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Here’s just a little context to how thuggishly Meta (Facebook) and Google are conducting themselves in Canada.

In response to new Canadian legislation designed to divert roughly $300 million a year into supporting journalism, both companies have announced bans on search and sharing of Canadian news on their sites.

What the hell kind of people act this way? These are mob tactics. “Nice little newspaper you’ve got there — be a shame if something happened to it.”

In case $300 million sounds like a lot of money, or that the Canadian government is being draconian, consider this: In 2021, Google and Facebook extracted almost $10 billion in ad revenue from this country. That’s according to a report by the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project.

So we’re talking three per cent here. For companies that are not taxed in Canada on this income, as far as I’ve been able to determine.

It’s not like they’re strapped for cash. In 2022, they generated combined global earnings of some US$400 billion. That’s more than half a trillion in Canadian dollars, thank you very much.

In one year.

By contrast, the business of journalism in Canada is on its knees. According to available public financial statements, Postmedia and Torstar have cut over $600 million from their annual payrolls in the last dozen years. Bell Media just slashed 1,300 jobs and closed six radio stations.

Those journalists pay taxes in Canada. They support schools and hospitals and pensions. They report on child care, cancer, municipal councils and climate. They deliver verified, fact-checked information to voters.

Tech giants are using mob tactics to strangle Canadian media. @garossino writes for @natobserver #C-18 #journalism #cdnpoli #google

They volunteer on kids’ sports teams and in soup kitchens. They shop in local businesses. They live here. Their money stays here. They’re Canadians.

Journalism holds the lifeblood of democracy, and it’s bleeding out in the street. While we squabble about which ambulance to take, foreign tech behemoths are chasing it down to bludgeon it more, in case it’s not dead yet.

And we’re supposed to cave to this?

Make no mistake, this attack is a proxy fight by these tech giants. A very similar bill, the California Journalism Preservation Act is making its progress toward passage in that state with bipartisan support. It’s facing similar threats, no doubt because legislatures everywhere will do the same.

In other words, the world is watching how we respond.

This is going to be painful, but we can’t back down. Every time we’ve ceded ground to social media giants, it’s come back to bite us. We have more power than we think in this fight.

Given all the damage they’ve done — all the lies and rage and misinformation they’ve spread for traffic and money they should count their blessings that they’re not facing a licensing surcharge that functions like a tax on tobacco. Meanwhile, we can all switch to Bing or one of the other good search alternatives to Google.

If this were up to me, I’d have three words about Facebook and Google:

Hit. Them. Harder.

Keep reading

Mixed feelings, oddly. I don't get any news references from social media. I used Google News as an easy way of being presented with article after article, but now I'm stopping, since I know they're giving me the feed they want, not what I want. (Man, that "invisible hand" is more impotent every year.)

It's weird that the big assault on journalism is to withdraw a service that didn't exist 15 years back and Boomers are barely even aware of.

I think that the foundations of journalism are going to have to change. Any time journalists collect into a group, they get bought, subverted, crushed. Maybe the current technologies (today, its substack) will allow some kind of journalistic guerrilla way of life. But if the National Observer is so vulnerable that taking away free links is a critical injury, it's probably too vulnerable to survive.

Come on man. Reread the article.
You are suggesting that Canadian journalism exist on meagre scraps while they feed for free the mega international money makers.
I am with Sandy "Hit. Them. Harder"
The 3% proposed would be laughed at as a tip at the laundromat, and the biggies are taking their marbles and walking away. Makes me sick to think of their high handed, money grubbing arrogance.

I'm saying that the current system hands all the money to the "owners of the means of production", which is about a 150-year-old analysis. We have a remarkable new variant, however: the media owners who normally became rich (San-Simeon Rich, Ken Thompson Rich) while paying below-plumber salaries to the workers, have been turned into workers.

They work to make other companies rich (Zuckerberg-Rich) while earning little or nothing for it. And they want to go on strike, but need government to forbid their new masters from picking up their work for free. Ironic. I'd say the papers should go on strike for higher pay, but they're corporations.

Withdrawing service, as a negotiating tactic, is all that the new overlords are doing; if their actions weren't beneficial, they'd have no leverage.

I'm subscribing not just here, but The Tyee, Canadaland, four substacks (David Moscrop, Justin Ling, Paul Wells, and Volts). If everybody did, there'd be no problem.

Not everyone has spare money. The advertising model takes over because it glosses over costs--gives you something "for free" and has made everyone used to stuff not (directly) costing money. And, most of the early internet was actually free--amateur content just kind of put up because people felt like, or academic stuff put up by academics communicating. So as it got commercialized, commercial content that cost money seemed like an intrusion. It became clear that people weren't for the most part going to pay for content (other than things like porn).

Now, you DO spend the money, for some key things at least. So do I. And I think there has been an increase in people concluding that if they want GOOD content that's the kind of thing they want to read, they're gonna have to pay for it. But not a big enough increase to drive the news media in a serious way. I don't think that approach is going to become viable overall, and saying people should do X and if they did do X things would work, is not going to make people doing X a plausible outcome. We need another model that can actually replace the advertising model.

My suggestion is public funding via a Patreon-like model. Everyone gets N$/year of public funding for media, which they can allocate on a Patreon-like web portal hosted by the government. Media outlets that are on the site get both the money actually allocated, and the same percentage of the money from all the people who didn't bother allocating theirs. Presumably, to get onto the Canadian portal for this, there would be certain conditions of Canadian-ness. The government wouldn't really have to publicize this very much for it to work, because all the media outlets would be busy telling their readers/watchers/listeners to go over there and dedicate money to them.

Optionally, one condition of using the portal and getting the funding would be not using ads, and/or not having an additional paywall, at least for Canadians. Of course, it would have to be funded adequately, but I think it would pay for itself in improved quality of stuff available to people and reduced reliance on the ad model (which also implies reduced reliance on the espionage model).

Interesting and insightful summation of what's going on.
That hierarchy we've all been sort of snuggling under throughout our lives has now officially gotten away on us by expanding into the stratosphere beyond our ken, taking much of our fragile human hope along with it. The government's action here reminds us that they are our last resort and shows that at least THEY get it. No wonder everyone is clutching their phones in their hands pretending that gives them some sort of handle on reality.
In keeping with that, I'd agree that an expanding CBC is our best option. A reclamation of the sustaining community idea of what Canada is and who we are as people.
I don't think individual online subscribing is going to be enough to rectify the growing ennui, we need an injection of hope of the type that the NDP/Liberal agreement offers.

Yes, yes, yes. And what should also make us nauseous is how the right wing of the current conservative party has evolved to convince little people that regulation is bad...........and robber barons from away are what must be defended. Take Back Alberta types aren't rich by any means...........but in their other world the government is the evil.......trillionaires on the side of the angels.

It's weird....and its more than a bit oily.

For some bizarre reasons, the monopolistic tech industry/ digital economy has, for decades, avoided any sort of reasoned regulation.

Imagine if the automotive manufacturing industry was unregulated. Or airplane manufacturing. Or roads. Or airways. Pharma. Chemicals (a case can be made that chemicals are under-regulated).

Why do you think Apple's valuation has been able to get to a mind-blowing 3 trillion (so says the morning news).

Save for some baby steps in Europe, these folks have completely dodged meaningful rules. And kicked antitrust to the ditch. Yet, we appear content to let it continue because, why? It's evil to regulate economic actors to ensure society is protected? Because we can't interfere with 'innovation'?

Don't stop at Google and Facebook, bring the entire digital economy to heel.

Agreed, and good points made about how and why there is such paralysis (I say it's the unprecedented thing) when it comes to stopping the upstart start-up innovator guys using the exponential calling card of digital delivery to actively, unapologetically and ever more effortlessly divide and conquer the rest of us, even though for more and more of us it just doesn't feel "sustainable" somehow?
Deep-fakers all but isn't that just unusually clever use of "public relations" and target "messaging" and don't most people kind of think "bigger is better" anyway?
The thing that stands out for me is which political party is against regulation again? And can anyone imagine any of the big whatever guys even casting a vote as it were? What a quaint notion they must muse as all of their numbers enter the stratosphere, leaving other such notions, like, oh, "government" and "democracy" in the dust.
All we have left really is government intervention (the Liberals and NDP need to keep together in order to get and keep on that big time, the rule of thumb being that if conservatives are more apoplectic than usual, hold on and/or double down) the rule of law because our Supreme Court is still functional, and our elections.

Bill C-18 is awful and shouldn't exist in this form. It's valid to say that some News agency are valuable and that they require money to survive, but this is just a clumsy attempt by the government to try to force the tech giant to subsidize it. It would be more elegant and efficient if the government taxed any advertisement made in Canada and redistributed that to valuable news agency.
It's entirely predictable that Google and Facebook would axe news link if it became a liability that costed more than it was worth.

As if 3 % of their profits is going to cost more than its worth. This is a bully boy move, which they tried in Australia already, and lost. A little patience is all we need now.


Will I miss Facebook or Google for NEWS. Not one bit. Use newsletters, use apps, I cannot recall ever getting a news piece from Facebook, mind u my acct is inactive and only have it if I run across something I need which is about 1x every 2 years. As for Google, I never look up daily news there when I have newsletters from the National Observer, TYEE, narwhal , walrus. Then newsletters from CBC, G&M, THE STAR,EURONEWS, AL JAZEERA THE GUARDIAN BBC. Why let an algorithm limit my interests? And for searching there are a dozen other search engines which I use infrequently but for Google why read their edited feeds when I can use the producer. Even tried the Rebel and the Western Standard but I know b s when I see it and having to see what Poilievre obviously reads, not in my daily routine. Every day fellow Albertans develop another conspiracy theory, probably one about Trudeau sending tornadoes to Carstairs this week.

Good one on the Carstairs tornado. I was wondering what the climate deniers would do with that one....brag maybe about how much bigger our tornadoes are than your tornadoes...look how long this whopper stayed on the ground.

One more bigger and better to add to the Alberta advantage, what?

Yeah, it's been beyond infuriating, confusing and utterly dispiriting to see bullshit win the day.
"The centre is not holding" has never been more true.

As Google and Facebook suck 80% of advertising dollars from Canada, what's the big deal with asking for $300 million ? If u want to live in your bubbles which G and FB create, do it but not me thanks.
Less regulation, less democracy. And now with Post Media and The Star amalgamation, we are left with a right leaning news organization for the whole country, one that does not print climate concerns or progressive issues period. And 75% of Canadians think progressive. So after 40 years of Reaganomics and Thatcherism, creating our neoliberal so called free-market economy which has failed miserably, now we have our news organizations consolidation in the one business that promotes less democracy, bigger profits, let's make the Poilievre elite even richer while we taxpayers pick up the bill.

You've about summed it up.


For sure: Hit them harder.
Currently, we have two very wealthy industries destroying the future........the fossil fuel industry and unregulated, untaxed social media giants. We can continue going down the rabbit holes created by these two wealthy free loaders........or we can insist they pay taxes, lose unnecessary subsidies, and stick to the truth or face government action.

We are being sold down our own rivers..........and imagine there's nothing we can do about it but buy a paddle from the crooks hoovering up what's left of our national wealth??? Conspiracy theories aren't news....getting good news for free while encouraging addictive engagement in fantasy bubbles that increasingly preach violence has enriched Google, Facebook and other social media giants.

Way past time they were held accountable.

It should not surprise us that big capitalists act like mobsters. Mobsters are just one more form of capitalist--ones whose profit model is defined by, rather than just ending up involving, profits that can be made from doing things that are illegal.

Define your economic system in terms of "Anything is good if it makes a buck" and it will result in institutions that do horrific things to make a buck. Compared to fossil fuel companies literally working hard and committing fraud to stop us from saving civilization, with an actual death toll in the many thousands so far and a potential death toll in the billions, just to make a buck, this is nothing.

Yeah, way past time for the jig to be up.