A UK GOVERNMENT REPORT reckons Facebook and Google's news content should be regulated in a bid to combat the spread of fake news.
The Cairncross Review, lead by ex-senior editor at The Economist Dame Frances Cairncross and supported by a panel of experts, looks into the future of news journalism in the face of digital services, fake news and social media.
The report wants the Competition and Markets Authority to scrutinise Google and Facebook due to the power they have over influencing news and the fact that they potentially suck up a load of advertising spending that could support news sites like this very one your peepers are perusing.
But it also wants the two firms to be formally scrutinised by a new independent regulator. That regulation, the report said, would be carried out by a new quango called the Institute for Public Interest News with powers to "insist on compliance" to a code of conduct.
And said quango will also direct funds to worthy local news and regional outlets and innovation-focused projects... ahem.
The report drew the line at levying a tax against online services like Facebook and Google that would cover their use of data advertising and other money-making digital techniques and channel the cash into funding journalism, as has already happened in France.
Such a move could see Google and Facebook simply abandon serving news which could damage news publications and how they reach wider audiences.
"The proposals I have put forward have the potential to improve the outlook for high-quality journalism. They are designed to encourage new models to emerge, with the help of innovation not just in technology but in business systems and journalistic techniques," said Cainscross.
The good ol' BBC also came under scrutiny for its massive reach and its serving up of news that might not be properly in the public interests; think celebrity nonsense served up over the situation in a war-torn nation.
The report suggested Ofcom should scrutinise the Beeb to see if it "inappropriately steps into areas better served by commercial news providers".
The report also suggests the government should explore direct funding for local news outlets and tax reliefs for outlets that support public interests journalism. We reckon we do the latter with our hot takes on the OnePlus 7, Galaxy S10, and iPhone, as well as closer looks at tech like Apple's A12 Bionic chip; if that's not in the public interest, we don't know what is.
While the government's probing of tech sometimes seems a bit dumb and short-sighted, we don't think that a bit of scrutiny into how major web services, especially social media sites, serve up news is a bad thing. There's an awful amount of crap out there and articles that just-wanna-have-clicks potentially stealing attention from more worthy news.
And, heck, a bit of extra money into journalism is obviously all good in our book. Hey Carly, Chris, this time next year we'll be millionaires... µ
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