‘Facebook & other companies abuse monopoly power to increase profit, censor news’
Facebook users in Bolivia, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Cambodia, and Guatemala have hit back at the social media giant, which is trialing a scheme to charge news outlets for their posts. It could have a significant impact on the organizations using the social network to distribute information and material.
The online community has lashed out, saying the social media network will be supplying people what they want to hear, also severing the link between the organizations and users.
RT: Facebook wants to charge companies for including content. Do you think it will work?
Martin Summers: I think this is an abuse of the monopoly powers on Facebook, and the other major US internet companies are basically trying it on, they are experimenting with it to see if they can use their monopoly power to increase their profits. But also more sinisterly they are working with US intelligence services to censor the news. I think it is very worrying development.
RT: From a business point of view, advertisers have to pay, why shouldn't any organization have to do the same?
MS: It is not really a competitive market. What’s developed is we’ve now got private monopoly power developing here, which is ultimately unregulated. There are calls from across the spectrum in the US for internet companies to be treated like utilities. And they even got to be run by the government, or they have got to be regulated by the government to ensure that a competitive market exists. One of the other sinister things they are doing – is demonetizing people they don’t like. So certain content, for example, Luke Rudkowski, who is a famous alternative journalist, his material is now being demonetized – and that is his living. That is the sort of thing they are capable of doing, and they are doing.
RT: This would essentially filter content for the user. What are the implications for press freedom?
MS: As I say, it is not just a commercial issue. It clearly has aspects that are to do with commercial manipulation. But even more sinister is Google changing its algorithms, so that the radical websites that are critical of government policy found their traffic going down by 60 percent, 70 percent as a result of changing their algorithms. Now that sort of power needs to be regulated. You can’t just allow Facebook’s business leaders, who are absolutely in cahoots with the secret state, the deep state in the US to have this kind of power and to abuse it in the way that they are.
RT: Could this backfire? Users of Facebook have power too, so they can just vote and go elsewhere, can’t they?
MS: That’s right. What tech-savvy young people should be doing is using other web-based internet explorers like Web crawler, DuckDuckGo, Yandex. And we if we can get youngsters to recognize that they are being manipulated by Google and by Facebook – then that would probably hit them on their bottom line. But there is still a case for the government to intervene and regulate these big monopolies to ensure that there is a fair player on a level playing field. That is what happened with other utilities in the past: we’re at the 'robber baron' state now of the internet revolution. And it is time for the government to step in and make sure that fair play is done.