Writing in a UK newspaper, US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has criticised Google and Facebook for using “monopolistic control” to take advertising revenues from newspapers.
Sanders, who is vying to become the Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential race said US tech giants in Silicon Valley were among corporations “gutting” many news outlets.
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Sanders (pictured) also said that small and independent outlets were being “particularly harmed” by the squeeze on digital ad revenues.
His comments come after the UK competition watchdog opened an investigation into the digital ad market dominance of Google and Facebook, which together are known as the Duopoly.
The Competition and Markets Authority is set to analyse “the sources of any market power, the way they collect and use personal data, and whether competition in digital advertising is producing good outcomes for consumers”.
A forecast published by advertising agency Group M in June predicted that newspapers and magazines would see less than a tenth of UK ad spend this year, with the lion’s share going to the Duopoly.
In an article for The Guardian, originally published by the Columbia Journalism Review, Sanders said: “Real journalism requires significant resources. One reason we do not have enough real journalism in America right now is because many outlets are being gutted by the same forces of greed that are pillaging our economy.
“For example, two Silicon Valley corporations – Facebook and Google – control 60 per cent of the entire digital advertising market. They have used monopolistic control to siphon off advertising revenues from news organisations.”
The US senator pointed to a study published earlier this year by US trade association the News Media Alliance, which claimed that Google made an estimated $4.7bn (£3.85bn) from news outlet content in 2018.
He later pledged that, were he to enter the White House, he would appoint an Attorney General and Federal Trade Commission officials who “more stringently enforce anti-trust laws against tech giants like Facebook and Google” in an effort to stop their “enormous market power to cannibalize, bilk and defund news organisations”.
Facebook and Google have been contacted for a response to Sanders’ comments.
Press Gazette launched its Duopoly campaign in 2017 urging Google and Facebook to pay more money to news publishers on whose content they rely and to stop destroying journalism.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Facebook was in talks with news publishers to offer “millions of dollars” for the right to publish their content on its platform.
Picture: Reuters/Alexander Drago