and social media algorithms at the expense of a misinformed public? Yes. Does this exonerate the intellectual and cultural crime of using the specter of online ‘yellow journalism’ to deliver a crippling blow to the revenue streams of independent media…?
The move comes after Facebook and Google found themselves taking a lot of heat after the election. (Liberal) detractors went so far as to blame Facebook and Google for Trump’s win, claiming the constant online echo chamber of sensationalist news, unsubstantiated claims, and apocryphal headlines paved the way for Clinton’s electoral collapse.