Tech Giants: Victims!

November 13, 2019

Were you caught off guard by Google’s announcement that it was jumping into personal finance? You can get the details in “Google to Offer Checking Accounts in Partnership with Banks Starting Next Year.”

What about those wizards at Facebook? That outstanding commercial enterprise Facebook at its post-Libra Facebook Play service. You can get the public report in “Facebook Pay Is a New Payment System for WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook.”

Apple’s credit card has inspired some laggards to get serious about getting into the cash transaction business and getting quite fine grained details about their “customers.”

But these firms are just doing what is part of their DNA. Mere surfers of the Internet’s big waves of opportunity. The Sydney Morning Herald reports one executive’s defense in, “Tech Giants Alone Can’t Be Blamed for Online Misinformation: Google.” That company’s VP of news Richard Gingras says policy makers and traditional media companies share the blame for the spread of fake news and other toxic content. Writer Laura Chung reports on an interview with the executive:

“Mr Gingras said digital platforms have a responsibility to ensure they are not ‘enabling amplification of bad information’. But the challenge is not specific to one tech player and is a ‘societal problem’.

For example during the Christchurch massacre, in which 51 people died, Google scrambled to remove millions of copies of the video from YouTube. But traditional media coverage of the incident drove people’s interest in it, causing them to search and repost it, he said. Following the massacre the Australian, New Zealand and British governments called on digital platforms including Facebook and Google to do more to stop terrorist content from being shared online. ‘It’s one of those tricky things that all of us in our own way – in the political sphere, media sphere and tech sphere – need to recognize our degrees of responsibility in setting the right role models for behavior,’ he said. ‘What role models are we presenting to them [society] to guide people’s behaviors? And that extends to all of us.’”

That is one way to look at it—deflection is always an option, I suppose. The write-up also touches on the financial relationship between Google and Australian news publishers. Media companies would like Google to share more revenue with them, and regulators seem poised to agree. Gingras, however, expresses concern for the preservation of open markets and open channels of information. His apprehension is entirely based on the good of society,

And what about government regulators? Oh, right.

Cynthia Murrell, November 13, 2019

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