Tuesday, February 27, 2018

"Maker of addictive tech (Google) criticized by chairman of addictive tech maker (Alphabet)"

From The Register:

Google – plus Facebook and Twitter – also gets a shoeing from Obama, newspapers
There is no love for online giants Google and Facebook right now, with even their friends sticking the boot in.

Audio of a secret address given by Barack Obama last week has emerged in which the 44th US President criticized the monster corporations for not recognizing the dangerous negative impact they are having on society.

"Our social media platforms are just a tool," he noted. "ISIS can use that tool. Neo-Nazis can use that tool. I do think the large platforms - Google and Facebook being the most obvious, Twitter and others as well, are part of that ecosystem – have to have a conversation about their business model that recognizes they are a public good as well as a commercial enterprise. They're not just an invisible platform, they're shaping our culture in powerful ways."

Obama and his administration had an especially tight relationship with Google while Barry was in power – Google execs met senior White House officials an extraordinary 230 times in the first five years of Obama's term, averaging once a week, while Comcast, for example, had just 20 such meetings.

But despite that long relationship, (oh, and here's two more instances) it didn't stop Obama sticking the boot in when it comes to fake news and Russian bots.

Opinions count
"Essentially we now have entirely different realities that are being created with not just different opinions, but now different facts," Obama said. "And this isn't just by the way Russian inspired bots and fake news. This is Fox News versus The New York Times editorial page. If you look at these different sources of information, they do not describe the same thing. In some cases, they don't even talk about the same thing. And so it is very difficult to figure out how democracy works over the long term in those circumstances."

He argued that Facebook and Google would do well to keep in mind that the US government will ensure that "basic rules of the road [are] in place that create level playing fields."

Talking of newspapers, the News Media Alliance (NMA), which represents over 2,000 papers in the United States, has also had enough of Facebook and Google and their special status.

It has launched a new political action committee – yes, a PAC – to "ensure that regulatory and legislative initiatives facilitate investment in news media and allow member companies to operate and develop new business models."...