In the wake of the two-day hate on the cessation of net neutrality, a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Mark Epstein puts a worthwhile spotlight on the communications duopoly enjoyed by net neutrality–backers Google and Facebook. Basically, those two companies control 84% of all non-Chinese digital advertising and around 95% of all social media activity, and Google owns about 90% of searches. This gives them the power to censor and to bully Web site owners into self-censorship.
They’re also shaping public discourse in the way some generally liberal mainstreamers don’t like:
Journalists also argue that tech companies are pushing media toward the lowest common denominator. Social media rewards clickbait—sensational headlines that confirm readers’ biases. Google and Facebook’s advertising duopoly bleeds traditional publishers of the revenue needed to produce high-quality news. At the same time, Google’s search engine is biased against subscription content, depleting another source of funding.
Yet, one gets the impression that supporters of old-guard media are perfectly happy to applaud censorship that they like, either because it harms their competition or affirms their biases.
Too many people with influence in our society want mainly to be included or exempted, and their political biases lead them to imagine that they will be. That’s a mistake.